While this book is intended to treat solely upon the care of the physical body, leaving the higher branches of the Yogi Philosophy to be dealt with in other writings, still the leading principle of the Yogi teachings is so bound up with the minor branches of the subject, and is so largely taken into account by the Yogis in the simplest acts of their lives, that in justice to the teachings as well as to our students, we cannot leave the subject without at least saying a few words about this underlying principle.
The Yogi Philosophy, as our students doubtless know, hold that man is slowly growing and unfolding, from the lower forms and manifestations to higher, and still higher expressions of the Spirit. Spirit is in each man, although often so obscured by the confining sheaths of his lower nature that it is scarcely discernable. It is also in the lower forms of life, working up and ever seeking for higher forms of expression. The material sheaths of this progressing lifeâ€”bodies of mineral, plant, lower animal and manâ€”are but instruments to be used for the best development of the higher principles. But, although the use of the material body is but temporary, and the body itself nothing more than a suit of clothes to be put on, worn, and then discarded, yet it is always the intent of Spirit to provide and maintain as perfect an instrument as possible. It provides the best body possible, and gives the impulses toward right living, but if from causes not to be mentioned here, an imperfect body is provided for the soul, still the higher principles strive to adapt and accommodate themselves to it, and make the best of it.
This instinct of self-preservationâ€”this urge behind all of lifeâ€”is a manifestation of the Spirit. It works through the most rudimentary forms of the Instinctive Mind up through many stages until it reaches the highest manifestations of that mental principle. It also manifests through the Intellect, in the direction of causing the man to use his reasoning powers for the purpose of maintaining his physical soundness and life. But, alas! the Intellect does not keep to its own work, for as soon as it begins to be conscious of itself it begins to meddle with the duties of the Instinctive Mind, and overriding the instinct of the latter, it forces all sort of unnatural modes of living upon the body, and seems to try to get as far away from nature as possible. It is like a boy freed from the parental restraint, who goes as far contrary to the parents’ example and advice as possibleâ€”just to show that he is independent. But the boy learns his folly, and retraces his stepsâ€”and so will the Intellect.
Man is beginning to see now, that there is something within him that attends to the wants of his body, and which knows its own business much better than he does. For man with all his Intellect is unable to duplicate the feats of the Instinctive Mind working through the body of the plant, animal or himself. And he learns to trust this mental principle as a friend, and to let it work out its own duties. In the present modes of life which man has seen fit to adopt, in his evolution, but from which he will return to first principles sooner or later, it is impossible to live a wholly natural life, and physical existence must be more or less abnormal as a consequence. But nature’s instinct of self-preservation and accommodation is great, and it manages to get along very well with a considerable of a handicap, and does its work much better than one would expect considering the absurd and insane living habits and practices of civilized man.
It must not be forgotten, however, that as man advances along the scale and the Spiritual Mind begins to unfold, man acquires a something akin to instinctâ€”we call it Intuitionâ€”and this leads him back to nature. We can see the influence of this dawning consciousness, in the marked movement back toward natural living and the simple life, which is growing so rapidly the last few years. We are beginning to laugh at the absurd forms, conventions and fashions which have grown up around our civilization and which, unless we get rid of them, will pull down that civilization beneath its growing weight.
The man and woman in whom the Spiritual Mind is unfolding, will become dissatisfied with the artificial life and customs, and will find a strong inclination to return to simpler and more natural principles of living, thinking and acting, and will grow impatient under the restraint and artificial coverings and bandages with which man has bound himself during the ages. He will feel the homing instinctâ€””after long ages we are coming home.” And the Intellect will respond, and seeing the follies it has perpetrated, will endeavor to “let go” and return to nature, doing its own work all the better by reason of having allowed the Instinctive Mind to attend to its own work without meddling.
The whole theory and practice of Hatha Yogi is based upon this idea of return to natureâ€”the belief that the Instinctive Mind of man contains that which will maintain health under normal conditions. And accordingly those who practice its teachings learn first to “let go,” and then to live as closely to natural conditions as is possible in this age of artificiality. And this little book has been devoted to pointing out nature’s ways and methods, in order that we may return to them. We have not taught a new doctrine, but have merely cried out to you to come with us to the good old way from which we have strayed.
We are not unmindful of the fact that it is much harder for the man and woman of the West to adopt natural methods of living, when all their surroundings impel them the other way, but still each may do a little each day for himself and the race, in this direction, and it is surprising how the old artificial habits will drop from a personâ€”one by one.
In this our concluding chapter, we wish to impress upon you the fact that one may be led by the Spirit in the physical life, as well as in the mental. One may implicitly trust the Spirit to guide him in the right way in the matter of everyday living as well as in the more complicated matters of life. If one will trust in the spirit, he will find that his old appetites will drop away from himâ€”his abnormal tastes will disappearâ€”and he will find a joy and pleasure in the simpler living which will make life seem like a different thing to him.
One should not attempt to divorce his belief in the Spirit leadings from his physical lifeâ€”for Spirit pervades everything, and manifests in the physical (or rather through it) as well as in the highest mental states. One may eat with the Spirit and drink with it, as well as think with it. It will not do to say “this is spiritual, and that is not,” for all is spiritual, in the highest sense.
And finally, if one wishes to make the most of his physical lifeâ€”to have as perfect an instrument as may be for the expression of the Spiritâ€”let him live his life all the way through in that trust and confidence in the spiritual part of his nature. Let him realize that the Spirit within him is a spark from the Divine Flameâ€”a drop from the Ocean of Spirit-a ray from the Central Sun. Let him realize that he is an eternal beingâ€”always growing, developing and unfolding. Always moving toward the great goal the exact nature of which man, in his present state, is unable to grasp with his imperfect mental vision. The urge is always onward and upward. We are all a part of that great Life which is manifesting itself in an infinitude of infinitude of forms and shapes. We are all a part of IT. If we can but grasp the faintest idea of what this means, we will open ourselves up to such an influx of Life and vitality that our bodies will be practically made over and will manifest perfectly. Let each of us form an idea of a Perfect Body, and endeavor to so live that we will grow into its physical form-and we can do this.
We have tried to tell you the laws governing the physical body, that you may conform to them as near as may beâ€”interposing as little friction as possible to the inflow of that great life and energy which is anxious to flow through us. Let us return to nature, dear students, and allow this great life to flow through us freely, and all will be well with us. Let us stop trying to do the whole thing ourselvesâ€”let us just LET the thing do its own work for us. It only asks confidence and non-resistanceâ€”let us give it a chance.