SOLARIS - lectures

The 8 limbs of RAJA-YOGA
The path of meditation

RAJA-Yoga was recorded already about 2000 years ago by Rishi (= wise man)
Patanjali in the yoga aphorismes. This practical course is divided into eight limbs which
are explained in detail below and it is composed of aphorisms being the basis for the
study and the training of RAJA Yoga (see : RAJA-Yoga). In the 20th century,  revealed
these secret doctrines of RAJA-Yoga whom he called  to the Westerners. Kriya-Yoga
may only be learnt with the help of a guru and will remain pure theory without the
support of a spiritual friend and teacher.

RAJA-Yoga consists of eight consecutive limbs:

1. YAMA (the 5 abstentions):
non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, non-acceptance of gifts (see "The 10
guideposts to happiness" Edition 3/92)
2. NIYAMA (the 5 rules of conduct):
cleanliness (purification), contentment, austerity, study, surrender to God
3. ASANA (the right meditative posture)
4. PRANAYAMA (regulation of the Vital Force Kundalini)
5. PRATYAHARA (abstraction of the senses and mind from objects)
6. DHARANA (concentration)
7. DHYANA (meditation)
8. SAMADHI (enlightenment - happiness)

Those who do not want to realize the first two yoga limbs inevitably will slip off into the
sector of magic, occultism and spiritism. Those who are not prepared to master the first
two limbs, will never be able to reach God. The third limb is intended to keep our body
healthy, so that we are able to follow our path to God in good health and energetically.
The body is God's Temple where He lives.

The first three limbs are exoteric, i.e. accessible to everyone. Each Christ practices
them and may perfect oneself in them. Limbs 4 to 8, however, are esoteric, i.e. they will
be revealed only to the knowing circle of Chelas (= disciples, disciples). Yet, every
human being having a pure heart and honest intentions who wants to approach the
Divine, will be initiated in the secret. Paramahansa Yogananda who left his mortal
remains in the year 1956 continues to act in the other world and takes every earnestly
striving person as his disciple.
Paramahansa Yogananda was initiated in the Kriya-Yoga in direct succession of  and
Mahavatar Babaji, via Lahiri Mahasaya and . He lived and taught most of his earthly life
in the United States of America. It is not possible to impart the esoteric teaching in this
article, yet the theory of the RAJA-Yoga will be explained.
At the beginning of the path is the , the desire to change one's present life and to give
life a positive sense. Here, the first limb of the RAJA-Yoga starts:

1. YAMA, the 5 abstentions
a) Non-killing (innocence): this is the philosophy of life not to intentionally damage
anything or injure or even kill anybody. Mahatma Gandhi's Ahimsa (nonviolence)
constitutes a high form of expression of the YAMA.
b) Avoidance of untrueness (truthfulness): Never saying untrue things, never lying,
never being insincere. The Indians of North America were such people living according
to this Yama. The white men often were described by the Indians as people "speaking
with forked tongues" (liars).
c) Non-stealing: One of God's 10 commandments which I have already dealt with in
another article. Stealing is based on man's greed (or envy). It is one of the three
fundamental evils in Buddhism causing rebirth.
d) Continence: This not only means sexual continence, but any chase for sensual
pleasure should be avoided. Those who already practice continence in their lives on
earth, will have an advantage in the other world (astral sector) in rising into higher
e) Non-acceptance of gifts: By accepting gifts one is obliged to and depending on
others and looses one's freedom, the freedom of God's children. There are even some
spiritual communities having the "non-acceptance of gifts" as rule of the order (see
Taize - Frere Roger) and which do not beg, but earn their living through hard working.

2. NIYAMA, the 5 rules of conduct
a) Inner and outer purification: This means a physic, mental and spiritual purification, an
illumination of our frame covering the Atman (= soul).
b) Contentment: We will get contentment, if we rest in our center (HARA) and try to
avoid each extreme (the golden mean). A satisfaction which is independent of external
circumstances or the fulfillment of wishes.
c) Austerity: In life nothing can be achieved without discipline and strictness. This holds
also true for the RAJA-Yoga.
d) Study: Learning means understanding and recognizing. By steadily concerning
oneself with a subject one can achieve unity with the object of the study.
e) Surrender to God means to give one's heart to God, to willfully give up one's
egoisms, to let one's Ego die, in order to produce something higher - the love which
does not know any hate.

3. ASANA, the right meditative posture
Naturally, there are many Asanas in the Hatha-Yoga, yet this means the external
appearance as well as the inner support which manifests itself in an upright (sitting)
posture. The posture is what gives support in life and keeps a person up-right, also
understood as meditative posture.

KRIYA-Yoga (4th to 8th limb of Raja-Yoga)
Raja-Yoga may be interpreted as "Royal Yoga". The practical course for people with
noble (chivalrous, royal) character. Yet this meditation path is not suited for everybody,
since there are some prerequisites. If a person is able to perfect him/herself in the first
three limbs, he/she surely will get the spiritual guidance necessary for continuing the
spiritual path. Zaramahansa Yogananda is one of India's saints who assist a true
God-seeker in his/her way to God and who never leave such a person once accepted.
He keeps his word towards a disciple and is a disciple's constant companion up to the
final unification with the Divine (Samadhi 8th limb). He taught in the Western world
the meditation path of the Kriya-Yoga.

The first limb of the Kriya-Yoga (= 4th limb of the Raja-Yoga) is called:
4. PRANAYAMA, regulation of the Vital Force

Prana means energy, vitality (Chinese: CHI), from breathing to the thought there are
several levels of energy. Even Einstein perceived in his formula: E=mc2 (The energy E
of a quantity of matter, with mass m, is equal to the product of the mass and the square
of the velocity of light, c) that in the end matter is nothing more than crystallized energy.
The regulation of this energy gives one power and may be used in a positive or
negative way as everything else. It may lead to ruin or to liberation. Therefore, various
books warn not to prematurely arouse Kundalini. A disciple who is not mature enough
for this power will use his/her power for egoistic aims (magic). The Prana, however, is
only a means and never the aim of our path. It is the vitality in all beings. If this Prana is
filled with love, it will become more sensitive and open to divine thoughts, if it is filled
with hate, it will become rougher and deaf to the Divine. It may cause various wanders
and it may cleanse the disciple in the fire of purification. The path towards unity
(Samadhi) will be shortened through this powerful energy.

5. PRATYAHARA, abstraction of the senses and mind from objects
Pratyahara means withdrawal of vitality from the outside world which we perceive by the
5 senses (feeling, hearing, smell, taste, seeing). However, this is only possible if we are
also capable of controlling the Prana (the energy). If this is not the case, our attention
will always be turned inside out. As long as a person searches love in the outside world,
he/she will again and again be disappointed, because love is deep inside a person, in a
person's heart. Therefore, there are hermits who seek God in solitude. Those who have
learned this lesson, got closer to freedom. Since vitality is manifested in the astral
sector as Prana, energetic training is the starting point of a series of practical courses
which in the Kriya-Yoga extends up to the control of cardiac and pulmonary activity.

6. DHARANA, concentration
In some books the term Dharana is described as concentration on one special point. In
other writings, Dharana also is described as concentration on a deity (= object). Similar
to a laser beam constituting bundled, concentrated light, a person is also capable to
concentrate his/her energy on an object of his/her attention. If he/she is doing that,
his/her energy may stimulate this object and gives support. These techniques, however,
are part of magic and should not be tried by a sincere truth-seeker. Magic as well as
occultism and spiritism unavoidably lead into a dead-end street and keep people
confined in the circle of rebirths (Kala-Chakra, Samsara). Persons dealing with these
fields of esotericism should always keep in mind that this has nothing to do with real
spirituality. The yoga disciple should rather devote his/her attention to the Anahata
(heart) Chakra and to the Ajna (forehead) Chakra, because then a contact with the
Divine will be possible. For Westerners a said or thought prayer (Mantra) as support for
the restless mind constitutes a help on their spiritual paths. Maria, the mother of Jesus
Christ, also says in our days at the place of appearance in Medjugorje that prayer is the
only possibility to achieve peace and love. The concentration of the energy on the 3rd
eye (Ajna) will open the door to the divine sector (seat of OM - Holy Ghost).

7. DHYANA, meditation
The most important prerequisite to be able to meditate is a passive basic attitude. For
Westerns it is very difficult to attain this basic attitude, since, from childhood, they have
been used to have to do something in order to get something. One must not want to
have something, but just has to let it happen. Dhyana will be achieved if the energy of
the Yogi is fulfilled with divine love. Through Dharana on the 3rd eye the divine light will
pour into man and fill him/her with divine light (Holy Ghost). A holy communion with the
Divine will be reached and one will be infused with happiness. However, there still is a
separation between the person meditating (subject) and God (object). One experiences
the duality, God and man are separated from each other, the awareness of unity, the
perception that everything is one is still lacking. The perception of unity will only be
achieved in the 8th limb. In China, Dhyana is called ZEN, the path of Zen TAO-Yoga.

8. SAMADHI, knowledge of God
Persons reaching this limb have come to terms with the Divine, subject and object melt
and become one. "I and the Father are one" (Jesus Christ). By the grace of God and
with the help of a spiritual mentor everybody can reach this high limb and really become
a "child of God". The wave will become an ocean, yet it will not loose the awareness of
its individuality. The human soul recognizes itself as omnipresent spirit. According to
Yogananda there are two types of Samadhi: 

Sabikalpa Samadhi - the first or preparing condition, which is characterized by trance
and motionlessness of the body.
Nirbikalpa Samadhi - the highest and irrevocable condition of devotion to God in which
one is also able to move freely.
(Maha Samadhi - condition in which a Yogi leaves his body wilfully and fully conscious

© Copyright by Yogi Sundara, Vienna 1992, 2000
If the author is cited, articles and parts of articles may be published

1. Vivekananda: Raja-Yoga (Eastern disciple of Sri Ramakrishna)
2. R.E. Davis: The power of soul (Western disciple of Yogananda)
3. Mantak Chia: Tao Yoga (China)
4. Paramahansa Yogananda: autobiography of a Yogi and all other books by and about this great Satguru.