For example, my hands, my feet, my heart – they don’t function separately. They are not separate; they are an organic unity. If the heart stops, the hand will not move then. Everything is joined together. They are not just like steps on a ladder, because every rung on the ladder is separate. If one rung is broken the whole ladder is not broken. So Patanjali says they are steps, because they have a certain, sequential growth – but they are also angas, limbs of a body, organic. You cannot drop any of them. Steps can be dropped; limbs cannot be dropped. You can jump two steps in one jump, you can drop one step, but limbs cannot be dropped; they are not mechanical parts. You cannot remove them. They make you. They belong to the whole; they are not separate. The whole functions through them as a harmonious unit.
So these eight limbs of yoga are both steps, steps in the sense that each follows the other, and they are in a deep relationship. The second cannot come before the first – the first has to be first and the second has to be second. And the eighth will come to be the eighth – it cannot be the fourth, it cannot be the first. So they are steps and they are an organic unity also.
Yam means self-restraint. In English the word becomes a little different. Not a little different, really, the whole meaning of yam is lost – because in English self-restraint looks like suppressing, repressing. And these two words, suppression and repression, after Freud, have become four-letter words, ugly. Self-restraint is not repression. In the days when Patanjali used the word yam it had a totally different meaning. Words go on changing. Even now, in India also, samyam, which comes from yam, means control, repression. The meaning is lost.
You may have heard an anecdote. It is said about King George I of England that he went to see St. John’s Cathedral when it was built. It was a masterpiece of art. The builder, the architect, the artist, was present there; his name was Christopher Wren. The king looked at him and complimented him. He said three words: he said, “It is amusing. It is awful. It is artificial.” Christopher Wren was so delighted with the compliments…but you will be simply surprised. Those words don’t have the same meaning anymore. In those days, three hundred years before, amusing used to mean amazing, awful used to mean awe-inspiring, and artificial used to mean artistic.
Each word has a biography, and it changes many times. As life changes, everything changes: the words take new colors. And, in fact, the words which have the capacity to change, only they remain alive; otherwise they go dead. Orthodox words, reluctant to change, they die. Alive words, who have the capacity to collect a new meaning around them, only they live; and they live in many, many meanings, for centuries. Yam was a beautiful word in Patanjali’s days, one of the beautiful…. After Freud, the word has become ugly – not only the meaning has changed, but the whole flavor, the whole taste of the word.