Educated and thoughtful men and women you already are; already you have climbed up that long ladder which separates the present outer form of the Deity in you from His form in the dust. The manifest Deity sleeps in the mineral and the stone. He becomes more and more unfolded in vegetables and animals, and lastly in man He has reached what appears as His culmination to ordinary men. Having done so much, shall you not do more? With the consciousness so far unfolded, does it seem impossible that it should unfold in the future into the Divine?
As you realize that the laws of the evolution of form and of the unfolding of consciousness in the universe and man are the same, and that it is through these laws that the yogi brings out his hidden powers, then you will understand also that it is not necessary to go into the mountain or into the desert, to hide yourself in a cave or a forest, in order that the union with the Self may be obtained — He who is within you and without you. Sometimes for a special purpose seclusion may be useful. It may be well at times to retire temporarily from the busy haunts of men. But in the universe planned by Isvara, in order that the powers of the Self may be brought out — there is your best field for Yoga, planned with Divine wisdom and sagacity. The world is meant for the unfolding of the Self: why should you then seek to run away from it? Look at Shri Krishna Himself in that great Upanishad of yoga, the Bhagavad-Gita. He spoke it out on a battle-field, and not on a mountain peak. He spoke it to a Kshattriya ready to fight, and not to a Brahmana quietly retired from the world. The Kurukshetra of the world is the field of Yoga. They who cannot face the world have not the strength to face the difficulties of Yoga practice. If the outer world out-wearies your powers, how do you expect to conquer the difficulties of the inner life? If you cannot climb over the little troubles of the world, how can you hope to climb over the difficulties that a yogi has to scale? Those men blunder, who think that running away from the world is the road to victory, and that peace can be found only in certain localities.
As a matter of fact, you have practised Yoga unconsciously in the past, even before your self-consciousness had separated itself, was aware of itself. Sand knew itself to be different, in temporary matter at least, from all the others that surround it. And that is the first idea that you should take up and hold firmly: Yoga is only a quickened process of the ordinary unfolding of consciousness.
Yoga may then be defined as the “rational application of the laws of the unfolding of consciousness in an individual case”. That is what is meant by the methods of Yoga. You study the laws of the unfolding of consciousness in the universe, you then apply them to a special case — and that case is your own. You cannot apply them to another. They must be self-applied. That is the definite principle to grasp. So we must add one more word to our definition: “Yoga is the rational application of the laws of the unfolding of consciousness, self-applied in an individual case.”