Before we enter Yoga Sutra 23, let’s understand what is absolute purity?
THE light that you seek is within you. So the search is going to be an inward search. It is not a journey to some goal in outer space; it is a journey in inner space. You have to reach your core. That which you are seeking is already within you. You just have to peel the onion: layers and layers of ignorance are there. The diamond is hidden in the mud; the diamond is not to be created. The diamond is already there – only the layers of mud have to be removed.
This is very basic to understand: the treasure is already there. Maybe you don’t have the key. The key has to be found, but not the treasure. This is basic, very radical, because the whole effort will depend on this understanding. If the treasure has to be created, then it is going to be a very long process; and nobody can be certain whether it can be created or not. Only the key has to be found. The treasure is there, just nearby. A few layers of locks have to be removed.
That’s why the search for truth is negative. It is not a positive search. You are not to add something to your being; rather you have to delete something. You have to cut something from you. The search for truth is surgical. It is not medical; it is surgical. Nothing is to be added to you; rather on the contrary, something has to be removed from you, negated. Hence, the method of the Upanishads: neti, neti.
The meaning of neti, neti is: go on negating until you reach to the negator; go on negating until there is not any possibility to negate, only you are left, you in your core, in your consciousness which cannot be negated – because who will negate it? So go on negating, “I am neither this nor that.” Go on. “neti, neti….” Then a point comes when only you are, the negator; there is nothing else to cut anymore, the surgery is over; you have come to the treasure.
If this is understood rightly, then the burden is not very heavy; the search is very light. You can move easily, knowing well, all the time on the way that the treasure may be forgotten, but it is not lost. You may not be able to know where exactly it is, but it is within you. You can rest assured; there is no uncertainty about it. In fact even if you want to lose it you cannot lose it, because it is your very being. It is not something external to you; it is intrinsic.
People come to me and they say, “We are in search of God.” I ask them, “Where have you lost him? Why are you seeking? Have you lost him somewhere? If you have lost him somewhere, then tell me where you have lost him, because only there will you be able to find him.” They say, “No, we have not lost him.” Then why are you seeking? Then just close your eyes. Maybe because of the search you cannot find him. Maybe you are much too concerned with seeking; you have not looked at your own inner being: that the king of kings is sitting there already, waiting for you to come home. And you are a great seeker so you are going to Mecca and Medina, Kashi, and Kailash. You are a great seeker. You are going all over the world, except one place – where you are. The seeker is the sought…when one is quiet and still.
Nothing new is achieved. One simply starts understanding that looking out was the whole point of missing. Looking in, it is there. It has always been there. There has never been a single moment when it was not there – and there will never be a single moment – because God is not external, truth is not external to you: it is you glorified; it is you in your total splendor; it is you in your absolute purity. If you understand this, then these sutras of Patanjali will be very simple.
BY PRACTICING THE DIFFERENT STEPS OF YOGA FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF IMPURITY, THERE ARISES SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION WHICH DEVELOPS INTO AWARENESS OF REALITY.
He is not saying that something is to be created; he is saying something is to be destroyed. You are already more than your being – this is the problem. You have gathered too much around you, the diamond has gathered too much mud. The mud has to be washed away. And, suddenly, there is the diamond. “By practicing the different steps of yoga for the destruction of impurity….” It is not a creation of purity or holiness or divineness; it is just a destruction of impurity.
Pure you are. Holy you are. The whole path becomes totally different. Then a few things have to be cut and dropped; a few things have to be eliminated.
Deep down this is the meaning of sannyas, renunciation. It is not to renounce the house, not to renounce the family, not to renounce the children – that looks too cruel. And how can a man of compassion do it? It is not to renounce the wife, because that is not the problem at all. The wife is not obstructing God; neither are the children creating barriers nor the house. No, if you renounce them you have not understood. Renounce something else that you have been gathering within yourself.
If you want to renounce the house, renounce the real house; that is, the body in which you live and reside. And by renouncing I don’t mean go and commit suicide, because that won’t be renouncing. Just knowing that you are not the body is enough. There is no need to be cruel to the body also. You may not be the body, but the body is also of God. You may not be the body, but the body is alive on its own. It also partakes of life; it is part of this totality. Don’t be cruel to it.
Don’t be violent to it. Don’t be a masochist.
Religious people almost always become masochists. Or they were already – religion becomes a Rationalization and they start torturing themselves. Don’t be a self-torturer. There are two types of torturers and violent people: one, sadists who torture other – the politicians, Adolf Hitlers; and then there are self-torturers – so-called religious people, saints, mahatmas, who torture themselves – they are masochists. Both are the same: the violence is the same. Whether you torture anybody else’s body or your own makes no difference – you torture all the same.
Renunciation is not self-torture. If it is self-torture it is only politics standing on its head. It may be you are so cowardly you cannot manage to torture others, so you can torture only your own body. Ninety-nine out of one hundred so-called religious people are self-torturers, cowards. They wanted to torture others, but there was fear and danger and they couldn’t do it. So they have found a very innocent victim, vulnerable, helpless: their own body. And they torture it in millions of ways.
No, renunciation means knowledge; renunciation means awareness; renunciation means realization – realization of the fact that you are not the body. It is finished. You live in it knowing well that you are not it. Unidentified, the body is beautiful. It is one of the greatest mysteries in existence. It is the very temple where the king of kings is hiding.
When you understand what renunciation is, you understand this is neti, neti.
You say, “I am not this body, because I am aware of the body; the very awareness makes me separate and different.” Go deeper. Go on peeling the onion: “I am not the thoughts, because they come and go but I remain. I am not the emotions…” They come, sometimes very strong, and you forget yourself completely in them, but they go. There was a time they were not, you were; there was a time they were, and you were hidden in them. There is again a time when they have gone and you are sitting there. You cannot be them. You are separate.
Go on peeling the onion: no, body you are not; thinking you are not; feeling you are not. And if you know that you are not these three layers, your ego simply disappears without leaving a trace behind – because your ego is nothing but identification with these three layers. Then you are, but you cannot say “I.” The word loses meaning. The ego is not there; you have come home.
This is the meaning of sannyas: it is negating all that you are not but are identified with. This is the surgery. This is the destruction.
“By practicing the different steps of yoga for the destruction of impurity….” And this is impurity: thinking yourself to be that which you are not is the impurity.
Don’t misunderstand me because there is always a possibility you may misunderstand that the body is impure. I am not saying that. You can have pure water in one container and pure milk in another. Mix both: now the mixture is not doubly pure. Both were pure: water was pure, was exactly from the Ganges, and the milk was pure. Now you mix two purities and one impurity is born – not that the purity is doubled. What has happened? Why do you call this mixture of water and milk impure? Impurity means the entering of the foreign element, that which does not belong to it, which is not natural to it, which is an intruder, which has trespassed its territory. It is not only that the milk is impure, the water is also impure. Two purities meet and become impure.
So when I say renounce the impurities, I don’t mean that your body is impure, I don’t mean that your mind is impure, I don’t mean even that your feeling is impure. Nothing is impure – but when you get identified, in that identification is impurity. Everything is pure. Your body is perfect if it functions on its own and you don’t interfere. Your consciousness is pure if it functions on its own and the body does not interfere. If you live in a non interfering existence you are pure.
Everything is pure. I’m not condemning the body. I never condemn anything.
Make it a point to be remembered always: I am not a condemner. Everything is beautiful as it is. But identification creates impurity.
When you start thinking you are the body, you have intruded upon the body.
And when you intrude upon the body, the body immediately reacts and intrudes upon you. Then there is impurity.
Says Patanjali, “By practicing the different steps of yoga for the destruction of impurity….” For the destruction of identity, identification; for the destruction of the mess that you have got in – the chaos, where everything has become everything else. Nothing is clear. No center is functioning on its own; you have become a crowd. Everything goes on interfering into each other’s nature. This is impurity.
“.. for the destruction of impurity, there arises a spiritual illumination..” And once the impurity is destroyed, suddenly there is illumination. It doesn’t come from outside; it is your innermost being in its purity, in its innocence, in its virginity. A luminosity arises in you. Everything is clear: the crowds of confusion gone, the clarity of perception arises. Now you can see everything as it is: there are no projections. there is no imagination, there is no perversion of any reality.
You simply see things as they are. Your eyes are vacant, your being silent. Now, you don’t have anything in you, so you cannot project. You become a passive onlooker, a witness, a sakshin – and that is the purity of being. “… there arises spiritual illumination which develops into awareness of reality.”
Then, the eight steps of yoga. Here is the central teaching of Patanjali: Yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, dhyan. Samadhiya ashto angani.
I have wrote regarding eight step of yoga in my following bolg:
3. The Fourth, Fifth And Six StepPatanjali Yoga Sutra 23 Destruction Of Impurity