Glimpses Into the Psychology of Yoga by I.K. Taimni, from the chapter "Involution and Obscuration of Consciousness" - pages 129-131.
The tempo of modern life and spiritual evolution
[The Sanskrit terminology used by Taimni is explained at the bottom, on first use it's bolded by the editor of Katinka Hesselink Net]
"There is an interesting and important aspect of this question which we ought to grasp clearly if we are to understand the significance of some very strong trends in modern life. One of these is the increasing tempo of movement and excitement which is taken for our having attained a higher degree of civilization and which is considered as an indication of progress. This craze for speed, excitements of all kinds and violent expressions of our lives at every front is nothing but a symptom and manifestation of the greater immersion or involution of consciousness in matter which is characteristic of the Pravritti-marga . The more violent the movement, the greater the excitement, the more does consciousness get involved in its environment, and assimilated with its ephemeral, passing mental images as pointed out in Sutra I-4, and correspondingly less aware of its Real nature which is indicated in Sutra I-3. This is not a mere philosophical platitude but a very significant phenomenon which we can observe and study for ourselves.
"In the experiment of churning water referred to above the more violent the movement of the water the more is the light issuing from the bulb assimilated with the bulb assimilated with the patterns of the water. In the same way the more violent the impact of serious impressions and the greater the excitement which it evokes the more is a human being lost in the prevailing conditions. That is why on the Pravritti-marga, when a soul sinks deeper and deeper into the material environment for the sake of crude experiences which it provides, the craving is for stimulations which are as crude and violent as possible. Mere sensation is not enough. It must be as violent as possible. Lights should be dazzling, sounds should be loud, tastes should be pungent. It is only then that consciousness becomes completely tied to the object of stimulation and outward-turned and cannot become aware of the inner emptiness which is covered in modern times euphemistically by the word boredom.
"The craze for speed, for noise, for rough games, for constant movement, for interplanetary travel, for drugs, for anything which enables us to live and remain in a constantly excited state has to be understood in the light of what has been said above. It indicates an urge to go deeper into matter for experiences of a cruder nature and a means of avoiding boredom which results when there is nothing to hold our attention outside and nothing to sustain us inside. Even the excitement of war which brings so much pain and suffering is preferable to the intolerable monotony of every day life which results when we are deprived of excitement in our ordinary life. Absurd though it may sound I think a large number of people in their heart of hearts like war in a perverted way for its excitement, in spite of the terrible pain and suffering which it brings. That is part of the reason why wars continue to be fought on bigger and bigger scales in spite of all the efforts which are being made for peace. If we do not want wars, who forces us to fight? The governments which declare war are the instruments of the people that want war. We may plead that we are fighting in self-defense but we have to look at the question not from the point of view of one nation but humanity as a whole. Offense and defense is merely the polarization of the urge to fight.
"As the streams of involution and evolution flow in opposite directions it is to be expected that the characters and needs of those on the Pravritti- and Nivritti-marga s should be opposite to each other as shown by the following facts: 1. The man on the Nivritti-marga is consciously trying to extricate himself more and more from matter and mind. The man on the Pravritti-marga is unconsciously trying to involve himself more and more in mind and matter. 2. The former wants quiet and quiescence of the mind. The latter wants excitement, movement, crude sensations. 3. The former tries to seek within himself for peace, strength, and knowledge; the latter outside himself for excitement, power and sensuous gratification. 4. To the former solitude and a peaceful atmosphere is congenial while the latter finds such conditions intolerable and wants to run away from them."
Background information: yoga terminology and references
- Nivritti Marga
- The spiritual path in which wisdom instead of physical riches are sought.
- Path, road.
- Pravritti Marga
- The life (or road) of people constantly seeking material success, riches
Taimni refers to the following slokas from the Yoga Suttras by Patanjali ( The Science of Yoga ). I quote them here in his own translation:
Then the Seer is established in his own essential and fundamental nature.
In other states there is assimilation (of the Seer) with the modifications (of the mind).