Death Is Life
The eighth sutra of yoga. When I talked about the seventh sutra I told you that conscious life has two forms: self-conscious and self-unconscious. The eighth sutra is:
Yoga begins with self-consciousness and ends with the dissolution of the self.
To be self-conscious is the way; to become free from self is the goal. To be full of consciousness of the self is meditation, and finally only consciousness remains and the self disappears. That is enlightenment.
Those who don’t know themselves are certainly behind, but those who get stuck at the point of themselves are also left behind. It is as if someone remains on the ladder after climbing the ladder; then the climb becomes useless. One has to climb the ladder and one has also to leave the ladder behind. If he stops on the way then he doesn’t reach the goal. One has to walk on the path and one has also to leave the path – then one reaches the goal. The path can lead you right up to the goal only if you are prepared to leave it behind. The path will become a barrier in reaching the goal if one insists on staying on it.
To be filled with consciousness of the self is helpful in dissolving the self. But if you hold on to the self, then that which is helpful can also become an obstacle. This sutra is very important, perhaps the most important sutra to understand. We ardently desire to attain to our self, but to dissolve the self is difficult. That is why many seekers reach the seventh sutra of yoga but are unable to enter the eighth.
Up to the seventh sutra there is no disturbance to our ego; the journey up to the seventh sutra is ego-centered. Hence up to the seventh sutra, if the seeker is asked to renounce wealth, he will renounce wealth; if he is asked to give up his family, he will renounce his family. If he is asked to give up fame, ambition, the throne – he will give up everything. But behind all this renunciation, the ego goes on becoming stronger. He will be interested in meditation so that the “I” becomes more refined; he will be engaged in meditation so that the “I” becomes enhanced. He will search for the beyond so that he does not remain without it. There is no difficulty, no obstacle in coming up to the seventh sutra.
The real problem is of understanding the eighth sutra that follows, because the eighth sutra is about losing oneself, dissolving oneself. Up to the seventh sutra one can attain great powers, up to the seventh sutra boundless energy will be born, but there will be no becoming one with the divine. Up to the seventh sutra, one will meet oneself only.
Excerpted From Nine Sutras CH: 4