By Jeanne Grunert Gnani means wisdom attained through self reflection. Although the somewhat stilted and old-fashioned language may be difficult for some modern readers, the timeless truths contained within have helped many yoga students explore this branch of yoga. Who is Yogi Ramacharaka? During this time, many Indian yogis, mystics and teachers traveled to America to introduce yoga to the Western world. Interest in Eastern thought grew in England and the United States and authors like Atkinson published numerous volumes on yoga and other topics. Readers expected anyone writing about Eastern topics to have an Eastern name.
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The Yogi Philosophy may be divided into several great branches, or fields. What is known as "Hatha Yoga" deals with the physical body and its control; its welfare; its health; its preservation; its laws, etc. What is known as "Raja Yoga" deals with the Mind; its control; its development; its unfoldment, etc. What is known as "Gnani Yoga" deals with the scientific and intellectual knowing of the great questions regarding Life and what lies back of Life--the Riddle of the Universe.
Each branch of Yoga is but a path leading toward the one end--unfoldment, development, and growth. He who wishes first to develop, control and strengthen his physical body so as to render it a fit instrument of the Higher Self, follows the path of "Hatha Yoga. In fact, very few do. It is well for every one to know something of "Hatha Yoga," in order that the body may be purified, strengthened, and kept in health in order to become a more fitting instrument of the Higher Self. It is well that each one should know something of "Raja Yoga," that he may understand the training and control of the mind, and the use of the Will.
It is well that every one should learn the wisdom of "Gnani Yoga," that he may realize the wonderful truths underlying life--the science of Being. And, most assuredly every one should know something of Bhakti Yogi, that he may understand the great teachings regarding the Love underlying all life.
We have written a work on "Hatha Yoga," and a course on "Raja Yoga" which is now in book form. We have written something regarding "Bhakti Yoga" in our Advanced Course, and, we hope, have taught it also all through our other lessons, for we fail to see how one can teach or study any of the branches of Yoga without being filled with a sense of Love and Union with the Source of all Life.
To know the Giver of Life, is to love him, and the more we know of him, the more love will we manifest. In this course of lessons, of which this is the first, we shall take up the subject of "Gnani Yoga"--the Yoga of Wisdom, and will endeavor to make plain some of its most important and highest teachings. And, we trust that in so doing, we shall be able to awaken in you a still higher realization of your relationship with the One, and a corresponding Love for that in which you live, and move and have your being.
We ask for your loving sympathy and cooperation in our task. We see great masses of something that science has called "matter. We see things that we call "forms of life," varying in manifestation from the tiny speck of slime that we call the Moneron, up to that form that we call Man.
But study this world of manifestations by means of science and research--and such study is of greatest value--still we must find ourselves brought to a point where we cannot progress further. Matter melts into mystery--Force resolves itself into something else--the secret of living-forms subtly elude us--and mind is seen as but the manifestation of something even finer.
But in losing these things of appearance and manifestation, we find ourselves brought up face to face with a Something Else that we see must underlie all these varying forms, shapes and manifestations.
The highest reason of Man--as well as his deepest intuition--has always recognized that this Reality or Underlying Being must be but ONE, of which all Nature is but varying degrees of manifestation, emanation, or expression.
All have recognized that Life is a stream flowing from One great fount, the nature and name of which is unknown--some have said unknowable. Differ as men do about theories regarding the nature of this one, they all agree that it can be but One.
It is only when men begin to name and analyze this One, that confusion results. Let us see what men have thought and said about this One--it may help us to understand the nature of the problem. The materialist claims that this one is a something called Matter--self-existent--eternal--infinite--containing within itself the potentiality of Matter, Energy and Mind.
Another school, closely allied to the materialists, claim that this One is a something called Energy, of which Matter and Mind are but modes of motion.
Theologians claim that this One is a something called a personal God, to whom they attribute certain qualities, characteristics, etc. The Naturistic school claims that this One is a something called Nature, which is constantly manifesting itself in countless forms. The occultists, in their varying schools, Oriental and Occidental, have taught that the One was a Being whose Life constituted the life of all living forms. All philosophies, all science, all religions, inform us that this world of shapes, forms and names is but a phenomenal or shadow world--a show-world--back of which rests Reality, called by some name of the teacher.
But remember this, all philosophy that counts is based upon some form of monism--Oneness--whether the concept be a known or unknown god; an unknown or unknowable principle; a substance; an Energy, or Spirit. There is but One--there can be but One--such is the inevitable conclusion of the highest human reason, intuition or faith.
And, likewise, the same reason informs us that this One Life must permeate all apparent forms of life, and that all apparent material forms, forces, energies, and principles must be emanations from that One, and, consequently "of" it. It may be objected to, that the creeds teaching a personal god do not so hold, for they teach that their God is the creator of the Universe, which he has set aside from himself as a workman sets aside his workmanship. But this objection avails naught, for where could such a creator obtain the material for his universe, except from himself; and where the energy, except from the same source; and where the Life, unless from his One Life.
So in the end, it is seen that there must be but One--not two, even if we prefer the terms God and his Universe, for even in this case the Universe must have proceeded from God, and can only live, and move and act, and think, by virtue of his Essence permeating it.
In passing by the conceptions of the various thinkers, we are struck by the fact that the various schools seem to manifest a one-sidedness in their theories, seeing only that which fits in with their theories, and ignoring the rest.
The Materialist talks about Infinite and Eternal Matter, although the latest scientific investigations have shown us Matter fading into Nothingness--the Eternal Atom being split into countless particles called Corpuscles or Electrons, which at the last seem to be nothing but a unit of Electricity, tied up in a "knot in the Ether"--although just what the Ether is, Science does not dare to guess.
And Energy, also seems to be unthinkable except as operating through matter, and always seems to be acting under the operation of Laws--and Laws without a Law giver, and a Law giver without mind or something higher than Mind, is unthinkable.
And Mind, as we know it, seems to be bound up with matter and energy in a wonderful combination, and is seen to be subject to laws outside of itself, and to be varying, inconstant, and changeable, which attributes cannot be conceived of as belonging to the Absolute.
Mind as we know it, as well as Matter and Energy, is held by the highest occult teachers to be but an appearance and a relativity of something far more fundamental and enduring, and we are compelled to fall back upon that old term which wise men have used in order to describe that Something Else that lies back of, and under, Matter, Energy and Mind--and that word is "Spirit. But we can think of it as meaning the "essence" of Life and Being--the Reality underlying Universal Life.
Of course no name can be given to this One, that will fitly describe it. But we have used the term "The Absolute" in our previous lessons, and consider it advisable to continue its use, although the student may substitute any other name that appeals to him more strongly. We do not use the word God except occasionally in order to bring out a shade of meaning not because we object to it, but because by doing so we would run the risk of identifying The Absolute with some idea of a personal god with certain theological attributes.
Nor does the word "Principle" appeal to us, for it seems to imply a cold, unfeeling, abstract thing, while we conceive the Absolute Spirit or Being to be a warm, vital, living, acting, feeling Reality. We do not use the word Nature, which many prefer, because of its materialistic meaning to the minds of many, although the word is very dear to us when referring to the outward manifestation of the Absolute Life.
Of the real nature of The Absolute, of course, we can know practically nothing, because it transcends all human experience and Man has nothing with which he can measure the Infinite. Spinoza was right when he said that "to define God is to deny him," for any attempt to define, is, of course an attempt to limit or make finite the Infinite.
To define a thing is to identify it with something else--and where is the something else with which to identify the Infinite? The Absolute cannot be described in terms of the Relative.
It is not Something, although it contains within itself the reality underlying Everything. It cannot be said to have the qualities of any of its apparently separated parts, for it is the ALL.
It is all that really IS. It is beyond Matter, Force, or Mind as we know it, and yet these things emanate from it, and must be within its nature. For what is in the manifested must be in the manifestor--no stream can rise higher than its source--the effect cannot be greater than the cause--you cannot get something out of nothing. But it is hard for the human mind to take hold of That which is beyond its experience--many philosophers consider it impossible--and so we must think of the Absolute in the concepts and terms of its highest manifestation.
We find Mind higher in the scale than Matter or Energy, and so we are justified in using the terms of Mind in speaking of the Absolute, rather than the terms of Matter or Energy--so let us try to think of an Infinite Mind, whose powers and capacities are raised to an infinite degree--a Mind of which Herbert Spencer said that it was "a mode of being as much transcending intelligence and will, as these transcend mere mechanical motion. The Intellect has been developed in us for use--for the purpose of examining, considering, thinking--and it behooves us to employ it.
By turning it to this purpose, we not only strengthen and unfold it, but we also get certain information that can reach us by no other channel. And moreover, by such use of the Intellect we are able to discover many fallacies and errors that have crept into our minds from the opinions and dogmas of others--as Kant said: "The chief, and perhaps the only, use of a philosophy of pure reason is a negative one. It is not an organon for extending, but a discipline for limiting!
Instead of discovering truth, its modest function is to guard against error. One of the first reports of the Intellect, concerning the Absolute, is that it must have existed forever, and must continue to exist forever. There is no escape from this conclusion, whether one view the matter from the viewpoint of the materialist, philosopher, occultist, or theologian.
The Absolute could not have sprung from Nothing, and there was no other cause outside of itself from which it could have emanated. And there can be no cause outside of itself which can terminate its being. And we cannot conceive of Infinite Life, or Absolute Life, dying. So the Absolute must be Eternal--such is the report of the Intellect.
This idea of the Eternal is practically unthinkable to the human mind, although it is forced to believe that it must be a quality of the Absolute. The trouble arises from the fact that the Intellect is compelled to see everything through the veil of Time, and Cause and Effect.
Now, Cause and Effect, and Time, are merely phenomena or appearances of the relative world, and have no place in the Absolute and Real.
Let us see if we can understand this. Reflection will show you that the only reason that you are unable to think of or picture a Causeless Cause, is because everything that you have experienced in this relative world of the senses has had a cause--something from which it sprung.
You have seen Cause and Effect in full operation all about you, and quite naturally your Intellect has taken it for granted that there can be nothing uncaused--nothing without a preceding cause. And the Intellect is perfectly right, so far as Things are concerned, for all Things are relative and are therefore caused.
But back of the caused things must lie THAT which is the Great Causer of Things, and which, not being a Thing itself, cannot have been caused--cannot be the effect of a cause. Your minds reel when you try to form a mental image of That which has had no cause, because you have had no experience in the sense world of such a thing, and there fail to form the image.
It is out of your experience, and you cannot form the mental picture. But yet your mind is compelled to believe that there must have been an Original One, that can have had no cause. This is a hard task for the Intellect, but in time it comes to see just where the trouble lies, and ceases to interpose objections to the voice of the higher regions of the self. And, the Intellect experiences a similar difficulty when it tries to think of an Eternal--a That which is above and outside of Time.
We see Time in operation everywhere, and take it for granted that Time is a reality--an actual thing. But this is a mistake of the senses. There is no such thing as Time, in reality.
Time exists solely in our minds. It is merely a form of perception by which we express our consciousness of the Change in Things. We cannot think of Time except in connection with a succession of changes of things in our consciousness--either things of the outer world, or the passing of thought-things through our mind.
A day is merely the consciousness of the passing of the sun--an hour or minute merely the subdivision of the day, or else the consciousness of the movement of the hands of the clock--merely the consciousness of the movement of Things--the symbols of changes in Things. In a world without changes in Things, there would be no such thing as Time.
Time is but a mental invention. Such is the report of the Intellect. And, besides the conclusions of pure abstract reasoning about Time, we may see many instances of the relativity of Time in our everyday experiences. We all know that when we are interested Time seems to pass rapidly, and when we are bored it drags along in a shameful manner. We know that when we are happy, Time develops the speed of a meteor, while when we are unhappy it crawls like a tortoise.
When we are interested or happy our attention is largely diverted from the changes occurring in things--because we do not notice the Things so closely.
William Walker Atkinson
Learn how and when to remove this template message Atkinson was a prolific writer, and his many books achieved wide circulation among New Thought devotees and occult practitioners. According to this group, Atkinson has been identified as the author or co-author with individuals such as Edward E. Beals and Lauron William de Laurence of separate titles. One such title, for which Atkinson is credited as the author, with the copyright internally assigned to Towne, is The Psychology of Salesmanship, published in They were written in such a way as to form a course of practical instruction. As Ramacharaka, he helped to popularize Eastern concepts in America, with Yoga and a broadly-interpreted Hinduism being particular areas of focus. The works of Yogi Ramacharaka were published over the course of nearly ten years beginning in
A Series of Lessons in Gnani Yoga by Yogi Ramacharaka
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