In fact, even someone who is totally atheistically oriented cannot deny yoga because yoga doesn’t make it a precondition to believe in God. Yoga has no preconditions; yoga is absolutely experiential. When the concept of God is mentioned – and in the most ancient yoga books it was never mentioned at all – it is mentioned only as a method. It can be used as a hypothesis – if it is helpful to someone it can be used – but it is not an absolute condition. That is why Buddha can be a yogi without God, without the Vedas, without any belief. Without any faith, any so-called faith, he can be a yogi.
So for theists, or even for an atheist, yoga can become a common ground. It can become a bridge between science and religion. It is rational and irrational simultaneously. The methodology is totally rational, but through the methodology you move deep into the mystery of the irrational. The whole process is so rational – every step is so rational, so scientific, it is so logical – that you just have to do it and everything else follows.
Jung mentions that in the nineteenth century no Westerner concerned with psychology could conceive of anything beyond the conscious mind or below the conscious mind, because mind means consciousness. So how can there be an unconscious mind? It is absurd, non-scientific. Then, in the twentieth century, as science learned more about the unconscious, a theory of the unconscious mind developed. Then, when they went even deeper, they had to accept the idea of a collective unconscious, not only an individual one. It looked absurd – mind means something individual, so how could there be a collective mind – but now they have even accepted the concept of the collective mind.
These are the first three divisions of Buddhist psychology, of Buddhist yoga – the first three. Then Buddha goes on dividing into one hundred and sixty more divisions. Jung says, “Before we denied these three, now we accept them. It may be that others also exist. We have only to proceed step by step, we have only to go into it further.” Jung’s approach is very rational, one deeply rooted in the West.
With yoga, you have to proceed rationally, but only in order to jump into the irrational. The end is bound to be irrational. That which you can understand – the rational – cannot be the source because it is finite. The source must be greater than you. The source from which you have come, from which everything has come, the whole universe has come – and where it goes down and disappears again – must be more than this. The manifestation must be less than the source. A rational mind can feel and understand the manifested, but the unmanifested remains behind.
Yoga does not insist that one must be rational. It says, “It is rational to conceive of something irrational. It is rational, really, to conceive of the boundaries of the rational.” A true, authentic mind always knows the limitations of reason, always knows that reason ends somewhere. Anyone who is authentically rational has to come to a point where the irrational is felt. If you proceed with reason toward the ultimate, the boundary will be felt.