Before we enter Yoga Sutra 40, let us understand what Prana is.
A hundred years before, one of the greatest thinkers of the world, Friedrich Nietzsche, declared that God is dead. He was declaring something which was becoming clearer to everybody. He simply declared the feelings of all the thinkers of the world, particularly the science oriented people. Science was winning every day against religion, superstition; and science was conquering so much that it was almost certain that in the future God cannot exist, religion cannot exist. It was felt all over the world that God has become part of history and God will exist in the museums, in the libraries, in the books, but not in human consciousness. It was felt as if matter had won the last, final war with God.
When Nietzsche declared God is dead, he meant that now life will not in any way be a destiny. It has become accidental, because God is nothing but the coordinating principle of life. God is the organic unity of life. God is that energy which has glued everything together. God is that law which has made a cosmos out of chaos. Once God is not there, the coordinating principle is not there, the world again becomes a chaos, just an accident. With God all order disappears. With God all principles disappear. With God disappears all possibility to understand life. And with God man also disappears.
Nietzsche himself declared that God is dead and man is free now, but in fact once God is dead, man is not there. Then man is just matter, nothing more – explainable, is a mystery no more, has depth no more, has infinity no more, and has meaning no more, significance no more, is just an accident – has appeared accidentally, will disappear accidentally.
But Nietzsche proved wrong. It appears that it was something like the age of scientific youth; the nineteenth century was the age of science’s coming of age. And as every youth is too full of confidence, too optimistic, in fact foolishly optimistic, the same was the case with science also.
In Tibet they have a saying that every young man thinks old people to be fools, but every old man knows that all young people are fools. Young people only think, but old people know. Science was the youngest growth in human consciousness, and science was much too confident. It even declared God is dead and religion is no longer relevant, it is “out of context.” Religion was part of humanity’s childhood, they declared. Freud wrote a book, THE FUTURE OF AN ILLUSION – about religion, that it is just an illusion and there is no future really.
But God survived, and a miracle has happened within these hundred years. If Nietzsche comes back he will not be able to believe what has happened. The more the scientific mind penetrated into matter, the more it came to know that matter does not exist. God survived, matter died. Matter has almost disappeared from scientific vocabulary. It exists in ordinary language, but it is just because of old habits; otherwise there is no matter now. The deeper the scientific penetration became, the deeper they came to understand that it is energy; not matter. Matter was a misunderstanding. Energy is moving so fast, with such tremendous speed, that it gives an illusion of something solid. The solidity is just an illusion.
God is not illusory. The solidity of the world is illusory. The solidity of these walls is illusory; they appear solid because the energy particles, electrons, are moving at such a speed that you cannot see the movement.
Have you watched – sometimes an electric fan going very fast? Then you cannot see the wings, the blades. And if the electric fan is really moving with such speed, as electrons, you can sit upon it and you will not fall down, and you will not feel the movement. You can hit it with a bullet and the bullet will not pass between the gaps, because the speed of the bullet will not be so much as the speed of the blades.
This is what is happening. Matter has disappeared, has no more validity.
But what science has discovered is not really a discovery; it is a rediscovery. Yoga has been talking about it for five thousand years – at least. Yoga calls that energy prana. This word prana is very significant, very meaningful, pregnant with meaning. It is made out of two Sanskrit roots. One is pra; pra means the basic unit of energy, the most fundamental unit of energy. And na means energy.
Prana means: the most fundamental unit is energy. Matter is just the surface. Prana is the real thing there is – and it is not a thing at all. It is more like a no-thing, or you can call it almost nothing.
Nothing means no-thing. Nothing does not mean nothing; nothing simply means that it is not a thing.
It is not solid, it is not static, it is not visible, it is not tangible. It is there, but you cannot touch it. It is there, but you cannot see it. It is there, beyond and beneath every phenomenon. But it is the most fundamental unit; you cannot go beyond it.
Prana is the basic unit of the whole of life. Rocks, trees, birds, man, God, everything is a manifestation of prana, on different levels, on different understandings, on different integrations.
The same prana moves and manifests as millions, as many, but the basic unit is one.
Unless you come to know prana within yourself, you will not be able to know what God is. And if you cannot know it within yourself, you cannot know it without, because within you it is so close.
That’s why Patanjali could know it five thousand years before Albert Einstein and company. Five thousand years is a long time for science to come to understand it, but they were trying from the outside. Patanjali dived deep into his own being; it was a subjective experience. And science has been trying to know it objectively. If you want to know something objectively, you have taken a very long route. That’s why there is so much delay. If you go within, you have found the shortest route to know what it is.
Ordinarily you don’t know who you are, where you are. What are you doing here? People come to me and they say, “What are we doing here? Why are we? For what?” I can understand their confusion, but wherever you are and whatsoever you are doing the problem will remain the same – unless you understand the source from where you come, unless you understand the basic structure of your being, unless you come to know your prana, your energy.
I have heard, it happened: Mulla Nasruddin visited a field and filled his bag full of melons. He was about to leave when the owner showed up.
“I was passing by,” Mulla began to explain, “when suddenly a strong wind blew me over to the fence and into the field.”
“What about the melons?” the owner asked.
“The wind was so strong, sir, that I clutched at anything I could get my hands on. And that’s how the melons came loose.”
“But who put them into your bag?”
“To tell the truth,” Mulla replied, “I was wondering about that myself.”
This is the situation. How are you here? Why are you here? Who has put you into the bag?
Everybody is wondering.
Philosophy, they say, comes out of wonder; but don’t go on continuously simply wondering and wondering. Otherwise wondering becomes a sort of wandering. Then you never reach. Rather than simply wondering, try to do something. You are here, that much is certain. You are alert that you are here, that much is also certain. Now these two ingredients are enough for yoga experimentation.
You are: the being is there. You are aware that you are: the consciousness is there. These two are enough to make a lab out of your being for yoga experimentation.
Yoga does not need sophisticated, complicated things for its work. It is the simplest. Two things: you and your awareness that you are. Enough. These two you have; everybody has them. Nobody is lacking in these two things. You have a certain feel that you are, and of course you are aware of that certain feel. These two things are enough. That’s why yogis had no laboratories, no sophisticated instrumentation – and they never needed any grant from Rockefeller or Ford. They need only just a little bread, water, and they will come and beg in the town and will disappear for days. After a week or two they will come again and beg again and they will disappear again.
They did the greatest experiment: the experiment in human reality. And only with two small things, but those small things are not small. Once you know them they are the biggest phenomenon ever.
So the first thing about today’s sutras is the discovery of prana. That became the very foundation of the temple of yoga. You are breathing. Yoga says you are not only breathing air; you are also breathing prana. In fact air is just a vehicle for prana, just a medium. You are not alive by breath.
Breath is just like a horse, and you have not looked at the rider yet. The rider is prana.
Now many psychoanalysts have come across this mysterious thing – the rider who is coming on the breath, going on the breath, continuously moving in and out. But yet in the West it is not a recognized scientific fact. It should be because now science says matter is no longer there and everything is energy. The stone, the rock, is energy; you are energy. So there must be many energy games happening within you, tides and ebbs of energy.
Freud stumbled upon this fact. I say “stumbled upon it” because his eyes were not open; he was very blindfolded. He was not a yogi. He was again caught in the scientific attitude of making everything objective. He called it “libido.” If you ask the yogis they will say libido is prana ill. When prana is not vital, when somehow the energy of prana has become dammed up, blocked; that’s what Freud has come to know. And that’s explainable because he was working only with ill people, neurotics, mad people, mentals. And working on ill, mentally disturbed people he came to know that their bodies are carrying some blocked energy and unless that energy is released, they will not be healthy again.Tags: Patanjali Prana Within Yourself