The 8 Pillars Of Success And How To Realize Them

November 18, 2022

I have been reflecting further on the formula of our dear brother, Dr. Ichak Adizes, in which he describes so simply and elegantly the process of integration. It applies to individuals as much as it does to organizations:

Dr. Adizes explains that external integration is the way in which an organization or an individual is integrated with its environment. For an individual, success is reflected in things like happiness, earnings, career growth, integrity, etc. Internal disintegration is reflected in the internal fighting that occurs within an organization, and for an individual in inner turmoil, self-doubt, mistrust, and destructive tendencies.

Energy is allocated in predictable ways in any system. It is first directed to resolving internal disintegration, and then any leftover energy is allocated to external integration. For example, when we are ill or disturbed, we have little energy for creative and innovative activities. When we reduce internal disintegration, energy is available for external integration and success. External integration is the output; we work on the input.

I call this formula the “Adizes Factor,” and for short the “Adi Factor.” Not only is Adi short for Adizes, it also means “original” in Sanskrit, as in our Adi Guru, Lalaji Maharaj, and the word “sam-adhi,” which means the original state or condition. It fits so perfectly here, because when the denominator of the formula (internal disintegration) goes to zero, we can only imagine to what heights the Adi Factor will soar! It will reach the original integrated state of samadhi!

Generally, the greater the Adi Factor, the better chance we have of being happy and positive. Per contra, the smaller the Adi Factor, the greater the inner complexity (internal disintegration), and the more disturbed we will be.

How can we maximize the Adi Factor?

Sahaj Marg offers us the methods to maximize the Adi Factor through a 3-step process: the habit of daily practice, internalizing the practice, and externalizing the practice.

In the Sahaj Marg tradition, we undertake an inner journey, the yatra, through 13 chakras associated with the three planes of existence known as the Heart Region, the Mind Region, and the Central Region. As we evolve through these regions, we experience incremental inner integration. In parallel, we also work on refining our habits so that our external behavior integrates with this inner growth. The starting point is always the spiritual practice. Without practice, none of this is possible.

First we will explore the principles of integration, and then we will explore the methods we use to realize it.


The principles of integration are age-old and universal – they are found in the Yoga Vasishtha, the Ashtavakra Gita, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and the 8-fold path of the Buddha – in fact, in all the great spiritual traditions. They promote oneness and unity through love.

If you read the literature of any of these great traditions, you will find principles of integration. For example, in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 66, Lord Krishna says,

नास््तति बुद्धिरयुक््तस््य न चायुक््तस््य भावना |
न चाभावयत: शान््ततिरशान््तस््य कुत: सुखम || ्

nāsti buddhir-ayuktasya na chāyuktasya bhāvanā
na chābhāvayataḥ śhāntir aśhāntasya kutaḥ sukham

There is no wisdom for a man without harmony, and without harmony there is no contemplation. Without contemplation there cannot be peace. How can there be happiness without peace of mind?

And Patanjali’s sutra 33 says,

मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षणां सुखदःखपण््य
यापुण््यविषयाणांभावनातश््चचित््तप्रसादनम॥१.३३॥ ्

Maitrī-karuṇā-mudito-pekṣāṇāṁ sukha-dukkha-puṇyapuṇya
viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam

The right inner environment is created by cultivating these four attitudes: friendliness toward the happy ones, compassion toward victims of misery, joy toward the virtuous, and indifference toward the non-virtuous.

Let us try to understand this sutra clearly:

Why friendliness toward the happy ones? What will happen if you feel envious of them instead? It will increase your inner disintegration, thereby reducing your Adi Factor.

Why compassion toward victims of misery? What will happen if instead you are yourself violent or miserable? Will it help to establish peace anywhere? Or imagine if you are compassionate toward yourself all the time – you will be licking your own wounds. Will that make you happy?

Why joy toward the virtuous? Imagine that instead of being joyful about the virtues of Lord Jesus you decide to create an opposite stand. How will you feel? If you are not joyful toward the virtuous, what state will you then create?

Why indifference toward the non-virtuous? Indifference is an attitude of forgiving.  You are not being judgmental. It creates empathy, resulting in kindness.  Such verses are signposts for integration, because they prevent internal disintegration.

Patanjali famously presented a simple framework for integration, which is known as Ashtanga Yoga – the 8 pillars for success. Those 8 pillars are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.

First is yama, the removal of habits and personality traits that lead to disintegration. In other words, yama reduces the denominator of the Adi Factor. There are 5 categories of yama:

But it is not enough simply to remove the causes of disintegration. In Nature we see tremendous order, and the higher the goal the greater the order required. This brings us to the second pillar of success, niyama, the cultivation of positive habits that support integration. Niyama brings the fragrance of purity, simplicity, compassion, and universal love. It fills our hearts with noble qualities, and refines us toward progressively more integrated states, both inner and outer. Niyama is in tune with Nature, it is regenerative, and it is exactly what humanity and our planet need right now.

There are also 5 categories of niyama, and they are:

Patanjali’s third pillar of success is asana, balanced posture. The purpose of asana is to cultivate a steady and comfortable posture, so that we can relax our efforts and allow consciousness to expand and merge with the Ultimate. Asana strengthens the pranamaya kosha (our energy system). Once again, the aim is integration, this time including the physical body through posture. Think about the way you sit in front of an elder, for example. It is an indication of your relationship.  Do you slouch and stretch your legs out in front of you, or is there respect and appropriateness in your posture? Does the way you sit promote integration?

Patanjali’s fourth pillar of success is pranayama, the management of the natural cycles and flow of energy in the human system, through breathing practices and expansion of our vital energy. Pranayama brings physical well-being by integrating our energy field.  It nourishes our pranamaya kosha. 

These first 4 pillars refine thoughts, actions, posture, and energy, and cultivate external qualities like health, hygiene, fitness, ethical intelligence, and nobility of character. In many yoga traditions, they are practiced first, to prepare a person for the deep dive of the inner work. In Sahaj Marg, however, we start with the 4 inner pillars of pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. In fact, we focus on the seventh step of dhyana, as explained by Babuji in Reality at Dawn:

Under the Sahaj Marg system of training we start from dhyana, the seventh step of yoga, fixing our mind on this point in order to practice meditation. The previous steps are not taken up separately, but they automatically come into practice as we proceed on with meditation. Thus, much of our time and labor is saved by this means.

The fifth pillar is pratyahara, meaning “gathering toward,” the ability to turn the attention inward away from the outward pull of the senses. This fifth pillar is the turning point where the senses turn inward to the field of consciousness from which they arose. When we are constantly pulled to the external world, entropy sets in. Pratyahara is the opposite of entropy.

Entropy is the measure of disintegration, and to keep the system stable and integrated, energy input is required, effort is required – pratyahara is not automatic. What efforts are required? To drive all our attention inward.

Dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are the sixth, seventh, and eighth pillars that are collectively known as samyama, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “integration.” Together they form the meditative practices.

The sixth pillar is dharana, the act of holding onto a particular thought or feeling with a continuous flow of intention. This steady flow, dhara, is developed by the habit of doing the practice every day, and it eventually leads to constant remembrance and ekaagrata, one-pointedness of consciousness.

Dharana is often translated as “concentration,” and that is one aspect of it. But it also includes the ability to contain and nurture, in the same way that Mother Earth contains and nurtures seeds that are planted in her soil. As our consciousness expands, our ability to contain eventually becomes so vast that we are able to contain God within us.

It is dharana that allows us to hold and enliven the inner states we receive during meditation so that the gifts we receive are absorbed and their qualities become second nature. The process is known as AEIOU, and it will be explained later in this message.

Dharana is the fuel for sankalpa or subtle suggestion. When we master the art of dharana, sankalpa becomes so potent. When dharana is prayerful, offered in a vacuumized pure heart, the Divine flows in and automatically draws our attention toward the Ultimate. Any thought or intention offered in that state is bound to reach its target. Swami Vivekananda describes it thus:

The science of Raja Yoga, in the first place, proposes to give us such a means of observing the internal states. The instrument is the mind itself. The power of attention, when properly guided, and directed towards the internal world, will analyze the mind and illumine facts for us. The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated; when they are concentrated they illumine. This is our only means of knowledge.

The seventh pillar of success is dhyana, meditation, in which we dive into the field of consciousness; we go deeper into the heart and master the mind. In due course this leads to the state of samadhi.

Consciousness is always trying to re-establish its original stillness, purity, and simplicity, and this is why the mind is constantly throwing off thoughts. It removes the heaviness and turbulence created by the impressions that have accumulated. It attempts to calm the waves and ripples so that the lake of consciousness becomes like a still clear pond in which we can see to the bottom, the soul.

Meditation is a means of approaching the Center. When we meditate, the central power we have remains in force, and it integrates us. Meditation is the process of revelation, where the true nature of the object upon which we are meditating is uncovered. Such revelation comes not as thought but as feeling. In meditation we shift from thinking about the Divine to feeling the Divine Presence, and eventually becoming one with that Presence. It is a journey from the complexity of the mind to the simplicity of the heart. This journey takes us from the surface level of limited consciousness to the full spectrum of superconsciousness, consciousness, and subconsciousness.

Meditation is the way to approach the Center. Babuji has written:

We have seen that the one thought arising out of the Center created so big a universe. We have got within us the same central force, though marred by our wrong doings. We utilize the same power, which is automatic in us. We take work from the same force through meditation. This is how we proceed naturally and with Nature’s force.

We eventually reach the eighth pillar of success, the much sought-after state of samadhi. The word “samadhi” simply means “that which prevailed before creation came into existence.” Our soul craves for this integrated state of balance, and once we attain it true happiness comes, no more further craving is left to be satisfied. Samadhi is the state of ultimate spiritual relaxation and effortless concentration.


Knowing all this is not enough. What is required to bring about success? Let’s consider these 3 steps: practice, internalization, and externalization. Everything starts with practice.

It is pranahuti that makes our meditation so effective. It gives us glimpses of our original mind from the very first meditation. Pranahuti carries us to the depths of samadhi-consciousness effortlessly. It can be likened to a lift in a high-rise building, taking us to the top floor.

The prayer connects us to our deepest consciousness. With the regular practice of prayer, consciousness becomes elastic, moving between the surface and the Center. Gradually, over time, all these states are able to coexist simultaneously in the 360-degree consciousness of Sahaj Samadhi.

Cleaning purifies the subtle bodies, the field of consciousness. As layer upon layer of samskaras are removed, as the purified koshas are transcended, as thinking, intellect and ego are refined, stillness results and integration becomes effortless and natural.

Each morning in meditation, we create a meditative state to hold during the day. Each evening in cleaning we create a purified state to carry with us. Each night in prayer we connect to the Center through a vacuumized and receptive heart. When we retain and nurture these three states throughout the day, our consciousness keeps spinning like a top in a balanced way, creating a beautiful integrated state. This is known as Constant Remembrance, and when we are able to hold it throughout the day, we stop the formation of samskaras, and naturally develop the capacity for Sahaj Samadhi, maximizing the Adi Factor.


What do we then do with the gifts of our practice?

In every meditation something unique is bestowed upon us. How do we then retain and integrate each new condition? We first try to become sensitive enough to know that we are being given a spiritual gift, and then make efforts to retain it, preserve it, and let it grow. We know this as AEIOU: Acquire the condition, Enliven it, Imbibe it, become One with it, and eventually reach a state of Union where we are merged with it.

It requires only five minutes after meditation to savor the condition, enliven it and make it ours. Then it has a chance to grow. When we hold on to it and carry on with our day-to-day activities, we create a meditative state with open eyes.


Then comes the art of externalizing the states we receive into daily life. Our Masters have always been very particular about conduct. From the beginning, Lalaji said that Self-Realization was not possible without morality, and that idea is fundamental to Sahaj Marg.

We start our journey with “the beginner’s practice,” as Babuji called it – meditation, cleaning, and prayer. From practice, awareness arises. We then use this awareness to make efforts to refine our behavioral patterns and tendencies, and through the process of self-study or swadhyaya we are able to mold our living. Babuji gave us the methods for this in his book, Commentary on the Ten Maxims of Sahaj Marg.

Babuji’s Ten Maxims take the yamas and niyamas to the next level of practicality, covering our daily living from the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to sleep at night. They are the tools to externalize the inner gifts we are given through our practice.

So, you see, Babuji has taken these age-old principles of integration and created a simple method to realize it – the practical science of human transformation. This is how we build wisdom, which we can then pass on to the next generation.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes