The study of the teachings of those who have achieved the highest success in the spiritual journey is essential for anyone determined to do the same. Progress is a thousand times faster with the study of the sacred writings of these elevated beings, than without it.
Whether you study a sacred writing in its original language or use a translated version, I offer the following suggestions:
The best way to understand scripture, regardless of the religion it is considered to represent, is to ask yourself questions about what you are reading, and then ask questions about your questions, and about the answers you get. You must consider the source, who is speaking, where he or she is located on the planet, with whom he or she is communicating, the language, colloquialisms, and the possibility of coded messages. In other words, you have to pick it apart. Even then, with little or no actual experience, in an area that is coded you may very well miss the mark, but you can still discover new points of view, and this is very important.
It has been said by various Sanskrit scholars (with little or no sadhana experience) and sages (with extensive sadhana experience) that yogic scripture has four levels of meaning, much of which will seem contradictory. Others say that there are one hundred and eight levels. Go figure. The point is, you must become mentally flexible.
Question everything. By saying this, I am not advocating skepticism, I mean ask-to-learn. Put away your own beliefs for the time being. Beliefs are just things you are certain about in your mind, so they have very little to do with Truth, which is beyond the mind. Put away your beliefs and explore—this is a good place for using “what ifs” to help yourself break free of preconceived ideas. Now, some of your preconceived ideas may very well be correct, but by practicing this yoga (union with God), you will go through changes and you won’t want to have a fixed mind getting in your way and holding you back, so always stay open to new possibilities.
I will soon follow this Mystical Tidbit with an example that you can use to practice on. Meanwhile, use the Hatha Yoga Pradipika Tidbits. Have fun—you’re a divine detective!