CONTROL AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM : Our voluntary nervous system, even if controlled, would not be helpful in gaining the object of achievement. For, the subconscious force within, under the direction of which the voluntary nervous system acts, would force the impressions it has received during previous embodiments to liberated. Unless and until one establishes conscious control over the subconscious activities, which are involuntary manifestations of the body including thoughts, desires and emotions, it is not possible to enjoy philosophic Bliss or, in other words, one cannot open the door leading to Liberation.
By suppressing all voluntary and involuntary actions one can bring the working of the body to a standstill. The emotions, desires and thoughts, deprived of their mainspring will not then arise. The mind then, having nothing to work through, has to be directed to higher channels of action to higher channels of action to gain its freedom. Control over the autonomic nervous system, which is an unconsciously acting portion of the general nervous system, gives one power to achieve miracles which are known as Siddhis, a subject which will be dealt with later. It is enjoined by scriptures that energy of control should not be wasted in performing the Siddhis but should be directed towards the attainment of the Real to gain Nirvanic Bliss obtainable by practice of Yoga â€“ the suppression of all thought.
Old Yogic literature, later than Patanjali, explains to us, in detail, how the nerves are distributed all over the body, and how they may be used for the influencing of the different organs which are normally not under our control. In fact, all the physical practices of Yoga are directed towards bringing under control that portion of the nervous system about which as yet we know very little â€“ I mean, the sympathetic nervous system. whether that system is a vestige of our animal life or the bringing of a new nervous system which, in future, is to play an important part in our existence, is difficult to decide.
Cunningham, in his Anatomy, says, â€œAbout the philogenetic relations of the sympathetic and cerebro-spinal elements in the system it is impossible to determine. It will be that the sympathetic is the representative of an ancient architecture independent of the cerebro-spinal nervous system; or it may be that the corroboration of the spinal nerves and the sympathetic are both consequences of a formation of new organs and structure in the splanchnic area. Examined in every light, it posses features which effectively differentiate it from the cerebro-spinal system, although it has become inextricably united with it, and subservient to it.â€
That the Yogies by practice can control the autonomic nervous system is a fact, glimpses into which are given to us by Deshbandhu when he demonstrated the stopping of the pulse of one hand only, while the rest of the arteries were beating. What suspicion could one raise of compression by muscle contraction when he stop beating of the most superficially placed artery, the Temporal ? our physiologists cannot explain it. It must be borne in mind that when the radial pulse of one hand was stopped, the circulation in the whole arm was stopped, but when the pulsation in the temporal artery was made to stop, the carotid artery was still beating showing thereby that the controls used by him lay above the Brachial artery in the one case and over the carotid in the other. What are these checks by which a Yogi inhibits action of vital parts of the body? These checks are called Chakras by them : in our modern phraseology I should call them plexuses. These Chakras are excited to action by Prana-vayu, that is, these plexuses are stimulated by nervous impulse. I call these various plexuses, nerve-plexuses, not of the central nervous system, but of the automatic nervous system.