Resources of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition

Direct Experience

This question of a belief system is very important to many people, but to us here in yoga what is important is that you find out for yourself. You don't begin the practice of yoga and meditation with a belief system. That is the difference between a religion and a science. In a religion you must believe first and practice afterwards. You declare your belief, and then you start practicing your religion. In a science, on the other hand, you practice first and believe afterwards. When you go to a research lab to take a course in chemistry of physics, you don't stand there at the door and cross yourself and say, "I declare my belief that water is H-2-0." No, you walk in there, without declaring any kind of belief; and your chemistry professor or physics professor says, "Take this flask, and connect this here, and do this there, and boil it here this way, and so on and so forth;" and then you see that water is indeed H-2-0, and you believe.

A subtle itch is not spiritual progress!

    As one grows spiritually, a number of things happen; certain characteristics emerge.   Not that you can tell of distant past, distant present, distant future.  Not that you can have out of body experiences.  In a large number of cases, there are no out-of-body experiences.  No soul leaves the body to go out traveling in some celestial world.  Some things happen in the subtle body - the subtle body, which is made up subtler forms of matter.  Just as the sensation of an itch on the surface of the skin is not a spiritual experience, nor a sensation of a tickling, pleasant as it might be, is not a spiritual experience; so also, a little itch and a little tickling in the subtle body, on the subtler matter (sukshma mahabhuta), the subtle element related to this, - a little itch, a little tickling there - is not a spiritual experience. It is a subtler experience, but not a spiritual experience.  Not everything that is experienced in the internal personality is of the eternal.

Spiritual Progress

So, a spiritual person becomes an effective person. A person who is not an effective person is a person who has not made spiritual progress.   [A person who is making spiritual progress] is effective in relationships, effective in life, effective intellectually, effective in management, effective in accomplishing whatever one wills to accomplish.   Not wishes to accomplish. Most people live by wishes.  A person who is making spiritual progress wills it! And, he knows his will.  And the whole world may oppose him.  He knows his will, and he knows this is the way it's going to be accomplished.  He just goes on, and forgets everybody.  But, he knows his goal.  A person of a spiritual path who is making progress knows his goal at all times.  Even when he digresses, he knows his goal and knows that "I am right now momentarily digressing, and I shall digress only so much but not more.

Progress in Stillness

And, the movement of the eyes.  I was recently in Africa, for a conference on bringing together the Indian and African spirituality.  Because Africa is a poor continent, so, nobody even thinks of studying the spiritual traditions of Africa. I was in a town called Ouida(?), which has been the center of a very strong spiritual tradition.  And I interviewed the priest, and the head priest, and I was taken to see a Kumari Devi, as we would call in the Indian language, a virgin, a divine being.  A fourteen-year-old was sitting there - normal, very ordinary.  Those who were with me, they were wondering what was special. I said, "Look, look at two things.  When she sits, no matter in what position she sits in, there is a stillness to her.  And one thing you have all not noticed: When she blinks her eyes, it is not more than once every 30-35 seconds.  I checked on my watch.  And the steadiness of your eyes shows whether you are gaining intensity of stillness, not your ability to gaze at a flame for a half an hour.