The Second Great Rule of Yoga – Modifications of Substance

The limits to self-knowledge through Modifications of Substance[Skrt.Prakriti]

an excerpt from a talk by Eugene Halliday

In the philosophy of Samkhya, the original philosophy of Yoga and the philosophy upon which all Yoga is based, there are 2 ultimate aspects of the infinite source of all beings. One is Purusha, pure consciousness/sentience, the other is Prakriti, pure substance/power. The aim of the yogi in gaining Samadhi(Reflexive Self-consciousness) is the differentiation(not division) of these two. It is included here for those who wish to understand the basis of knowledge and wisdom, and ultimately how to break identification with limited states in order to gain the wisdom and power behind them, and ultimately the pre-creational catalytic Reflexive Self-consciousness of the creator.

At the individual level of development, the yogi experiences these 2 aspects of the ultimate as Observer/Watcher and Observed/that which is Watched. [ The first Great Rule of Yoga is “The Observer is not the Observed” ]

The OBSERVER is consciousness serving some object. But the object served is simply a form of motion within consciousness.

There are no objects of consciousness other than within consciousness, as MODIFICATIONS of it. Without modifications in consciousness there are no objects in it, and there is no objective consciousness. 


The basis of all objective wisdom and knowledge for the yogi is through the modifications of substance(prakriti). Here below in the excerpt from Eugene Halliday’s talk are explained the metaphysical motions of the cosmic substance (prakriti), how we as individuals can only know what we know, know anything at all, based on our substance being modified, and how it is modified.

The talk excerpt begins with a question:


“Concerning the statement, “one can only know the modifications of one’s own substance” … [Second Great Rule of Yoga]

“We’ll start drawing immediately I think.

“The paper represents sentient power itself. This is the absolute cause of all beings. It is ‘awareness’ and ‘power to initiate motion’. When it waves, it is aware that it waves. We use the term ‘substance’ when we are talking ‘from outside towards a centre’. This we call down, the limiting factor for a substance is the circumscribing line. Substance is really power. Matter is power. And this power must rotate in order to deserve the name ‘matter’. And it must have the power, rotating, round a centre, and being observed from above, in order to deserve the name of sub-stance, the under–standing.

“Now if we imagine for a moment a finite being, with a determined edge, we could say that represents an egg, like a mono celled animal, or if we like to complicate the pattern a bit we could say this is the pattern of a human being. We have merely distorted the outline a bit, but we haven’t altered the fundamental principle that the line is a circumscribing line, and therefore everything internal to that line viewed from outside, and offering a resistance as rotating power does, is called a substance.

“Now if the being is finite, it becomes immediately obvious that it cannot possibly know anything other than the modifications of itself. When a stimulus comes, the receiving being knows nothing whatever about the origin of that stimulus, if it is a finite being. It only knows that its surface is irritated by it.

“Thus if you look at the light, what you actually get is a sensation in your retina. So if there is your eye and you’ve got a lens on it and a retina at the back, this retina sends an impulse, and if you point the eye in different directions the amount of stimulation of your substance varies, and because it varies without willed intent on the part of your substance then you assume a source external to yourself.

“You remember this rule “if the change in one’s substance occurs without will from within, it is assumed to have an external origin.”

“Here is a finite being, the being itself is power, and this power is sentient. So it is feeling itself. It is a power and the nature of motion is cyclic, within this being, and so it is substantiating itself. Building power in, so that it can stand as a reference for consciousness.

“When a stimulus comes from outside, a change of motion is initiated on the edge of the being. It is not initiated from the centre of the being, and because it is not initiated from the centre, it is assumed that the change on the perimeter is caused by a being external, to this binding line.

“The only way we come to believe in an external world for us, is because changes are occurring on our perimeter which we have not ourselves willed to produce. We have no other evidence for an external world other than that things happen which we do not will. We have to account for these. If we discover the will centre, the centre of initiative in ourselves, thus when we open the hand and close it, from within, then we have some sensation of a Self of initiative, an internal spirit, an initiative centre.

“A force is going out and producing changes in the substance, as when I send from inside myself a message to make a mark on the paper, centrally initiated. On the other hand if when I’m drawing a mark somebody throws a banana at me, they hit me on the knuckles, and makes my line wiggle, because my ‘line wiggle’ was not intended by me, I assume an external origin for the stimulus.

“We see that in the case of the finite being, it is perfectly obvious, that it cannot possibly know anything other than the modifications of its own substance, and that the so-called external world is a world projected intellectually to account for changes in the substance of the being which have not been initiated from the centre.

“Now let’s look at the field of the absolute and we’ll draw a few circles as we know they exist, within, of various sizes. We can go on drawing as you know these circles wherever we like. The centre of each circle is the initiating force which starts a ripple of energy going out. The thing that causes that initiating force in advancing its front to have a limiting factor is the existence of another centre of another circle, which centre pushing out its own energy limits the energy coming forth from another centre. So that if we remove for a moment conceptually, all centres from the universe except one and that one is infinite power, the power goes out and never begets a perimeter. It just continuously propagates in all directions, but it never begets a perimeter because there is nothing to oppose it. So it must flow out infinitely.

“In that case, we would have an infinite progression of power with no limiting factor and therefore no form[no limit and therefore no objective knowledge]. To make a limiting factor we must set another centre up, and the power from this other centre starts coming out, likewise expanding its circuitry, and at a certain point, it will meet the outflowing energy from the other centre.

“Now this place where the outflowing energies from 2 centres meet, is called the firmament in the book of Genesis. The original word from which this word is derived, and which causes ‘firm’ to be used in the translation, means ‘to be hammered out’, to be hammered out like a metal Smith hammers out a plate of metal. We put it on, say, a wooden base, and you hit it with a hammer from above. Now the wooden base resists the blow of the hammer, and the metal between is made thinner in shape. So being hammered from 2 sides is the cause of the firmament.

“We see that if we get 2 centres, and they are both sending energy out, at a certain point the energies will meet, press on each other, and produce a line between them, a limiting factor. This limiting factor is the firmament between any 2 centres.

“Now apart from centres of initiative, we have the field, the outflowing zone of the power, and the limiting factor. The definition of a field is ‘the zone of influence of a force’. The zone of influence is relative because although these 2 centres produce a firmament between them, the outflowing powers from both sides are hitting on the firmament and vibrating it. So the firmament is also a reflexion point. Now this reflexion is the basis of the possibility of the evolution of any centre to the level of a self-reflexive being, a being of self-consciousness. The being propagating itself infinitely, could meet with no resistance, and therefore could never become reflexive. Reflex means ‘bend back’. So that without 2 centres there could be no reflexion.

“When there are 2 centres, the energy from one centre goes out, hits against the resistance of the other centre and bends back. Now this is the ground of Reflexive Self-consciousness. There must be resistance. This is why William Blake says “opposition is true friendship”. If people will not resist you at all, you cannot reflex. You cannot discover what you’ve said, you cannot discover the meaning of what you’ve said, unless somebody will oppose you. So if you make a statement and nobody says anything whatever, you don’t know how it’s been received. If you are very good at observing muscle changes you will discover that they have said something usually, even if they have not opened their mouths. You can read disapproval on their faces quite easily.

“The important thing is that without a centre being opposed by another centre, no firmament can arise and without the firmament no reflexion is possible, and without this reflexion from the opposition, self-consciousness, and self-control, and self-creativity is impossible.

“Now, if a being knows only the modifications of its own substance, then we have to consider the possibility of identification with a given zone. Because if we are considering ‘finite being’ in an ‘infinite field’, we can only be considering a zone of identification. If there are 2 centres here, and the paper itself represents the sentient power, that is, ‘the power that is aware of itself’, this paper which is sentient power is the absolute substance of all of them. And ‘It’ is aware of both centres. It is aware actually of an infinite number of centres. But that same paper has the power through the production of centres, and by centres, the production of firmaments or dividing lines between centres where the opposition is, these dividing lines are the lines where we can, if we will, identify ‘finity’.

“The man who identifies with the substance as far as the perimeter of his body, say his skin surface, is receiving messages and knowing only things that occur within the boundaries of that skin surface. And he is receiving those, and understanding only those, merely because those, and those only, are what he is identified with. If he likes to remember a little bit of elementary science of today, and know that there is no particle of matter without a field round it then he will know that he does not finish as a field being with his skin surface. He then tries to feel, that is, ‘to become field aware’, his extension, the extension of his power, beyond the limit of his skin surface. The rule still holds. He is still aware of the modifications of his own substance, only “his own substance” now means something beyond the limiting factor of the skin surface.

“We can say that “his own surface” is the zone of the power which comes from this immanent self, that ‘HIS’. Now ISH in ISHVA, and so on, and the same in “issue”, the centre from which issues the power. And the zone of influence of that power is the field. So as far as you can carry your power out, and become aware of the limit to which it goes, that is your substance, and that is the zone of your knowledge.”

Eugene Halliday


Our second Great Rule of Yoga;

excerpts from Reflexive Self-consciousness by Eugene Halliday

“An observer knows only the modifications of the observer. Let us examine this.

“When we are deprived of stimuli, whether external or internal to our organism, the content of our consciousness is reduced. We can see that if we were totally deprived of all objective stimuli, consciousness would have no objective content whatever. Such a state of consciousness deprived of all objective content, we call UNconsciousness. Unconsciousness is not what people ordinarily suppose it to be. It is simply consciousness with no objective content, that is, objectless sentience.

“The Observer is consciousness serving some object. But the object served is a form of motion within consciousness. There are no objects of consciousness other than within consciousness, as modifications of it. Without modifications in consciousness there are no objects in it, and there is no objective-consciousness.

“All objects of consciousness, all the things of the world, all ideas and mental states, are simply forms of motion in consciousness.

“It is quite futile for a conscious being to posit an existence beyond consciousness. The “existence beyond consciousness” is merely a concept in consciousness.

“The Absolute is an infinite sentient power, an eternal continuum of motion.

Because it is sentient it feels its own motion.

“Its motion is the content of its sentiency. It is from this fact that is derived the principle which says, that a being knows only the modifications of its own substance, or consciousness is aware only of its own modalities.

“The sentience and motion of the Absolute are not factually separable from each other. It is merely a process of abstractionist thought to consider them so.

“Sentience and motion are both properties of the Absolute and must be held together in thought with the Absolute.

“If we conceptually remove either one of them, the universe we know must also be removed.

“If motion is removed there is no action, no bringing to be of actual things.

“If sentience is removed there is nothing to know the world.”

…end of excerpt.


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