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Chapter 1: Ask a Question Close to Home

1. Dharana, concentration, is confining the mind to the object being meditated upon.

2. Dhyan, contemplation, is the uninterrupted flow of the mind to the object.

3. Samadhi is when the mind becomes one with the object.

4. The three taken together - dharana, dhyan, and samadhi - constitute sanyama.

5. By mastering it, the light of higher consciousness.

Once a master of Zen invited questions from his students. A student asked. “What future rewards can be expected by those who strive diligently with their lessons?”

Answered the master, “Ask a question close to home.”

A second student wanted to know, “How can I prevent my past follies from rising up to accuse me?”

The master repeated, “Ask a question close to home.”

A third student raised his hand to state, “Sir, we do not understand what is meant by asking a question close to home.”

“To see far, first see near. Be mindful of the present moment, for it contains answers about future and past. What thought just crossed your mind? Are you now sitting before me with a relaxed or with a tense physical body? Do I now have your full or partial attention? Come close to home by asking questions such as these. Close questions lead to distant answers.”

This is the yoga attitude towards life. Yoga is not metaphysical. It does not bother about the distant questions.-faraway questions, about past lives, future lives, heaven and hell, God, and things of that sort. Yoga is concerned with questions close at home. Closer the question, the more is the possibility to solve it. If you can ask the question closest to you, there is every possibility that just by asking, it will be solved. And once you solve the closest question, you have taken the first step. Then the pilgrimage begins. Then by and by you start solving those which are distant - but the whole yoga inquiry is to bring you close at home.

So if you ask Patanjali about God, he won’t answer. In fact he will think you a little foolish. Yoga thinks all metaphysicians foolish; they are wasting their time about problems which cannot be solved because they are so far away. Better start from the point where you are. You can only start from where you are. Each real journey can begin only from where you are. Don’t ask intellectual, metaphysical questions of the beyond; ask the questions of the within.

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