What is the essence of yoga and what is the goal of yogic practices? In his well-known lecture on Raja Yoga in the West, Swami Vivekananda explains things succinctly: “The whole science of yoga is directed to the end of teaching man how, by intensifying the power of assimilation, to shorten the time for reaching perfection, instead of slowly advancing from point to point and waiting until the whole human race has become perfect.”
What the Swami means to say is that in one span of life or even in the span of a few years of a single life, one through yogic practices can shorten the time to reach perfection.
Yoga defines the goal of life as the union of the individualized consciousness with the Supreme Divine Consciousness. Swami Vivekananda takes things further: “One will reach it now or later, in this life or after hundreds or even thousands of lives. Every form of life that exists, from the microscopic to the gigantic, is a portion of the infinite divine energy.”
Raja Yoga seeks to make mind an instrument of spiritual evolution. It says that by developing the power of mental concentration, the time of one’s spiritual evolution can be shortened. Raja Yoga signifies the power of transforming the limited human consciousness into the illimitable Divine Consciousness- from the finite to the Infinite, from time to Eternity, from the mixed experiences of transient life to the Eternal Bliss of Timeless Existence.