Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Through mastery of the upward-life comes freedom from the dangers of water, morass, and thorny places, and the power of ascension is gained.

Here is one of the sentences, so characteristic of this author, and, indeed, of the Eastern spirit, in which there is an obvious exterior meaning, and, within this, a clear interior meaning, not quite so obvious, but far more vital. The surface meaning is, that by mastery of a certain power, called here the upward-life, and akin to levitation, there comes the ability to walk on water, or to pass over thorny places without wounding the feet.DOUBLEBREAKBut there is a deeper meaning. When we speak of the disciple's path as a path of thorns, we use a symbol; and the same symbol is used here. The upward-life means something more than the power, often manifested in abnormal psychical experiences, of levitating the physical body, or near-by physical objects. It means the strong power of aspiration, of upward will, which first builds, and then awakes the spiritual man, and finally transfers the conscious individuality to him; for it is he who passes safely over the waters of death and rebirth, and is not pierced by the thorns in the path. Therefore it is said that he who would tread the path of power must look for a home in the air, and afterwards in the ether.DOUBLEBREAKOf the upward-life, this is written in the Katha Upanishad: "A hundred and one are the heart's channels; of these one passes to the crown. Going up this, he comes to the immortal." This is the power of ascension spoken of in the Sutra.

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