Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patanjali sutras (excerpts and comments)

Chapter 1: SAMADHI

I,8: Unreal cognition is the knowing of the unreal, possessing a form not its own.
Comment: Removal of wrong impressions. Egoism, attachment, aversion and love of life are afflictions.Nescience (adidya) affects the purusha. Mind is not identified with purusha, but with its opposing principle: pakriti. The purusha is not mind, but pure absolute consciousness.

I,30: Disease, languor, indecision, carelessness, sloth, sensuality, mistaken notion, missing the point, instability, these causing distractions are obstacles.
Comment: Disease is the disturbance of the equilibrium of the humors. Languor is the indisposition of the mind to work. Indecision is the notion touching both sides of the question. Carelessness is want of resort to the means of trance. Sloth is inertia of the mind and body upon heaviness. Sensuality is the desire upon objects. The self is confused with the activity of its instrument (buddhi) and the other operative psychic faculties. This is the cause of pain, confusion and the frustration of life. Yoga seeks to provide disciplines and techniques of inner control whereby liberation of this spiritual reality from its confinement can be brought about.

I,33: By cultivating habits of friendliness, compassion, complacency and detachment towards happiness, misery virtue and vice, the mind becomes pure.

I,34: Optionally, by the expulsion and retention of breath. Retention is Pranayama, the lengthening of the duration of the stay of the air inside the lungs.

I,36: Or by meditating according to one’s predilection.

Comment: When the mind becomes free from memories or verbal convention, of trance-consciousness, devoid of the options of inferential and verbal cognition, the object makes its appearance in the mind in its own nature. The transformation is called “Distinct” (nirvitarka).

3: Distinctive (wordless) thought transformation is that in which the mind shines as the object alone, (with the cessation of memory), and is as it were devoid of its own nature.


II,1: Purificatory action, study and making God the motive of action, IS the Yoga of action.
Comment: Yoga is a practice in the sphere of living creatures. It cannot be attained by one not be willing to change (purificatory action).

II,3: The afflictions are Nescience, Egoism, Attachment, Aversion and Love of Life.
Comment: Nescience is unrreal cognition (i.e., taking the unreal for the real). That is to say, confusing the root of the problem and its solution.

II,7: Attachment is the sequential attraction to pleasure.
Comment: Yama (or restraint) is a curb or bridle; a way of indicating spiritual control which the self needs to cure the aimless wandering about in the meaningless world of change. We as humans are diverted by a variety of stimuli in every direction. If one abandones inner control, if one cannot resist the variety of attractions and repulsions one feels daily, one is driven back-and-forth between opposites. There is a need for restraint amidst a world of idle distraction: The desire to possess, the thirst for pleasures and its means, preceded by a remembrance of the pleasures in one who has enjoyed it

II,28: The means of the destruction of ignorance is by continued practice of discriminating judgment.
Comment: This means to divide. One must learn to isolate the primordial principles, primal nature and spirit from one another, so that the spirit can exist in its own radiance.

II,52: The consequence of this regulation of breathing is stated: Then the covering that veils the light is destroyed.

II, 53: The mind is now ready for inner concentration.
Comment: After posture and breathing comes the third and last of the specifically Yogic processes by which the entire man is prepared for the development of a higher mental consciousness leading to the liberation experience.

II,54: Withdrawal is the alienation of the senses from their proper objects and their consequent functioning according to the activities of the mind.
Comment: This process entails a cutting off of the distractions of the mind from the dispersion of the senses.


III,1: Concentration is the steadfastness of the mind.
Comment: Dharana, the mind and a total fixation on a single object. In this phase the person is brought to an absolute unity. The focus of attention can be the space between the eyebrows, the tip of the nose, or the tongue, the lotus of the heart, the navel, or some other object. This forces the mind to be fixed, seated as it were in total stillness.It means becoming fast in the navel, the lotus of the heart, the light in the brain, the fore-part of the nose, the fore-part of the tongue or by means of the modifications only in any other object only.

III,19: Of the notions, the knowledge of other minds.

III,24: The knowledge of the subtle, the veiled, the remote, by directing light of higher sense-activity toward them.

III,30: By mastering of Samana comes effulgence.

III,45. The perfection of the body consists in beauty, grace, strenght and adamantine hardness.

III,47. Thence comes quickness as of mind, un-instrumental perception and mastery over pradhana.
Comment: Meaning power to control over all the modifications of the pakriti.

III,49. The seed of bondage having been destroyed by desirelessness even for that, comes absolute independence.

III,50. When the presiding-deities invite, there should be no attachment and no smile of satisfaction, contact with undesirable being again possible.
Comment: This is the moment when everything can be lost or everything gained; it is the moment when the superior powers are themselves to be rejected, even as the visions and ecstatic experiences of the saints are to be rejected since they are manifestations of the divine but do not themselves constitute the divine experience. To rest in these accomplishments is ultimately no better and possibly worse than the activities he or she came from initially.