The New Renderings,
New Ordering

The Summary Verses


Now a discussion of yoga.


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.


 Whereas in the normal state (of human suffering) the Seer is assimilated with the mind, its transformations and products.


Yogic activity consists of purification by asceticism (tapah), japa, and devotion to The Lord.

The Essence of Yoga


The yogic observances are purity, contentment, austerities (tapah, tapas), japa,and devotion to the Lord.


These are practiced for reducing impurities, afflictions, and distractions and acquiring samadhi.


By svadhyaya is produced communion with the deity in the form favored by the devotee.

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The Problem


Those who develop wisdom come to see all creation, externals, and perceivables as unsatisfactory, containing inherent suffering (such as anxiety). This on account of constant change, conditioning (karma), and due to the unstable, dualistic nature of the natural forces that underly phenomena and the movement of the mind itself. This is the problem that yoga is pursued to solve.


Samsara (worldly experience) is the result of inability to distinguish between creation and God though they are absolutely separate. By samyama on God (Purusa) as distinct from even the most attractive aspects of creation one gets knowledge of God.


The afflictions/distractions are: Ignorance, asmita (the sense of "I exist"), desire, aversion, and attachment.


Ignorance is the substrate of the other four, whether the four are in a dormant, reduced, controlled, or expanded state.


Ignorance is taking the non-eternal, impure, evil, and non-atman to be eternal, pure, good, and atman.


Asmita, or the sense "I exist," arises when Pure Consciousness, the power-of-knowing, gets associated with a body and its senses.


The afflictions are to be suppressed by meditation.


The suppression of distracting vrittis is attained by abhyasa and non-attachment.


That suffering which has not yet come can be warded off.


The cause of that suffering which should be warded off is the entanglement of the Seer with the seen.

10:1 (A.O.)

The problem is solved by getting established in samadhi, which is liberation.


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.

On Preparation


Vairagya is the self-mastery in which one does not crave for objects, whether seen, unseen, or heard about.


The mind is assisted towards stillness and samadhi by responding with benignity, compassion, delight, and indifference respectively towards these four types of people: The fortunate, the suffering, the virtuous, and the sinful.


"Self-restraints, fixed observances, posture, pranayama, abstraction, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are the eight limbs of yoga.

"The self-restraints are abstention from harming others, from falsehood, from theft, from incontinence, and from greed."


The necessary virya is obtained when the devotee gets established in continence.

On Meditation


Fixing the mind on one thing is dharana.


Continuous concentration on the object is dhyana.


When the meditator gets true realization of the meditation object, penetrating and knowing the object's real nature, unconscious of himself as mind or knowledge, it is samadhi.


The three taken together are called samyama.


The mind is said to be in the inhibited or intercepted state when moment-by-moment the mind is continuously inhibited (by the meditation object) and a samskara of inhibition is created.


The mind's flow becomes steady by samskaras.


Abhyasa is the effort towards becoming established in that state (of suppression).

Abhyasa becomes firmly-grounded when continued a long time without interruption and with reverence.

Samadhi comes soonest to those who desire it intensely.


Even among the ardent, there is the distinction of mild, medium, or intense means.

By svadhyaya is produced communion with the deity in the form favored by the devotee.

On Meditation Objects


By bhakti for the Lord (samadhi is attained).


Perfection of samadhi is attained by God-devotion.


The Lord God, Isvara, is a particular purusha (individual soul) in His own category, untouched by afflictions, works, the results of actions, or samskaras. 


He is omniscient.


Unconditioned by time. All greatness is His.


His evidence is the pranava, Aum.  


Or meditation on the mind of one who is free of desire.


In general on the dawning of transcendental perceptions the mind can be brought to stillness by fixing the mind on one of those.


Such as meditation on a radiant perception beyond sorrow.


One can meditate on the knowledge of dream or dreamless sleep.

10:2 (A.O.)

Meditation on akasa.


Or even on what appeals to him.


Samadhi is certainly attained by meditation on the richness of the pranava.


By mergence in pranava obstacles are destroyed, the consciousness turns inward.


Pranayama is to sit and cut off the flow of inbreath and outbreath. 


The inbreathing, outbreathing, and held operations, in terms of place, length, and number become progressively longer and more subtle. 


The fourth kind of pranayama is beyond the sphere of internal and external, and comes when the essential acts of puraka and rechaka have been comprehended. 

From that is dissolved the covering over light.


And fitness of the mind for dharana.

On Samadhi

In the highest vairagya, because of contact with Purusha, there is cessation of the least desire for any experience of the created world.


Then pratyahara, in which the senses finally imitate and follow the mind, likewise withdrawing themselves from their objects.


From pratyahara, supreme mastery over the senses.


Sabija samadhi is accompanied by gross thought, subtle thought, bliss, and the sense of "I am."


In sabija samadhi exists thought, knowledge related to words, and based on further sense perception, plus divine knowledge in mixed states and the mind alternates between them.


The other variety is Nirbija samadhi which contains only the subtle impressions (samskaras) of the first.


In one whose citta-vrittis are almost annihilated, fusion and entire absorption in one another of the cogniser, the cognition and the cognised occurs, as a transparent jewel placed near an object takes on that object's colors.


In Nirbija samadhi, all forms have vanished, memory is purified, the essence of the object alone shines forth.


By what has been said, the same two experiences, in the cases of meditation on subtle objects have also been revealed.


The province of subtle objects extends all the way up to the indissoluble level of prakriti.


The purity of Nirbija samadhi being attained, one knows pure light and prasad.


He has direct knowledge of things, different from knowledge based on testimony, inference.


His consciousness is truth- and right-bearing.


The samskaras produced by nirvikalpa samadhi overwrite other samskaras.


With the suppression of even the samskaras of sabija samadhi, one becomes established in Nirbija samadhi.

On Siddhis

10:3 (A.O.)

Siddhis, performed or experienced, are a fruit of either individual karma or grace.


By samyama on God as apart from creation, i.e. verse 3:35,  the faculties of divine hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell arise.

On destruction of impurities in the body and senses by tapas, occult powers arise.


By getting knowledge-of-the-difference, that is, the difference between God (Purusa) and even the highest aspects of creation (satva), one gets both omniscience and omnipotence over all things.


Siddhis can arise from birth, from drugs, mantra, tapas, or samadhi.


By samyama on the pit of the throat, the cessation of hunger and thirst.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the heart, knowledge of the mind (of another).


The Great Bodiless is when the yogi's consciousness can exit the body and function outside of it, this real, not imaginary. From this comes destruction of the covering over the light.


When the mind's tie to the body is loosened, and he develops knowledge of how his mind moves, he can enter other bodies.


By samyama on the pit of the throat, the cessation of hunger and thirst.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the heart, knowledge of the mind.


By samyama on the relationship between his body and akasa, then merging with the idea of a light and floating things like feathers, cotton or dandelion tufts, he can move throughout space.


By mastering the udana he can float over water, mud, thorns, the earth, etc.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the light in the head (bindu), the yogi gets the vision of the Siddhas.


By samyama on one's own bodily form, invisibility, because the connection between light and the body is disjoined.


His intuition develops and with it he can know anything.


When he is established in speaking constant truth his mere words get the power to actualize.


These are obstacles in the way of samadhi, powers when the mind is  outward-turned.


Siddhis are a fruit of samskaras, are endlessly varied, and are experienced in the realm of karma.

The State of the Sage


When he is a thoroughly discriminating man (knowing always the difference between God and creation), and when, fully contented by God, he no longer seeks even siddhis or any external fulfillment from his meditation, then dawns the samadhi called Raincloud of Goodness.

Metaphysics Of the Yoga-Sutra


The functions of the mind can always be known because of the constant nature of the Seer, the Lord, Purusha.


The transformation into another body (for another incarnation) is effected by the flow of prakritis; the jiva gets the body natural and appropriate to it.


Actions are neither white nor black in the case of sages, in the case of others they are of three kinds.


Having the three kinds of samskaras, they fruit variously as conditions become appropriate.


Even among the samskaras there is relationship
and they affect each other, though they may be
different, and though they may be separated by class, space, or time on account of correspondences.


And samskaras are without beginning because the will to live and desire for well-being are eternal.


But as they are bound together by cause, effect, substratum and support, samskaras are destroyed when those are destroyed.

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 
Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES

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 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. 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.

Later that same year I went to attend a retreat with Karunamayi at a hotel in Oxnard, California. I wondered if she knew -- if she knew what had happened to me. The legend around her -- the testimonies of so many devotees -- suggested she did know all things. I wondered if she would be proud of me, or ask me about my samadhi experience. Finally the time came when we were all, dressed in white, allowed to form a line and pass by her one at a time in a reception line. I always got emotional when I came close to her, just like bereft child finding his missing mother. As I came close she glowed and said "You are a sage from birth." At that event I had the experience of seeing obvious blue-white light around the sage at all times. It came out 3-4 inches from around her body. The 2nd time I approached her in the line she said "This is your last incarnation." I didn't like that idea. This life has been to absurd, painful, and ignominious. That's all there is? This was the beginning of disagreements and tiffs I was to have with the siddha. 

Thus I experienced also "survived" Nirvikalpa, bestowed by a sage at my sincere request. 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,  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.

Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES

 COPYRIGHT 2011 Julian Lee. All Rights Reserved.