We are discussing tapas. But what do tapas do? They purify and strengthen our system. But tapas can also make a person egoistic because they think it is something great that they are doing. That is why immediately after tapas, Patanjali Maharishi asks us to indulge in swadhya or self-study.
There is a story about two neighbours who did a lot of meditation. God came to one of them and asked, “What is that you want?” The first neighbour asked God if he was going to give something to his neighbour too. God said, “Of course! You both started tapas on the same day. You started one hour earlier. I came to you first. What is that you want?” So, the first neighbour said, “Can’t you somehow avoid going to the other man?” God said “No. It will become unjust. So, I have to go and see him.” The first neighbour said, “Okay, whatever you give to the other person, give me twice as much.” God went to the other man and asked him, “What is it that you want?” The second neighbour said, “Wait a minute. Are you coming from my neighbour’s house?” God said “Yes.” So the second neighbour asked him, “What did you give him?” God was silent. The second neighbour said, “Now come on, tell me what did he ask?” God hesitated for a minute and said, “Well, he asked to be given twice as much as whatever you ask.” The second neighbour said, “Okay, so, that is what he wanted? Then blind me in one eye and cut off my ear. I will teach him a lesson. He is always competing with me. Now let him suffer twice as much as I do!” This sort of tapas without self-study leads to ego.
Look into the motive behind your actions. Often you get things you do not really want only because other people have it or because what others might say or think about it. Many a time, you are not clear about what you want because you have not looked into yourself. You are swayed away by fleeting desires. Your desire is not even your desire.
Self-study means observing yourself. You have purified the body, but are you the body? You have lightened your mind, but are you the mind? Are you the thoughts? Are you your emotions? Who are you? This is self-study.
The first step is to see the Lord as separate from you. Instead of offering candles, incense, and flowers to God, offer every part of your body, offer every moment of your life, every breath, every thought, good or bad.
It is your drawbacks which pull you down and make you feel bad about yourself. If you start feeling bad about yourself you become unconnected to the divine. There is nothing to make you connected to the divine. It is up to you to feel close to the divine.
You start feeling that you are the only one and you are the closest to the divine. Then you will see that it will start happening, you will start blossoming. The seed you sow is what will grow. If you sow the seed of “I am hopeless, I am no good. I am hopeless, I am no good”, then that ‘’no good’’ seed will begin to grow!
Often, useless weeds grow without any cultivation. You do not have to make any effort. They just grow, but a useful plant needs some attention. All the unnecessary doubts or thoughts which are there need not be sown. They just come up by themselves. By swadhya or self-study, you can weed them out and keep only those which are essential.
Tapaha swadhyaya Eshwara pranidhana kriya yogaha is kriya yoga or yoga of action. Even while doing an activity, see that you are not doing it. Be a silent witness. There is a depth in you, a silent corner in you, a silence in you and that is the truth. The whole space is silent. In that silence, there is activity.