the Yoga-Sutra. So far in my
examination of English texts there has been no
person qualified to do so, especially from cover to cover. To write a
Yoga Sutra commentary covering every verse of
this profound and mysterious work is quite a statement! Men should
not propose to write a full commentary unless they have real knowledge
of every one of
its verses. As Ramakrishna and his disciple Master Mahasaya used to say:
it such a small thing?"
my case, I do not have real personal knowledge of every
one of its verses. For example, I've never had the interest in floating
in the air or understanding the speech of animals. My samyama is not
perfected. However, I do
have insight into some of its verses, and some of the
important ones. Plus I see
desultory are most
commentaries available in English. That even applies to every Indian
commentator I've read save
Vyasa. Even, astoundingly, Sankara. At this time I am focusing
that need the most correction or where I feel I can make the best
offering. I am not an intellectual or a pundit. I am a mere devotee of
my guru and seeker of The Lord.
is joy, which the yogis of India call ananda
or bliss. The Lord is also the Power of all healings, protections, and
solutions. Yoga, or God-search, unveils Him. Christians know all this
in their bones. This Yoga-Sutra is for them.
many years of
thinking that I might be able to improve on commentaries available,
then refraining, then considering it again, I am ready. But most
of my life, when reading most Yoga-Sutra verses, my reaction was:
what it's talking about!"
Oh, I could see that many others
thought they knew. But I knew that I didn't know. For example, samadhi was at a
distance, a far cry. How to make any comment about samprajnata samadhi
as every W.A.B.Y. entrepreneur from Boulder to
Santa Monica seemed able to happily do? (Is it such a small thing?)
Still I knocked my head against this unique scripture.
Truly, it is absurd to write a
commentary on the Yoga-Sutra if not having experienced even the lowest
of samadhi (sabija
samadhi, in which the heart pleasantly stops beating, breathing
ceases and one can happily exit the body)
at least once, and know how he got there. For many years I
not speak about these things from experience thus had no
authority to speak. Then even later with guru's grace, the Sutra verses
-- across some 20 translations I'd collected -- remained confusing or
opaque. I worked my way and toiled with the scripture, returning to it
now and then. When I was a child, I wouldn't go to Kindergarten unless
mother pressed my pants, I had a top button to button, and my hair was
well-combed and in place. When I was a teenager, I wouldn't present a
song at a dance unless we had every part rehearsed, even a synthesizer
or piano on the stage if it was present in the original. When I took
French, I wasn't satisfied unless I could read the religious language
of the Bible in French -- though it was not part of the course. And
long after years of
intense seeking, long after my nose was reddened from the equalized
breath, and the pranava
beating my doors, and had tastes of both, and my hair
was turned White -- I did not feel I was worthy to comment on the
Yoga-Sutra. I remained timid and humble
before Patanjali's sublime text.
Finally came a day when, thanks to my guru's grace, plenty of
suffering, and the littlest bit of ardor completely unworthy
of the Lord, I picked up some old copies and
realized: "I understand
this." I also began to see clearly: "This translation is bad,"
and further: "This
commentator has no clue what this verse is about and is
I could see clearly that the western translations that we have
available are very poor. They are, by-and-large, filled with an
author's indulgence of his own trifling "spiritual" fancies,
than yogic insight, often yogically useless, and some are downright
Indeed, it was because of necessarily pompous commentaries seen
elsewhere which I considered
absurd and offensive in their lack of insight, concerned with the
fortunes of my people, that I commenced writing this text, once one of
hundred prospects banging about in my back drawer. I
waited until I had something to say and knew what I
spoke of. I am glad
I didn't say a word until I was an old man.
is one basic reason that few insightful and engaging Yoga-Sutra
commentaries exist, and it is simply this: Those who realize it's
subject matter lose the inclination to write or teach, and in some
the ability. The great
avadhuta and yogi Nityananda wrote no books. He was too
everything, had spent his life wandering, and rarely felt like even
speaking. Likely, he would have not had the motivation or interest to
sit down and write an organized book. And yet random comments by
Nityananda unlock riddles of the Yoga-Sutra. The same can be
Maharshi, who didn't bother himself to write any text. There is a
wonderful verse in the Bhagavad-Gita that says:
"And when he is
Self, by the Self, for him there is no longer any work to be
God-lover is relieved of duties and work.
they become disinclined is because they realize the world as
of themselves; it's flaws -- including "the unsaved, the ignorant" --
they realize are
their own remaining impurities. They come to know how to help the world
by mere thought or, better yet, by the simple continuation of
own self-purification. The world saves
itself as we purify ourselves. All boats rise. And if one cares about
his race, and I do just as I care about my family, the boats of his
race also are refurbished and rise on his waters. The whole world saves
itself as he saves himself. This
is the realization of the yogi. This
is also the meaning of the Bhagavad-Gita's perplexing
line, untrue by any ordinary analysis:
whole world follows the sage."
who realizes the world as his own projection gets to watch the world
follow his own path sure as the sunset, purifying itself as he
purifies. Part of his own world-dream upgrade is
seeing others do his teaching for him, whether by his will or just as
pleasant relief from teaching duties.
Sometimes Lahiri Mahasaya, the Yogavatar of Benares, when surrounded by
the various pilgrims to his apartment, would direct somebody to speak,
saying "I'll teach through you." Truly, the closer one comes to the
Divine mystery the more loathe he is to speak and write.
of that state is the realization "There's
nobody out there;
there is nobody to save. All is well, all is Brahman."
comports with Sankara's ideal (yes, old bloodless Sankara) of the
realization of the falsity
of external existence, which I will summarize here:
"You had been thinking that
there was a
world full of problems, including sorrows and worries. But all that was
only a stick on the path ahead which, in the dusk, you had
mistaken for a snake. There are no problems, and there isn't
any real creation. It's just a dream you are having. Each night you
realize this over again, but somehow you
forget during the day."
enjoying this realization often, plus contact with the subsuming
transcendental perceptions of yoga, the motivation to
teach gets attenuated. Thus we could say that the yogi is
occasionally tricked into
by falling into a deluded state as he alternates. Every now
and then that sage
gets deluded and thinks of the world. He worries about the people and
thinks, "Well, the
thing that will help all the best is divine
And so it is that Nityananda occasionally wandered into
the home of some devotee and began to say things. Thus we have the
"Chidakasha Gita," a collection of utterances when he got in
the mood for this. And we have other recorded sayings by other
yogins, all fragmentary, from those times they did
delusion. The cases where we have samadhi-yogins
that is coherent and impressive are the very verses of the Upanishads
themselves, and the very
sutras of the Yoga-Sutra. What grace it was for these men to
write these verses! Though my life has been unfortunate in human terms
it was at least rich with scripture thanks to these men who cared
enough to write. (Oh, to sit with an Upanishad in my hands!)
For them, it is both a deigning and an effort of love.
But thankfully their world-turned delusion occurred often enough to
help us. Even a sage at times feels the call of external
the more men seek God
the more free and invincible they feel in doing external duty. What
changes is that he does it fearlessly and more effectively, while he
knows God has him and his race in his
Hand, and all will be well.
Yet it's the
very nature of the path that most of
what a sage and Knower knows remains unwritten. The tradeoff for his
descending silence is that whatever he
or write, imbued with the shakti, will have effect. Just like
random utterances of Nityananda so long ago, when he happened to get
into the mood, and walked into some forgotten living room and said a
few words. Today those are divine manna for the God-seeker answering
many questions and even providing revelations about this very text, the
the more one knows the secret that the Yoga-Sutra describes, the less
he will speak or write. Think about the ultimate goal of yoga! The
ultimate goal of Yoga, according to the
Yoga-Sutra, is a state called kaivalya.
literally means "isolation." The Upanishadic term similar to kaivalya
yoga means that yoga (that state) that doesn't
touch upon or have any relation to any other thing.
This ideal, very similar to the kaivalya idea, is
promoted in the Mandukya
you who go to the studio for prettier bodies still interested in
yoga? (If it sounds alien, it's not. Each of us goes through that state
of oneness with God nightly in the state of dreamless sleep.) For this
world does not have very many good commentaries on the Yoga-Sutra.
Those who penetrate it lose the desire to speak and the sense of need.
is there to speak to?
Once he slips off
that ridge into the Holy City, he will likely no more write.
occasionally still get interested in "helping their
world-dream" but not in the usual way, and their ways of
the world become
unlimited, beyond the ken of ordinary men. A sage can breathe
virtue into the
world, and fire into the wicked. Thus it is that legitimate, coherent
commentaries will come from
the denizens of a
I approached a siddha from India, an incarnation of Divine Mother. I
lived in California where everybody who ever visited India came back as
an incipient guru and started going on tour.
of these uncooked quasi-pundits cycled through my town of Ojai
on a regular basis, or nearby Santa Barbara. The American
gurus were the most specious, the furthest cry.
They consider the
real Indian knowledge; the genuine yogic attainments, to be optional. 'After all, we're Americans, we
are more advanced!' seems
to be the attitude. There is, indeed, a certain hypocrisy in western
culture mavens who love to dabble in the religious cultures of other
people: They carry an assumption that western ways are superior, and
that old ideas such as the distinction between men and women, or even
morality as appearing in these religions, are errant throwbacks where
the locals have not "progressed" yet. Samadhi? Probably some other
primitive misunderstanding. They seem to most value India for new
philosophical perspectives, not realizing that, as Swami Vivekananda
said, "Religion is not
beliefs. Religion is realization."
But for a westerner
just returned from India, any interesting new philosophical
view or patter is sufficient to put them
into a big white chair, perhaps beside a vase
--- with pauses for profound effect --- to religiously-destitute
Californians. (The western so-called Advaita teachers who streamed
through were particularly absurd.) It's also a neat trick if you can
disavow guruhood, and its obligations, while receiving the
guru-adulation of guru-hungry westerners. Even the big chair and the
rose. America's tacit gurus are, by-and-large, mere interlopers and
pilferers of the dharma, not having even attempted to
penetrate basics. They are, for the most part, practitioners
religious chicanery. They generally do not pay obeisances to
Lord, making their teachings sterile at best and sidetracking their
followers at worst.
I was a devotee of
contented, and happily using his techniques. But now and then I'd see
some flier. My guru always visited
sages. The Yoga-Vasistha advocated it. And I had a bit of free time.
Yet in my 15
years of living in California, I only went to see two. I didn't waste
my time. They were both Indians.
The first was Paramahansa
He was a disciple of Hariharanda
who was a direct disciple of Sri Yukteswar, so he was of my same
lineage. I was astounded at the boon of his coming to Ojai. I was
pleased to bring flowers, chocolates, and a fine cut crystal bowl for
his crew which
they set decorously beside the yogi and his German
monastic sidekick. It
was evident to
my eyes that Prajnananda was steeped in bliss, a genuine yogi.
After his talk
I stalked him like a cat. He was sitting alone at a table. The
thing was held at the Ojai Women's Center, so nobody seemed much
interested in this ascetic, celibate, and mind-sacrificer. It was my
luck! I wanted to ask a particular question that had long been
bothering me about the meditation technique we probably shared: "What
should one do with
the mantra when the need to breathe goes away?"
delighted. "Who initiated you?" he asked. I told him
a dream. He gave a
great laugh. As he did he swung his arm, smacking me hard on the
back with the palm of his hand. That
was his only answer. The one westerner I attended in those years was
Krishna Das, who does not style himself a teacher but who as a genuine
bhakta, is, and who leads devotional religious Indian singing. It
wonderful gathering. The religiously hungry White people of Santa
Barbara threw themselves into the singing just as if they'd
become their European ancestors in church. No doubt it
was sad that they now sang religious lyrics in a foreign
language, but it was beautiful just the same to see the
religious impulse of the White Europeans still popping up through their
own concrete. I approached Krishna Das when it was over and he smiled
at me as I did. I quick touched his feet, saying "I touch Neem Karoli
Baba through his devotee." He beamed, showing how the
bliss of bhakti
enlarges one beyond narrow identifications. Just as I honored India's
Godmen through that proxy and symbol, and honored the Christian God by
kneeling before statues of saints in quiet childhood churches,
felt that when Hariharanda slapped my back I was slapped by Sri
Yukteswar himself, and all of India.
The second guru I visited was the siddha
was in the Unitarian Church
across the street from Alameda Park in beautiful Santa
mere sight of her face and eyes on a poster I
had known what she was. I had no doubt. In the church I was full of bhakti
for her. I pondered the gracious Hindu conceptualization of God as
Divine Mother. Indeed, since God created both fathers and mothers, He
must contain the attributes of both. I pondered her identity, in
reputation, with the mind-construction known as "Lakshmi." (Everything
out there is a mind-construction and conditioning. But some mind
constructions, such as the goddess of arts and music, are pleasanter
than others.) While
I sat there waiting for her to arrive I mentally tried to connect with
trying to stay in kumbhaka to
make myself worthy to meet her. A 30-something woman was next to me in
pew, an acquaintance,
dressed fashionably in all the proper flouncy white Indian
robish thingies that California women love to wear at guru-events. She
was trying to chat me up. Seeing me communing
photo she said: "You
won't talk? That's just a photograph of a woman. I'm a real
right beside you." She was pretty. Had long brown hair.
Had been to visit me. Even
had a southern accent. But I considered her behavior embarrassing.
this was a church! You don't chit-chat in a church! You
think about God! So I continued to think of the
guru, and thankfully she was soon hitting on somebody else.
my life I had become a "defender." I came to always be defending
something I considered indispensable to the people's well-being.
When in the 6th grade I defended the smallest boy against continual
harassment by a red-headed bully who was the pre-eminent school "jock"
and basketball star. I had said I'd beat him up if he did it one more
time, and I followed through. After I had him bloodied beneath me on
the ground, he never harassed the boy again. Now in adulthood I
had also changed my astrological natal chart such that my house of
life-role (the 10th) was ruled from the 8th. This is the Scorpio house
of shared things, shared bodies, shared wealth, and shared values. Thus
I found I was always defending the moral tradition of the White
Europeans. I was always defending the good of Christianity. I found
myself defending the critical elements of the Yoga of India, such as
renunciation and Brahmacharya. And I found myself defending the very
bodies and minds of my own European people -- their genotype,
reputation, and genetic memory. The thing I've always wished to defend
the most was the religious path that leads to God-knowledge and
prosperity for all who endeavor. In the Hindu lexicon I came to relate
strongly to the "Kyastriya" or "warrior" class and stage of life. The
Kyastriya, in the Hindu tradition, is the defender of the people and he
does this most centrally by defending the moral order that protects and
gives prosperity to his people. I was all about defending. And an
interesting point is that just moments before meeting this siddha from
India, this samadhi saint Karunamayi who I didn't know but already
believed in -- I defended her and her work.
as I sat in the church there was a loud voice out in the lobby
disturbing the sacred atmosphere. Some man was carrying on a long
conversation with somebody about self-help, psychology, and all the
various counselors and programs he had been through, dispensing his
wisdom and opinions on these California/Esalen subjects. I wondered why
he had no respect for this event or the people entering a sacred space
for a sacred experience. I immediately went out to the lobby and found
him standing in the middle of the lobby as people streamed in. He was
dressed all in white like Karunamayi's staff, and I assumed he was
indeed staff and had authority. He was a very large man, about 250
pounds, with long white hair and a beard. Later on I ended up at
private retreats with Karunamayi where a no-talk rule was to be
observed. This large man would always be there, dressed in white like
staff, and singularly breaking the no-talk rule, talking quite out loud
and encouraging all others to break the silent discipline. I didn't
know this about him at the time, I just knew that he was being rude and
disrespecting the atmosphere. So I went out and said to him -- in a
clear voice intending that all others would hear me confront him -- "Is
this a church or a bar?" And I walked away. He was then shamed
into relative silence and the group enjoyed some moments of quiet
before Karunamayi arrived. This was to be one of several
confrontations eventually had with this fool.
I was satisfied and now back in my pew. Soon
the siddha came in. Her path had been strewn with flowers by a red-headed woman devotee in White. She gave a talk.
I don't remember any of it. I just
tried to stay in bhakti throughout. At a certain point a religious
person realizes that meditation itself is more nourishing than words.
After her talk there was the
possibility to go up to her and have an audience. A line formed. I
had been invited to hand the guru a card, if I liked, on which I could
write a wish.
had long sought samadhi
to end my suffering. I
had heard so
many stories of great gurus in India able to grant the experience of
samadhi to aspirants. I knew by instinct that she was one of those.
That's what I wrote, in my most careful print lettering. Naively
but completely sincere, my card requested that she allow me to have the
highest samadhi, nirvikalpa.
A greedy child full of faith, I even included a 2nd major
request. I centered a greeting line at the top in the prettiest and clearest lettering I could manage that conveyed my
confidence in her: "Thou Art Shiva!" I really meant it.. I knew that she was Shiva. Likely, nobody else did.
down beside and she remained standing. Oh,
what a luminous moment in my memory! The pews were filled with Santa
Barbarans looking on. It felt like she received me well
I was at ease. As she read my card she had a radiant expression. While
reading, she gently touched the top of my head in an
exquisitely mother-like way.
I looked into her mellow smiling face as she started to address me. Her
to me musical,
tremulous, and hushed as if telling me a secret. And
she seemed joyful as she said:
son, all these
come true for you, and very soon."
Childlike faith gets
a man the farthest in religious life. We
were never in better condition than when we had childlike faith. And
yet how many the fools and pigs who want to damage the faith capacity
of children! Faith is instinctive knowledge. Normally
Karunamayi would hand the devotee's wish-card back to them.
she kept. (She kept my card to herself every time I ever handed her
one, save once when she was displeased with me.)
came to me 21 days later. It was like a beast that took me in its jaws.
I had been reading about the natural and instinctive nobility of the
male; how he
sacrifices himself to serve and protect his women and children.
As I followed the story, a madman was stomping through an office
building in San Diego executing people with a shotgun that could blast
through locks. Two newlyweds worked in the same building. Knowing the
killer was executing people, and that he was coming down his wife's
hallway, he ran there. He reached her in time to cover her
body with his
and take the shot.
Suddenly full spontaneous
yogic pratyahara. All the air in my lungs somehow vanished. Immediately
my chest felt strangely cold, immense, and empty like a
great, silent and empty warehouse.
At the very same moment a great wave of bliss touched my back.
was like the great Blue Whale of bliss brushing the
back of a tiny bliss-minnow who thought he was the biggest bliss fish.
I thought I knew bliss, but this was something of another order, a
swirling ocean of joy, and immediately I was losing consciousness,
sinking. I had the immediate desire to fight for normal consciousness.
First, I felt
threatened by it. I had not experienced such bliss. I reacted to it as
a threat to my very identity. Second, I had been
in my rickety wooden chair like a teenager. As it came on I started to
fall back. I instinctively pulled away from the luminous rush,
shaking it off in a way that amounted to sheer refusal, simply
to prevent the calamity of
backwards smack on my head. All these perceptions and reactions
a second of time. It may have been intended thus.
in my chair and steady, the subsuming bliss cloud seemed gone. But
something had a grip on my mind and
wanted to turn it away from the world in some physical, decided way.
My consciousness kept
receding. Then commenced a game of
tug-of-war with God. It tried to turn my mind away from the world
with force: I pulled it back staring intensively at things in my room.
time it tried to drag my mind and perceptions away
world my lungs also went dark. I feared it as death; I responded to it
exactly as if it was
death. So I only
it. I fought wildly like a man who feared water when his
instructor tried to push him in. Everything about this place it wanted
to take me was unknown, and by some deep instinct I knew that I would
emerge from it profoundly altered; that I could not emerge from it the
same person, or even a functional person in the way to which I was
accustomed. Still it wouldn't let go.
I got up to walk around. I
looked around at things
trying to keep keep "a
world" in view. But it wouldn't let go. My mind kept turning away from
the world. I went downstairs and ate food. Then I went to sleep to make
it stop. As I went to sleep it continued to pull me into a thought-free
state, and the only thought I could think was a vague "I exist."
The next day I
had to cancel all my astrological readings as I fought. I could not put
mind on charts or even keep the world in view and the repeated stoppage
of my heart was frightening me. I wonder how I was able to walk around
my house. The push-pull went on through the next
day with me fighting. Sometimes though walking and functioning
mind could only manage a vague sense of "I exist." I
remember walking around and being aware "I'm in my room, in that world"
but it was barely seen, and I was aware that I had no heartbeat. The
lack of heartbeat, and the feeling of a great cold cavern where my
chest was. There
was a bliss, but it was very highly pitched, not the rich and opulent
of the first. It was like a bliss that I wasn't really experiencing. It
was like deep, dreamless sleep while awake but I was not experiencing
any Brahman who was "a mass of consciousness," because I struggled like
a frightened cat to hold onto the perception of my room and the world.
The "me" part
didn't even particularly enjoy it. Yet my consciousness kept pulling
away from here, from my room, from the mountains. It wanted
to make the world
to disappear. It wanted to plunge me in that Ocean. All I did
was fight back.
I never let it take me
wherever it was trying to take me. I fought it like a wild cat. I
the world to
disappear. Because of the first savikalpa bliss I knew by some sure
instinct exactly where it meant to take me, and by just as sure an
instinct that I would never be the same. I already loved meditation too
much. I already was getting drunk with Aum, sometimes gasping for air,
barely functional. I
had a hard time paying bills, making money, meeting deadlines,
or even answering the phone. And
I had four youthful children who still needed my attention and care. A
bone slips out of a joint once and it keeps slipping. A record skips
once and it keeps skipping there. A drink is taken once and you take
another one. And once plunged into genuine samadhi, a dam has been
it returned for me the
next evening-fall, and the world began to recede, I began to beg God to
stop. I knew that I was rejecting it. As I now spoke to
God out-loud, I felt ashamed and abashed but certain in my plea:
to this. I am used to being able to look at other thing as separate. I
still like the prospect of setting a grandchild on my lap, pointing at
distant star, and telling her about it as if it is something separate."
I don't know why I thought these things, but this was my excuse and
plea to the Lord. There was an instinct that if I gave in to this
power I would be, in
the metaphor of Ramakrishna, "out of the game." That I would no longer
be living a human life. There was a solid instinct that if I allowed
this thing to take me, I
would never again be able to view any thing as
Immediately after my plea out loud, it released me. The
battle was over.
save myself, is fit to know that god
rejoices and rejoices not?"
Katha Upanishad, Verse 2:21
samadhi? With no "other" to see. A bliss so
highly pitched it's beyond human registration, and nothing sensed
but a void and a nascent "I." Who desires turiya? We all get
it each night in
dreamless sleep. All
is withdrawn into the spider.
And the spider sits alone. It
is likely the place of all power. But what everybody in this world
the bliss of the savikalpa
the bliss of dreams, of riotous cosmoses, the
bliss of Saguna Brahman,
the Lord. The bliss that roils and churns,
full of light, boons, laughter, and joyous corrections. That is the
drunken state in between this and that highest
nirvikalpa. Everything anybody pursues in this world is
for getting one more little taste of that dualistic bliss of ananda,
from which we come. It is the space in-between, the stage on the way
up, and down between waking consciousness and turiya that makes the
saints cry. This is the bliss of God, Saguna Brahman, The Lord. Does
even want us to have nirvikalpa? What
human beings crave is the dualistic bliss of Saguna Brahman, of the
created world. I find I choose "Isvara and I."
remembered Karunamayi's words.I saw what nirvikalpa was. I
saw what savikalpa
was. Then I was
ambivalent and regretful. I
knew I was a fool to have fought it and sent it away.
Yet I was relieved. So all this is real! I had
arrived up at the crest of a long-sought ridge, looking down
upon the Promised Land.
saw in my mind a traveling family, like gypsies. They
whole lives traveling, on their way to some Holy City.Not
only had they
always traveled, but their parents before them too, and their
grandparents. Traveling towards the Holy City was all they'd known.
were part of a long line that knew nothing but
travel, seeking, hoping to find a Holy City. Seeking was all they knew.
and that was
all of us. Then one day
they come over a ridge and Lo! they see that magnificent city. Its
beauty is unearthly beyond description. They can see
contains amazing denizens they've never
known, contains potencies, powers. They look at each
other. Each other
and their well-known life is all they've ever known. Everything will
change once they enter it. No
more life of the road. Everything
about life will completely change
once they plunge into it, everything -- family relationships, habits,
duties, limits, rules, routine.
to the seaside, Oxnard,
California. I'm in the
There is a moment of
decision then. To
rush headlong into that Great Unknown? Or, wait... perhaps to set up a
camp there by the edge of the
city, and make small
sorties into its outlying edges, getting to know the occupants
and rules more slowly. The city's not going anywhere.
was the decision I made, to
live on the borderland.
was not to be my only experience of the thing that the
Yoga-Sutra discusses. But now samadhi is hard work! All uphill
climb. =9o)= Still, I enjoy the languorous walk, learning the way,
observing the sights.
have since sometimes rued my decision,
knowing all would have been well had I trusted. I would have
to end my old life, but God would have provided. Perhaps the
experience will never come again in this life, but that is acceptable.
I know what the nature of the decision is now, and the nature of the
trust required. Maybe this is the way it always happens in the
long karmic development
of souls, that some siddha, when it is time, gives you a taste? In any
case I plan, daily,
will be my reaction next time whether here or on death. And at least I
can hear that city, and smell it. There is always Aum, and bindu. What
more? And I can
definitely still write. I
am 100 percent certain that had I accepted it at that time, had I let
it take me, I would never have written the present book. I would
not have been able to do so.
world needs a better
Yoga-Sutra commentary, and the Christian Churches must be saved by
returning the central Christian ethic to God-search here-now,
that the Greatest Law may be fulfilled. It took 15 years' more
meditation, plus immersion in the Upanishads and the writings of
Sankaracharya, before I felt able to write a commentary on the
Yoga-Sutra. I waited until it was easy. The first thing I wanted to do
was to show that Patanjali's verses are in a flawed order.
I have felt that simply placing the
Sutra verses into a more coherent order would help clarify their
Oh, what delight! This re-ordering of the verses, threading verses with
connective content and sectioning subject categories into better
wholes, is part of
the contribution I planned to make. This reordering of verses alone
will allow the more open-minded and daring students of the Sutra to
comprehend this ancient scripture in a new and better way.
Along with my own verse renderings
and explanations, I will
sometimes feature for comparison translations by
their version is valuable or testifies to verse content .
am fully cognizant of the implications of writing a commentary on an
ancient text that catalogs the essences of religion, the
experiences of the greatest mystics, which deals with final
enlightenment, and even miraculous powers. I am also aware of the
absurdity, recklessness, and even mendacity of the commentaries that
so blithely written and just as blithely published today, many of them
by writers who never had much interest in Yoga to start with, but
stumbled wide-eyed upon the text as mere W.A.B.Y enthusiasts. I trust
the real yogins of the world will find this text not in those
of respect to India I have deposited some of my qualifications to mount
such an endeavor in the Appendix at the end of this book.
I type these words God roars His approval.
knowledge has been
my prime goal since a young age. However, in the final analysis there
is only one reason I am
to write such a text and offer anything decent to the
world, and one reason only:I attained the grace of a great
son of India and guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, destroyer of my
Guru! Jaya Guru! Om.
Guru is God. Whatever good there may be in this text is
originated from Him, who took me on when I was unworthy, and cast into
me His divine spark. He
Himself wanted to write a Yoga-Sutra commentary like this.
Reincarnation of Arjuna the warrior and William the Conquerer, formerly
of England, this my timid
offering before your throne and the lineage that cascades
down from Mahavatar Babaji of the Himalayas Himself. Whatever good
it contains for humanity and the Europeans is solely thy gift.
text, after the salvaging my gurudeva did with the
of my life, the boons bestowed, the transcendental protection granted,
and the favors shown -- is the one bid I have in my coffer to
present a token of thanks. Let it be, also, my bid for a real
Yoga-Sutra commentary by a westerner, and a thanks to Mother India.
have confidence that old lovers of the Yoga-Sutra will rediscover it
anew here.I pray that young White Europeans who've not yet
embarked on the quest for the Holy Grail will find in
text a friend-for-life. And it would not be fit to not devote this
text, also, to my root guru and Grandfather guru Jesus Christ, satguru
of the White Europeans and my people, who set me on the firm pathway to
all that is here.
Guru, Jai Jai! All Hail the Satguru! Om, Amen
lucky was I to be born a Christian and born into the European Christian
culture! Or even to have been graced to walk into a fine Christian
church even once. This text would not exist save for that. I claim both
the bhakti-yoga of Christianity and the Yoga of the Yoga-Sutra, because
they are the same, and the first came from the second. This I attest
winds of guru's grace blow beyond the little fences the small-minded
people erect to constrain him. The Indian hardwood dividers you see
along the sides
page once belonged to Paramahansa Yogananda. How did I get them? I
don't know. I didn't seek them out. But now I meditate beside them.
During that time I was living in a residence that looked exactly like
his own. Why? I didn't seek it out either.They came
into my hands by serendipitous grace, at the same time that the
Chintamani came to me. It was physically handed to me through the dream
state the night after I
gardens, then lost from my pocket. Later reading the Yoga-Vasistha and
the Crest Jewel of Wisdom I realized that it was Philosopher's Stone of
Hindu scriptures call it the Chintamani. It's a real thing.
hadn't sought it. But I did feel bhakti and
expectation in those gardens.
is everything, and it's why Christianity is so great, and is eternal
asked him in his garden for a sign of our connection. And maybe it's
that token given to me so strangely and briefly held in my hands, that
gives me the temerity and nerve to do the strangest thing I thought I
could never do: Write a commentary on Patanjali's Yoga-Sutra for my
guru. I am comfortable with it finally, because there is nothing more
important in this world, for a people, than to seek God-knowledge. Thus
I put in my oar for my peoples' boat, and whatever other peoples may
benefit. Thank you, India, for keeping the Dharma alive this long.
write this from the Saint Francis Apartments in Portland, Oregon in the
month of October, 2011, The Year of Our Lord. I was lucky to be born a
Christian and with a devout father who made sacrifices to locate his
sons just one block away from the beautiful Saint Augustine's church,
open twenty-four hours a day for any devotee. I go back there in my
mind daily, and it was the Christian religion that set the true yogic
flagstones of devotion, prayer, and asceticism under my feet. I
have confidence that
all God-seekers and students of Patanjali's great
religious work will find themselves inspired and quickened anew by this
new commentary on the Yoga-Sutra by an undeserving and flawed devotee
of Paramahansa Yogananda, who was a lover of the Christian churches and
praised and affirmed their own imperishable yoga.
I present a commentary on
the Yoga-Sutra for the
White Europeans and those worthy of all the races. Besides the
commentary itself, I will also place the verses in a new order to make
the Yoga-Sutra more easily comprehensible and give more
benefit to religious persons or God-seekers. It is God-seekers,
religious persons, who will have the most interest in the Yoga-Sutra.
About The Yoga Sutra
A few things
need to be
said to introduce The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali
to the western devotees and yogins:
-- The Yoga-Sutra is like the universal scripture of all religion,
outlining in the tersest terms the path back to Pure Consciousness,
necessary via samadhi,
that all God-lover saints finally make. It's
subject matter, which includes the mind and its laws, the developments
along the way, and the mystery of God and creation, is both central and
-- The Sanskrit verses themselves are intentionally brief and arcane,
sometimes hardly penetrable. They were intended to require a
commentator to get the value from them.
-- Such knowledgeable commentators are very rare.
-- Not all translations are the same, and one is not as good as another.
-- There is even wider variation in the quality of the commentaries
that are inevitably necessary to the abstruse verses. Some commentaries
have value; some are misleading or outright ridiculous.
-- Commentaries by Americans and westerners have been, up to this
point, mostly worthless and predictably degenerate since the west has
been in a state of slow degeneration.
-- Generally speaking only the Indian commentators are worthwhile and
speaking close to the source.
-- The Yoga-Sutra contains only four verses about the body or posture,
such as"Posture is to be firm and pleasant (when meditating)"
(2:46) and those
verses have no connection to the modern western "yoguh studio" scene of
technique of yoga are all summed up in the Sutra's 1st and 2nd verses: "Yoga is the cessation of the
fluctuations of the mind. So that the Seer, Purusha,
comes to know Itself and abide in Its own real, fundamental nature." The
goal of yoga is God-knowledge, and perfect stillness of
mind then gives God-knowledge as the
Divine Reality obscured by the movement of the mind can then shine
It is the individual ego-mind, nothing else, that is the great prodigal
before God, who both the Upanishads and the Yoga-Sutra like to refer to
as "Isvara." Yoga is the technique for hauling in the mind to meet it's
source. Yoga is thus an address to the mind, not an address to the
the term "yoga" I use it only in its genuine sense of austerities
(which includes meditation), devotion to the Lord, scriptural study,
and repetition of prayers or mantra. (These are enumerated as the basic
actions of yoga in verse 2:1) This is what yoga is and shall remain.
Generally speaking, real yoga was uncovered by chaste males and its
true nature in Patanjali's sense will remain the domain of chaste and
religious males. The male takes to mental control. These are just the
facts. However, since bhakti-yoga is the highest and best form of yoga
(also emphasized in the Yoga-Sutra), and because woman is the most
natural bhakta, the attainments of yoga are within her purview as well,
as shown by Ananda Mayi Ma, the Christian female saints, and
The central subject of the Yoga-Sutra is meditation. Through 25 years
of meditation practice I have referred to approximately 20 different
English translations of the Yoga-Sutra. Only meditation itself makes
the Yoga-Sutra comprehensible. Thus I made meditation my main teacher
and went to the Sutra for affirmation, encouragement, and occasional
insight about technique. This slowly uncovered it.
The texts, as we have them in the west, are very difficult. The verses
are difficult to comprehend in their original terse nature, then
compounded by clumsy translation, then buried even more by inept
commentary by authors who vary widely in their understanding. In
general the only good commentary I have seen is by the ancients such as
Vyasa. Only long meditation, guru's grace, and bhakti have revealed the
Yoga-Sutra to me over time. (Oh, how long I puzzled over I.K. Taimni's
inventive Theosophical distractions in my first unfortunate
treatment I have seen by a westerner, of the Yoga-Sutra, is by the
Romanian Mircea Eliade. It is not a commentary by a practitioner, but
a mature, and insightful overview of the genuine yoga exposed
Patanjali's text from an intellectual point-of-view. I highly recommend
that those serious about the
path, and especially skeptics and intellectuals, include his book
"Patanjali & Yoga" in their reading. The present text
is not that of a scholar or intellectual but a lover of yoga.
Reordering of Verses
It has long
that the Yoga-Sutra has an ordering of the
that is not very coherent. This is true. Some say
it is deliberate to keep the
Yoga-Sutra confusing so that the unworthy can't make much progress with
it. If that was so, it is unnecessary. Other factors filter out the
undeserving well enough. My view is that the Yoga-Sutra verses
need-ordering,and there are probably
for the less-that-logical quality of the traditional verse order,
them arcane: 1) Our
own inner pollution gives us scriptures containing flaws, deficiencies,
and confusing aspects (just as those same inner
impurities produce other flaws in the external world), 2) The vagaries
of how the text came to us, 3) perhaps some intention by the original
authors, though I doubt it, and 4) simple lack of skill in teaching
presentation or the idiosyncrasies of a particular teacher at a
particular time, and perhaps with a particular group of disciples. Just
because a fellow has the attainment of samadhi does not mean he is the
most canny teacher, or that he would teach in a way suitable to all
causes of the
text's disjointed presentation, the Sutra needs to be
understood, for the
salvation of the White Europeans and the salvation of the
Christian-heritage nations, as well as India and other peoples. Now is
the time to see the verses presented more coherently. In this version
old students of the Sutra will be able to better see its golden threads.
I want to give a particularly focused exposure of the Sutra
content on continence or brahmacharya. This is important because no
profound religious knowledge is possible
for the male without continence, and in particular the sort of
knowledge that the Sutra directs us to. And it is the penetrating mind
of the continent male that uncovers the kind of religious knowledge
that is in the Yoga-Sutra, as well as other knowledge.
The chastity content of the religions is always the first casualty of
human recalcitrance and error; the first thing to sink beneath the
currents of time. The human nature tends to come up with obstacles or
rationales to subvert it. It is a common sight to see westerners
interested in Hinduism and yoga dumb-down the term "brahmacharya,"
Sanskrit's only word for celibacy. They would like it to mean "staying
to your purpose" or "thinking of Brahman" and anything but what it so
patently means. From the point of view of the traditions, the texts
themselves, and the testimony of the great yogins such as Ramakrishna,
Sivananda, and more there is really no
room for such squirrelliness and chicanery. Brahmacharya does mean
celibacy. And celibacy is
required to understand these profound scriptures, to develop in
meditation, and to attain samadhi. Not to mention to have a
decent life absent continuous distracting upheavals based on continual
disturbance to the inner ground, foundation of the outer world-garden.
There is no
the validity of the
continence requirement must be firmly established before the peoples
can see God-knowledge and saints rise among them, and before any real
understanding of the Yoga-Sutra is possible. In this age, in
particular, so-called "new-agers," India depredators, and yoguh
practitioners are highly inclined to sideline or even obfuscate the
clear chastity admonitions of both the Upanishads and the Yoga-Sutra.
requirement of the Catholic priesthood and convents are a
sure sign that the knowledge of yoga and the knowledge of the Christian
saints shares common ground. So understanding of the religious
significance of chastity is necessary both to regenerate Christianity
and to raise up yogic adepts among the westerners.
I have chosen to bring out the Sutras verses regarding continence at
the very start, so that the rest of the book may be fruitful for you.
on Continence (Brahmacharya)
They are short sentences. Yet it
seeks to cover every important aspect of the quest for God-knowledge
and liberation from suffering, the vastest realm of knowledge and, for
the one who would conquer his own ego-mind, source of multifarious
exterior dreams, the most abstruse.
Thus the Sutra tends to touch on topics once, and in the sparest way,
and never repeat any matter. It is thus highly significant that
continence (brahmacharya) is prescribed and cited explicitly in three
separate verses of the Sutra. These arise not in one discussion but in
three separate areas of the text. Then chastity can be said to be
referenced indirectly an additional four times.
I place this
material first in
my commentary because, the truth is, no spiritual knowledge can be
penetrated or grasped without continence. Moreover, this principle is
where religion and spiritual knowledge have had their
greatest collapse. By restoring understanding of this
principle, beneficial religion will be restored to mankind.
The Yoga-Sutra contains, in fact, the very essence of religion. This
the outstanding, God-sent fact about it.
Now, the direct
of continence in the Yoga-Sutra:
fixed observances, posture, regulation of breath,
abstraction, concentration, contemplation, trance [samadhi] are the eight parts
(of the self discipline of Yoga).
of self-restraint comprise abstention from violence, falsehood,
theft, incontinence and acquisitiveness."
The word brahmacarya
appears. Modern dissemblers look for every
imaginable pretext or post tex for turning brahmacharya to
than celibacy. Respectable older translators did not
have the temerity
for such monkey-business. They translated it correctly as "continence."
Continence is an old English word for male chastity and means nothing
from the body; himself kept in. Though modern potato heads would like
to creatively reassign the term to ideas that
broad, nebulous like "staying to your purpose" or "loving
--- brahmacharya is indeed the direct Sanskrit word for sexual
celibacy, and the only one.
Celibacy is what brahmacharya means.
that the other self-restraints, in the verse above, relate
to very definite acts. To steal something is a definite act. The
Yoga-Sutra says 'don't perform the act of stealing.' To tell
a lie is a particular act. The sutra says 'don't do that act.' To
commit violence, also, is a specific act.
The Sutra says 'don't do that harmful action.' But when arriving at brahmacharya
modernes and W.A.B.Y practitioners want brahmacharya
-- Sanskrit's word for sexual celibacy and sexual continence
become something nebulous,
non-specific, non-physical, not difficult, and far less fruitful. And
of course, they want to continue to have their 'fun' in life. Such
obscurations and dumbing-down
attempts on brahmacharya
-- and I see them written everywhere from "Wikipedia" to Twitsville,
are callow chicanery of the inexperienced, the unadventurous, and the
weak. And you can't get Yoga if you are unadventurous or weak. Doesn't
every man bleed? Even monkeys in the zoo? Nobody said it was easy, but
dissimulating the meaning of brahmacharya is simply modern degeneracy.
It is an abandonment of the one thing that can
assure progress in the task laid out by the Yoga-Sutra.
would say, moreover, that of the four incontinence stands far above the
rest as the most damaging. That is, the most damaging to yogic progress
and yogic knowledge such referenced in the Yoga-Sutra and Sanatana
Dharma generally. Incontinence destroys your interior. It destroys your
power of concentration, or even the motivation to do things
less the most difficult act of meditation. It takes away the creative
being within that is capable of interacting with the creative Being of
purusha. It's not even in the same category as those others.In terms of
its impact on the yogin's capacities, incontinence stands
far above stealing and even tough doings that might be called violent.
(Arjuna on the battlefield was involved in tough doings and seemed to
do very well with the Lord, but he would have had nothing without
brahmacharya.) As I show here, continence even gets three direct
mentions in the
Yoga-Sutra. Thus the dissimulation of modernes and attempt to hustle it
into the wings is all the more deplorable.
definition for brahmacharya
for the male is no seminal emission. When you have that, you have
brahmacharya and only then. It is only through brahmacharya
that men can write worthwhile religious texts containing positive and
regenerate spiritual knowledge. And it only through the non-loss of
that biological and spiritual substance that the next verse has any
meaning at all:
being firmly established in sexual continence
vigour is gained."
By this brahmacharya
something definite is acquired. Most translators call it "energy" or
"vigor." But note the original Sanskrit is
This virya, with its clear
relationship to our English words virility and virtue, is not simple
energy in the sense of physics -- like crass heat or electricity,
aspects of mere natural elements. It is energy, but more. Our word
virility implies manhood, fundamental virtue, and an essence both
humanly beautiful and lofty.
Sexual debauchery (read: sexual discharge in the case of the male) in
old European language was
a loss of virtue. So virya refers to a fundamental virtue built up and
now resident in a man.
A continent man, acquiring virya, has virility in the way we usually
understand it, yes. But such virility has esoteric qualities. His
interior has been made sacred and the pure creativity of the
Purusha-Father is resident in him. Virya attained by chastity is virtue
itself, intelligence, and an emanation of consciousness. Consecrated to
God it is divine. It shows in the religious person as a radiance,
attractiveness, and righteousness. That virya both strengthens the mind
and develops it, gives power to the movement of his mind, and makes his
mind a penetrator. Virya both strengthens, and sanctifies, the interior
of the yogi so he can both cope with, and be suitable for, divine
Now listen to it again:
getting established in
The physical and
quality called virya
in a male is only acquired by non-loss of his creative substance by
celibacy. This begins to be sublimated throughout all his tissues, his
brain, and finally as a subtle substance that the yogis
It powers the mind, makes it strong and capable of concentration, and
gives it penetrating power. The sexual energy is indeed a penetrating
power, and the male can choose to either empty himself of mental power
with many penetrating pelvic
thrusts, or have a penetrating mind for yoga and every
As the female does
not suffer a
loss of biological
or cosmic material on the sex act but receives a gain from the male,
the question arises: What are the implications of yogic continence for
women? Do they gain from it or not? Are they fundamentally different
vis-a-vis yoga or are her pathways to it unique? Let this suffice for
the moment: Because the female perforce by nature can only have the
loss of physical creative substance only once per month, women
already far more continent than the average male today. Which men are
willing to climb onto the continence platform of even the average
woman? Truly, men are the real "bleeders" today, and to an egregious
extent beyond women, and bleeding something more valuable. I
explore this topic, and the questions it raises, more thoroughly later
in this text.
So the famously
terse Yoga-Sutra, which rarely touches the same topic
twice, has an unusual three direct listings for continence. Yet these
are not the only ones! Chastity is
also referenced indirectly another four times. The best of
these is Verse 1:20, in the section
describing the levels of samadhi. It lists the traits of those who
attain the highest level of conscious awareness, nirvikalpa samadhi.
Most commentators miss it, but the verse references continence, and in
a highly significant context:
"In others it
preceded by faith,
verse says that those who attain to the higher stage of samadhi, the
nirvikalpa state, have those four things. Commentators steadily miss
chastity message of this particular verse. What does "energy" mean
here? Is it that a yogi gets energetic? Starts taking long
hikes? Building sheds? Thus gets the highest samadhi? No. Is it that he
meditates more intensely? Intensity of practice is significant and
mentioned in another verse. But the kinetic word "energy" is not the kind
of word we associate with meditation practice, which is a sedentary activity physically.The
problem's solved by simply noting that the original Sanskrit word is,
We already know from verse2:38
virya is obtained by
established in continence. If "energy" wanted to be used, it would have
been more correct to write "buildup of energy." Thus the verse is
attain the highest samadhi are those who have a buildup of virya from
continence -- and
the three other things.
I've never seen any
point to this in Verse
1:20, or even note the relative profusion of chastity cites
Yoga-Sutra. The pre-eminent cause of
western non-penetration of the Yoga-Sutra, and why they remain so far
from samadhi and the attainments of both Christian and yogic saints, is
nothing but the collapse of the chastity ideal once promulgated by
Christianity. Now a 2nd indirect reference, in three sampled
distaste for his
and no intercourse with others."
for one's own body,
and non-intercourse with others."
disgust for one's own body and
disinclination to come in physical contact with it."
Note: Are modern
of yoguh hoping to become disgusted with
their bodies, and those of others? Or quite the opposite?
As with many Sutra
"non-intercourse" has more than one
significance. It refers to both aversion to sexual intercourse, and
aversion to interacting with other people generally. This verse refers
to an earlier phase of yogic development. When a man first renounces,
it is natural and inevitable that he comes to despise the thing that
debauches him and makes him lose his inner light. The "charge" of lust
submerged where it belongs and not distorting his mind, he also gets a
more clear vision of the sensual world and the bodies. He finally sees
clearly, as when a child, the animalistic, crude, and absurd
aspects of sexuality. But later, the religious person in the higher
state has neither attraction or aversion to anything, including the
bodies. This is the 2nd verse indirectly listing the chastity
imperative in spiritual development and God-knowledge. The last
two indirect references are in Sutra 2:1
where tapas is
where purity is mentioned. Sexual or moral purity is one
the forms of purity, and one of the
most significant ones for God-aspirants. After all, Brahman is pure.
Brahman is the "pure consciousness, untouched, like virgin snow. By
making ourselves pure we are able to finally mix with the purity of
Brahman. And there is no more significant purity, in these paths, as
purification from lust. Then later, the mind itself. (Thus it is that
God-seeking men love most anything that reminds them of purity because
it reminds him of God: Whether an untouched newly fallen snow, wild
untouched places of nature, the innocence of children, unbruised
fruit, or a woman made as God made her with no mark or tattoo.)
These are the four indirect
that the Yoga-Sutra makes to chastity.
Remember that the
Yoga-Sutra arose out of Hinduism, that is,the Vedas and
Upanishads. References to chastity
(brahmacharya) are very abundant in
Now commences a
the verses of the Yoga-Sutra, with commentary, so that White Europeans,
those of India, and those of other deserving Peoples, can
well-understand them and regain religious knowledge.
The Fundamental Path to God-Knowledge
Now In the
Christianity, the sat-guru Jesus Christ stated that love of God is the
"greatest law" or most important principle for Christians. Since
bhakti-yoga is nothing but a felt love-of-God which stills the mind and
brings samadhi, it is 100 percent valid to call Christianity
bhakti-yoga. Now, Christ says that the highest law is "to love the Lord
your God with all your mind, heart, and strength."
The fact is nobody
love what they do not know or what they have never experienced. One can
begin to offer up love based on simple faith. But in human terms we
cannot love much a thing that we do not actually know. We have much
more love for things we actually know and experience. It is my
impression that the average man who calls himself Christian today has
palpable love for rock groups much more than for God. That is
because he has not sought out -- and known -- God. God is still at the
level of a mere concept for him. Thus it is that
the "First Law" of Christianity must be to "seek the Lord your God." If
we seek God, we can then experience God and finally have genuine love
for God. To apply all one's mind to God (as in the words of Christ) is
the most difficult of all endeavors. The mind is recalcitrant, the mind
is fickle and changing, spreading out in all directions but
God. Gathering up the whole mind toward God is also the very
thing, the thing altogether, that the Yoga-Sutra teaches how to do.
That is its very subject. Gathering up the whole being and
directing it to God is the central subject of the Yoga-Sutra and
Thus there is
complementary and parity between
Christianity and the Yoga-Sutra. It is also my belief that Jesus Christ
spent his missing years in India and that this was His very study. This
based on the many yoga-like things He said and also his siddhis, which
are inherent to God-knowledge and the yogic path. The Yoga-Sutra is
technical manual for enabling a man or woman to "love the Lord with all
your mind, heart and strength" as Christ described, through coming to
know God directly within. God is not located out in space or inert
external matter. God is living right behind our own minds.
The Yoga-Sutra teaches us how to dissolve the mind and see
God, who is the source of mind and who gives us perception, behind
Now the Yoga-Sutra
Now a discussion of
Yoga is the
cessation of the
fluctuations of the mind.
So that the Seer,
comes to know Itself and abide in Its own real, fundamental nature.
By ending the
vrittis of the
mind, the divine, all-sufficient, immutable God within is known, and
known as the only Reality.
"Citta" means mind
thinking principle. A "vritti" is a thought;movement or
change in the mind. "Nirodha" means cessation, stoppage, dissolution.
Yoga is an entirely an address to the mind, not to the body. Since the
body is only an emanation or vesture of the mind, all mastery of the
body is given automatically by mastery of the mind. Perfection of the
body is likewise given by perfection in citta-vritti-nirodha because
then the perfection of Brahman, or Pure Consciousness, shines through.
Yoga is actually the
work of bringing the mind to stillness. An amazing thing happens when
yoga is mastered: One
Success in chitta-vritti-nirodha equals
samadhi. Samadhi is the central subject of the Yoga-Sutra: How it is
stages or levels of samadhi, and the fruits and implications of it. An
oddity of the text is that we find the verses speaking
about samadhi long before the word "samadhi"
is actually used. It's as if the Sutra assumes that the
reader understands the subject of the book. One
of the venerable ancient Indian commentators, Vyasa, went so far as to
say "Yoga is samadhi." Entymology has "yoga" coming
from"yuke" or to yoke together. The reference, then, is to
joining the individual soul, or jiva, with the Supreme Soul. Thus the
sage was making sense.
In practical terms,
Yoga-Sutra turns out to be an expose on meditation. A great many of its
verses are directly on the subject of meditation and meditation
technique. Chapter One contains a list of meditation focci, from
meditation on one's guru ("on one who is free from passion")
to meditation on an experience from dreams. Meditation is the means of
attaining samadhi. This is an implicit central message of the
Yoga-Sutra. Thus one could easily say "Yoga is meditation."
And meditation is
grappling with the mind, the directing of the mind to one thought for
the cessation of the movement of the mind, just as Verse 2:2 states.
Thus one focused on the body and doing bodily postures, but not
striving to still the mind: Are they really doing yoga in the genuine
sense of the word? No, especially if stilling the mind is not their
purpose anyway, but getting a differently shaped rear end etc.
Now let's return to
Yoga-Sutra and find out what yoga really is, and always shall be. The
next verse is the first in the chapter on practice, often called
"Sadhana Pada." Sadhana means the basic moral and spiritual disciplines
of an aspirant.
Whereas in the
normal state (of
human suffering) the Seer is assimilated with the mind and its
The divine seer
out through the karmic morass of the body, projects worlds and
conditions. This is a delicate statement. Much can be unfolded from it.
It bears directly on the metaphysics of
world-erection found in Non-Dualistic Vedanta and Upanishads such as
the Mandukya and Gaudapada-Kirika Upanishad.
do we project delusive and transient worlds?
The Divine Seer
mixed up with them, temporarily both seeing them as real and making
did this start?
time ago, as soon as we
began forming a jiva and body having a "I-ness" borrowed from Purusha,
conceptualizing "other" and "things." The Seer is not just assimilated
with the mind and its movement, but the conditioning inherent in the
mind and body, thoughts and experiences past, comparable to writing on
a hard drive.
Why does He remain assimilated with the mind and its movement and
Long habit by the
believing in the projection; believing it as real.
the Seer (Purusha) ever get free of this situation and know
It does so each
night in dreams
and also deep, dreamless sleep. If a yogi and religious person, he or
she can get free of this state during the waking life via austerities,
concentration, and bhakti which leads to samadhi which
is knowledge of the divinity while conscious.
does the Seer become assimilated and entangled again?
Each morning in a
moment you begin to stir from sleep and consciousness directs itself
again to your body and senses. Immediately the world is resurrected and
immediately, by conditioning and habit, you believe it is real again.
The external things, at the original root, are nothing but
consciousness, so the Seer is really seeing Itself, or the products of
the jiva-mind's creativity, which creativity was channeled from the
Purusha. The Seer is then assimilated with its own creations, enmeshed
The question arises:
Is it my
jiva or particular mind that is deluded and mixed up with the outer
samsara? Or is God himself, Purusha, also deluded? Sankara
likes to say that Isvara is Himself deluded and that is why he has
worlds and universes. This is incorrect. Both Saguna and Nirguna
Brahman is ever enlightened and ever free. The Jiva has separated
itself from Him, especially during the waking state. Each night we
re-unite with the Perfect Purusha. But 'sitting on Daddy's lap,' and
realizing again nothing's ever been lost, we get a hankering, like a
child, to run off and play games of pretend again. Thus we wake. The
yogi seeks to become aware of the divine untouched Father, at least in
increasing measure, during the waking state by continence, austerities,
meditation, and bhakti-yoga.
inability to distinguish between creation and Purusha, though these are
absolutely separate. One gets knowledge of Purusha by samyama on
Purusha itself as apart from creation.
This verse was
from deeper in the text because it is basically an amplifier and
clarifier of1:4. The term "samyama" comes in the section on
meditation, and means perfect concentration. Repeatedly in the
Yoga-Sutra arises the phrase "knowledge of the difference." This refers
to a final yogic attainment of distinguishing between God as perceived
within, and His
creation. It is usually put as discriminating the difference "between satva and
satva is the most pleasant and desirable
aspects of the creation. For this reason the faculty of discrimination
is central to spiritual knowledge and the attainments of yoga. The
verse is saying that our dualistic experience comes about because of
our inability to distinguish between these two. We see God in the
karmic play though He is only reflected there. We project reality onto
unsatisfactory karma, and chase the lesser thing, remaining
enmeshed in it; enmeshed in worlds.
The last three
verses might well
have fit in the later section on Metaphysics as they define our
fundamental existential problem. However, it is good to state the
fundamental metaphysical problem yoga seeks to solve right at the
start, even if it is a new and strange idea to most seekers. In fact,
Patanjali did state it by his third verse. Nightly we separate
ourselves from the dualistic world-miasm and are happy to completely
forget it, in fact knowing with assurance that it does not exist. Yet
when we awake, drawn back to our vasana-ridden body and entering back
into it, we become enstupidated again. Yoga seeks to destroy this
problem in the waking state, and waking sorrows.
The cause of that
should be warded off is the entanglement of the Seer with the
To get untrammeled
samadhi, end suffering,
know God and become a boon to your surroundings -- you need to stop
worshiping the external ephemeral creation and turn back to God,
worshiping That which is worthy of worship. When you turn your sight
back to the source of sight, the distinction between That and this will
This verse is
similar to 1:4
which speaks of the Seer becoming "assimilated" with the seen, like
milk mixed in water.
The seen consists of
elements and the sense organs. It is of the nature of Prakriti.
Its purpose is experience and liberation
of the jiva.
The seen is for the
Fortunately, we can
use the very
creation itself to attain liberation. With proper practice we can use
nature and our dualistic state, like an anvil, to hammer out the
difference between the
Seer and the seen. As Ramakrishna put it, we can use the one thorn of
flawed dualistic scriptures and
flawed, dualistic activities to pull out the thorn
How to do this? Now yoga is described.