Deepak Chopra

Spiritual Icon & Best-Selling Author

By Deepak Chopra

Spiritual Icon & Best-Selling Author

Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.

Woman Contemplating in Nature

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

February 8, 2023

Each limb of Yoga gives you more control over some aspect of your life, beginning with social interactions, emotions, ingrained conditioning, thoughts, and, finally, your level of awareness. But just as a book on anatomy is nothing like a living body, we don’t dissect our lives and place each aspect in its own pigeonhole.

Royal Yoga teaches you how to practice control over this and that, but the whole enterprise would be useless unless it came together in complete mastery, the way a music student practices exercises until the day arrives when she is a full-fledged artist, a master of her instrument.


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The last three limbs of Yoga draw everything together.

The term for full mastery is samyama, which means to “bind” or “tie together” in Sanskrit. Samyama is necessary because it unites the last three limbs of Yoga into one process. The process can be dissected into three parts as we have seen—dharana, dhyana, and samadhi—but they are bound together and inseparable, which is why they are referred to as a three-in-one. (Unwittingly, the Three Musketeers hit upon this in their cry of “One for all, and all for one.”)

Further, common experience tells us that there have to be three elements in every experience: a knower, the object known, and the process of knowing. Right now, you, the knower, are reading these words, which are the object of knowledge, while the act of reading is the process of knowing. You can remove the word reading and substitute seeing and hearing.

The five senses contain the same three elements. To smell the fragrance of a rose requires a perceiver to bend over it, the fragrance that wafts to his nose, and the process of inhaling and absorbing the delicious fragrance.

Why do these three elements mean so much if they are present all the time? Here lies the deepest secret of Royal Yoga. If knower, known, and process of knowing are separate, your whole life will be led in separation, but if they are united as three-in-one, then you have attained unity. You have reached the womb of creation, and from here you can create your own reality any way you choose.

That’s a breathtaking possibility, which is the main reason it takes the eight limbs of Yoga to get there.

Becoming the creator of your reality happens one step at a time.

On our journey we’ve encountered the countless drawbacks and problems that arise from living in separation. Let me offer a brief reminder of them.

In separation, the vrittis, or mental obstacles, block the light. Outer events overshadow your life.

  • Moods and emotions pull you this way and that.
  • The constant restless activity of the mind is inescapable.
  • Maya throws up a screen of illusion.
  • The stream of either/or choices never ends.
  • Karma, the residue of the past, limits what you can do in the present.


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In an ideal life, none of these drawbacks and limitations exist. They vanish because what created them in the first place—the state of separation—has vanished. In Royal Yoga there is one healing for all. It consists in reaching unity consciousness, which is another way of expressing the state of three-in-one. I must underscore that unity consciousness isn’t exotic, mystical, or out of reach. Every time you have an experience, the three elements of knower, known, and process of knowing automatically come together. The difference with samyama is that you are aware of what’s going on and can control it.

When existence takes care of itself.

If you think, feel, and act from a deeper, more expanded level of awareness, everything you would like to control is able to take care of itself. You are the co-creator of your reality, however, not its sole creator. That role belongs to creative intelligence as it flows in, around, and through you.

As you undertake the practices of Royal Yoga, you correct the difficulties that arise from living in separation until they are gone entirely. Unity consciousness is built from small steps; it dawns as a completely unique state all its own. Glimpses of it are given in rare experiences we call “epiphanies” and “revelations,” which come of their own accord and are totally unpredictable. We have no control over them, and no exercise can duplicate one.

However, you can promote your evolution to unity consciousness by taking time to read about someone else’s epiphany. The New Testament, the Sufi poetry of Rumi, and the ecstatic poems of Rabindranath Tagore were my first touchstones of epiphany, and I still turn to them regularly. They provide inspiration of a special kind by conveying a taste of what unity consciousness feels like. Vicarious revelation has its own genuine feeling of transcending the everyday world and going into the light.

Today take a little time to inspire yourself by going back to your own touchstones, the things that have helped you to realize that there is more to life than just material experience. Whether the source is scripture, poetry, music, or a movie, the test is for you to allow yourself to enter into, say, a Mozart concerto or a ballad by Alicia Keys, and experience transcendence. Let go and be present in the notes, in the rhythms, in the harmonies. Allow someone else’s epiphany to reach out and touch you. Such experiences provide a foretaste of what unity consciousness is like all the time.

Adapted from LIVING IN THE LIGHT copyright © 2023 by Deepak Chopra. Used by permission of Harmony Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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