Chapter 9: Practice and Desirelessness
Yoga never divides you, but still there is a fight. The fight is not against your nature. On the contrary, the fight is for your nature. You have accumulated many habits; those habits are your achievement of many lives’ wrong patterns. And because of those wrong patterns your nature cannot move spontaneously, cannot flow spontaneously, cannot reach to its destiny. These habits have to be destroyed. And these are only habits - they may look like nature to you because you are so much addicted with them. You may have become identified with them, but they are not you.
This distinction has to be clearly maintained in the mind, otherwise you can misinterpret Patanjali. Whatsoever has come in you from without and is wrong has to be destroyed so that which is within you can flow, can flower. Abhyasa, constant inner practice, is against habits.
The second thing, the second foundation stone, is vairagya, desirelessness. That too can lead you in a wrong direction. And, remember, these are not rules, these are simple directions. When I say these are not rules I mean they are not to be followed like an obsession, they have to be understood - the meaning, the significance. And that significance has to be carried in one’s life.
It is going to be different for everyone so it is not a fixed rule. You are not to follow it dogmatically. You have to understand its significance and then allow it to grow within you. The flowering is going to be different with each individual. So these are not dead, dogmatic rules, these are simple directions. They indicate the direction, they don’t give you the detail.
I remember, once Mulla Nasruddin was working as a doorkeeper in a museum. The first day he was appointed he asked for the rules: “What rules have to be followed?” So he was given the book of rules that were to be followed by the doorkeeper. He memorized them, he took every care not to forget a single detail.
And the first day when he was on duty, the first visitor came. He told the visitor to leave his umbrella there outside with him at the door. The visitor was amazed. He said, “But I don’t have any umbrella.”
So Nasruddin said, “In that case, you will have to go back. Bring an umbrella because this is the rule. Unless a visitor leaves his umbrella here outside, he cannot be allowed in.”
And there are many people who are rule-obsessed. They follow blindly. Patanjali is not interested in giving you rules. Whatsoever he is going to say are simple directions not to be followed, but to be understood. The following will come out of that understanding. And the reverse cannot happen: if you follow the rules, understanding will not come. If you understand the rules will come, the following will come automatically, as a shadow.