Returning to The Source-Pratyahar

The fifth works as a bridge between the four, the yoga of the outside, and the last three, the yoga of the inside. The fifth, which is part of the yoga of the outside, also functions as a bridge. pratyahar: the word means “returning to the source” — not reaching to the source, just returning to the source. The process of return has started: now the energy is no longer moving outwardly, the energy is no longer interested in objects — the energy has taken a turn, an about turn. It is turning inwards — this is what Jesus calls conversion, coming back. Ordinarily, the energy is moving outward. You want to see, you want to smell, you want to touch, you want to feel: the energy is moving out. You have completely forgotten who is hidden within you. You have become eyes, ears, nose, hands, and you have forgotten who is hidden behind these senses, who looks through your eyes. You are not the eyes. You have the eyes, right, but you are not the eyes. Eyes are only windows. Who is standing behind the windows? Who looks through the eyes?

This has to be deeply understood: that senses by themselves are impotent — unless you cooperate. That’s the whole art of yoga. If you don’t cooperate senses close. If you don’t cooperate conversion starts. If you don’t cooperate pratyahar comes in. That’s what people who are sitting silently for hours, for years, are doing — they are trying to drop the cooperation between themselves and their senses. When the energy is not obsessed to see, to hear, to touch; the energy starts moving inwards. That is pratyahar: movement towards the source, movement towards the place from where you have come, movement to the center. Now you are no longer moving to the periphery. This is just the beginning. The end will be in samadhi. Pratyahar is just a beginning of the energy moving towards home. Samadhi is when you have reached home, arrived. The four — yam, niyam, asan, pranayam — are the preparation for pratyahar, the fifth. And pratyahar is the beginning, the turning; samadhi is the end.

Pranayam is a way of getting in rhythm with the universe, but you remain outside. You start breathing in such a way, in such a rhythm, that you fall in tune with the whole. Then you are not fighting the whole; you have surrendered. You are no longer an enemy of the whole; you have become a lover. That’s what it means to be a religious man: now he is not in conflict; now he has no private goals to achieve; now he is flowing with existence; now he is in tune with the goal of the whole, if there is any; now he has no individual destiny, the whole’s destiny is his. He is floating with the river, not fighting up current. When you really float you disappear, because the ego can exist only when it fights. The ego can exist only when there is resistance. The ego can exist only when you have some private goal against the whole.

You cannot be against the whole, because you are part of the whole. Pranayam creates the situation in which return becomes possible, because now there is nowhere to go. The fight has stopped. The enemy disappears. Now you start floating towards your own being.

Patanjali says “dispersion of the cover,” not the attainment of light — these are two things.

Let us try to understand it in some other way. You are ill: medicine can help – the illness can disappear through medicine — but that doesn’t mean that you have attained to health. Illness may disappear, now there is no longer any illness in the body, but health has not appeared yet. You will have to rest to recoup. Disappearance of illness is not necessarily attainment of health. Health is a positive phenomenon; disease is a negative phenomenon. It may be possible that you go to the doctor and he cannot find any disease — that does not mean that you are healthy. You may go on saying, “I don’t feel healthy. I don’t feel a wellbeing arising in me. I don’t feel the zest of life, I don’t feel that I am alive.” The doctor can only detect disease, he cannot detect health. There is no way for him to detect whether you are healthy or not. The doctor cannot give you a certificate that you are healthy; he can only give you a certificate that you are not ill. Not to be ill is not necessarily to be healthy. Of course, not to be ill is a basic condition to be healthy — if you are ill you cannot be healthy — but if you are not ill it is not necessary that you are healthy. Health is something positive.

Patanjali says the cover is no longer there. That does not mean that you have known the light — three more steps still wait.

There are people in the world who are fighting with others in deep competition – in business, in politics, this and that. Then they become tired. If they are a little intelligent, they are bound to become tired. Then they start fighting with their own ego, which is the cover. One day that cover also disappears, then there is nothing to fight. Once there is nothing to fight, it becomes impossible for the ego to move even an inch, because the whole training of the ego is to fight with somebody — either somebody else or your own ego, but fight. When there is nothing to fight, the hindrance no more, one stops. There is nowhere to go now… but three steps are still waiting.  THE MIND BECOMES FIT FOR CONCENTRATION-Dharana is not only concentration. “Concentration” gives a little glimpse into the nature of dharana, but dharana is a bigger concept than concentration.

Dharana means the capacity to contain

Hindus have called woman the earth, because she carries the child, the seed of the child, just as the earth carries a seed of a great oak tree, for months together. When the seed settles deep into the soil, loses all fear, is no longer a stranger in the earth, starts feeling at home…. Remember, a seed has first to feel at home, only then the shell breaks; otherwise the shell will not break. When the seed starts feeling that this earth is motherly — now there is no need to protect oneself, there is no need to carry the armor of the shell around — it becomes loose. By and by, the shell breaks and disappears into the earth. Now the seed is no longer a stranger; he has found the mother. And then the sprout comes up. In Concentration is part of it. It is beautiful to learn concentration. If you can remain with one idea for long, you become capable of the higher possibility of remaining one and the same for a long period — because if you cannot remain one and the same for a long period, you will be distracted by the objects: one car, then another car; one house, then another house; one woman, then another woman; this post, then another post. You will be distracted by objects. You will not be able to come back home. When no object distracts you, only then is the return possible. A mind which can remain in deep patience, like a mother, can wait, can remain unmoving, only that mind can come to know one’s own divinity.


Unless you can renounce the distractions of the outside objects, you cannot move withinward, because they will go on calling you again and again and again. It is just like you are meditating, but in the meditation room you are keeping your phone also. It goes on ringing again and again and again — how can you meditate?

If you desire things you are never the master, Patanjali says, “Then comes the complete mastery over all the senses” — and the objects of senses… only through pratyahar, when you become the most important thing in your life. Nothing is comparable to it. When everything can be sacrificed to your own self-knowledge, your being, when kingdoms are worthless — if you have to choose between your inner kingdom and the kingdom of the outside you will choose your inner kingdom — at that moment, for the first time, you are no longer a slave: you have become a master. In India for sannyasins, we have been using the word swami — swami means “the master,” the master of the senses. Otherwise, you are all slaves — and slaves of dead things, slaves of the material world.

Pratyahar means: now you are not moving after the things, not chasing, hunting things. The same energy that was moving in the world is now moving towards the center. When the energy falls to the center, You become for the first time manifested to yourself — you know who you are. And that knowledge, who I am, makes you a god.

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