Patanjali, author of The Yoga Sutras and teacher of Raja Yoga

“The ancient great teacher known as Patanjali began his lessons with the fact that each student was the Son of God… The main central thrust was to know you are the Son of God and then proceed to deal with the hindrances that make you think you are not.”

Serge Benhayon The Way It Is, ed 1, p 182

These words from Serge Benhayon offer an at once succinct and yet encompassing summation of the work of Patanjali, pointing us to the presence of this indelibly true and disciplined teacher of the Ageless Wisdom. A teacher, who in his living way, work and legacy – found in his work titled The Yoga Sutras – set a footprint for all, that we may return to a lived way of oneness with the soul. Essentially, and through intimate detail and lived reflection, he taught how to live as the reclaimed Son of God through the restoration of the Kingly Body and the return-path of Raja Yoga.

Though The Yoga Sutras remains, we do not have any exact historical dates for Patanjali’s time – unusual perhaps, but nonetheless, there is no dispute as to the fact that he lived and taught prior to the time of Yeshua (Jesus). He is generally accepted to have lived circa 150 to 400 BCE, though there are some that attribute his life and work to a much earlier period. And it may be up to 10,000 BCE, though, by way of impress and reappearance, we find his work throughout the ages. The terms ‘before’ or ‘after’ any true Ageless Wisdom teacher is a matter of purpose of responsibility and not one of historical ‘age’.

Patanjali was the focaliser and leading exponent of Raja Yoga, his teachings considered to sit at the core of what is often referred to as yoga’s ‘classical period’. Yet in his work, we see not only a synthesis of works and wisdom that had gone before him (such as that previously delivered through oral transmission in the Indian traditions), but rather a universally accessed codex for living, outlining the path of how to deal with the hindrances to yoga (which simply means union) with the soul.

Such teachings can only be delivered by one who lives a way of deep obedience to their place, purpose and true responsibility in this world, and who is thus responsive to what is required for humanity to return to all that we truly are.

“Purpose is always about everyone – the all returning to The All.”

Natalie Benhayon[1]

Patanjali’s life and work – as focussed in the work of the Yoga Sutras and his school of teaching – was thus in no way about a transmission of ‘knowledge’. He taught a living way of union, of deep accord and order with the universe, of which he knew himself to be a part, through a body that lived the depth of obediences required. This body he termed the Kingly Body. This was a man and lifetime lived in deep dedication, stemming from an absoluteness of responsibility to share that which he had mastered with others, and to lay a footprint for all. As with any true teacher of the Ageless Wisdom, he would have unquestionably continued to deepen his knowing of the formlessness of the divine lived-in form, throughout his lifetime.

In the work of Patanjali, we understandably find deep accord and resonance with the works and teachings of others who have brought forth humanity’s Ageless Wisdom in often difficult times where particular disciplines were required in order to live with a sustained connection to our divine, true nature. We see resonances with the living way of the inner heart (cardio-centric view) as taught by Pythagoras, the Yogas of Renunciation, Action and Wisdom presented by Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, and the Four Noble Truths and Eight-fold Path teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha.

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Where man meets Soul

It could be said that the birth of The Way of The Livingness began 2,500 years ago with Pythagoras and the ensuing Pythagoreans. However the principles of purpose and dedication towards responsibility, towards love, towards developing the Kingly or Divine body have not changed.

The above audio presentation from Serge Benhayon offers us much by way of this understanding. As such it is worthy of confirmation by way of quoting here, the following extract:

“…the teachings of Patanjali, circa 150 BCE, were a continuation of the teachings of the soul practised by the Pythagoreans, hence the Lineage… Patanjali also distinguished the differences between spirit and soul. He did not just use the term, man ‘and’ soul, his teachings made it not only clear and certain that there was a difference between spirit and soul, but that it had to become a practice to foster soul life, over the meandering mind and ways of the spirit.

Patanjali made broader the religious practice of living by a way that was to discipline the spirit’s waywardness, so that our vehicle, the body of man, could be lived by the way of the soul. Thus, producing what he called, the Kingly Body. And he termed the practice, Raja Yoga, which means kingly union, or union with our King or kingliness.

So the kingly body was seen as the enlightened, ordinary state. It wasn’t seen as anything exalted, special… It wasn’t seen as exclusive, and it wasn’t seen as better than anyone. It was seen as something that we had to responsibly do. Because of the waywardness that people were living in society, there had to be a responsible call, to bring a way of life that brought order by way of reflection, not by force. So he developed the practice of Raja Yoga so that we can develop a self-discipline, so that we can re-introduce responsibility to self, and with responsibility to self, responsibility by order, of that practice with others in society.”

Patanjali emphasised, with purity and absoluteness, a way that took one into deep personal observation – of all aspects of our being. Think not of Raja Yoga being about physical asana (postures) and rigour (something never once emphasised in his work). But rather, a way of living and discipline that offers a perpetual enquiry: what is it that drives us to think and behave as we do, if our lives are not lived in purpose for The All? What is it that by our every movement and lived way, we offer to others “by way of reflection, not by force”?

The aspirant or student is offered a deep study of the psychology of the human spirit, from the foundational understanding that within we are already the Son of God and thus made in his likeness. Patanjali was one of the first to deliver this depth of psychology – that everyone was a Son of God, that everyone is a Master within,[2] awaiting the re-awakening. The key being, which master do we serve – that which would perpetuate individuality (the human spirit)? Or, the love of the soul – a love and purposefulness lived for all?

The extensiveness of the teachings addresses in meticulous detail the psychology of the wayward part of us (the spirit), which having fragmented from its union with the soul, sought a deviated path of satiating self-driven desire through the experience of human life.

“Intense desire for sentient existence”[3] – the ‘behind the scenes’ activity of the unseen driver that is the human spirit, is addressed in full in his work, for in our movement and expression of its waywardness, we do not live and breathe in alignment with The All from which we were breathed forth. Having deviated from the soulful way of union and harmony with universal order, we bring discord to the whole. This is the responsibility spoken of by Serge Benhayon in the preceding audio.

And so any deep observation and study of who we are, from what we know from Patanjali, is offered by way of an energetic study of all facets of our being simultaneously – no part being separate from the whole, and no one part leading on its own, to the yoking of what is necessary in order to return to yoga (union) with our divine kingliness. This is not a way of yoga dominated by physical focus alone.

“The human spirit is not the Divine spirit. The human spirit is a separation from the Soul and it is the Soul that is the fiery essence that holds the key to us all knowing that we are in fact the Sons of God.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 634

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is the name given to the way of yoga that this great teacher lived, and presented to his students. He founded the Raja Yoga school. Also known as the Kingly Science of the Soul, Raja Yoga presents in detail this possibility and indeed the path or way for all hindrances – all identifications and attachments of the spirit that have led us astray from union with our soul – to be purposefully addressed and defeated. Though few may have been ready for such teachings in his time, they were delivered for all equally so – no ‘one’ holding more or less capacity in living the way of the soul.

“Our true evolution is to create a love-filled body (the kingly form) so that we can enhouse and thus express the light of the Soul.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 571

As described by Alice Anne Bailey, who commented extensively on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in her book The Light of The Soul:

“The man is no longer what his physical body makes him, when identified with it, the victim of the world. He walks free, with shining face (I. Cor. 3) and the light of his countenance is shed abroad upon all he meets. No longer do his desires swing the flesh into activity, and no longer does his astral body subjugate him and overcome him.”[4]

“Raja Yoga stands by itself and is the king’s science of them all:
it is the summation of all the others [forms of yoga that preceded],
it is the climax and that which completes the work of development
in the human kingdom.”[5]

In Raja Yoga, we are reunited with the Kingly Body – our true and divine nature, in a physical form in alignment with all that we are in truth, through the exposure and defeat of all that is not aligned with the light of the soul. This is not a process of ‘attainment’, but rather of discarding and return to that which we already are. It is the healing and restoration of the departure from the Oneness of which we are integrally a part, and thus that we essentially ‘re-attain’ through the livingness of the disciplines of Raja Yoga.

The Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali consist of 196 sutras, often referred to as aphorisms or ‘sacred threads’, presented over four books. These contain detailed offerings in regard to addressing the hindrances to our re-unification with who we truly are, and what the path of re-awakening entails. By its very nature, a sutra is an offered way of teaching that speaks directly to one deeply receptive to the offering. This was no transmission of ‘knowledge’ to be read, learnt and/or memorised, but rather, a vibrational offering to every living way of the student that in itself could unlock the next deepening step on the path of Raja Yoga, a step ignited from within.

“A sutra is the taking on of the livingness of that study in the bodily form.”[6]

As noted in the preceding audio, the Kingly Body, or ‘enlightened, ordinary state’ that the Yoga Sutras offered the means to re-attaining, was ‘no big deal’. For those ready to receive these teachings, it was simply a matter of responsibility to all.

The Kingly Body was seen as obtainable through an absoluteness of dedication to this call, particularised to the disciplines required in what is considered to be Patanjali’s time during the Era (or Age) of Aries (spanning from approx. 2000 BCE to the time of Yeshua). An Era which called for a reining in of the indulgences, identifications, aggressions and intensity of waywardness that was lived at the time. As Krishna spoke to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, written at an early juncture in that era:

“Fall not into degrading weakness, for this becomes not a man who is a man. Throw off this ignoble discouragement, and arise like a fire that burns all before it.”[7]

These are lived obediences born of the love of God, and of the truth of all as equal.

Various commentators have brought The Yoga Sutras to the English language, with the text well preserved, particularly with the rise of interest in Indian and yogic philosophy that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the west. The Yoga Sutras outline essentially the hindrances to union with the soul, the steps to be taken to yoga (union), and the living way of union once re-attained. Alice A. Bailey[8] presents the following English translations/ impressions of each of the Book titles:

  • Book I: The Problem of Union
  • Book II: The Steps to Union
  • Book III: Union Achieved and Its Results
  • Book IV: Illumination

It could be said that Book I ‘begins at the end’ (though there can in truth be no end point) in addressing the science of union (or re-union with the soul), and offering steps to breaking down and defeating the hold of the spirit-driven mind, that the true will in alignment with the divinity of the soul be known.

On the subject of releasing the attachments of self-satiating desires, Patanjali offers (A.A. Bailey translation/impression):

“Non-attachment is freedom from longing for all objects of desire, either earthly or traditional, either here or hereafter.”[9]

Or as James Haughton Woods describes/translates:

“… on the part of one who has rid himself of thirst for either seen or revealed objects.”[10]

And returning to A.A. Bailey’s work:

“To overcome the obstacles and their accompaniments, the intense application of the will to some one truth (or principle) is required.”[11]<

Book II deepens the exploration, presenting the five key hindrances to union, together with the often referenced ‘Eight Limbs’ (or ‘Means’) – these being 55 (of the 196) sutras which present a deepening practical application of Raja Yoga into our everyday awareness and lived discipline.

A founding underlying principle of the sutras can be seen in the simplicity of Book II, Sutra 21:

“All that is exists for the sake of the soul.”[12]

We are simply not here for ourselves, but for all.

The Limbs practically address foundational elements of life in human embodiment, from awareness of our body and what it means to live a life of energetic integrity and responsibility, to a deepening relationship with deep honesty, truth and divinity – each aspect offering much by way of continued exploration, and forming intimate inter-relationship with every other.

The Eight Limbs can be listed as follows, as according to Alice A. Bailey[13]:

  • The Commandments (Yama)
  • The Rules (Nijama)
  • Posture (Asana)
  • Right Control of Life-force (Pranayama)
  • Abstraction (Pratyahara)
  • Attention (Dharma)
  • Meditation (Dhyana)
  • Contemplation (Samadhi)

We are reminded of Plato and the ‘part’ that can never be considered in isolation without consideration and full awareness of the whole. Such is the nature of the spherical and all-encompassing energetic truth of the Ageless Wisdom, as opposed to a lineal pursuit of knowledge and the ability to recall it, or the seeking of physical ‘perfection’ alone, without a true vibrational reference of our innate divinity.

Of note here is the 3rd Limb, ‘Posture’ or ‘Asana’. Here, Patanjali makes simple and subtle references to posture of the physical vehicle, the body – references which circumscribe the being as a whole, and not merely the physicality. There is no mention in the work of Patanjali of any rigorous physical postures or asana, as we may consider ‘yoga’ to be today.

“The posture assumed must be steady and easy.”[14]

“Steadiness and ease of posture is to be achieved through persistent slight effort and through the concentration of the mind upon the infinite.”[15]

It is of interest to note that the Sanskrit word ‘asana’ simply means ‘seat’ or ‘seated position’.

Many intensely rigorous yogic traditions harken to Patanjali as a forefather of their lineage, yet the truth of this requires discernment as to whether a corruption has occurred in relation to the teachings he brought forth. Do such claims discern the difference between spirit and soul, or rather further the separation between the two and the possibility of soulful union via intense focus on physical prowess, at the expense of dealing with the psychology of the spirit and its preference for satiating its own desires?

The teachings of Raja Yoga hold a deep purity.

From the foundations offered via the Eight Limbs and Book II of the Yoga Sutras, Book III deepens the offered disciplines and reflection. The ‘chitta’ (or chatter) of the mind is stilled. A gradual and developing relationship with the light of the soul and steadiness within one’s being takes place.

“The illumination is gradual; it is developed stage by stage.”[16]

Sutra 40 offers the deepening embodiment of the soul’s light that occurs, as “the spark becomes the flame”[17], or in the words of J.H. Woods, another scholar and translator of the Yoga Sutras:

“… there arises a radiance… There is a pulsing forth of the flame in the body.”[18]

Book IV delves more deeply into our return to living soulfully for all – the mastering (defeat) of the self-driven spirit inclusive of aspects of the intellect, and the inherent Oneness known with all as the light of the soul – ever a part of the One Soul – deepens in the embodiment.

“The mind then tends towards discrimination and increasing illumination as to the true nature of the one Self.”[19]

“…the pure spiritual consciousness withdraws into the One.”[20]

Or as simply put, by today’s focal teacher of the Ageless Wisdom, accessing the same truth available to us all…

“All souls are but one Soul.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 386

In the offerings of Patanjali and his legacy, we are presented with a footprint of a great teacher, a footprint founded in absoluteness with the divine, and obedience to living in accord with its universal order. An absoluteness that sees no ‘hindrance’ as greater than the light and fire of the soul, our true nature.

Standing in the might of this light and fire, Patanjali knew all to be equal Sons of God. He thus offered through his teachings a great love for all, living and imparting the disciplines and way needed to return to the lived way of the soul, for his time and well beyond – a purposefulness and reflection from The All, for all.

Contemporary relevance

That which remains of the work of Patanjali holds deep relevance to us today. Are we aware of that which drives us, the source of our thoughts, and of our behaviours? Of that which leads to repetition of the spirit’s wayward ways? Are we living a purpose-full life, for all?

Do we love all so greatly and equally as to be done with the waywardness that yet feeds millennia of systemic corruption, of war, of sex trafficking… down to the slightest form of abuse that occurs under our very own roofs? Dare we embark upon the work needed to be done that such harm has no place in and through the human vehicle, that it can indeed become the Kingly Body that enhouses the light of the soul in true yoga (union), and by contrast reflects to others through movement, expression and emanation that they too are the same – a Son of God and no less, with a capacity for magnificence that has no end?

As with all teachers of the Lineage of our Ageless Wisdom, we see via Patanjali a way outlined – in this instance a detailed form of lived obediences – a way of return to the fiery home of the soul; a way of responsibility for The All of which we are indelibly a part.

In the Yoga Sutras we find solid foundation stones for The Way Of The Livingness well and truly laid – a footprint that reaches far beyond the time in which he lived, when viewed correctly. No aspect of the being is left unaddressed. The body is the vehicle for the soul’s expression, and nothing less. We find such teachings repeatedly offered to humanity throughout the ages via teachers of the Ageless Wisdom, that the truth of us is that we are multi-dimensional beings first, and ‘human’ second. As such, there is a way of return to the fiery and magnificent light of the soul, to live with purpose, integrity and responsibility for The All of which we are indelibly a part.

The footprints have been laid, and continue to be laid.
The rest – it is up to us.

As Serge Benhayon has written:

“Raja Yoga unfolds the light of the soul in such a way that it deconstructs the way in which the spirit has a hold over the carnal body.

Without this knowledge, the human spirit will rule by Glamour over its counterpart, the personality, as it, the spirit, is part of the illusion that created the physical existence in the first place.

By identifying the fact of the light of the soul, the student can begin to wrestle and eventually release the hold the spirit has over its physical incarnation.

The trickery, the deceit and the hindrances that lie ahead are well exposed and presented in such a way that the student can begin to identify, catch them, and eventually release all of the obstacles that impede the true light to be.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 23


References:

  • [1]

    Benhayon, Natalie (2020, November), conversation with the author

  • [2]

    Benhayon, Serge (2020, November), conversation with the author

  • [3]

    The Light of The Soul: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927 (15th printing NY 1997), Book II, Sutra 9, p. 115

  • [4]

    The Light of The Soul: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927 (15th printing NY 1997), p. xiv

  • [5]

    Ibid, p. 120

  • [6]

    The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, study notes by Serge Benhayon, 2005

  • [7]

    The Bhagavad Gita, translation by Juan Marcaro, Penguin Books, 1962, 2:3, p. 77

  • [8]

    Ibid

  • [9]

    Ibid, Book I, Sutra 15, p. 28

  • [10]

    The Yoga System of Patanjali, James Haughton Woods, Kessinger Publishing reproduction of 1914 text, Book I, Sutra 15, p. 36

  • [11]

    The Light of the Soul, Book I, Sutra 32, p. 72

  • [12]

    The Light of The Soul: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927 (15th printing NY 1997), Book II, Sutra 21, p. 164

  • [13]

    Ibid, p. 180

  • [14]

    The Light of The Soul: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927 (15th printing NY 1997), Book II, Sutra 46, p. 213

  • [15]

    The Light of The Soul: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Company, 1927 (15th printing NY 1997), Book II, Sutra 47, p. 215

  • [16]

    Ibid, Book III, Sutra 6, p. 255

  • [17]

    Ibid, Book III, Sutra 40, p. 332

  • [18]

    The Yoga System of Patanjali, J.H. Woods (no page reference)

  • [19]

    The Light of The Soul, Book IV, Sutra 26, p. 422

  • [20]

    Ibid, Book IV, Sutra 34, p. 428

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