The first state of Yoga is one of action, action performed as a sacrifice. It is of three kinds, and makes for wholeness or harmony of life. There are a number of causes of pain, and it is necessary to understand all of them. That will enable us to understand that the root of pain lies in action; and it is possible to prevent it by not allowing impulses, which have not yet arisen, to arise, and by understanding the character of the soul and the objects with which it associates itself.
This association is caused by want of knowledge; and when the latter disappears, so does the bond between the soul and its objects, and it becomes free. This knowledge is acquired by different means of attaining to Yoga.
There are eight means of attaining to Yoga, and it is necessary to understand them. Of these the first five are (i) self-control, (ii) restraint, and we should understand the result of self-control as well as restraint, (iii) posture of meditation, (iv) breath control and (v) the withdrawal of the senses from their objects.
Yoga of action: The Yoga of action performed as a sacrifice consists in austerity or severe meditation (tapas), study of the Vedas, and devotion to God; and its object is to produce wholeness or harmony of life, and to reduce pain to a minimum.
Causes of pain: The causes of pain are absence of knowledge, egoism, desire, aversion, and intentness on securing an object.
Absence of knowledge can be in respect of things that are dormant or asleep, are minute, incoherent, or very large and it consists in regarding that which is transient, impure painful and not concerned with the soul as the very opposite of all this. Egoism consists in identifying the powers of the senses with those of contemplation; desire in thinking that pleasure will follow as a result of action; aversion in believing that there will be pain as a result of action; while intentness on securing an object is a natural characteristic of even a wise man. All these should be avoided at their very inception; and that is always possible by means of meditation.
The root of pain: The root of pain lies in action; and as long as this root lasts, there will always be pain. Actions have pleasure and pain for their result because of good and evil cause. But life is full of pain even to a wise man, because of the troubles of change, sorrow, impressions made on the mind, as well as opposition of the objects of Nature.
Prevention of pain: But it is possible to prevent pain for an impulse that has not yet arisen and can be avoided; and the association of the seer with the objects seen is the cause of impulse.
Objects, attributes, and the seer: A visible object characterized by form, activity, and location in a place. It consists of the "elements" it can be referred to the senses, and can be enjoyed or given away as a gift. The attributes of objects may be special, general, possessed characteristic marks, and not possessed of characteristic marks. The seer is one who can see; and when pure, the perception of consciousness; and the seer is the soul, because it has perception of consciousness.
Bondage and freedom of the soul: The union of the soul with the objects of Nature enables it to understand the real nature of its own powers and theirs. But the cause of this union is a-vidya or absence of knowledge; and when that disappears, the union also comes to an end. When the soul ceases to look at the objects of Nature, that is its freedom from birth; and the means of this cessation are the faculty of discrimination and freedom from confusion; and the wisdom of such a person becomes sevenfold at the last stage. That is secured by means of acting in conformity with the means of attaining to Yoga; and when all impurity is destroyed, the light of knowledge enables a man to attain to discrimination.
Eight means of attaining to Yoga: There are eight means of attaining to Yoga, self-control, restraint, posture for meditation, breath-control, withdrawal of the senses from their objects, concentration of mind, meditation, and samadhi or intense contemplation, when the contemplator and the object contemplated become identified.
Self-control consists in non-injury, truth, non-stealing, continence, and renunciation. These are universal and required of all in all circumstances.
Restraint is not so universal, and consists in cleanliness or purity of mind, contentment, austerity, study of the Vedas, and contemplation of God. In this connection if one has a doubt, he should think of the opposite side of the question, and that will resolve his doubt.
Result of self-control: Non-injury means abandonment of all enmity. When a person is established in truth, he understands the interdependence of cause and effect, of action and its fruit. Non-stealing means contentment and absence of covetousness of anything; and he ho is established in it is wealthier than the wealthiest man in the world. When a man is established in continence, he gains manly power or energy. When a person renounces what he should renounce, he knows how to live in the world and be happy.
Result of restraint: When a man becomes clean or pure in mind, he feels disinclined towards the organs of his own body, and does not associate with others. When the nature of his mind is purified, he is filled with gladness, becomes one pointed, has control over his senses, and understands his soul.
When he is contented, he becomes exceedingly happy. Tapas or austerity destroys his impurities, and makes for perfection of the body and the senses. The study of the Vedas makes for a proper understanding of the great forms and forces of Nature. A person can attain to samadhi, when he can identify himself with the object of his contemplation, by means of devotion to God.
Posture: The posture for meditation should be steady with ease. It should be followed by relaxation of effort, when there will be communion with the Infinite, and all differences between things will disappear.
Breath-control: When a person is in that posture, and controls the motion of his in-coming and out-going breath, that is called breath-control. It is of three kinds, external, internal, and relating to the suspension of breath. There is also a fourth kind of breath-control, which goes beyond the external and internal; and it is at this stage that the veil drops, and a person sees the Light of Life. These acts of holding the breath make a man fit for Yoga.
Withdrawal of the sense from the objects: The senses are said to be withdrawn from their objects when there is no contact between them and their objects, and they are centered, as it were, in the mind.