The word yoga means union. Union means that you begin to experience the universality of who you are. For example, today, modern science proves to you beyond any doubt that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting itself in various forms. If this scientific fact becomes a living reality for you, that you begin to experience everything as one, then you are in yoga.

Once you experience yourself as everything, or everything as yourself, after that, nobody has to tell you how to be in this world. If you experience all the people here as part of yourself, does anybody have to teach you morals as to how to be? Does anybody have to tell you, don't harm this person; don't kill this person; don't rob this person - would it be needed for you? So when you are in yoga, you experience everything as a part of yourself, and that's liberation; that's mukthi; that's ultimate freedom.
[Jaggi Vasudev]

What Excatly is Yoga?
It is something you will have to be. Yoga is not a philosophy. It is not a religion, it is not something you can think about.

Yoga is not a scripture. It is a discipline. It is something you have to do. It is not curiosity; it is not philosophic speculation. It is deeper than that. It is a question of life and death.

Yoga is a pure science just like mathematics, physics or chemistry. It is a pure mathematics of the inner being. So any human being can be a yogi, no matter what their sex, colour, creed, religion, caste, age or any belief is.

Definition of Yoga
'YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.' (Chittavrittinirodha.)
When mind ceases, you are established in your witnessing self. The word 'mind' covers all - your egos, your desires, your hopes, your philosophies, your religions, your scriptures. 'Mind' covers all. Whatsoever you can think is mind. All that is known, all that can be known, all that is knowable, is within mind. Cessation of the mind means cessation of the known, cessation of the knowable. It is a jump into the unknown. When there is no mind, you are in the unknown. Yoga is a jump into the unknown. It will not be right to say 'unknown'; rather, 'unknowable'.

Yoga & Zen
In the West now, there is much appeal for Zen - a Japanese method of yoga.

The word "zen" comes from dhyana. Bodhidharma introduced this word dhyana in China. In China the word dhyana became jhan and then chan and then the word traveled to Japan and became zen. The root is dhyana. Dhyana means no-mind, so the whole training of Zen in Japan is of nothing but how to stop minding, how to be a no-mind, how to be simply without thinking.

Yoga & Sufism
Sufism is still not a complete system. Many things are lacking in it, and they are lacking because of the stubborn attitude of Mohammedans. They won?t allow it to evolve to its peak and climax. And the Sufi system has to follow the pattern of Islam religion. Because of that structure of Mohammedan religion, the Sufi system couldn?t go beyond it.

Sometimes through accident people have come to know the divine and feel the divine. But then they go mad because they are not disciplined to receive such a great phenomenon. They are not ready. They are so small, and such a great ocean falls in them. This has happened. In the Sufi system they call such persons madmen of the God - masts, they call.

They are not Buddhalike, they are not enlightened. And it is said that for masts, for these happy ones who have gone mad, a very great Master is needed because now they cannot do anything with themselves. They are just in confusion ? happily in it, but they are a mess. They cannot do anything on their own. Many masts are there. Masters like Meher Baba used to travel and even live in madhouses, and they help and serve the masts, the mad ones. And many of them came out of their madness and started their journey toward enlightenment.

But Patanjali has created such a subtle system that there is no need of any accident. The discipline is so scientific that if you pass through this discipline you will reach to Buddhahood without getting mad on the path. It is a complete system.

Patanjali follows no religion, he follows only truth. He will not make any compromise with Hinduism or Mohammedanism or any ism. He follows the scientific truth. Sufis had to make compromise, and they had to. Because there were some Sufis who tried not to make any compromise; for example, Bayazid of Bistham, or Al-Hillaj Mansoor they didn't make any compromise; then they were killed, they were murdered.

So Sufis went into hiding. They made their science completely secret, and they will allow only fragments to be known, only those fragments which fit with Islam and its pattern. All other fragments were hidden. So the whole system is not known; it is not working. So many people, through fragments, get mad.

Many systems are working in the world, but there is no system so perfect as Patanjali?s because no country has worked for so long. And Patanjali is not the originator of this system, he is only the systematizer. Before Patanjali, for thousands of years, the system was developed. Many people worked. Patanjali has given just the essence of thousands of years work.

History of Yoga:
No one knows exactly when Yoga began, but it certainly predates written history. Stone carvings depicting figures in Yoga positions have been found in archeological sites in the Indus Valley dating back 5,000 years or more. If its popular during those periods, then we can easily assume that, people would have practicing Yoga, more than 8 thousand years before.

The tradition of Yoga has always been passed on individually from teacher to student through oral teaching and practical demonstration like we can see in Yoga Vasista(Ramayana), Bhagavat Gita (Mahabharat). The formal techniques that are now known as Yoga are, therefore, based on the collective experiences of many individuals over many thousands of years.

Yoga as Science
Yoga says experience. Just like science says experiment, yoga says experience. Experiment and experience are both the same, their directions are different. Experiment means something you can do outside; experience means something you can do inside. Experience is an inside experiment.

Why Yoga is not a Philosophy?
Yoga is not a philosophy. It is not something you can think about. It is something you will have to be; thinking won?t do. Thinking goes on in your head. It is not really deep into the roots of your being; it is not your totality. It is just a part, a functional part; it can be trained. And you can argue logically, you can think rationally, but your heart will remain the same.

Philosophers have created many stories, and it is a game. If you like the game of atheism, be an atheist. If you like the game of theism, be a theist. But these are games, not the reality. Reality is something else. Reality Is concerned with you, not what you believe. The reality is you, not what you believe. The reality is behind the mind, not in the contents of the mind, because theism is a content of the mind, atheism is a content of the mind ? something in the mind.

Yoga is concerned with your total being, with your roots. It is not philosophical. So with Patanjali we will not be thinking, speculating. With Patanjali we will be trying to know the ultimate laws of being: the laws of its transformation, the laws of how to die and how to be reborn again, the laws of a new order of being. That is why it is called a science.

Importance of a Master
The mind is such a complex mechanism. Never open it on your own because whatsoever you do will be wrong. Don?t move by accidents. Discipline is only a safeguard. Don?t move by accidents! Move with a Master who knows what he is doing, and he knows if something goes wrong he can bring it to the right path, who is aware of your past and who is also aware of your future, and who can join together your past and future.

Hence, so much emphasis on Masters in Indian teachings. And they knew, and they meant it, because there is no mechanism so complex as human mind, no computer so complex as human mind.

Don't do anything just because of curiosity or just because others are doing it. Get initiated, and move with someone who knows the path well.

Patanjali the author of Yoga Sutras
Patanjali is rare. Patanjali is like an Einstein in the world of Buddhas. He is a phenomenon. He could have easily been a Nobel Prize winner like an Einstein or Bohr or Max Planck, Heisenberg. He has the same attitude, the same approach of a rigorous scientific mind. He is not a poet; Krishna is a poet. He is not a moralist; Mahavira is a moralist. He is basically a scientist, thinking in terms of laws. And he has come to deduce absolute laws of human being, the ultimate working structure of human mind and reality.

And if you follow Patanjali, you will come to know that he is as exact as any mathematical formula. Simply do what he says and the result will happen. The result is bound to happen; it is just like two plus two, they become four. It is just like you heat water up to one hundred degrees and it evaporates. No belief is needed: you simply do it and know. It is something to be done and known. That?s why I say there is no comparison. On this earth, never a man has existed like Patanjali.

Patanjali is logical and rational, mathematical, scientific. He does not ask any faith. He asks only courage to experiment, courage to move, courage to take a jump into the unknown. He does not say, ?Believe, and then you will experience. He says, "Experience, and then you will believe." And he has made a structure how to proceed step by step. His path is not haphazard; it is not like a labyrinth, it is like a super-highway. Everything is clear and the shortest possible route. But you have to follow it in every detail; otherwise you will move out of the path and in the wilderness.

He starts from the body because you are rooted in the body. He starts and works with your breathing because your breathing is your life. First he works on the body; then he works on the prana ? the second layer of existence ? your breathing; then he starts working on thoughts. The grossest is the body and the subtlest is the mind. Patanjali starts with body postures.

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What right has a man to say he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite.