[Published in Next Future, Feb 2006.]
Science of Consciousness
The eminent historian Arnold Toybee was reported to have said in one of his talks that in the future, when Religion replaces Technology as the driving force of evolution, India will be the leader of the world. But we believe that the central idea of the future will not be religion but Yoga or to be more scientifically precise, Science of Consciousness.
The word “Yoga” has become well-known all over the word. But the real meaning and significance of this great science of India is not fully understood. The popular conceptions associate the word with the physical and breathing exercises, Asanas and Pranayama, or Hatha Yoga, because this is the most popular form of Yoga. But even with Hatha Yoga, most of its modern practitioners are not aware of the true aim of the path. For in its original conception, Hatha Yoga is not merely a system of physical and breathing exercises for maintaining excellent heath; it is one of the paths towards spiritual liberation. The original treatise on Hatha Yoga contains, apart from instructions on asanas and Pranayama, moral, psychological and spiritual disciplines for altering consciousness. Which goes to show that Hatha-Yoga is not merely a physical discipline but a psychophysical science.
Thus, Yoga is in its essence a Science of Consciousness for accelerating the psychological and spiritual development of the individual. It is the science, process and the discipline by which we can raise the centre of our consciousness from the ego-centric mentality to the egoless and universal consciousness of our higher self and spirit. And this, precisely, will be the main thrust of the future evolution of humanity. In ancient India, Yoga is taught and practiced mainly as a path for the spiritual development and liberation of the individual. The deeper truths and the methods of the Science of Yoga were taught by the Masters of Yoga to a few fit disciples. In this way, the science was preserved and transmitted through a system of secret spiritual initiations, culture, tradition and schools of Yoga. These spiritual traditions preserved the higher and inner truths, principles and practices of the science in their purity and taught them to a few chosen seekers. A fragment of this spiritual wisdom and practices contained in Yoga, and taught to the few and fit initiates, reached the masses in a diluted form through religion, mythology and symbols. But in ancient India, the spiritual traditions and cultures were so strong, vibrant and innate to the civilization, that even the diluted fragment which reached the masses had sufficient power to create a wide-spread spiritual temper among the masses.
In the future we may witness the Science of Yoga, breaking away and coming out from the dungeons of popular religion and the caves of esoteric spirituality, becoming a secular Science of Consciousness applying itself to every activity of human life. In the past, Yoga was applied to the psychological and spiritual development of the individual. And this inner development realized through Yoga expressed itself mainly through the cultural activities of the higher mind of humanity, like religion, art, literature and philosophy creating a spiritual, intellectual and artistic elite. But in the future, Yoga as a Science of Consciousness will be applied more comprehensively and extensively to every activity of the individual and collective life, not only to the spiritual, artistic and intellectual activities of culture, but also to the economic, social and political activities involving creation and distribution of power and wealth, work, enjoyment and relationships. The inner development or growth of consciousness achieved through Yoga will express itself through all these activities, raising the individual and corporate life of humanity as a whole to a higher level of consciousness.
The science of the modern age explored the secrets of matter and the laws of the outer life and applied its discoveries to enhance the productivity, efficiency, prosperity and enjoyment of the material, economic, social and political life. The science of the future will explore the secrets of Consciousness and the laws of the inner being of man, and this will be done will all the capacities and qualities added to the human consciousness by the modern scientific mind. These discoveries in the realm of consciousness will be applied for the moral, psychological and spiritual development and well-being of the inner as well as the outer life of Man. This will be done with all the capacities added on to human consciousness by the modern technological and managerial mind or, in other words, the capacities added to the pragmatic mind of humanity during the modern age.