Chapter 9: Returning to the Source
52. Then comes the dispersion of the cover that hides the light.
53. And then the mind becomes fit for concentration.
54. The fifth constituent of yoga, pratyahar - returning to the source - is the restoration of the mind’s ability to control the senses by renouncing the distractions of outside objects.
55. Then comes the complete mastery over all the senses.
“Man is being abolished,” says C. S. Lewis. “Good riddance,” says B. F. Skinner. “How like a god,” says Shakespeare’s Hamlet about man. “How like a dog,” says Pavlov. The trouble is that man is both - godlike, doglike, both. If man was a unity - doglike or godlike - there would have been no problem. The problem arises because man is a paradox: on the surface, worse than any dog; at the center, glorious, more glorious than any god.
If you look at man just from the outside, you cannot say that if man is being abolished there is some harm - “It is good, good riddance. Skinner is right. The earth will be better; at least, more silent. Nature will be happier.” But if you look at man deep, in his infinite depth, then without man the earth may be silent, but that silence will be dead. It will not have any music in it. It will not have any depth in it. Flowers will be there, but they will not be beautiful anymore. Who will feel their beauty? Who will know their beauty? Birds will go on singing, but who will call the singing poetic, mysterious? Trees will be green, but will not be green at the same time, because that greenery has to be recognized by a deep resonance of the human heart.
With man, appreciation will disappear. With man, prayer will disappear. With man, God will disappear. The earth will be there, but ungodly. The silence, but the silence of the cemetery. The silence will not be throbbing with the heart. It may be spread all over the earth, it may have expansion, but it will miss depth - and a silence without depth is no longer silence. The world will be profane; it won’t be sacred anymore.
Man creates the holy, because deep hidden behind man is the holy. Man cannot live without temples, without churches, without mosques, because man himself is a temple. He goes on creating temples - even atheists create temples. Look at the temple of the Kremlin. Communists passing before the Kremlin or before the mausoleum of Lenin are as worshipful as any theist worshipping any other god. Man cannot live without a god because deep down he is a god.
The problem, the trouble, arises because man is both: a bridge stretched between two eternities - between matter and mind, between this world and that, between the profane and the sacred, between life and death. That’s the beauty also: with the mystery, with the paradox, man is not only a puzzle, he also becomes a mystery.