What is the goal of yoga?
The primary purpose of the practice of yoga should be to integrate the different planes of one's personality and at the same time to evolve the consciousness, to gain greater knowledge of oneself. A person should not be thought of as only materialistic, with no spiritual inclination. In the depth of his being, man is searching for truth and he has been trying hard to experience truth. Yoga removes obstacles and confers clarity of consciousness. In this way any person, anywhere in the world, can fulfil his long cherished wish.
Would you say that yoga is not a religion, but that it develops religious consciousness?
Definitely it is not a religion, it is a science. It is based on facts and figures, and it is immediately and intimately concerned with the body and mind. Yet at the same time, for those people who want to have the inner experience, if they feel that other ways of realization have failed, they can definitely groom their minds through the practice of yoga. Yoga confers clarity of mind and controls the behaviour of mind in all its manifestations. Definitely one who wants to live a religious life can fully utilize the benediction of yoga. However, for one who is not religious and has no admiration for religion and does not want it at all, but who wants at the same time to have a body and mind free from disease and full of peace, and a life dedicated to a particular purpose- for such a person yoga is the answer.
With bank notes you can purchase anything you want in the market. In the same way, with clarity of mind and control over consciousness, you will go ahead with your aspirations and live this life in fullness. Yoga is a science.
Nowadays we hear a lot about Chinese yoga, Japanese yoga, Indian yoga and Egyptian yoga. What is the relative value of these approaches?
Today we are living in a time when people have opened their minds. Every culture has become conscious of the science of yoga already existing in their country and they prefer to brand it in the name of Indian yoga, Chinese yoga, Japanese yoga and maybe even European yoga also. I do not mind the various brand names. For me it is not the kind of yoga but the purpose of yoga which is important. It is the evolution of the collective consciousness that is important, and if that purpose can be accomplished by Chinese yoga, or Japanese yoga or Egyptian yoga or maybe Occidental yoga, well and good. However, if Indian yoga, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian or Occidental yoga is leading the human consciousness from inner experience to external convention and split personalities, than no matter what it is called, we should reject it.
Yoga is absolute mastery over the functions of the mind; yoga is absolute equilibrium and equipoise in any situation. Yoga is the ability to experience what we have not experienced up until now. The scientists have gone far into the galaxies, discovering them, but more important, every individual should enter into the inner galaxies of his own existence and should discover greater formations and expressions of that existence. Life is not only this, it is much more. If any yoga can teach this, we welcome it from the depths of our hearts. It does not matter what brand it carries, we are open to its benediction.
How far is teaching yoga compatible with earning money?
If one is dedicated to the dissemination of yoga for the benefit of mankind then he has to be very practical and this practicality should be in absolute confluence with his organization. If the ideal and the organization do not move together then there will be some kind of imbalance and then it will not be possible for you to disseminate this life-saving science to more and more people. As well as this, in society there must be a balance in the exchange of what we possess. If we do not adhere to this the balance is disturbed. When a student comes to you and wants to learn yoga, you accept the fee from him and you give him the lessons in yoga-there is a mutual contribution. However, if the teacher is suffering from personal guilt and does not like this mutual exchange to take place he will create an imbalance.
In our modern society when we teach yoga a certain remuneration for the teacher is fit and proper. He uses this for the improvement of his institution, for his family, and so that he does not have to work at another job, but can devote his whole time to the study and teaching of yoga. He can also have all kinds of yoga literature in his library and can afford to go a number of times to India or elsewhere to increase his knowledge.
In India we do not practice this because there is an understanding of the true situation faced by a teacher. When a disciple comes to the teacher to learn yoga he definitely knows that the teacher has to subsist and also maintain the whole organization. The disciple does not pay a fixed remuneration, but he offers what he is capable of giving. If he is a millionaire businessman, he may give 10,000 rupees, but if he is a farmer he may give only 10 rupees, and if he has no money, he may just give one bag of rice. This is how the yoga institutions in India have been maintained from the very beginning, but in countries where this tradition is not present, remuneration must be on a practical level. I also urge that all the yoga teachers, yoga exponents and yoga minded people should not say that one is 'selling yoga'. I think that people who say this are not very aware of the facts of organization or of the facts of life. There should be a liberal give and take business so that the teacher can develop his institution, and himself, in all dimensions. A solid monetary foundation is essential and there must be unanimity on this issue.
In many places the subject of tantra is taboo. Are the people of today ready for it?
What I mean by tantra and what the rishis understand by tantra is the way to 'stretch the mind and liberate it from matter'. This is tantra, and many people are searching for it.
Are there any practices we could do from today?
Yes, I will give you two Aum practices.
Practice 1: Take your mind to mooladhara chakra situated in the perineal area, and with the help of ujjayi pranayama breathe in and up through the spinal passage. That is, on inhalation direct your mind up through the spinal passage. Come up to ajna chakra at the top of the spine directly behind the eyebrow centre, and stop there for three seconds. Concentrate on ajna and then chant a-u-u-m-m-m-m-m. . . conducting the vibrations down the spinal passage through ajna, vishuddhi, anahata, manipura, swadhisthana, and mooladhara. Concentrate on mooladhara for three seconds, then inhale and ascend again with the breath. Practice this for ten minutes every day.
Practice 2: In the same way, breathe up through the spinal passage to ajna and retain the breath and awareness there for three seconds. Then practice awn but in the following way: Aum, aum, aum, aum, aum, aum. Go down the spinal passage, jumping from one chakra to the next in order. Pass through ajna, vishuddhi, anahata, manipura, swadhisthana and mooladhara. Up and down, up and down, go on jumping like a frog for ten minutes. The practices for initiation into tantra are complete for today.