Just as physicists think that the whole consists of nothing but electrons, electric energy, yoga thinks that the whole consists of nothing but sound electrons. The basic element of existence for yoga is sound because life is nothing but a vibration. Life is nothing but an expression of silence. Out of silence we come and into silence we dissolve again. Silence, space, nothingness, nonbeing, is your innermost core, the hub of the wheel. Unless you come to that silence, to that space where nothing else remains except your pure being, liberation is not attained. This is the yoga framework.
They divide your being into four layers. I am speaking to you; this is the last layer. Yoga calls it vaikhari; the word means “fruition,” flowering. But before I speak to you, before I utter something, it becomes manifest to me as a feeling, as an experience; that is the third stage. Yoga calls it madhyama, “the middle.” But before something is experienced inside, it moves in a seed form. You cannot experience this ordinarily unless you are very meditative, unless you have become so totally calm that even a stirring in the seed which has not sprouted yet can be perceived; it is very subtle. Yoga calls that pashyanti; the word pashyanti means “looking back,” looking to the source. And beyond that is your fundamental being out of which everything arises. That is called para; para means “the transcendental.”
Now try to understand these four layers. Para is something beyond all manifestation. Pashyanti is like a seed. Madhyama is like a tree. Vaikhari is like fruition, flowering.
Let me tell you another story, again from the Chhandogya Upanishad:
“Fetch me from thence a fruit of the nyagrodh tree,” asked the father, the great sage Uddalak, to his son.
“Here is one, sir,” said Svetketu.
“It is broken, sir.”
“What do you see there?”
“These seeds, almost infinitesimal.”
“Break one of them.”
“It is broken, sir.”
“What do you see?”
“Nothing, sir. Absolutely nothing.”
The father said, “My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there – of that very essence this great nyagrodh tree exists. Believe it, my son, that there is the subtle essence. In that all things have existence. That is the truth. That is the self. And that, Svetketu, that art thou – tatvamasi, Svetketu.”