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An Introduction to Yoga   By: (1847-1933)

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This etext was produced by JC Byers.

An Introduction to Yoga

Annie Besant


These lectures[FN1: Delivered at the 32nd Anniversary of the Theosophical Society held at Benares, on Dec. 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th, 1907.] are intended to give an outline of Yoga, in order to prepare the student to take up, for practical purposes, the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, the chief treatise on Yoga. I have on hand, with my friend Bhagavan Das as collaborateur, a translation of these Sutras, with Vyasa's commentary, and a further commentary and elucidation written in the light of Theosophy.[FN2: These have never been finished or printed.] To prepare the student for the mastering of that more difficult task, these lectures were designed; hence the many references to Patanjali. They may, however, also serve to give to the ordinary lay reader some idea of the Science of sciences, and perhaps to allure a few towards its study.

Annie Besant

Table of Contents

Lecture I. The Nature of Yoga 1. The Meaning of the Universe 2. The Unfolding of Consciousness 3. The Oneness of the Self 4. The Quickening of the Process of Self Unfoldment 5. Yoga is a Science 6. Man a Duality 7. States of Mind 8. Samadhi 9. The Literature of Yoga 10. Some Definitions 11. God Without and God Within 12. Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter 13. Mind 14. Stages of Mind 15. Inward and Outward turned Consciousness 16. The Cloud

Lecture II. Schools of Thought 1. Its Relation to Indian Philosophies 2. Mind 3. The Mental Body 4. Mind and Self

Lecture III. Yoga as Science 1. Methods of Yoga 2. To the Self by the Self 3. To the Self through the Not Self 4. Yoga and Morality 5. Composition of States of the Mind 6. Pleasure and Pain

Lecture IV. Yoga as Practice 1. Inhibition of States of Mind 2. Meditation with and without Seed 3. The Use of Mantras 4. Attention 5. Obstacles to Yoga 6. Capacities for Yoga 7. Forthgoing and Returning 8. Purification of Bodies 9. Dwellers on the Threshold 10. Preparation for Yoga 11. The End

Lecture I


In this first discourse we shall concern ourselves with the gaining of a general idea of the subject of Yoga, seeking its place in nature, its own character, its object in human evolution.

The Meaning of the Universe

Let us, first of all, ask ourselves, looking at the world around us, what it is that the history of the world signifies. When we read history, what does the history tell us? It seems to be a moving panorama of people and events, but it is really only a dance of shadows; the people are shadows, not realities, the kings and statesmen, the ministers and armies; and the eventsÄ the battles and revolutions, the rises and falls of states Äare the most shadowlike dance of all. Even if the historian tries to go deeper, if he deals with economic conditions, with social organisations, with the study of the tendencies of the currents of thought, even then he is in the midst of shadows, the illusory shadows cast by unseen realities. This world is full of forms that are illusory, and the values are all wrong, the proportions are out of focus. The things which a man of the world thinks valuable, a spiritual man must cast aside as worthless. The diamonds of the world, with their glare and glitter in the rays of the outside sun, are mere fragments of broken glass to the man of knowledge. The crown of the king, the sceptre of the emperor, the triumph of earthly power, are less than nothing to the man who has had one glimpse of the majesty of the Self. What is, then, real? What is truly valuable? Our answer will be very different from the answer given by the man of the world... Continue reading book >>

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