Religious Knowledge, Spiritual Vision
Julian C. Lee Mickunas


The Chidakasha Gita
Of Nityananda and Commentary


The Yoga-Sutra On Kumbhaka and The Breathless State

Julian C. Lee Mickunas



Devotion, love of God, emotional feeling directed to God.


The Yoga-Sutra's word for God or Saguna Brahman, the Supreme Soul, original Person, all-powerful creator of the manifest universes.

Individualized consciousness, all the separate "I"s other than God, like the Christian idea of soul.

Affliction, impurity, taint

Nirguna Brahman
God as pure consciousness, with the only attributes being sat-chit-ananda or being, consciousness, and bliss. Human beings merge with Nirguna Brahman nightly in dreamless sleep, covered by a film of nescience or unconsciousness. Often when "Brahman" us used alone it refers to Nirguna Brahman.

rishi or rsi
Yogic sage, holy man of India, literally "forest sage."

Saguna Brahman
God in a manifested form with other attributes, such as creatorship, etc. Conceptualizations of Saguna Brahman include Vishnu, Shiva, the all western ideas of God, Isvara, etc.

Complete stoppage of thoughts and absorption in one of the levels of consciousness above waking, while in the waking state. Samadhi can be savikalpa or nirvikalpa. The first is awareness of the dream state while awake. The 2nd is awareness of the bliss of the dreamless state while awake. Mergence in God. Saguna Brahman or Isvara is considered to pertain to the dreaming state; Nirguna Brahman to deep dreamlessness or pure consciousness.

"Impression." A mark on consciousness "This happened, I was this." Similar to memory.

Miraculous power.

Austerities, penances, practices of bodily mortification and renunciation.

The inner energy or potency that is gained by celibacy. Similar to the concept of ojas built up by chastity. Fundamental inner virtue from celibacy.

...this glossary is under construction. 


Logo for "The Yoga Sutras, A New Commentary" by Julian Lee  

Many people make commentaries on 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:

"Is it such a small thing?"

In 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 how 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 on verses 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.

"Doorway to Yoga" graphic, Julian Lee

God 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.

After 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:

"I don't know 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 vs. asamprajnata 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 form 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 knew I could 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 blowing smoke." 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, more conversational filler than yogic insight, often yogically useless, and some are downright degenerate. 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 a 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.
There 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 sense even the ability. The great avadhuta and yogi Nityananda wrote no books. He was too detached from 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 said of Ramana 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 satisfied in the Self, by the Self, for him there is no longer any work to be done."

The God-lover is relieved of duties and work.

One reason they become disinclined is because they realize the world as a projection 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 their 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:

"The whole world follows the sage."

He 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.

Part of that state is the realization "There's nobody out there; there is nobody to save. All is well, all is Brahman." This attitude 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 even 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."

By 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 teaching 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 knowledge." 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 get that delusion. The cases where we have samadhi-yogins writing material 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 duty. And 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 does say or write, imbued with the shakti, will have effect. Just like those 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 Yoga-Sutra.

But 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. The word literally means "isolation." The Upanishadic term similar to kaivalya is aparsah yoga. Asparsah 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 Upanishad. All 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 reason the 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. Who is there to speak to?

Once he slips off that ridge into the Holy City, he will likely no more write. They may occasionally still get interested in "helping their world-dream" but not in the usual way, and their ways of helping 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 Yoga-Sutra commentaries will come from the denizens of a certain Borderland. 

Once 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. Many 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 of flowers, speaking nothings --- 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 of religious chicanery. They generally do not pay obeisances to the Lord, making their teachings sterile at best and sidetracking their followers at worst.

I was a devotee of Yogananda, contented, and happily using his techniques. But now and then I'd see some flier. My guru always visited yogis and 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 Prajnananda. 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?"

He seemed bemused and delighted. "Who initiated you?" he asked. I told him Yogananda, in 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 was a 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 unkillable 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, I 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 Karunamayi. This was in the Unitarian Church across the street from Alameda Park in beautiful Santa Barbara. Upon a 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 her, only meditating, and trying to stay in kumbhaka to make myself worthy to meet her. A 30-something woman was next to me in the 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 with Karunamayi's photo she said: "You won't talk? That's just a photograph of a woman. I'm a real woman 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. Besides, 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. 

In 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.  

For 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.

I 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.

I sat 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 and 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 voice came to me musical, tremulous, and hushed as if telling me a secret. And she seemed joyful as she said: "My son, all these things will 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. But mine she kept. (She kept my card to herself every time I ever handed her one, save once when she was displeased with me.)

It 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. It 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 leaning back 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 falling backwards smack on my head. All these perceptions and reactions happened in a second of time. It may have been intended thus.

Still 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 again with force: I pulled it back staring intensively at things in my room. Each time it tried to drag my mind and perceptions away from the world my lungs also went dark. I feared it as death; I responded to it exactly as if it was death. So I only fought 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 my 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 my 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 bliss 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 didn't want 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, and barely functional. I already 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 broken. As 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:

 "I am used 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 a 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 separate.

 Immediately after my plea out loud, it released me. The battle was over.

"Who, save myself, is fit to know that god
who rejoices and rejoices not?"

First Katha Upanishad, Verse 2:21

Who will want nirvikalpa 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 deep, 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 seeks is the bliss of the savikalpa state, 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 pursued 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 God 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."

I remembered Karunamayi's words.I saw what nirvikalpa was. I also 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.

Immediately I saw in my mind a traveling family, like gypsies. They had spent their 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.

They were part of a long line that knew nothing but travel, seeking, hoping to find a Holy City. Seeking was all they knew.

That was me, 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 it 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.

Following Karunamayi

to the seaside, Oxnard,

California. I'm in the 

brown shawl.

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.

That was the decision I made, to live on the borderland.

This 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. Oh, I have since sometimes rued my decision, knowing all would have been well had I trusted. I would have had 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, what 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. 

The 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, so 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.

Long I have felt that simply placing the Sutra verses into a more coherent order would help clarify their true content. Oh, what delight! This re-ordering of the verses, threading verses with naturally 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 Dvivedi,Leggett, Taimni and others where their version is valuable or testifies to verse content .

I 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 are 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 categories.

Out 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. As I type these words God roars His approval.

Religious knowledge has been my prime goal since a young age. However, in the final analysis there is only one reason I am able 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 sorrows.

Om Guru! Jaya Guru! Om.

The Guru is God. Whatever good there may be in this text is solely 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.

This text, after the salvaging my gurudeva did with the wreckage 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.

I 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 this 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.

Jai Guru, Jai Jai! All Hail the Satguru! Om, Amen

How 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

The 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 of the 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 visited His 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 legend.

The Hindu scriptures call it the Chintamani. It's a real thing.

I hadn't sought it. But I did feel bhakti and expectation in those gardens.

Bhakti is everything, and it's why Christianity is so great, and is eternal yoga.

I asked him in his garden for a sign of our connection. And maybe it's only that, 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.

I 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.

Here 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 highly esoteric.

-- The Sanskrit verses themselves are intentionally brief and arcane, sometimes hardly penetrable. They were intended to require a knowledgeable 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 bodily workouts.

The goal, state, and 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 forth.

It is the individual ego-mind, nothing else, that is the great prodigal and reprobate 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 body. When I use 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 Karunamayi, etc.

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 version!)

The best scholarly 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 in 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 been remarked that the Yoga-Sutra has an ordering of the verses 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 four reasons for the less-that-logical quality of the traditional verse order, none of 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 author or 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 persons.

Whatever the 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.

Before listing the verses, 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 question that 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.

The chastity 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.

Thus 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.

  The Yoga-Sutra on Continence (Brahmacharya)

The Yoga-Sutra contains 195 verses. 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 cites of continence in the Yoga-Sutra:


"Self-restraints, fixed observances, posture, regulation of breath, abstraction, concentration, contemplation, trance [samadhi] are the eight parts (of the self discipline of Yoga).


  Ahimsa-satyasteya-brahmacaryaparigaha yama.

"Vows of self-restraint comprise abstention from violence, falsehood, theft, incontinence and acquisitiveness."

I.K. Taimni Translation

The word brahmacarya appears. Modern dissemblers look for every imaginable pretext or post tex for turning brahmacharya to mean something other 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 lost from the body; himself kept in. Though modern potato heads would like to creatively reassign the term to ideas that are non-sexual, broad, nebulous like "staying to your purpose" or "loving Brahman --- brahmacharya is indeed the direct Sanskrit word for sexual celibacy, and the only one. 

Celibacy is what brahmacharya means. Notice 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 -- to 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, U.S.A. -- 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.

I 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 much 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.

The strict 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:


  Brahmacarya-pratisthayam virya-labhah.

"On being firmly established in sexual continence
vigour is gained."

I.K. Taimni Translation

By this brahmacharya something definite is acquired. Most translators call it "energy" or "vigor." But note the original Sanskrit is virya. 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 interaction.

Now listen to it again:

"By getting established in continence he attains virya."

The physical and spiritual 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 call ojas. 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 other attainment.

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 are 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 will 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:


  Śraddhā-vīrya-smrti-samādhi-prajñā-pūrvaka itaresām.

"In others it [samadhi] is preceded by faith,
energy, memory, discrimination."

Dvivedi Translation

The verse says that those who attain to the higher stage of samadhi, the nirvikalpa state, have those four things. Commentators steadily miss the 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, again,virya. We already know from verse2:38 that virya is obtained by getting established in continence. If "energy" wanted to be used, it would have been more correct to write "buildup of energy." Thus the verse is saying that those who attain the highest samadhi are those who have a buildup of virya from continence -- and the three other things.

I've never seen any commentator point to this in Verse 1:20, or even note the relative profusion of chastity cites in the 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 translations:


"From purity, distaste for his own body
and no intercourse with others."


"From purity (arises) disgust for one's own body,
and non-intercourse with others."


"From physical purity (arises) disgust for one's own body and disinclination to come in physical contact with it."


Note: Are modern practitioners of yoguh hoping to become disgusted with their bodies, and those of others? Or quite the opposite?

As with many Sutra verses, the "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 mentioned, and 2:32 where purity is mentioned. Sexual or moral purity is one of 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 references 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 the Upanishads!

Now commences a re-ordering of 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 bhakti-yoga called 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 can truly 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 nothing else.

Thus there is complete 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 like the 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 it. 

Now the Yoga-Sutra begins:


Now a discussion of yoga.


  Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodah.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.


  Tada dratuh svarupe vasthanam.

So that the Seer, Purusha, 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 or the 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 attains samadhi. Success in chitta-vritti-nirodha equals samadhi. Samadhi is the central subject of the Yoga-Sutra: How it is attained, the stages or levels of samadhi, and the fruits and implications of it. An oddity of the text is that we find the verses speaking directly 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, then, the 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 the direct 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 the ancient 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 transformations.

The divine seer within, Purusha, looking 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.

How do we project delusive and transient worlds?

The Divine Seer within gets mixed up with them, temporarily both seeing them as real and making them "real."

When did this start?

A long 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 samskaras?

Long habit by the jiva in believing in the projection; believing it as real.

Does the Seer (Purusha) ever get free of this situation and know Itself?

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, chastity, concentration, and bhakti which leads to samadhi which is knowledge of the divinity while conscious.

When does the Seer become assimilated and entangled again?

Each morning in a trice, the 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 in them.

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.


Experience arises from the 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 brought forward 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 Purusha," 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 suffering which should be warded off is the entanglement of the Seer with the seen.

To get untrammeled bliss, 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 be known.

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 the 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 purpose of serving Purusha.

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 of ignorance and limitation. How to do this? Now yoga is described.

COPYRIGHT 2011 Julian Lee. All Rights Reserved.


The Chidakasha Gita
Of Nityananda and Commentary


The Yoga-Sutra On Kumbhaka and The Breathless State

Julian C. Lee Mickunas