Light on Life by BKS Iyengar – Chapter 4: Clarity – The Mental Body (Manas)

Quotations I’ve selected from the forth chapter of Iyengar’s Light on Life.

You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general.

With right perception and understanding of our minds the door opens to our liberation, as we go through the veil of illusion into the bright day of clarity and wisdom. The study of mind and consciousness therefore lies at the heart of yoga.

Yoga points out how we generally react to the outside world by forming entrenched patterns of behaviour that doom us to relive the same events endlessly in a superficial variety of forms and combinations.

The historical change from killing with stone clubs, to swords, to guns, to nuclear weapons is clearly no change at all, and it’s certainly not evolution.

What we call consumer choice is not choice at all but selection. It offers only an illusion of freedom.

Lao Tzu: “Know yourself. Know what is good. Know when to stop.”

A bowl of rice is good. A full belly is desirable. But should it be full all day? Do we really want “more is better” to be the epitaph of the human race?

Every time we say the word “I” we feel something hard and monolithic inside us, like a great stone idol. … Whatever the shape of our “I”, however defenceless and permeable we allow ourselves to become, a separation between self and other continues in normal consciousness.

Overweening pride is the symptom of the diseased self.

Ego has been compared to the filament in a bulb, which, because it glows with light, proclaims itself to be the light’s source.

The soul is a separate entity and should not be confused with with any form of “I” consciousness.

The soul is democratic; if in us then equally in others. It is not personal; if anything it is we who belong to it.

From our ignorant identification with our ego and its morality arises man’s creativity and his destructiveness, the glory of culture, the horror of his history.

Consumerism is an ineffective and temporary balm against mortality.

The egoic self is an exhausting companion, forever demanding that his caprices be pandered to, that his whims be obeyed (though he is never satisfied), and his fears be calmed (though they never can be).

Intelligence does not chat. It is the quiet, determined, clear-eyed revolutionary of our consciousness.

The ego is comfortable rearranging the same old furniture in the same old room and standing back and saying, “Doesn’t it look different?” Does it? Yes. Is it? No.

Freedom is the innermost desire of all our hearts.

Yoga has the ability to take us further, to an unconditioned freedom, because yoga sees even good habits as a form of conditioning or limitation.

Direct action stems from direct perception, the ability to see reality in the present, as it is, without prejudice, and act accordingly.

The yogic action is an action that is absolutely unfettered by past habit and without desire for personal reward in the future. It is the right thing in this present moment just because it it right and is colourless or taint-free.

The yogi knows that pleasure leads to pain and pain to pleasure in and endless cycle.

Our consciousness increasingly becomes what we feed it.

When breath is calmed and attention focused on its inward movement then consciousness is no longer jerked by outer stimuli.

Time heals. It does but only if we allow it to.

While mind reacts to memory, intelligence interrogates memory. … Memory consulted by intelligence gives completely different answers to memory consulted by mind.

When intelligence is awakened in the cells then instinct is transformed into intuition and the past loses its deterministic grip on us, as our inner intelligence tells us what the future requires.

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