(August, 1919-20, pp. 103-104)
Yoga and Nature
By Swami Ramakrishnananda
Books are nothing other than the records of men’s experiences about Nature; so in reality Nature is our teacher. Whenever Nature teaches us,we become really learned and gain something thereby not only for ourselves but for others.When young James Watt studied the action of steam in the boiling kettle before him, he made a valuable contribution to the progress of the human race. When Benjamin Franklin was flying the kite and detected the existence of electricity in the clouds, he gained a new and most useful servant for man. Similarly by studying Nature George Stephenson was able to invent the locomotive engine. All these incidents clearly show that Nature is the book the study of which gives us the greatest return. Our Indian Yogis, knowing this, deeply studied the book of Nature and ultimately found out the methods which took them beyond Nature. Through the study of the inner aspect of Nature they opened a channel of unlimited knowledge; they could subsist without food any length of time; and they gained supernatural powers which our modern science cannot even dream of. That a man can become practically all-knowing they seem to have at first learnt from studying the property of a convex lens. Ordinarily the solar rays have no burning power; but if brought together at the focus of the lens, they will begin to burn. This burning power is brought about by the convergence of the scattered rays of the sun to a single point. This fact suggested to the mind of the Yogi that because the mind is distributed through the senses and as such is scattered in all directions, it has only the ordinary power of knowing what is visibly going on in this world and of knowing that but very partially. If, however, he could call his mind back from all external pursuits and concentrate it on one idea or at one point, as in the case of the focused solar rays, then why should it not be able to perceive both these ordinary things and many extraordinary things also? He made the experiment and was successful. This intense increase in the power of the mind was learnt also from the current of a stream. If we build a dam across a flowing stream, keeping only a very small aperture in the embankment, the water which then comes out of that aperture has a thousand fold more power than the ordinary current of the stream. This suggested to them the idea that if by shutting up all other outlets of the mind, it is made to flow through one outlet, it must acquire powers unknown to it before: In this manner the Yogi discovered the extraordinary powers which mental concentration can produce.
The above article is from the Archieves of Vedanta Kesari