MANY, MANY THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, the sages sat down and divided the science of yoga into eight different aspects. I would like to talk to you about one part. It is called pratyahar. Pratyahar is a secret science to reach God. You won’t find it discussed fully in any books. All they say is, pratyahar means “to contract.” Contract what? They don’t explain it. In some places they say pratyahar is pratyahar and whosoever does pratyahar reaches God. How are you going to make any sense out of it? That is how these old sciences happen. It goes from teacher to student, teacher to student, and so is passed on. The most beautiful art of yoga and the most pure science of yoga is pratyahar. Pratyahar means, correctly in English, contract or synchronize.
I will give you an example. Some of my students today sent me a birthday present. I should feel very grateful that the present has come, and they wanted me to participate by thanking them. But when I saw it, I couldn’t immediately thank them. Since at that time, I had been analyzing just what pratyahar is. It is a habit to synchronize towards God. So, immediately out of my mouth came, "Blessed is Lord God, who has given them the heart." I could have said, "Thank you, they are beautiful.” But nothing like that happened, and I started wondering why I could not say that. A gift is a source of happiness. But who provides the gift and who is the ultimate provider of the gift? If the consciousness does not synchronize immediately and focus on that point, you are not a yogi.
Bowing to the Source. For twelve years a woman and her husband tried, but they were never blessed with a child. It took twelve years, but finally she got pregnant. A beautiful son came. All they did was start meditating, chanting, and praying. When people came to them saying, "Well, God gave you a beautiful son. We’re so happy," they said, "Yes, please sit down and meditate and chant with us." For forty days I saw nothing but kirtan, chanting, and music outside that house. They were so happy, they would request of everybody, "Please, if you really love us, please join with us. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!" That is called pratyahar: Under any time, space, and circumstance, under any pressure, depression, or oppression, you do not forget that Infinite One.
Pratyahar is Also Called the Science of Dedicated Devotion. It is not simple devotion. Simple devotion is, "Thank you, God." That’s simple devotion. But it is also a dedication, because when anything comes, you say, "Thank you, God, for making me thank You." It is of a very high caliber. It is a very simple process for getting away from sensuality and sexuality, when they bring you to the Earth. Thank God for the Earth, and then God won’t let you go down the tube. It is the power of the Word of God that you are not limited. The moment you are unlimited, you cannot fall apart. You will only fall apart because of ego. You can’t fall apart because of God. Ego confines you to limits, and your spirit then gets inflated. When your spirit gets inflated in Infinity, because you are in mental Infinity, then you are divine. But when your spirit gets inflated when you are confined, then you are like a balloon.
Spiritual Ego—Devotion to Oneself Instead of God. In spirituality you will find spiritual ego. It is horrible. The majority of religious people are very miserable, because they walk on the path of spirituality with ego. They start building devotion towards themselves, develop pride, then freak out. Then they start showing off these siddhis— these powers: "I can fly; I can elevate three feet from the ground; I can do this to you." This tattva siddhi is to tell another person, "I am superior to you." They become a kind of semi-God-half-cooked, you know? Half-cooked food neither tastes raw, nor tastes cooked. I call them spiritual junkies. You’ll find a lot of swamis, yogis, ministers, and rabbis are spiritual junkies. They know a lot of junk. They know a lot of spiritual stuff, but, as humans, they are junkies. They are not grateful. They start showing you they are superior. That’s why you’ll find an uptight man of God is as dangerous as a cobra, a scorpion, or a lizard—these animals which give you fatal bites, or have their tongues going in and out. This is where you will go if you enter spiritual ego. A snake lives very long. All these spiritual teachers want to live very long—five hundred years—to keep that domain over other creatures of God. They want to enjoy that domain. Because if a man of God is not straightforward, is not truthful, and does not always talk about God, and rather brings his personality into the bargain, that’s what he gets.
To practice pratyahar means one must synchronize, analyze, and totally shell out everything, and realize the praise of God out of everything. God never made anybody without sense, God never made anybody a sinner. God is not a sinner. How can you be of God and be negative, a sinner, an egomaniac or jealous? There are two hundred fifty negative qualities, which you can count, that do not belong to God and with these qualities you do not belong to God. Be careful.
There are two ways of devotion: One is divine, the other is devil. Those decorations are the features you possess. If you want to discipline yourself towards the Divine, then you have to get out of all this nonsense; and if you want to belong to the Divine, you have to master this nonsense. They don’t go together. The majority of us are a hodge-podge of half divine and half devil; sometimes divine, sometimes devil. When a person who practices pratyahar is a devil, then he’s God’s devil. When he’s divine, he’s God’s divine one. His dedication to devotion is always divine. Therefore, neither is he a devil nor is he divine. He is the Infinite divine because he can cut through the limits of Time and Space. The caliber of such people is beautiful. They don’t stop at any-thing—they don’t and they can’t. In Anand Sahib the science of pratyahar is explained in such a beautiful manner. This is where the Guru talks to the eyes, the Guru talks to the ears, the Guru talks to the breath, the Guru talks to the life. All these similes are nothing but the science of pratyahar, which is further than pranayam. In the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib and in gurbani, wherever the mind has been addressed, it is pratyahar:
Re man eh bidh jog kamaao. —Guru Gobind Singh
Oh, my mind, practice yoga in this way.
When a person directs his own mind analytically towards Infinity, that process is pratyahar.
The science of spirituality is the science of union. Technically speaking, the science of mind is the source of happiness, and when you cannot do pratyahar, you cannot be grateful to God, that Infinite Source which continually gives to you. Then you can never learn to enjoy that thing. A thing which does not come to you from Infinity, cannot be with you to Infinity. Remember this law of cosmic consciousness. If material things come to you because of Infinity and you have the synchronization of dedication of your consciousness to feel that it comes from Infinity, then you have grace.
The Cause of All is the Infinite. The science of pratyahar indicates the dedicated telescopic view of the Infinite in the presence of finite microscopic analysis. Whenever this finite microscopically looks into anything, out of that microscopic view he or she telescopically understands the cause of it as Infinity, and bows.
Namo sarab diaale, Namo sarab palay.