A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
receptively letting its high spiritual vibrations find access to his mind.
It may be a silent and unostentatious method, but it will be more
effective, less bothersome and wiser.
For somewhat similar reasons the rules for the practice of Yoga
arc not easily obeyed in the present age. They have been handed
down for thousands of years from an, age which differed in many
things from our own, and whose face and soul were alien to ours.
The sensible thing to do is to adapt and re-adapt such rules to suit
our altered times. The old must give place to the new. Had the
advocates of Yoga shown a more flexible spirit in the past their
science would not have become the abnormality, the curiosity that
it seems today, nor would it have disappeared almost completely
from the world, as it has likewise done today. These ascetics float
over our heads in a sort of spiritual stratosphere, and seem to hold
out no help, no hope, to the weaker mortals that we are.
Asceticism is not attractive to the modern man. My belief is
that it is also not essential. The outward life and inward spirit can
and must be reconciled. He may learn to practise an inward asceti-
cism which will not interfere overmuch with his outer life but which
will very definitely interfere with his heart and mind. Then, what-
ever changes he ought to make in his active existence, he will make
freely from inner dictation, from inward authority, and not by
blindly obeying an external discipline. /,
I have learnt, if I have learnt anything at all, that renunciation
is really an attitude of mind; that the mere physical gesture of
renunciation is futile where it is not accompanied to some degree by
the corresponding inner outlook; and that, Nature herself being
in no hurry, the attempt to achieve perfection and outwit normal
physical functions by heroic methods of voluntary abstinence is
sometimes unwise and frequently futile. Instead of counselling men
to abandon existing habits of'action, I would counsel them to
abandon existing habits of thinking. Walled round by ancient habits
of thought, as they are, it is better to overthrow those walls than to
spei\d their energies in fruitless alterations of what they are doing
within those walls. AH actions, in the ultimate, are the outcome of
thought. They are the result either of our realization of truth or of
our unconscious mental struggles thereto.
And this brings rne to a further misconception of the Yoga
science, Mr. Chaplin. They will tell you, also, that solitude is to be
sought because we must give our whole time to the practice of
meditation. Those who can do that are doing an excellent thing.
Let them do it.
But the mind is not to be conquered so easily as that. I have seen
quite a number of our modern Yoga aspirants, both in the East and