In Glimpses of Raja Yoga, Vimala Thakar introduces the basic concepts of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras by focusing on different sutra, or aphorism, in each of the twelve chapters. In her opening chapter, she presents the historical and cultural background of Patanjali's Raja Yoga. Chapter 2 contains an eloquent invocation of the dimension of Silence—the meditative state that one enters with the stilling of the mind. Chapters 3-6 examine the ethical principles and observances (the yamas and niyamas) that form the ...
In Glimpses of Raja Yoga, Vimala Thakar introduces the basic concepts of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras by focusing on different sutra, or aphorism, in each of the twelve chapters. In her opening chapter, she presents the historical and cultural background of Patanjali's Raja Yoga. Chapter 2 contains an eloquent invocation of the dimension of Silence—the meditative state that one enters with the stilling of the mind. Chapters 3-6 examine the ethical principles and observances (the yamas and niyamas) that form the foundation of a healthy spiritual practice. Here Vimala discusses the importance of ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truthfulness), and offers a radical interpretation of brahmacarya based on her understanding of Sanskrit. Chapter 7 concerns the kleshas or causes of suffering such as avidya (ignorance) and asmita (egotism). Chapter 8 discriminates between dharana (meditation with deliberate focus) and dhyana (effortless meditation), and reflects Vimala's own experience. Chapter 9 describes the relation of prakriti (matter) and purusha (spirit) according to Patanjali. Chapters 10-12 describe the ultimate goal of the yogic journey—the absolute freedom of samadhi.
Born in India, Vimala Thakar began her spiritual search at the tender age of five. As a young woman, she traveled and lectured throughout India for the Land Gift Movement of Vinobha Bhave, an associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Her meetings and friendship with Krishnamurti from 1956 to 1961 had a profound effect on her life. From the 1960s to the 1980s, she taught meditation retreats in thirty-five countries around the world. She now resides in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India.
Our modern way of living ignores the dimension of Silence, or motionlessness; Silence, or sound-freeness; Silence, or thought-freeness. This dimension of consciousness is complete freedom from the movement of thoughts, complete freedom from sound or verbalization, and also complete freedom from the movement of relationships. Life is a movement of sound and speech as well as the magnificence of Silence. Life is a dance of the interaction of energies, a movement of innumerable energies as well as the grandeur of motionlessness, or stillness.
This second dimension is ignored by modern civilization. In education, at home, through social compulsion, human beings are trained in thinking, knowing, experiencing, organizing relationships, standardizing patterns of reaction, playing around with physical, verbal, psychological movements. The dimension of movement is emphasized and the other is ignored. So we have the necessity of self-education. We have to learn to educate ourselves for growing into the dimension of stillness, of motionlessness, of sound-freeness, of thought-freeness, and of aloneness.
When we sit in Silence, first we begin by educating the body in steadiness. The body is moving the whole day—neurologically, chemically. There are movements outside the body like sitting, standing, walking, running, etc., and there are inner movements also. So constant movement is going on. When we come to sit down, we learn to steady the body. You put the body in a posture which is convenient, agreeable, enjoyable to the body and persuade it to be steady for half an hour. This is education—not a technique, not a method. You have to help the body, you have to educate the body. This is an educational process if you would like to call it that.
And then you close your eyes, so that the eyes do not touch any matter outside the body, any object outside the body. Because as soon as the eyes see the object, the memory throws back the name of the object, the memory throws back your attachment to the object, your likes, your dislikes, your differences, your prejudices, your value judgments—so the movement begins. As we want to help the brain to be steady, to be motionless, to be still, we close the eyes—that also is a help. Once you have tasted the nectar of Silence, then whether your eyes are open or closed, it does not make any difference. Once you have tasted the nectar of that dimension, then it does not matter whether you are sitting in a room or working in an office or the kitchen or talking to people. The quality of aloneness, the quality of motionlessness, the quality of thought-freeness does not get affected by physical or verbal movement.
Thirdly, you abstain from speaking. Our modern way of living requires verbalization most of the time. Speaking aloud to other people. As we have to work for eight hours a day at some job, verbalization is necessary, externally speaking to people is necessary. And if that is not done, then you do it internally—chattering to yourself. We have been trained in schools and colleges, the brain has been trained to think, to acquire and organize information, to compare and evaluate it, that is to say, make a judgment about it. We are conditioned by society, by religion to accept it as good or to reject it as not good. These conditionings are imprinted in what you call the brain, so the brain is all the time busy. Instead of using thought, knowledge, the capacity to imagine, the faculty of memory only when it is necessary, as a handy instrument, we have become addicted to the movement of knowledge within us, to the movement of comparison, evaluation within us, to the movement of likes and dislikes within us. The movement goes on within ourselves throughout the day, and some people do it even when they are sleeping throughout their dreams. The activity goes on. When you sit in Silence you are educating the brain to be free of that incessant movement of knowing, experiencing, accepting, rejecting. Let the brain be free of those activities.
Please do see what learning to sit in Silence implies. If you have learned, and then you sit in Silence, you do it for the joy of it, because now it is no longer necessary, it has become a way of living. When you spend eight hours in bed and sleep every night, do you practice sleep? Do you say that we practice sleep? You just sleep. That becomes the content of life and living. In the same way, Silence, the dimension of thought-free consciousness, sound-free consciousness, relationship-free consciousness becomes the dimension in which you live. That is one aspect of Silence.
1. The Foundation of Raja Yoga
2. The Dimension of Silence
3. The Yamas 1
4. The Yamas 2
5. The Niyamas
6. The Yoga of Action
7. The Kleshas
8. Dharana and Dhyana
9. Prakriti and Purusha
10. Raja Yoga and the Art of Living
11. Absolute Freedom