The Light of the Soul:
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Verdensanskuelsen bag Patanjalis værk er almen indisk: Mennesket lever i den samsariske lidelse på grund af den af uvidenhed foårsagede karmiske energi. Forløsningen indtræffer ved erkendelsen af åndens absolutte forskellighed fra den manifeste psykisk-fysiske verdensudfoldelse – her indarbejdet i rammerne af det klassiske Samkhya-system.
Det er Patanjalis selvstændige indsats at have foretaget en synkretisme af forskellige heterogene etisk-meditative metoder der hver især anses for virkningsfuld til opnåelsen af dette mål.
Formålet med at dyrke yoga er at opnå den transcendente tilstand hinsides den normale bevidsthed, hvor den frigjorte sjæl, eller ånden, er totalt isoleret fra ethvert bevidsthedsobjekt i erfaringsverdenen hvormed den bevidste tanke (tænkeorganet) naturligt, men fejlagtigt, identificerer sig. Dette sker ved at hæmme og standse de fem forskellige former for bevidsthedsaktivitet, dels ved at man stabiliserer den, dels ved at man forholder sig indifferent overfor bevidsthedsindholdet.
Den absolut koncentrerede tilstand (samadhi), absorptionen, lader sig endvidere opnå ved hengivenhed til Gud, idet man herved stabiliserer sin tankegang i og med at man forhindrer den i at blive distraheret af en række forskellige forstyrrende momenter.
En tredje vej til erhvervelse af samadhi sker ved at den stabiliserede tanke identificerer sig med et fra sig selv forskelligt objekt. Absorptionen fuldbyrdes først når alle de karmisk betingede bevidsthedsenergier overvindes i og med at den skelnende erkendelse vokser i klarhed.
Af de fem nævnte former for bevidst tankeaktivitet som forhindrer samadhi er de fem former for vrangforestilling de alvorligste, for så vidt som de forårsager den karmiske energi der fastholder den uvidende i genfødslernes rundgang. Denne uvidenhed kan kun ophæves ved den klare erkendelse der skelner mellem ånden på den ene side, erfaringsverdenen på den anden. Fra en ny synsvinkel ligger midlet til opnåelse af den forløsende skelnen i de otte “klassiske” led af den yogiske etik-meditative selvdisiciplin, dvs. de fem bud osv.
Der tilkommer de tre sidste introverte yoga-led (koncentration, meditation og “absorption ‘) en særlig betydning, idet de samlet under et gør det muligt for en yogi gradvist at opnå kontrol over en lang række mentale og fysiske fænomener. Alligevel hører disse magiske kræfter hjemme på det niveau hvor samadhi endnu ledsages af karmisk betinget bevidsthedsaktivitet. Man bør derfor helst omfatte disse evner med den tidligere nævnte form for indifferens. Den skelnende erkendelse er vigtigere for frelse.
Det afsluttende kapitel – hvis traditionelle titel er mindre træffende – indeholder i hovedsagen et antal uddybende bemærkninger til det forudgående samt en række polemiske afsnit, bl.a. rettet mod buddhismens benægtelse af omverdenens realitet.
Yoga Sutras Book I: Samadhi Pada
AUM atha yoganushasanam
1. Så er der undervisning i yoga.
2. Yoga består i at standse (nirodha) tænkeorganets virksomhed.
tada drashtuh svarupe ‘vasthanam
3. Når det er sket falder Sjælen til ro i sig selv.
4. Ellers assimileres (Sjælen) til (tænkeorganets) virksomhed.
vrittayah panchatayyah klishtaklishtah
5. Der er fem slags virksomhed som enten er med eller uden skavanker.
6. Det er erkendelsesmidlerne (pramana), vrangforestillinger (viparyaya), sprogfiktioner (vikalpa), søvn (nidra) og erindring (smrti).
7. Erkendelsesmidlerne er iagttagelse, inferens og overleveringen.
viparyayo mithya-jnanam atad-rupa-pratishtham
8. En vrangforestilling er en falsk erkendelse, der tager noget forkert for givet.
9. En sprogfiktion beror på en rent sproglig forståelse, men er faktisk blottet for reelt indhold.
abhava-pratyayalambana vrittir nidra
10. Søvn er en aktivitet baseret på erkendelsen af noget der ikke foreligger.
11. Erindring er at forhindre et erfaringsindhold i at glide bort.
12. Standsningen af disse (virksomheder hos tænkeorganet) er et resultat af indøvelse og indifferens.
tatra sthitau yatno ‘bhyasah
13. Indøvelse er en bestræbelse på at forblive i stabilitet.
sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito dridha-bhumih
14. Den bliver imidlertid først forankret når man har dyrket den med langvarig og uafbrudt begejstring.
drishtanushravika-vishaya-vitrishnasya vashikara-sanjna vairagyam
15. Indifferens er den fornemmelse af beherskelse man får når man ikke mere interesserer sig for erfaringsmæssige og traditionsoverleverede anliggender
tat param purusha-khyater guna-vaitrishnayam
16. I sin højeste form er den, i og med at Sjælen åben interesseløshed overfor (de tre) gunaer (bestanddele).
17. Når (yoga, dvs. absorptionen) ledsages af overvejelse, analyse, fryd og selvbevidsthed er den bevidst (samprajnata).
virama-pratyayabhyasa-purvah sanskara-shesho ‘nyah
18. Den modsatte (dvs. ubevidste yoga eller absorption) forudsætter den indøvelse der er en betingelse for at (tænkeorganet) indstiller (sin virksomhed), men rummer stadig en sidste rest af latent karma.
19. For de “diskarnerede” og de “materieopløste” (væsener) betinges (den ubevidste absorption) kun af erfaringsverdenen (bhava).
20. For andre (yogier) er den et resultat af tro, ildhu, årvågenhed, koncentration og indsigt.
21. Når deres verdensafsky (samvega) er intens er den (absorption) på nært hold.
mridu-madhyadhimatratvat tato ‘pi visheshah
22. Det gør forskel om (deres verdensforagt) er svag, moderat eller voldsom.
23. Man kan på den anden side også (opnå absorption, jvf. 2,45) ved hengivenhed til Gud
klesha-karma-vipakashayair aparamrishtah purushavishesha ishvarah
24. Gud er en særlig slags Sjæl (purusa) som er uberørt af (de fem) skavanker, af gerninger (karma), resultaterne heraf og de latente spor heraf.
tatra niratishayam sarvajna-bijam
25. I Ham (Ishvara) har ens “kim” for at blive alvidende nået sit endegyldige udviklingstrin
sa purvesham api guruh kalenanavachchedat
26. Ishvara er også de gamles læremester for Han er ikke afgrænset i tid.
tasya vachakah pranavah
27. Ordet der angiver Ham er OM.
28. Man skal gentage (denne lyd) og meditere på dens mening.
tatah pratyak-chetanadhigamo ‘py antaraya-bhavash cha
29. Derved opnår man dels individuel selvbevidsthed, dels at forhindringerne udebliver.
vyadhi-styana-sanshaya-pramadalasyavirati-bhranti- darshanalabdhabhumikatvanavasthitatvani chitta-vikshepas te ‘ntarayah
30. Forhindringerne består i følgende forstyrrelser ( vikyepa ) af tænkeorganet: sygdom, sløvhed, usikkerhed, uagtsomhed, ladhed, overgivenhed, vrangsyn, mangel på opnåelse af stabilitet (i absorption).
31. Med disse forstyrrelser følger smerte, frustration, nervøsitet og stakåndet pusten og stønnen.
32. For at forhindre disse (forstyrrelser) skal man øve (tænkeorganet i at koncentrere sig) om et enkelt emne ad gangen.
maitri-karuna-muditopekshanam sukha-duhkha-punyapunya-vishayanam bhavanatash chitta-prasadanam
33. Tænkeorganet bliver roligt og afklaret ved at man møder glade (mennesker) med venlighed, miserable med medfølelse, gode med glæde og slette med ligegyldighed.
prachchardana-vidharanabhyam va pranasya
34. Man kan også (stabilisere tænkeorganet) ved at udstøde eller tilbageholde sit åndedræt (prana).
vishayavati va pravrittir utpanna manasah sthiti-nibandhani
35. Desuden kan en sanseobjektbundet intens aktivitet tvinge tænkeorganet til stabilitet.
vishoka va jyotishmati
36. (Det samme udvirker en intens aktivitet) der er ubekymret og lysklar
vita-raga-vishayam va chittam
37. (Det samme sker når) tænkeorganet har et objekt der omfattes uden lidenskab.
38. Eller når det som basis for erkendelse har en drøm eller søvn.
39. (Tænkeorganet kan også stabiliseres) ved at kontemplere et vilkårligt objekt
paramanu-parama-mahattvanto ‘sya vashikarah
40. Ens beherskelse over dette (dvs. tænkeorganet) kan spænde fra det allermindste til det allerstørste.
kshina-vritter abhijatasyeva maner grahitri-grahana-grahyeshu tatstha-tadanjanata samapattih
41. Identifikation betyder at det ubevægelige (tænkeorgan) hviler i subjektet, sanseorganet og objektet for erkendelse og farves deraf ganske som var det en ædelsten.
tatra shabdartha-jnana-vikalpaih sankirna savitarka
42. Hvad nu (de fire slags identifikation) angår, så er den overvejende (savitarka) identifIkation blandet op med sprogfiktioner m.h.t. ord, ting og erkendelse.
smriti-parishuddhau svarupa-shunyevartha-matra-nirbhasa nirvitarka
43. Når ens erindring (smrti) er totalt renset (for enhver overvejelsesbetonet konvention) afspejler den ikke-overvejende (nirvitarka) (identifikation), som i sit egentlige væsen så at sige er tom, sit objekt i dets renhed.
etayaiva savichara nirvichara cha sukshma-vishaya vyakhyata
44. Helt analogt lader (identifikation) som har overlæg (savicara) eller som ikke har overlæg (nirvicara) sig forklare, når den har et subtilt objekt.
45. l øvrigt må ethvert subtilt objekt (for identifikation) i sidste instans være et med den umanifeste urnatur (aliilga )
ta eva sabijah samadhih
46. Kun disse (fire slags identifikation, der alle er bevidste) udgør den absorption som danner kim (til en ny tilværelse).
47. Når den (identifikation) som er uden overlæg er blevet til sikker forvisning (opnår en yogi) indre fred og afklaring.
ritambhara tatra prajna
48. I denne tilstand er (yogiens) indsigt sandfærdig.
shrutanumana-prajnabhyam anya-vishaya vishesharthatvat
49. Denne intuitive indsigt) har noget andet som genstand end den indsigt der beror på overlevering og inferens; den har nemlig (modsat de to andre) noget specifikt som genstand.
taj-jah sanskaro ‘nya sanskara-pratibandhi
50. Den latente karma der stammer fra sidstnævnte modvirker de andre former for latent karma.
tasyapi nirodhe sarva-nirodhan nirbijah samadhih
51. Når også den er standset indtræffer den absorption som ikke mere danner kim (nirhija), for dermed er enhver (form for latent karma) standset.
Yoga Sutras Book II: Kriya Yoga
1. De praktiske øvelser (kriyayoga) er askese, studium og hengivenhed til Gud. (52)
samadhi-bhavanarthah klesha-tanukaranarthash cha
2. Sigtet hermed er dels at udvikle absorption, dels at svække de fem slags skavanker. (53)
3. De fem skavanker (alle underformer af vrangforestillinger: 1,8) er: fejlviden, subjektivisme (asmita), attrå (raga), afsky (dvesa) og livsvilje (ahhinivesa). (54)
avidya kshetram uttaresham prasupta-tanu-vichchinnodaranam
4. Fejlviden danner grobund for de påfølgende, om de nu er slumrende, svækkede, afbrudte eller kraftige. (55)
anityashuchi-duhkhanatmasu nitya-shuchi-sukhatmakhyatir avidya
5. Fejlviden betyder at noget der faktisk er forgængeligt, urent, smerteligt eller ubesjælet alligevel forekommer en evigt, rent, lykkeligt eller besjælet. (56)
6. Subjektivisme er der tale om når man så at sige identitetsforveksler Sjælens kraft med tænkeorganets (huddhi) kraft. (57)
7. Attachment accompanies and pursues pleasure. Attrå knytter sig til nydelse (58)
8. Afsky knytter sig til lidelse(59)
svarasavahi vidusho ‘pi tatha rudho ‘bhiniveshah
9. Livsviljen er medfødt og såre naturlig selv for en vismand (60)
te pratiprasava-heyah sukshmah
10. Når de fem slags skavanker endnu kun er subtile skal de fjernes ved at man kommer dem i forkøbet. (61)
11. Når de er virksomme skal de derimod aflægges ved dyb meditation (dhyana). (62)
klesha-mulah karmashayo drishtadrishta-janma-vedaniyah
12. Ens latente kvantum af karma (asaya) har rod i de fem slags skavanker og må nødvendigvis udløses i nuværende eller kommende inkarnation. (63)
sati mule tad-vipako jaty-ayur-bhogah
13. Sålænge der er en rod (dvs. skavank) sker en modning, dvs. genfødsel, livslængde og erfaring. (64)
te hlada-paritapa-phalah punyapunya-hetutvat
14. Forårsaget af ens gode eller dårlige karma indebærer disse tre enten lykke eller lidelse. (65)
parinama-tapa-sanskara-duhkhair guna-vritti-virodhach cha duhkham eva sarvam vivekinah
15. For den der forstår at skelne klart, er alt lutter elendighed, dels på grund af den lidelse forandring, smerte og latent karma indebærer, dels som følge af gunakræfternes indbyrdes konflikt. (66)
heyam duhkham anagatam
16. Hvad der kan og skal ophæves er derfor al fremtidig elendighed. (67)
drashtri-drishyayoh sanyogo heya-hetuh
17. Årsagen til den elendighed, som faktisk kan ophæves er den, på fejlviden beroende, alliance mellem Sjælen og erfaringsverdenen (drrya). (68)
prakasha-kriya-sthiti-shilam bhutendriyatmakam bhogapavargarthem drishyam
18. Erfaringsverdenen har som sit væsen (de tre gunaer dvs. bestanddele:) lys, aktivitet og inerti; den struktureres som elementer og sanseorganer; dens formål er dels erfaring, dels befrielse. (69)
19. Gunaernes fire udviklingstrin er de seksten særformer (visesa), de seks almenformer (avisesa) , urmateriens førsteprodukt ( lingamatra ) og urmaterien (alinga), (70)
drashta dristhimatrah shuddho ‘pi pratyayanupashyah
20. Sjælen derimod er kun årvågenhed, og selvom Han er ren (dvs. uafficeret) bevidner Han bevidsthedsstrukturen (pratyaya). (71)
tad-artha eva drishyasyatma
21. Erfaringsverdenens hele væsen er kun til for Hans skyld. (72)
kritartham prati nashtam apy anashtam tad-anya-sadharanatvat
22. Selvom den svinder væk for den Sjæl, der har fuldbyrdet sin opgave, så er erfaringsverdenen dog ikke selv forsvundet, da andre jo stadig har del i den. (73)
sva-svami-shaktyoh svarupopalabdhi-hetah sanyogah
23. Alliancen (samyoga) mellem Sjælen og erfaringsverdenen er årsag til at man kan fatte den egentlige natur bag de to principper: Herren (dvs. Sjælen) og Hans erfaringsverden. (74)
tasya hetur avidya
24. Årsagen til denne alliance er fejlviden. (75)
tad-abhavat sanyogabhavo hanam tad drisheh kaivalyam
25. Når (fejlviden) er borte ophæves alliancen; forløsningen (hilna) betyder at (Sjælen) der er vidne hertil opnår absolut isolation. (76)
viveka-khyatir aviplava hanopayah
26. Forløsningsmidlet er den tydelige åbenbaring af skelnende erkendelse (vivekakhyiiti). (77)
tasya saptadha pranta-bhumih prajna
27. En yogi i besiddelse heraf vinder den syvfoldige definitive indsigt. (78)
yoganganushthanad ashuddhikshaye jnanadiptir a viveka-khyateh
28. Når man ved efterlevelse af de følgende otte yogaled (yogiinga) har udryddet vrangforestillingernes urenhed, lyser erkendelsen op helt til (man når den definitive) skelnende erkendelse. (79)
29. De otte led af yogateknikken er de fem bud (yama), de fem påbud (niya- ma), kropsstillingerne (asana), åndedrætsreguleringer (pranayama), sansetilbagetrækning (pratyahara); koncentration, meditation og absorption. (80)
tatra ahimsa-satyasteya-brahmacharyaparigraha yamah
30. De fem bud er: skånsomhed, sandfærdighed, hæderlighed, kyskhed og besiddelsesløshed. (30)
ete jati-desha-kala-samayanavachchimah sarvabhauma mahavratam
31. Når de overholdes på alle udviklingstrin uafhængigt af samfundsklasse, sted, tid og vedtægter kaldes de det store løfte (mahilvrata). (82)
32. Påbudene er renhed, nøjsomhed, askese, studium og hengivenhed til Gud. (83)
vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam
33. Så snart de fem bud og påbud hæmmes af vrangtanker (vitarka ) skal man udvikle deres modforholdsregler. (84)
vitarka himsadayah krita-karitanumodita lobha-krodha-moha-purvaka mridu-madhyadhimatra duhkhajnananantaphala iti pratipaksha-bhavanam
34. Modforholdsregelen går ud på at indse at vrangtanker såsom brutalitet (himsa) osv. beror på attrå, aversion og dårskab; at man selv har skabt dem, medvirket dertil eller bifaldet dem; og at de medfører en uendelig mængde lidelse og uforstand, om de nu er svage, moderate eller voldsomme. (85)
ahimsa-pratishthayam tat-sanniddhau vairatyagah
35. Når en yogi forlader sig på skånsomhed (ahimsa) bliver folk i hans nærhed fordrageligt stemt. (86)
36. Når han forlader sig på sandfærdighed (satya) afhænger handlingernes resultater af hans ord. (87)
37. Når han forlader sig på hæderlighed (asteya) tilfalder alskens rigdomme ham. (88)
38. Når han forlader sig på kyskhed (brahmacarya) vinder han manddomskraft. (89)
39. Når han er konsekvent i sin besiddelsesløshed (aparigraha ) vågner han til erkendelse af sit genfødselsforløb. (90)
shauchat svanga-jugupsa parair asansargah
40. Dernæst de fem påbud : Renhed (sauca) afføder væmmelse over ens egen krop og undgåelse af kropskontakt med andre. (91)
41. Renhed bevirker desuden rensindethed, tilfredshed, koncentration, sansekontrol og anlæg for at skue Sjælen (atman). (92)
santoshad anuttamah sukha-labhah
42. Nøjsomhed (samtosa) fører til den højeste lykke. (93)
kayendriya-siddhir ashuddhi-kshayat tapasah
43. Askese udrydder urenhed så ens krop og sanser opnår magiske kræfter. (94)
44. Studium skaber forbindelse til ens yndlingsguddom. (95)
45. Hengivenhed til Gud fuldbyrder ens absorption ((96)
46. Ens kropsstilling må være rolig og behagelig. ( (97)
47. Det bliver den ved at man slapper af og ved at man identificerer sig med uendeligheden. (98)
48. Derved bliver man immun overfor fysiske modsætninger som eksempelvis varme, kulde osv. (99)
tasmin sati shvasa-prashvasayor gativichchedah pranayamah
49. Åndedrætsregulering består i at afbryde ind- og udåndingens rytme efter at man har sat sig til rette. (100)
bahyabhyantara-stambha-vrittir deshakala-sankhyabhih paridrishto dirghasukshmah
50. Når den finder sted udadtil, efter udånding, indadtil, efter indånding, eller ved hæmning af åndedrættet midt imellem idet den er underordnet rum, tid og antal, er den langvarig og stabil. (101)
51. Den fjerde slags åndedrætsregulering lægger både det ydre og indre funktionsfelt bag sig. (102)
tatah kshiyate prakashavaranam
52. Derved ophæves det slør af karma der dækker erkendeIsens lys. (103)
dharanasu cha yogyata manasah
53. Ydermere bliver tænkeorganet (manas) i stand til at koncentrere sig. (104)
sva-vishayasanprayoge chitta-svarupanukara ivendriyanam pratyaharah
54. Sansetilbagetrækning betyder at sanserne så at sige efterligner tænkeorganets natur idet de isolerer sig fra deres respektive objekter. (105)
tatah parama vashyatendriyanam
55. Det fører til den totale beherskelse af sanserne. (106)
Yoga Sutras Book III: Vibhuti Pada
desha-bandhash chittasya dharana
1. Dharana, koncentration betyder at tænkeorganet er bundet rent stedsmæssigt (107)
tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam
2. Dhyana, meditation betyder at bevidsthedsstrømmen er regelmæssig idet (tænkeorganet er koncentreret). (108)
tad evarthamatra-nirbhasam svarupa-shunyam iva samadhih
3. Samadhi, absorption betyder at denne (dvs. meditation) kun afspejler tingen selv idet den så at sige er blottet for sin egen (erkendelsesagtige) beskaffenhed. (109)
trayam ekatra sanyamah
4. Når disse tre (dvs. koncentration, meditation og absorption) samles under et (kaldes de) kontrol (samyama). (110)
5. Ved at beherske denne lyser indsigten op (prajna). (111)
tasya bhumishu viniyogah
6. Denne (kontrol) må oparbejdes trin for trin (bhumi). (112)
trayam antarangam purvebhyah
7. Disse tre (= samyama) er mere væsentlige for den bevidste absorption end de fem forudgående (dvs. yama osv.). (113)
tad api bahirangam nirbijasya
8. Men de er alligevel uvæsentlige for opnåelsen af den absorption, der ikke mere danner kim (jvf. 1,51) (samadhi). (114)
vyutthana-nirodha-sanskarayor abhibhava-pradhurbhavan nirodha-kshana-chittanvayo nirodha-parinamah
9. Den “standsnings-modifIkation” der ledsager tænkeorganet hvert øjeblik det er i ophør (nirodha), skyldes dels at vækkelsesenergierne undertrykkes, dels at standsningsenergierne dukker frem. (115)
tasya prashanta-vahita sanskarat
10. At dette (dvs. tænkeorganet) flyder i en rolig strøm skyldes de energier (der skaber ophør) (l16)
sarvarthataikagratayoh kshayodayau chittasya samadhi-parinamah
11. Tænkeorganets “absorptions-modifikation” betyder dels at dets urolige opmærksomhed overfor alle ting hører op, dels at dets opmærksomhed omkring et enkelt punkt dominerer. (117)
tatah punah shantoditau tulya-pratyayau chittasyaikagrata-parinamah
12. Tænkeorganets “enkeltpunkts-modifikation” betyder at det forgangne og nutidige bevidsthedsindhold er det samme. (118)
etena bhutendriyeshu dharma-lakshanavastha-parinama vyakhyatah
13. Analogt med denne trefoldige modifikation af tænkeorganet kan man forklare de modifikationer som elementerne og sanseorganerne undergår i henseende til egenskaber, tidskarakter og beskaffenhed. (119)
14. Et egenskabsbærende “substrat” er noget der ligger bag en fortidig, nutidig eller fremtidig egenskab (120)
kramanyatvam parinamanyatve hetuh
15. En ny sekvens er årsag til (en ny og) anden modifikation (121)
16. Ved kontrol over de tre slags forvandling (sanyama) opnår en yogi erkendelse af fortid og fremtid. (122)
shabdartha-pratyayanam itaretaradhyasat sankaras tat-pravibhaga-sanyamat sarva-bhuta-ruta-jnanam
17. Når man forveksler ord, deres indhold og forståelsen heraf med hinanden skabes forvirring, men ved kontrol over deres indbyrdes forskel opnår en yogi erkendelse af alle væseners sprog. (123)
18. Som resultat af en umiddelbar perception af sin latente karma, opnår en yogi erkendelse af sine tidligere genfødselsformer. (124)
19. Ved kontrol af ens egen eller andres tankegang opnår en yogi erkendelse af andres tanker. (125)
na cha tat salambanam tasyavishayi-bhutatvat
20. Dog erkender han ikke dens grundlag fordi denne ikke er genstand for hans erkendelse (126)
kaya-rupa-sanyamat tad-grahya-shakti-stambhe chakshuh-prakashasanprayoge ‘ntardhanam
21. Ved kontrol over kroppens fremtoning, hvor muligheden for at opfatte den udelukkes, idet øjet ikke modtager et synsbillede, bliver yogien usynlig. (127)
etena sthabdady antardhanam uktam
22. Thus can also be explained the power of concealment of sound, touch, taste and smell. (128)
sopakramam nirupakramam cha karma tat-sanyamad aparanta-jnanam arishtebhyo va
23. Karma modnes enten hurtigt eller langsomt; ved kontrol over kanna -eller ved forvarsler – opnår en yogi erkendelse af om han har langt igen. (129)
24. Ved kontrol over venlighed, medfølelse og glæde, opnår en yogi styrke heri. (130)
25. Han opnår styrke som fx en elefant ved kontrol over dens styrke. (131)
26. Ved at betvinge sine sanseindtryk erkender han minutiøse, skjulte og fjerne ting. (132)
bhavana-jnanam surye sanyamat
27. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over solen erkender han universet. (133)
28. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over månen, erkender han himmellegemernes konstellation. (134)
29. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over polarstjernen, erkender han deres bevægelser. (135)
30. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over navleringen, erkender han kroppens anatomi. (136)
31. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over) strubehovedet, stiller han sult og tørst. (137)
32. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over bronchierne opnår en yogi stivhed. (138)
33. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over) baghovedets udstråling, kan han se overnaturlige skabninger. (139)
pratibhad va sarvam
34. Men han kan også (se) det hele ved intuition. (140)
35. Ved kontrol (sanyama) over hjertet bliver han sig sine tanker bevidst. (141)
sattva-purushayor atyantasankirnayoh pratyayavishesho bhogah pararthat svartha-sanyamat purusha-jnanam
36. Erfaring (hhoga) er en oplevelse der ikke skelner mellem tænkeorganet (sattva) og sjælen (purusa) som faktisk er helt adskilte. Eftersom det (sattva) er til for noget andets skyld opnår en yogi kun erkendelse af sjælen ved kontrol over det som er til for sin egen skyld. (142)
tatah pratibha-shravana-vedanadarshasvada-vartta jayante
37. Ved denne erkendelse af sjælen opstår intuitionen (jvf. 3,33 – samt særlig udviklet) hørelse, berøringssans, synssans, smagssans og lugtesans. (143)
te samadhav upasarga vkyutthane siddhayah
38. I absorptionen er de alle irritamenter, men når tænkeorganet er i aktivitet udgør de overnaturlige kræfter. (144)
bandha-karana-shaithilyat prachara-sanvedanach cha chittasya para-shariraveshah
39. Ved at slække årsagerne til binding og ved at være sig tænkeorganets funktionsforløb bevidst, kan en yogi lade sit tænkeorgan besætte en andens krop. (145)
udana-jayaj jala-panka-kantakadishvasanga utkrantisth cha
40. Ved at beherske den opadgående livsånde (udilna) undgår man at falde i vandet, i mudderpøle og i tornekrat og man undslipper fra kroppen når den dør. (146)
41. Ved at beherske den fordøjende livsånde (samana) opnår en yogi udstråling. (147)
shrotrakashayoh sanbandha-sanyamad divyam shrotram
42. Ved kontrol over forbindelsen mellem hørelsen og æteren opnås en guddommelig hørelse. (148)
kayakashayoh sanbandha-sanyamat laghu-tula-samapattesth chakashagamanam
43. Ved kontrol over forbindelsen mellem kroppen og æteren og ved at identificere sig med bomuld kan en yogi vandre i æteren. (149)
bahir akalpita vrittir maha-videha tatah prakashavarana-kshayah
44. En ekstern mental aktivitet uden forestillinger udgør den koncentration der kaldes “den store kropsløse”. Ved kontrol af denne svinder klarhedens slør bort. (150)
45. Ved kontrol af de fem elementers fem former: grovhed, beskaffenhed, finhed, inherens og formål, besejrer man elementerne. (151)
tato ‘nimadi-pradurbhavah kaya-sanpat tad-dharmanabhighatash cha
46. Dermed kan yogiens legeme eksempelvis fremstå på størrelse med et atom, osv. Hans legeme bliver fuldkomment og møder ingen modstand fra elementernes beskaffenhed. (152)
47. Legemets fuldkommenhed består i skønhed, ynde, styrke og diamanthård tæthed. (153)
48. Ved kontrol over de fem sanseorganers opfattelsesform, beskaffenhed, jeghed, inherens og formål, besejrer man sanseorganerne. (154)
tato manojavitam vikarana-bhavah pradhana-jayash cha
49. Dermed opnår kroppen hurtighed som tænkeorganet, realpræsens uafhængigt af sanseorganer samt sejr over urnaturen. (155)
sattva-purushanyata-khyati-matrasya sarvabhavadhishthatritvam sarvajnatritvam cha
50. Når man bare har klar erkendelse af forskellen mellem tænkeorganet (sattva) og sjælen (purusa) kontrollerer man alle ting og er alvidende. (156)
tad-vairagyad api dosha-bija-kshaye kaivalyam
51. Men når kimen til dårligdom svinder bort ved at man også er indifferent overfor alt dette opnår man isolationen. (157)
sthany-upanimantrane sangha-smayakaranam punar anishta-prasangat
52. Der er ingen grund til at man bliver opstemt eller snobbet hvis man modtager indbydelser fra standspersoner, for det skal nok få uheldige konsekvenser. (158)
kshana-tat-kramayoh sanyamad vivekajam jnanam
53. Ved kontrol af øjeblikkene og deres rækkefølge opstår en af skelnen affødt erkendelse. (159)
jati-lakshana-deshair anyatanavachchedat tulyayos tatah pratipattih
54. Dermed når man til forståelse af to enkeltting, der ellers ikke kunne adskilles i henseende til slags, særkende og placering. (160)
tarakam sarva-vishayam sarvatha-vishayam akramam cheti vivekajam jnanam
55. Den af skelnen affødte erkendelse er intuitivt spontan, altomfattende, stedsegyldig og blottet for sekvens. (161)
sattva-purushayoh shuddhi-samye kaivalyam
56. Når tænkeorganet (sattva) og sjælen (purusha) er lige afklarede indtræder isolation (kaivalya). (162)
Yoga Sutras Book IV: Kaivalya Pada
1. Spirituelle evner (siddhis) stammer fra fødslen, rusgifte, mantraer, askese eller bevidst fra absorption. (163)
2. At der sker en forvandling til en ny genfødselsform skyldes urnaturens (prakrti) dynamik. (164)
nimittam aprayojakam prakritinam varanabhedas tu tatah kshetrikavat
3. En ydre årsag kan ikke aktivere natur kræfterne; det kan kun ophævelsen af forhindringer, som når en bonde fjerner en forhindring for vandets frie løb. (165)
4. De af en yogi hos andre skabte tænkeorganer er altid kun et resultat af subjektivisme. (asmita) (166)
pravritti-bhede prayojakam chittam ekam anekesham
5. Et enkelt tænkeorgan (dvs. yogiens) kan sætte mange andre i gang med forskellige aktiviteter. (167)
tatra dhyanajam anashayam
6. Af disse (fem slags skabte tænkeorganer -jvf. 4,1) er kun det der er affødt af meditation blottet for latent karma (asaya). (168)
karmashuklakrishnam yoginas trividham itaresham
7. En yogis karma er hverken “hvid” eller “sort”, andres derimod er trefoldig. (169)
tatas tad-vipakanugunanam evabhivyaktir vasananam
8. Fra disse (tre andre typer karma) udløses energiladninger nøje modsvarende deres eftervirkninger. (170)
jati-desha-kala-vyavahitanam apy anantaryam smriti-sanskarayor ekarupatvat
9. Selvom disse energiladninger er adskilte i henseende til genus, sted og tid har de alligevel kausal kontinuitet eftersom erindring og latente indtryk er af samme natur. (171)
tasam anaditvam chashisho nityatvat
10. Disse energiladninger er uden tidsmæssig begyndelse for livsbegæret er evindeligt. (172)
hetu-phalashrayalambanaih sangrihitatvad esham abhave tad-abhavah
11. Da energiladninger står og falder med en årsag, en virkning, et underlag og et støttepunkt, forsvinder energiladningerne i og med at de forsvinder. (173)
atitanagatam svarupato ‘sty adhva-bhedad dharmanam
12. Det fortidige og det fremtidige eksisterer altid substantielt set, for enkelttingene (dharma) adskiller sig kun i henseende til deres manifestationstidspunkt. (174)
te vyakta-sukshmah gunatmanah
13. Disse evige enkeltting består i sig selv – hvad enten de er manifeste eller latente -af de tre gunaer. (175)
14. Den konkrete materielle virkelighed er et resultat af den enhed der præger de tre gunaers forvandling. (14).
(15(16). ) (17).
vastu-samye chitta-bhedat tayor vibhaktah panthah
15. På basis af en og samme materielle virkelighed kan der hos forskellige enkeltindivider opstå forskellige ideer (citta); ergo må de to (dvs. de objektive ting og de subjektive tanker) være totalt adskilte principper. (177)
na chaika-chitta-tantram vastu tad-apramanakam tada kim syat
16. En materiel ting (vastu) er altså ikke eksistensbestemt af et tankeindhold (citta), for så måtte denne jo altid give rigtig erkendelse (hvilket er usandt). (178)
tad-uparagapekshitvach chittasya vastu jnatajnatam
17. Om en materiel ting bliver erkendt eller ikke bliver erkendt, afhænger alene af om (tankeindholdet) udsættes for påvirkning af den (- ikke omvendt. (179)
sada jnatasth chitta-vrittayas tat-prabhoh purushasyaparinamitvat
18. Sjælen erkender altid tænkeorganets virksomhed, for den almægtige sjæl (purusa) er nemlig ikke underkastet forandring. (180)
na tat svabhasam drishyatvat
19. Dette (dvs. tænkeorganet) er ikke et selverkendende subjekt, for erkendelse er intuitivt spontan, det er nemlig genstand for sjælens iagttagelse. (181)
20. Dertil kommer at man ikke kan opfatte begge dele (dvs. tanken og tingene) simultant. (182)
chittantara-drishye buddhi-buddher atiprasangah smriti-sanskarah cha
21. Antog man at tænkeorganet kunne være genstand for et andet tænkeorgan ville det dels medføre en uendelig række af ekendelsers erkendelse, dels en sammensmeltning af erindring og erkendelse. (183)
chiter apratisankramayas tad-akarapattau svabuddhi-sanvedanam
22. Ånden (cit = sjælen) er, uden at ændre sin identitet, bevidst om sit eget tænkeorgan (buddhi) i og med at den genspejler dettes funktionsform. (184)
drashtri-drishyoparaktam chittam sarvartham
23. Når tænkeorganet påvirkes, dels som objekt for sjælen, dels som subjekt for erkendelsesgenstanden, omfatter det alle ting. (185)
tad asankhyeya-vasanabhish chitram api parartham sanhatya-karitvat
24. Selvom tænkeorganet er et samlingsprodukt af utallige energiladninger er det alligevel til for en andens (dvs. sjælens) skyld; det har nemlig kun en formidlingsfunktion. (186)
25. Når man indser forskellen mellem tanke og sjæl så er ens forsøg på at udgranske sjælens væsen definitivt forbi . (187)
tada hi viveka-nimnam kaivalya-pragbharam chittam
26. Så får tænkeorganet hang til skelnen og holder sig isolationen for øje. (188)
tach-chidreshu pratyayantarani sanskarebhyah
27. De andre typer tanker, der opstår når ens tanker om skelnen bliver afbrudt, stammer fra ens latente karmiske energier. (189)
hanam esham kleshavad uktam
28. Det er forklaret at man får bugt med disse akkurat som man fjerner de fem slags skavanker. (190)
prasankhyane ‘py akusidasya sarvatha viveka-khyater dharma-meghah samadhih
29. Når en yogi der har en totale åbenbaring af isolationen (vivekakhyati) end ikke er interesseret i rationel selvforståelse (prasamkhyana) har han absorptionen der kaldes “dharma-skyen”. (191)
30. Derpå er det forbi med karma og skavanker. (192)
tada sarvavarana-malapetasya jnanasyanantyaj jneyam alpam
31. Da er der ikke meget mere at erkende, for den for alle urenheder, dvs. indhylninger, blottede erkendelse er uendelig. (193)
tatah kritarthanam parinama-krama-samaptir gunanam
32. Derpå holder gunaerne, der nu har fuldført deres mission, op med deres sekvens af forandringer. (194)
kshana-pratiyogi parinamaparanta-nirgrahyah kramah
33. En “sekvens” er altid bundet til de enkelte øjeblikke og fastsættes efter forvandlingens slutpunkt. (195)
purushartha-shunyanam gunanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa-pratishtha va chiti-shakter iti
34. Isolationen består i at gunaerne, som ikke kan gøre mere til gavn for sjælen, løber tilbage i sig selv igen og åndskraften står fast i sin egen natur. (196)
kaivalya nirvanayoh purnaikyam
35. There is complete identity of emancipation (kaivalya) and supreme peace (nirvana). (197)
kaivalyam dharman dharminah purushasya
36. Emancipation (kaivalya) is the state which subsists in the Self (purusha). (198)
kaivalye akhile vishve purusha-darshanam purushe chakhila vishva-darshanam
37. In the state of emancipation there is the vision of the Self in the entire cosmos and of the cosmos in the Self. (199)
sagunam satchidanandam nirgunam chatatah param tatvam iti
38. Absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss constitute the plenitude of the Self, and beyond these is the Attributeless Self. (200)
Section II – Commentary
Part I – Introduction
Part II – The Sankhya Darshana
Part III – Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras
Part IV – Samadhi Pada
Part V – Sadhana Pada
Part VI – Vibhuti Pada
Part VII – Kaivalya Pada
(NB – Sektion II er ikke oversat til dansk så vi bringer den engelske udgave)
Kommentar I: Introduction
To contemplate these things is the privilege of the gods and to do so is also the aspiration of the immortal soul of men generally — though only in a few cases is such aspiration realized. (Plato).
I THEORIA AND PRAXIS
Throughout its long and largely unrecorded history, Indian thought preserved its central concern with ontology and epistemology, with noetic psychology as the indispensable bridge between metaphysics and ethics, employing introspection and self- testing as well as logical tools, continually confronting the instruments of cognition with the fruits of contemplation. Through its immemorial oral teachings and a vast variety of written texts, the fusion of theoria and praxis, theory and practice, was never sacrificed to the demands of academic specialization or the compartmentalization of human endeavour. Diverse schools of thought shared the conviction that true understanding must flow from the repeated application of received truths. Coming to know is a dynamic, dialectical process in which thought stimulates contemplation and regulates conduct, and in turn is refined by them. Although an individual who would be healthy and whole thinks, feels and acts, gnosis necessarily involves the fusion of thought, will and feeling, resulting in metanoia, a radically altered state of being. The Pythagorean conception of a philosopher as a lover of wisdom is close to the standpoint of an earnest seeker of truth in the Indian tradition.
Indian thought did not suffer the traumatic cognitive disruption caused by the emergence of ecclesiastical Christianity in the Mediterranean world, where an excessive concern with specification of rigid belief, sanctioned and safeguarded by an institutional conception of religious authority and censorship, sundered thought and action to such an extent that it became common to think one way and act in another with seeming impunity. The chasms which opened up between thought, will and feeling provided fertile soil for every kind of psychopathology, in part because such a fragmentation of the human being engenders inversions, obsessions and even perversities, and also in part because for a thousand years it has been virtually impossible to hold up a credible paradigm of the whole and healthy human being. The philosophical quest became obscured in the modern West by the linear succession of schools, each resulting from a violent reaction to its predecessors, each claiming to possess the Truth more or less exclusively, and often insisting upon the sole validity of its method of proceeding. The slavish concern with academic respectability and the fear of anathemization resulted in the increasing alienation of thought from being, of cognition from conduct, and philosophical disputation from the problems of daily life.
Indian thought did not spurn the accumulated wisdom of its ancients in favour of current fashions and did not experience a violent disruption of its traditional hospitality to multiple standpoints. The so-called astika or orthodox schools found no difficulty in combining their veneration of the Vedic hymns with a wide and diverse range of views, and even the nastika or heterodox schools, which repudiated the canonical ‘authority’ of the Vedas, retained much of Vedic and Upanishadic metaphysics and almost the whole of their psychology and ethics. Indian philosophical schools could not see themselves as exclusive bearers of the total Truth. They emerged together from a long-standing and continuous effort to enhance our common understanding of God, Man and Nature, and they came to be considered as darshanas or paradigmatic standpoints shedding light from different angles on noumenal and phenomenal realities. They refrained from claiming that any illumination which can be rendered in words — or even in thoughts — can be either final or complete.
II THE SIX SCHOOLS
It may be pointed out here that a system of philosophy however lofty and true it may be should not be expected to give us an absolutely correct picture of the transcendent truths as they really exist. Because philosophy works through the medium of the intellect and the intellect has its inherent limitations, it cannot understand or formulate truths which are beyond its scope…. We have to accept these limitations when we use the intellect as an instrument for understanding and discovering these truths in the initial stages. It is no use throwing away this instrument, poor and imperfect though it is, because it gives us at least some help in organizing our effort to know the truth in the only way it can be known — by Self-realization.
I. K. Taimni
The ageless and dateless Vedas, especially the exalted hymns of the Rig Veda, have long been esteemed as the direct expression of what gods and divine seers, rishis or immortal sages, saw when they peered into the imperishable centre of Being which is also the origin of the entire cosmos. The Upanishads (from upa, ni and sad, meaning ‘to sit down near’ a sage or guru), included in the Vedas, constitute the highest transmission of the fruits of illumination attained by these rishis. Often cast in the form of memorable dialogues between spiritual teachers and disciples, they represent rich glimpses of truth, not pieced together from disparate intellectual insights, but as they are at once revealed to the divine eye, divya chakshu, which looks into the core of Reality, freely intimated in idioms, metaphors and mantras suited to the awakening consciousness and spiritual potentials of diverse disciples. However divergent their modes of expression, they are all addressed to those who are ready to learn, willing to meditate deeply, and seek greater self-knowledge through intensive self- questioning. The Upanishads do not purport to provide discursive knowledge, conceptual clarification or speculative dogmas, but rather focus on the fundamental themes which concern the soul as a calm spectator of the temporal succession of states of mind from birth to death, seeking for what is essential amidst the ephemeral, the enduring within the transient, the abiding universals behind the flux of fleeting appearances.
From this standpoint, they are truly therapeutic in that they heal the sickness of the soul caused by passivity, ignorance and delusion. This ignorance is not that of the malformed or malfunctioning personality, maimed by childhood traumas or habitual vices. It is the more fundamental ignorance (avidya) of the adroit and well-adapted person who has learnt to cope with the demands of living and fulfil his duties in the world at a certain level without however, coming to terms with the causes of his longings and limitations, his dreams and discontinuities, his entrenched expectations and his hidden potentials. The sages spoke to those who had a measure of integrity and honesty and were willing to examine their presuppositions, but lacked the fuller vision and deeper wisdom that require a sustained search and systematic meditation. For such an undertaking, mental clarity, moral sensitivity, relaxed self-control ant spiritual courage are needed, as well as a willingness to withdraw for a period from worldly concerns. The therapeutics of self-transcendence is rooted in a recondite psychology which accommodates the vast spectrum of self- consciousness, different levels of cognition and degrees of development, reaching up to the highest conceivable self- enlightenment.
Upanishadic thought presupposed the concrete ant not merely conceptual continuity of God, Nature and Man. Furthermore, Man is the self-conscious microcosm of the macrocosm, where the part is not only inseparably one with the whole but also reflects and resonates with it. Man could neither be contemplated properly nor fully comprehended in any context less than the entirety of visible and invisible Nature, and so too, ethics logic and psychology could not be sundered from metaphysics. ‘Is’, the way things are, is vitally linked to ‘must’, the ways things must be, as well as to ‘ought’, the way human beings should think and act, through ‘can’, the active exploration of human potentialities and possibilities, which are not different, save in scope and degree, from cosmic potencies. A truly noetic psychology bridges metaphysics and ethics through a conscious mirroring of rita, ordered cosmic harmony, in dharma, righteous human conduct that freely acknowledges what is due to each and every aspect of Nature, including all humanity, past, present and future.
The ancient sages resolved the One-many problem at the mystical, psychological, ethical and social levels by affirming the radical metaphysical and spiritual unity of all life, whilst fully recognizing (and refusing to diminish through any form of reductionism) the immense diversity of human types ant the progressive awakenings of human consciousness at different stages of material evolution and spiritual involution. The immemorial pilgrimage of humanity can be both universally celebrated and act as a constant stimulus to individual growth. Truth, like the sun shining over the summits of a Himalayan range, is one, and the pathways to it are as many and varied as there are people to tread them.
As if emulating the sculptor’s six perspectives to render accurately any specific form in space, ancient Indian thinkers stressed six darshanas, which are sometimes called the six schools of philosophy. These are astika or orthodox in that they all find inspiration in different ways in the Vedas. And like the sculptor’s triple set of perspectives — front-back, left side-right side, top- bottom — the six darshanas have been seen as three complementarities, polarized directions that together mark the trajectory of laser light through the unfathomable reaches of ineffable wisdom. Each standpoint has its integrity and coherence in that it demands nothing less than the deliberate and radical reconstitution of consciousness from its unregenerate ant unthinking modes of passive acceptance of the world. Yet none can claim absoluteness, finality or infallibility, for such asseverations would imply that limited conceptions and discursive thought can capture ultimate Reality. Rather, each darshana points with unerring accuracy towards that cognition which can be gained only by complete assimilation, practical self-transformation and absorption into it. At the least, every darshana corresponds with a familiar state of mind of the seeker, a legitimate and verifiable mode of cognition which makes sense of the world and the self at some level.
All genuine seekers are free to adopt any one or more of the darshanas at any time and even to defend their chosen standpoint against the others but they must concede the possibility of synthesizing and transcending the six standpoints in a seventh mode which culminates in taraka, transcendental, self-luminous gnosis, the goal of complete enlightenment often associated with the secret, incommunicable way of buddhiyoga intimated in the fourth, seventh and eighteenth chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.
Although scholars have speculated on the sequential emergence of the darshanas, and though patterns of interplay can be discerned in their full flowering, their roots lie in the ancient texts and they arise together as distinctive standpoints. It has also been held that the six schools grew out of sixty-two systems of thought lost in the mists of antiquity. At any rate, it is generally agreed that each of the later six schools was inspired by a sage and teacher who struck the keynote which has reverberated throughout its growths refinement and elaboration. As the six schools are complementary to each others they are traditionally viewed as the six branches of a single tree. All six provide a theoretical explanation of ultimate Reality and a practical means of emancipation. The oldest are Yoga and Sankhya, the next being Vaishesika and Nyaya, and the last pair are Purva Mimansa and Vedanta (sometimes called Uttara Mimansa). The founders of these schools are considered to be Patanjali of Yoga, Kapila of Sankhya, Kanada of Vaishesika, Gautama of Nyaya, Jaimini of Purva Mimansa and Vyasa of Vedanta, though the last is also assigned to Badarayana. All of them propounded the tenets of their philosophical systems or schools in the form of short sutras, whose elucidation required ant stimulated elaborate commentaries. Since about 200 C.E., a vast crop of secondary works has emerged which has generated some significant discussions as well as a welter of scholastic disputation and didactic controversies, moving far away from praxis into the forests of theoria, or reducing praxis to rigid codes and theoria to sterile formulas. At the same time, there has remained a remarkable vitality to most of these schools, owing to their transmission by long lineages which have included many extraordinary teachers and exemplars. This cannot be recovered merely through the study of texts, however systematic and rigorous, in a philosophical tradition which is essentially oral, even though exceptional powers of accurate recall have been displayed in regard to the texts.
Nyaya and Vaishesika are schools primarily concerned with analytic approaches to the objects of knowledge, using carefully tested principles of logic. The word nyaya suggests that by which the mind reaches a conclusion, and since the word also means ‘right’ or ‘just’, Nyaya is the science of correct thinking. The founder of this school, Gautama, lived about 150 B.C.E., and its source-book is the Nyaya Sutra. Whilst knowledge requires an object, a knowing subject and a state of knowing, the validity of cognition depends upon pramana, the means of cognition. There are four acceptable pramanas, of which pratyaksha — direct perception or intuition — is most important. Perception requires the mind, manas, to mediate between the self ant the senses, and perception may be determinate or indeterminate. Determinate perception reveals the class to which an object of knowledge belongs, its specific qualities ant the union of the two. Indeterminate perception is simple apprehension without regard to genus or qualities. In the Nyaya school, indeterminate perception is not knowledge but rather its prerequisite and starting-point.
Anumana or inference is the second pramana or means of cognition. It involves a fivefold syllogism which includes a universal statement, an illustrative example and an application to the instance at hand. Upamana is the apt use of analogy, in which the similarities which make the analogy come alive are essential and not superficial. Shabda, sound or verbal expression, is the credible testimony of authority, which requires not uncritical acceptance but the thoughtful consideration of words, meanings and the modes of reference. As the analytic structure of Nyaya logic suggests, its basic approach to reality is atomistic, and so the test of claims of truth is often effectiveness in application, especially in the realm of action. Typically, logical discussion of a proposition takes the form of a syllogism with five parts: the proposition (pratijna) the cause (hetu), the exemplification (drishtanta), the recapitulation (upanaya) and the conclusion (nigamana).
However divergent their views on metaphysics and ethics, all schools accept and use Nyaya canons of sound reasoning. A thorough training in logic is required not only in all philosophical reasoning, exposition and disputation, but it is also needed by those who seek to stress mastery of praxis over a lifetime and thereby become spiritual exemplars. This at once conveys the enormous strength of an immemorial tradition as well as the pitiable deficiencies of most professors and pundits, let alone the self-styled so-called exoteric gurus of the contemporary East. Neither thaumaturgic wonders nor mass hypnosis can compensate for mental muddles and shallow thinking; indeed, they become insuperable obstacles to even a good measure of gnosis and noetic theurgy, let alone authentic enlightenment and self-mastery.
The Vaishesika school complements Nyaya in its distinct pluralism. Its founder, Kanada, also known as Kanabhaksha, lived around 200 C.E., and its chief work is the Vaishesika Sutra. Its emphasis on particulars is reflected in its name, since vishesha means ‘particularity’, and it is concerned with properly delineating the categories of objects of experience. These objects of experience, padarthas, are six: substance (dravya), quality (guna), and karma or movement and activity (forming the triplicity of objective existence), and generality (samanya), particularity (vishesha) and samavayi or inherence (forming a triad of modes of intellectual discernment which require valid logical inference). A seventh object of experience, non-existence (shunya), was eventually added to the six as a strictly logical necessity. The Vaishesika point of view recognizes nine irreducible substances: earth, water, air, fire, aether (akasha), time, space, self and mind, all of which are distinct from the qualities which inhere in them. The self is necessarily a substance — a substrate of qualities — because consciousness cannot be a property of the physical body, the sense-organs or the brain-mind. Although the self as a substance must be everywhere pervasive, its everyday capacity for feeling, willing and knowing is focussed in the bodily organism.< p> Since the self experiences the consequences of its own deeds, there is, according to Vaishesika, a plurality of souls, each of which has its vishesha, individuality or particularity. What we experience is made up of parts, and is non-eternal, but the ultimate components — atoms — are eternal. Individuality is formed by imperceptible souls and certain atoms, which engender the organ of thought. At certain times, during immense cosmogonic cycles, nothing is visible, as both souls and atoms are asleep, but when a new cycle of creation begins, these souls reunite with certain atoms. Gautama asserted that even during incarnated existence, emancipation may be attained through ascetic detachment and the highest stages of contemplative absorption or samadhi. Though the Vaishesika school wedded an atomistic standpoint to a strict atheism, over time thinkers accepted a rationalistic concept of Deity as a prime mover in the universe, a philosophical requisite acceptable to Nyaya. The two schools or systems were combined by Kusumanjali of Udayana about 900 C.E. in his proof of the existence of God. Since then, both schools have been theistic. The Jains claim early parentage for the Vaishesika system, and this merely illustrates what is very common in the Indian tradition, that innovators like Gautama and Kanada were reformulating an already ancient school rather than starting de novo.
The Purva Mimansa of Jaimini took as its point of departure neither knowledge nor the objects of experience, but dharma, duty, as enjoined in the Vedas and Upanishads. As the accredited sources of dharma, these sacred texts are not the promulgations of some deity who condescended to step into time and set down principles of correct conduct. Rather, the wisdom in such texts is eternal and uncreate, and true rishis have always been able to see them and to translate that clear vision into mantramic sounds and memorable utterances. Hence Mimansa consecrates the mind to penetrating the words which constitute this sacred transmission. Central to the Mimansa school is the theory of self-evidence — svata pramana: truth is its own guarantee and the consecrated practice of faith provides its own validation. Repeated testings will yield correct results by exposing discrepancies and validating real cognitions. There is a recognizable consensus amidst the independent visions of great seers, and each individual must recognize or rediscover this consensus by proper use and concentrated enactment of mantras and hymns. Every sound in the fifty-two letters of Sanskrit has a cosmogonic significance and a theurgic effect. Inspired mantras are exact mathematical combinations of sounds which emanate potent vibrations that can transform the magnetic sphere around the individual as well as the magnetosphere of the earth. Self-testing without self-deception can become a sacred activity, which is sui generis.
From the Mimansa perspective, every act is necessarily connected to perceptible results. One might say that the effects are inherent in the act, just as the fruit of the tree is in the seed which grew and blossomed. There is no ontological difference between act and result, for the apparent gap between them is merely the consequence of the operation of time. Since the fruit of a deed may not follow immediately upon the act, or even manifest in the same lifetime, the necessary connection between act and result takes the form of apurva, an unseen force which is the unbreakable link between them. This testable postulate gives significance to the concept of dharma in all its meanings — ‘duty’, ‘path’, ‘teaching’, ‘religion’, ‘natural law’, ‘righteousness’, ‘accordance with cosmic harmony’ — but it cannot by itself secure complete liberation from conditioned existence. Social duties are important, but spiritual duties are even more crucial, and the saying “To thine own self be true” has an array of meanings reaching up to the highest demands of soul-tendance. In the continual effort to work off past karma and generate good karma, there is unavoidable tension between different duties, social and spiritual. The best actions, paradigmatically illustrated in Vedic invocations and rituals, lead to exalted conditions, even to some heavenly condition or blissful state. Nonetheless, as the various darshanas interacted and exchanged insights, Mimansa came to consider the highest action as resulting in a cessation of advances and retreats on the field of merit, whereby dharma and adharma were swallowed up in a sublime and transcendental state of unbroken awareness of the divine.
In striving to penetrate the deepest arcane meaning of the sacred texts, Mimansa thinkers accepted the four pramanas or modes of knowledge set forth in Nyaya, and added two others: arthapatti or postulation, and abhava or negation and non-existence. They did this in part because, given their view of the unqualified eternality of the Vedas, they held that all cognition is valid at some level and to some degree. There can be no false knowledge; whatever is known is necessarily true. As a consequence, they saw no reason to prove the truth of any cognition. Rather, they sought to demonstrate its falsity, for if disproof were successful, it would show that there had been no cognition at all. The promise of gnosis rests upon the sovereign method of falsifiability rather than a vain attempt to seek total verification in a public sense. Shifting the onus of proof in this way can accommodate the uncreate Vedas, which are indubitably true and which constitute the gold standard against which all other claims to truth are measured. Mimansa rests upon the presupposition of the supremacy of Divine Wisdom, the sovereignty of the Revealed Word and the possibility of its repeated realization. Even among those who cannot accept the liturgical or revelatory validity and adequacy of the Vedas, the logic of disproof can find powerful and even rigorous application. As a method, it became important to the philosophers of Vedanta.
Vedanta, meaning ‘the end or goal of the Vedas’, sometimes also called Uttara Mimansa, addresses the spiritual and philosophical themes of the Upanishads, which are considered to complete and form the essence of the Vedas. Badarayana’s magisterial Brahma Sutras ordered the Upanishadic Teachings in a logically coherent sequence which considers the nature of the supreme brahman, the ultimate Reality, and the question of the embodiment of the unconditioned Self. Each of the five hundred and fifty-five sutras (literally, ‘threads’) are extremely short and aphoristic, requiring a copious commentary to be understood. In explaining their meaning, various commentators presented Vedantic doctrines in different ways. Shankaracharya, the chief of the commentators and perhaps the greatest philosopher in the Indian tradition, espoused the advaita, non-dual, form of Vedanta, the purest form of monism, which has never been excelled. He asked whether in human experience there is anything which is impervious to doubt. Noting that every object of cognition — whether dependent on the senses, the memory or pure conceptualization — can be doubted, he recognized in the doubter that which is beyond doubt of any kind. Even if one reduces all claims to mere avowals — bare assertions about what one seems to experience — there nonetheless remains that which avows. It is proof of itself, because nothing can disprove it. In this, it is also different from everything else, and this difference is indicated by the distinction between subject and object. The experiencing Self is subject; what it experiences is an object. Unlike objects, nothing can affect it: it is immutable and immortal.
For Shankara, this Self (atman) is sat-chit-ananda, being or existence, consciousness or cognition, and unqualified bliss. If there were no world, there would be no objects of experience, and so although the world as it is experienced is not ultimately real, it is neither abhava, non-existent, nor shunya, void. Ignorance is the result of confusing atman, the unconditioned subject, with anatman, the external world. From the standpoint of the cosmos, the world is subject to space, time and causality, but since these categories arise from nascent experience, they are inherently inadequate save to point beyond themselves to the absolute, immutable, self-identical brahman, which is absolute Being (sat). Atman is brahman, for the immutable singularity of the absolute subject, the Self, is not merely isomorphic, but radically identical with the transcendent singularity of the ultimate Reality. Individuals who have yet to realize this fundamental truth, which is in fact the whole Truth, impose out of ignorance various attitudes and conceptions on the world, like the man who mistakes an old piece of rope discarded on the trail for a poisonous serpent. He reacts to the serpent, but his responses are inappropriate and cause him to suffer unnecessarily, because there is no serpent on the trail to threaten him. Nonetheless, the rope is there. For Shankara, the noumenal world is real, and when a person realizes its true nature, gaining wisdom thereby his responses will be appropriate and cease to cause suffering. He will realize that he is the atman and that the atman is brahman.
Although brahman is ultimately nirguna, without qualities, the aspirant to supreme knowledge begins by recognizing that the highest expression of brahman to the finite mind is Ishvara, which is saguna brahman, Supreme Reality conceived through the modes of pure logic. Taking Ishvara, which points beyond itself to That (Tat), as his goal and paradigm, the individual assimilates himself to Ishvara through the triple path of ethics, knowledge and devotion — the karma, jnana and bhakti yogas of the Bhagavad Gita — until moksha, emancipation and self-realization, is attained. For Shankara, moksha is not the disappearance of the world but the dissolution of avidya, ignorance.
Ramanuja, who lived much later than Shankara, adopted a qualified non-dualism, Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, by holding that the supreme brahman manifests as selves and matter. For him, both are dependent on brahman, and so selves, not being identical with the Ultimate, always retain their separate identity. As a consequence, they are dependent on brahman, and that dependency expresses itself self-consciously as bhakti or devotion. In this context, however, the dependence which is manifest as bhakti is absurd unless brahman is thought to be personal in some degree, and so brahman cannot be undifferentiated. Emancipation or freedom is not union with the divine, but rather the irreversible and unwavering intuition of Deity. The Self is not identical with brahman, but its true nature is this intuition, which is freedom. Faith that brahman exists is sufficient and individual souls are parts of brahman, who is the creator of universes. Yet brahman does not create anything new; what so appears is merely a modification of the subtle and the invisible to the gross which we can see and sense. Because we can commune with this God by prayer, devotion and faith, there is the possibility of human redemption from ignorance and delusion. The individual is not effaced when he is redeemed; he maintains his self-identity and enjoys the fruits of his faith.
About a century and a half after Ramanuja, Madhava promulgated a dualistic (dvaita) Vedanta, in which he taught that brahman, selves and the world are separate and eternal, even though the latter two depend forever upon the first. From this standpoint, brahman directs the world, since all else is dependent, and is therefore both transcendent and immanent. As that which can free the self, brahman is identified with Vishnu. Whereas the ultimate Reality or brahman is neither independent (svatantra) nor dependent (paratantra), God or Vishnu is independent, whereas souls and matter are dependent. God did not cause the cosmos but is part of it, and by his presence keeps it in motion. Individual souls are dependent on brahman but are also active agents with responsibilities which require the recognition of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God. For the individual self, there exists either the bondage which results from ignorance and the karma produced through acting ignorantly, or release effected through the adoration, worship and service of Deity. The self is free when its devotion is pure and perpetual. Although the later forms of Vedanta lower the sights of human potentiality from the lofty goal of universal self-consciousness and conscious immortality taught by Shankaracharya, they all recognize the essential difference between bondage and freedom. The one is productive of suffering and the other offers emancipation from it. But whereas for Shankara the means of emancipation is wisdom (jnana) as the basis of devotion (bhakti) and nishkama karma or disinterested action, the separation between atman and brahman is crucial for Ramanuja and necessitates total bhakti, whilst for Madhava there are five distinctions within his dualism — between God and soul, God and matter, soul and matter, one form of matter and another, and especially between one soul and another — thus requiring from all souls total obeisance to the omnipresent and omnipotent God.
Suffering is the starting point of the Sankhya darshana which provides the general conceptual framework of Yoga philosophy. Patanjali set out the Taraka Raja Yoga system, linking transcendental and self-luminous wisdom (taraka) with the alchemy of mental transformation, and like the exponents of other schools, he borrowed those concepts and insights which could best delineate his perspective. Since he found Sankhya metaphysics useful to understanding, like a sturdy boat used to cross a stream and then left behind when the opposite bank has been reached, many thinkers have traditionally presented Sankhya as the theory for which Yoga is the practice. This approach can aid understanding, providing one recognizes from the first and at all times that yoga is the path to metaconsciousness, for which no system of concepts and discursive reasoning, however erudite, rigorous and philosophical, is adequate. More than any other school or system, Yoga is essentially experiential, in the broadest, fullest and deepest meaning of that term.
Kommentar II: The Sankhya Darshana
The term ‘Sankhya’ is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit root khya, meaning ‘to know’, and the prefix san, ‘exact’. Exact knowing is most adequately represented by Sankhya, ‘number’, and since the precision of numbers requires meticulous discernment, Sankhya is that darshana which involves a thorough discernment of reality and is expressed through the enumeration of diverse categories of existence.
Philosophically, Sankhya is dualistic in its discernment of the Self (purusha) from the non-self (prakriti). In distinguishing sharply between purusha, Self or Spirit, on the one hand, and prakriti, non-self or matter, on the other, the Sankhya standpoint requires a rigorous redefinition of numerous terms used by various schools.
Even though later Sankhya freely drew from the Vedic-Upanishadic storehouse of wisdom which intimates a rich variety of philosophical views, its earliest concern does not appear to have been philosophical in the sense of delineating a comprehensive conceptual scheme which describes and explains reality. Early Sankhya asked, “What is real?” and only later on added the question, “How does it all fit together?”
Enumerations of the categories of reality varied with individual thinkers and historical periods, but the standard classification of twenty-five tattvas or fundamental principles of reality is useful for a general understanding of the darshana. Simply stated, Sankhya holds that two radically distinct realities exist: purusha, which can be translated ‘Spirit’, ‘Self’ or ‘pure consciousness’, and mulaprakriti, or ‘pre-cosmic matter’, ‘non-self’ or ‘materiality’. Nothing can be predicated of purusha except as a corrective negation; no positive attribute, process or intention can be affirmed of it, though it is behind all the activity of the world. It might be called the Perceiver or the Witness, but, strictly speaking, no intentionality can be implied by these words, and so purusha cannot be conceived primarily as a knower. Mulaprakriti, however, can be understood as pure potential because it undergoes ceaseless transformation at several levels. Thus, of the twenty- five traditional tattvas, only these two are distinct. The remaining twenty-three are transformations or modifications of mulaprakriti. Purusha and mulaprakriti stand outside conceptual cognition, which arises within the flux of the other tattvas. They abide outside space and time, are simple, independent and inherently unchanging, and they have no relation to one another apart from their universal, simultaneous and mutual presence.
Mulaprakriti is characterized by three qualities or gunas: sattva or intelligent and noetic activity, rajas or passionate and compulsive activity, and tamas or ignorant and impotent lethargy, represented in the Upanishads by the colours white, red and black.If mulaprakriti were the only ultimate reality, its qualities would have forever remained in a homogeneous balance, without undergoing change, evolution or transformation. Since purusha is co-present with mulaprakriti, the symmetrical homogeneity of mulaprakriti was disturbed, and this broken symmetry resulted in a progressive differentiation which became the world of ordinary experience. True knowledge or pure cognition demands a return to that primordial stillness which marks the utter disentanglement of Self from non- self. The process which moved the gunas out of their perfect mutual balance cannot be described or even alluded to through analogies, in part because the process occurred outside space and time (and gave rise to them), and in part because no description of what initiated this universal transformation can be given in the language of logically subsequent and therefore necessarily less universal change. In other words, all transformation known to the intellect occurs in some context — minimally that of the intellect itself — whilst the primordial process of transformation occurred out of all context, save for the mere co-presence of purusha and mulaprakriti.
This imbalance gave rise, first of all, logically speaking, to mahat or buddhi. These terms refer to universal consciousness, primordial consciousness or intellect in the classical and neo- Platonic sense of the word. Mahat in turn gave rise to ahankara, the sense of ‘I’ or egoity. (Ahankara literally means ‘I-making’.) Egoity as a principle or tattva generated a host of offspring or evolutes, the first of which was manas or mind, which is both the capacity for sensation and the mental ability to act, or intellectual volition. It also produced the five buddhindriyas or capacities for sensation: shrota (hearing), tvac (touching), chaksus (seeing), rasana (tasting) and ghrana (smelling). In addition to sensation, ahankara gave rise to their dynamic and material correlates, the five karmendriyas or capacities for action, and the five tanmatras or subtle elements. The five karmendriyas are vach (speaking), pani (grasping), pada (moving), payu (eliminating) and upastha (procreating), whilst the five tanmatras include shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (form), rasa (taste) and gandha (smell). The tanmatras are called ‘subtle’ because they produce the mahabhutas or gross elements which can be perceived by ordinary human beings. They are akasha (aether or empirical space), vayu (air), tejas (fire, and by extension, light), ap (water) and prithivi (earth).
This seemingly elaborate system of the elements of existence (tattvas) is a rigorous attempt to reduce the kaleidoscope of reality to its simplest comprehensible components, without either engaging in a reductionism which explains away or denies what does not fit its classification, or falling prey to a facile monism which avoids a serious examination of visible and invisible Nature. Throughout the long history of Sankhya thought, enumerations have varied, but this general classification has held firm. Whilst some philosophers have suggested alternative orders of evolution, for instance, making the subtle elements give rise to the capacities for sensation and action, Ishvarakrishna expressed the classical consensus in offering this classification of twenty-five tattvas.
Once the fundamental enumeration was understood, Sankhya thinkers arranged the tattvas by sets to grasp more clearly their relationships to one another. At the most general level, purusha is neither generated nor generating, whilst mulaprakriti is ungenerated but generating. Buddhi, ahankara and the tanmatras are both generated and generating, and manas, the buddhindriyas, karmendriyas and mahabhutas are generated and do not generate anything in turn. In terms of their mutual relationships, one can speak of kinds of tattvas and indicate an order of dependence from the standpoint of the material world.
No matter how subtle and elaborate the analysis, however, one has at best described ways in which consciousness functions in prakriti, the material world. If one affirms that purusha and prakriti are radically and fundamentally separate, one cannot avoid the challenge which vexed Descartes: how can res cogitans, thinking substance, be in any way connected with res extensa, extended (material) substance? Sankhya avoided the most fundamental problem of Cartesian dualism by willingly admitting that there can be no connection, linkage or interaction between purusha and prakriti. Since consciousness is a fact, this exceptional claim involved a redefinition of consciousness itself. Consciousness is necessarily transcendent, unconnected with prakriti, and therefore it can have neither cognitive nor intuitive awareness, since those are activities which involve some centre or egoity and surrounding field from which it separates itself or with which it identifies. Egoity or perspective requires some mode of action, and all action involves the gunas, which belong exclusively to prakriti. Consciousness, purusha, is mere presence, sakshitva, without action, dynamics or content. Awareness, chittavritti, is therefore a function of prakriti, even though it would not have come into being — any more than anything would have evolved or the gunas would have become unstable — without the universal presence of purusha. Thus it is said that purusha is unique in that it is neither generated nor generating, whereas all other tattvas are either generating, generated or both.
In this view, mind is material. Given its capacity for awareness, it can intuit the presence of purusha, but it is not that purusha. All mental functions are part of the complex activity of prakriti. Consciousness is bare subjectivity without a shadow of objective content, and it cannot be said to have goals, desires or intentions. Purusha can be said to exist (sat) — indeed, it necessarily exists — and its essential and sole specifiable nature is chit, consciousness. Unlike the Vedantin atman, however, it cannot also be said to be ananda, bliss, for purusha is the pure witness, sakshi, with no causal connection to or participation in prakriti. Yet it is necessary, for the gunas could not be said to be active save in the presence of some principle of sentience. Without purusha there could be no prakriti. This is not the simple idealistic and phenomenological standpoint summarized in Berkeley’s famous dictum, esse est percipi, “to be is to be perceived”. Rather, it is closer to the recognition grounded in Newtonian mechanics that, should the universe achieve a condition of total entropy, it could not be said to exist, for there would be no possibility of differentiation in it. Nor could its existence be denied. The presence of purusha, according to Sankhya, is as necessary as is its utter lack of content.
Given the distinction between unqualified, unmodified subjectivity as true or pure consciousness, and awareness, which is the qualified appearance of consciousness in the world, consciousness appears as what it cannot be. It appears to cause and initiate, but cannot do so, since purusha cannot be said to be active in any sense; it appears to entertain ideas and chains of thought, but it can in reality do neither. Rather, the action of the gunas appears as the activity of consciousness until the actual nature of consciousness is realized. The extreme break with previous understanding resulting from this realization — that consciousness has no content and that content is not conscious — is emancipation, the freeing of purusha from false bondage to prakriti. It is akin to the Vedantin realization of atman free of any taint of maya, and the Buddhist realization of shunyata. Philosophical conceptualization is incapable of describing this realization, for pure consciousness can only appear, even to the subtlest cognitive understanding, as nothing. For Sankhya, purusha is not nothing, but it is nothing that partakes of prakriti (which all awareness does).
Sankhya’s unusual distinction between consciousness and what are ordinarily considered its functions and contents implies an operational view of purusha. Even though no properties can be predicated of purusha, the mind or intellect intuits the necessity of consciousness behind it, as it were. That is, the mind becomes aware that it is not itself pure consciousness. Since this awareness arises in individual minds, purusha is recognized by one or another egoity. Without being able to attribute qualities to purusha, it must therefore be treated philosophically as a plurality. Hence it is said that there are literally innumerable purushas, none of which have any distinguishing characteristics. The Leibnizian law of the identity of indiscernibles cannot be applied to purusha, despite the philosophical temptation to do so, precisely because philosophy necessarily stops at the limit of prakriti. Purusha is outside space and time, and so is also beyond space-time identities. Since the minimum requirements of differentiation involve at least an indirect reference to either space or time, their negation in the concept of indiscernibility also involves such a reference, and cannot be applied to purusha. Even though Sankhya affirms a plurality of purushas, this stance is less the result of metaphysical certitude than of the limitations imposed by consistency of method. The plurality of purushas is the consequence of the limits of understanding.
Within the enormous and diverse history of Indian thought, the six darshanas viewed themselves and one another in two ways. Internally, each standpoint sought clarity, completeness and consistency without reference to other darshanas. Since, however, the darshanas were committed to the proposition that they were six separate and viable perspectives on the same reality, they readily drew upon one another’s insights and terminology and forged mutually dependent relationships. They were less concerned with declaring one another true or false than with understanding the value and limitations of each in respect to a complete realization of the ultimate and divine nature of things. Whilst some Western philosophers have pointed to the unprovable Indian presupposition that the heart of existence is divine, the darshanas reverse this standpoint by affirming that the core of reality is, almost definitionally, the only basis for thinking of the divine. In other words, reality is the criterion of the divine, and no other standard can make philosophical sense of the sacred, much less give it a practical place in human psychology and ethics. In their later developments, the darshanas strengthened their internal conceptual structures and ethical architectonics by taking one another’s positions as foils for self-clarification. Earlier developments were absorbed into later understanding and exposition. Historically, Sankhya assimilated and redefined much of what had originally belonged to Nyaya and Vaishesika, and even Mimansa, only to find much of its terminology and psychology incorporated into Vedanta, the most trenchantly philosophical of the darshanas. At the same time, later Sankhya borrowed freely from Vedantin philosophical concepts to rethink its own philosophical difficulties.
Despite Sankhya’s unique distinction between consciousness and awareness, which allowed it to preserve its fundamental dualism in the face of monistic arguments — and thereby avoid the metaphysical problems attending monistic views — it could not avoid one fundamental philosophical question: What is it to say that prakriti is dynamic because of the presence of purusha? To say that prakriti reflects the presence of purusha, or thatpurusha is reflected in prakriti, preserves a rigid distinction between the two, for neither an object reflected in a mirror nor the mirror is affected by the other. But Sankhya characterizes the ordinary human condition as one of suffering, which is the manifest expression of the condition of avidya, ignorance. This condition arises because purusha falsely identifies with prakriti and its evolutes. Liberation, mukti, is the result of viveka,discrimination, which is the highest knowledge. Even though viveka might be equated with pure perception as the sakshi or Witness, the process of attaining it suggests either an intention on the part of purusha or a response on the part of prakriti, if not both. How then can purusha be said to have no relation, including no passive relation, to prakriti? Even Ishvarakrishna’s enchanting metaphor of the dancer before the host of spectators does not answer the question, for there is a significant relationship between performer and audience.
Such questions are worthy of notice but are misplaced from the Sankhya standpoint. If philosophical understanding is inherently limited to the functions of the mind (which is an evolute of prakriti), it can encompass neither total awareness (purusha) nor the fact that both purusha and prakriti exist. This is the supreme and unanswerable mystery of Sankhya philosophy, the point at which Sankhya declares that questions must have an end. It is not, however, an unaskable or meaningless question. If its answer cannot be found in philosophy, that is because it is dissolved in mukti, freedom from ignorance, through perfect viveka, discrimination. In Sankhya as in Vedanta, philosophy ends where realization begins. Philosophy does not resolve the ultimate questions, even though it brings great clarity to cognition. Philosophy prepares, refines and orients the mind towards a significantly different activity, broadly called ‘meditation’, the rigorous cultivation of clarity of discrimination and concentrated, pellucid insight. The possibility of this is provided for by Sankhya metaphysics through its stress on the asymmetry between purusha and prakriti, despite their co- presence. Prakriti depends on purusha, but purusha is independent of everything; purusha is pure consciousness, whilst prakriti is unself-conscious. Prakriti continues to evolve because individual selves in it do not realize that they are really purusha and, therefore, can separate themselves from prakriti, whilst there can never be complete annihilation of everything or of primordial matter.
Whereas Yoga accepted the postulates of Sankhya and also utilized its categories and classifications, all these being in accord with the experiences of developed yogins, there are significant divergences between Yoga and Sankhya. The oldest Yoga could have been agnostic in the sense implicit in the Rig Veda Hymn to Creation, but Patanjali’s Yoga is distinctly theistic, diverging in this way from atheistic Sankhya. Whilst Sankhya is a speculative system, or at least a conceptual framework, Yoga is explicitly experiential and therefore linked to an established as well as evolving consensus among advanced yogins. This is both illustrated and reinforced by the fact that whereas Sankhya maps out the inner world of disciplined ideation in terms of thirteen evolutes — buddhi, ahankara, manas and the ten indriyas — Patanjali’s Yoga subsumes all these under chitta or consciousness, which is resilient, elastic and dynamic, including the known, the conceivable, the cosmic as well as the unknown. Whereas Sankhya is one of the most self- sufficient or closed systems, Yoga retains, as a term and in its philosophy, a conspicuously open texture which characterizes all Indian thought at its best. From the Vedic hymns to even contemporary discourse, it is always open-ended in reference to cosmic and human evolution, degrees of adeptship and levels of initiatory illumination. It is ever seeing, reaching and aspiring, beyond the boundaries of the highest thought, volition and feeling; beyond worlds and rationalist systems and doctrinaire theologies; beyond the limits of inspired utterance as well as all languages and all possible modes of creative expression. Philosophy and mathematics, poetry and myth, idea and icon, are all invaluable aids to the image-making faculty, but they all must point beyond themselves, whilst they coalesce and collapse in the unfathomable depths of the Ineffable, before which the best minds and hearts must whisper neti neti, “not this, not that”. There is only the Soundless Sound, the ceaseless AUM in Boundless Space and Eternal Duration.
Kommentar III: Patanjali og Yoga sutras
Almost nothing is known about the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras. The dating of his life has varied widely between the fourth century B.C.E. and the sixth century C.E., but the fourth century B.C.E. is the period noted for the appearance of aphoristic literature. Traditional Indian literature, especially the Padma Purana, includes brief references to Patanjali, indicating that he was born in Illavrita Varsha.
Bharata Var-sha is the ancient designation of Greater India as an integral part of Jambudvipa, the world as conceived in classical topography, but Illavrita Varsha is not one of its subdivisions. It is an exalted realm inhabited by the gods and enlightened beings who have transcended even the rarefied celestial regions encompassed by the sevenfold Jambudvipa.
Patanjali is said to be the son of Angira and Sati, to have married Lolupa, whom he discovered in the hol-low of a tree on the northern slope of Mount Sumeru, and to have reduced the degenerate denizens of Bhotabhandra to ashes with fire from his mouth. Such legendary details conceal more than they reveal and suggest that Patanjali was a great Rishi who de-scended to earth in order to share the fruits of his wisdom with those who were ready to receive it.
Some commentators identify the author of the Yoga Sutras with the Patanjali who wrote the Mahabhashya or Great Commentary on Panini’s famous treatise on Sanskrit grammar sometime between the third and first centuries B.C.E. Although several scholars have contended that internal evidence contradicts such an identification, others have not found this reasoning conclusive. King Bhoja, who wrote a well-known commentary in the tenth century, was inclined to ascribe both works to a single author, perhaps partly as a reaction to others who placed Patanjali several centuries C.E. owing to his alleged implicit criticisms of late Buddhist doctrines. A more venerable tradition, however, rejects this identification altogether and holds that the author of the Yoga Sutras lived long before the commentator on Panini. In this view, oblique references to Buddhist doctrines are actually allusions to modes of thought found in some Upanishads.
In addition to our lack of definite knowledge about Patanjali’s life, confusion arises from contrasting appraisals of the Yoga Sutras itself. There is a strong consensus that the Yoga Sutras represents a masterly compendium of various Yoga practices which can be traced back through the Upanishads to the Vedas. Many forms of Yoga existed by the time this treatise was written, and Patanjali came at the end of a long and ancient line of yogins. In accord with the free- thinking tradition of shramanas, forest recluses and wandering mendicants, the ultimate vindication of the Yoga system is to be found in the lifelong experiences of its ardent votaries and exemplars. The Yoga Sutras constitutes a practitioner’s manual, and has long been cherished as the pristine expression of Raja Yoga. The basic texts of Raja Yoga are Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Yogabhashya of Vyasa and the Tattvavaisharadi of Vachaspati Mishra. Hatha Yoga was formulated by Gorakshanatha, who lived around 1200 C.E. The main texts of this school are the Goraksha Sutaka, the Nathayoga Pradipika of Yogindra of the flfteenth century, and the later Shivasamhita. Whereas Hatha Yoga stresses breath regulation and bodily discipline, Raja Yoga is essentially concerned with mind control, meditation and self-study.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is universal in the manner of the Bhagavad Gita, including a diversity of standpoints whilst fusing Sankhya metaphysics with bhakti or self-surrender. There is room for differences of emphasis, but every diligent user of Patanjali’s aphorisms is enabled to refine aspirations, clarify thoughts, strengthen efforts, and sharpen focus on essentials in spiritual self-discipline. Accommodating a variety of exercises — mind control, visualization, breath, posture, moral training — Patanjali brings together the best in differing approaches, providing an integrated discipline marked by moderation, flexibility and balance, as well as degrees of depth in meditative absorption. The text eludes any simple classification within the vast resources of Indian sacred literature and a fortiori among the manifold scriptures of the world. Although it does not resist philosophical analysis in the way many mystical treatises do, it is primarily a practical aid to the quest for spiritual freedom, which transcends the concerns of theoretical clarification. Yet like any arcane science which necessarily pushes beyond the shifting boundaries of sensory experience, beyond conventional concepts of inductive reasoning and mundane reality, it reaffirms at every point its vital connection with the universal search for meaning and deliverance from bondage to shared illusions. It is a summons to systematic self- mastery which can aspire to the summits of gnosis.
The actual text as it has come down to the present may not be exactly what Patanjali penned. Perhaps he reformulated in terse aphoristic language crucial insights found in time- honoured but long-forgotten texts. Perhaps he borrowed terms and phrases from diverse schools of thought and training. References to breath control, pranayama, can be found in the oldest Upanishads, and the lineaments of systems of Yoga may be discerned in theMaitrayana, Shvetashvatara and Katha Upanishads, and veiled instructions are given in the ‘Yoga’ Upanishads — Yogatattva, Dhyanabindu, Hamsa, Amritanada, Shandilya, Varaha, Mandala Brahmana, Nadabindu and Yogakundali — though a leaning towards Sankhya metaphysics occurs only in the Maitrayana. The Mahabharata mentions the Sankhya and the Yoga as ancient systems of thought. Hiranyagarbha is traditionally regarded as the propounder of Yoga, just as Kapila is known as the original expounder of Sankhya. The Ahirbudhnya states that Hiranyagarbha disclosed the entire science of Yoga in two texts — the Nirodha Samhita and the Karma Samhita. The former treatise has been called the Yoganushasanam, and Patanjali also begins his work with the same term. He also stresses nirodha in the first section of his work.
In general, the affinities of the Yoga Sutras with the texts of Hiranyagarbha suggest that Patanjali was an adherent of the Hiranyagarbha school of Yoga, and yet his own manner of treatment of the subject is distinctive. His reliance upon the fundamental principles of Sankhya entitle him to be considered as also belonging to the Sankhya Yoga school. On the other hand, the significant variations of the later Sankhya of Ishvarakrishna from older traditions of proto-Sankhya point to the advantage of not subsuming the Yoga Sutras under broader systems. The author of Yuktidipika stresses that for Patanjali there are twelve capacities, unlike Ishvarakrishna’s thirteen, that egoity is not a separate principle for Patanjali but is bound up with intellect and volition. Furthermore, Patanjali held that the subtle body is created anew with each embodiment and lasts only as long as a particular embodiment, and also that the capacities can only function from within. Altogether, Patanjali’s work provides a unique synthesis of standpoints and is backed by the testimony of the accumulated wisdom derived from the experiences of many practitioners and earlier lineages of teachers.
Some scholars and commentators have speculated that Patanjali wrote only the first three padas of the Yoga Sutras, whilst the exceptionally short fourth pada was added later. Indeed, as early as the writings of King Bhoja, one verse in the fourth pada (IV. 16) was recognized asa line interpolated from Vyasa’s seventh commentary in which he dissented from Vijnanavadin Buddhists. Other interpolations may have occurred even in the first threepadas, such as III.22, which some classical commentators questioned. The fact that the third pada ends with the word iti (‘thus’, ‘so’, usually indicating the end of a text), as it does at the end of the fourth pada, might suggest that the original contained only three books. However, the philosophical significance of the fourth pada is such that the coherence of the entire text need not be questioned on the basis of inconclusive speculations.
Al-Biruni translated into Arabic a book he called Kitab Patanjal (The Book of Patanjali), which he said was famous throughout India. Although his text has an aim similar to the Yoga Sutras and uses many of the same concepts, it is more theistic in its content and even has a slightly Sufi tone. It is not the text now known as the Yoga Sutras, but it may be a kind of paraphrase popular at the time, rather like the Dnyaneshwari, which stands both as an independent work and a helpful restatement of the Bhagavad Gita. The Kitab translated by al-Biruni illustrates the pervasive influence of Patanjali’s work throughout the Indian subcontinent.
For the practical aspirant to inner tranquillity and spiritual realization, the recurring speculations of scholars and commentators, stimulated by the lack of exact historical information about the author and the text, are of secondary value. Whatever the precise details regarding the composition of the treatise as it has come down through the centuries, it is clearly an integrated whole, every verse of which is helpful not only for theoretical understanding but also for sustained practice. The Yoga Sutras constitutes a complete text on meditation and is invaluable in that every sutra demands deep reflection and repeated application. Patanjali advocated less a doctrinaire method than a generous framework with which one can make experiments with truth, grow in comprehension and initiate progressive awakenings to the supernal reality of the Logos in the cosmos.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root yuj, ‘to yoke’ or ‘to join’, related to the Latin jungere, ‘to join’, ‘to unite’. In its broadest usages it can mean addition in arithmetic; in astronomy it refers to the conjunction of stars and planets; in grammar it is the joining of letters and words. In Mimamsa philosophy it indicates the force of a sentence made up of united words, whilst in Nyaya logic it signifies the power of the parts taken together. In medicine it denotes the compounding of herbs and other substances. In general, yoga and viyoga pertain to the processes of synthesis and analysis in both theoretical and applied sciences. Panini distinguishes between the root yuj in the sense of concentration (samadhi) and yujir in the sense of joining or connecting. Buddhists have used the term yoga to designate the withdrawal of the mind from all mental and sensory objects. Vaishesika philosophy means by yoga the concentrated attention to a single subject through mental abstraction from all contexts. Whereas the followers of Ramanuja use the term to depict the fervent aspiration to join one’s ishtadeva or chosen deity, Vedanta chiefly uses the term to characterize the complete union of the human soul with the divine spirit, a connotation compatible with its use in Yoga philosophy. In addition, Patanjali uses the term yoga to refer to the deliberate cessation of all mental modifications.
Every method of self-mastery, the systematic removal of ignorance and the progressive realization of Truth, can be called yoga, but in its deepest sense it signifies the union of one’s apparent and fugitive self with one’s essential nature and true being, or the conscious union of the embodied self with the Supreme Spirit. The Maitrayana Upanishad states:
Carried along by the waves of the qualities darkened in his imagination, unstable, fickle, crippled, full of desires, vacillating, he enters into belief, believing I am he, this is mine, and he binds his self by his self as a bird with a net. Therefore a man, being possessed of will, imagination and belief, is a slave, but he who is the opposite is free. For this reason let a man stand free from will, imagination and belief. This is the sign of liberty, this is the path that leads to brahman, this is the opening of the door, and through it he will go to the other shore of darkness.
Thus, yoga refers to the removal of bondage and the consequent attainment of true spiritual freedom. Whenever yoga goes beyond this and actually implies the fusion of an individual with his ideal, whether viewed as his real nature, his true self or the universal spirit, it is gnostic self-realization and universal self-consciousness, a selfsustaining state of serene enlightenment. Patanjali’s metaphysical and epistemological debt to Sankhya is crucial to a proper comprehension of the Yoga Sutras, but his distinct stress on praxis rather than theoria shows a deep insight of his own into the phases and problems that are encountered by earnest practitioners of Yoga. His chief concern was to show how and by what means the spirit, trammelled in the world of matter, can withdraw completely from it and attain total emancipation by transforming matter into its original state and thus realize its own pristine nature. This applies at all levels of self-awakening, from the initial cessation of mental modifications, through degrees of meditative absorption, to the climactic experience of spiritual freedom.
Patanjali organized the Yoga Sutras into four padas or books which suggest his architectonic intent. Samadhi Pada, the first book, deals with concentration of mind (samadhi), without which no serious practice of Yoga is possible. Since samadhi is necessarily experiential, this pada explores the hindrances to and the practical steps needed to achieve alert quietude. Both restraint of the senses and of the discursive intellect are essential for samadhi. Having set forth what must be done to attain and maintain meditative absorption, the second book, Sadhana Pada, provides the method or means required to establish full concentration. Any effort to subdue the tendency of the mind to become diffuse, fragmented or agitated demands a resolute, consistent and continuous practice of self-imposed, steadfast restraint, tapas, which cannot become stable without a commensurate disinterest in all phenomena. This relaxed disinterestedness, vairagya, has nothing to do with passive indifference, positive disgust, inert apathy or feeble-minded ennui as often experienced in the midst of desperation and tension in daily affairs. Those are really the self-protective responses of one who is captive to the pleasure-pain principle and is deeply vulnerable to the flux of events and the vicissitudes of fortune. Vairagya implies a conscious transcendence of the pleasure-pain principle through a radical reappraisal of expectations, memories and habits. The pleasure-pain principle, dependent upon passivity, ignorance and servility for its operation, is replaced by a reality principle rooted in an active, noetic apprehension of psycho-spiritual causation. Only when this impersonal perspective is gained can the yogin safely begin to alter significantly his psycho-physical nature through breath control,pranayama, and other exercises.
The third book, Vibhuti Pada, considers complete meditative absorption, sanyama, its characteristics and consequences. Once calm, continuous attention is mastered, one can discover an even more transcendent mode of meditation which has no object of cognition whatsoever. Since levels of consciousness correspond to planes of being, to step behind the uttermost veil of consciousness is also to rise above all manifestations of matter. From that wholly transcendent standpoint beyond the ever-changing contrast between spirit and matter, one may choose any conceivable state of consciousness and, by implication, any possible material condition. Now the yogin becomes capable of tapping all the siddhis or theurgic powers. These prodigious mental and moral feats are indeed magical, although there is nothing miraculous or even supernatural about them. They represent the refined capacities and exalted abilities of the perfected human being. Just as any person who has achieved proficiency in some specialized skill or knowledge should be careful to use it wisely and precisely, so too the yogin whose spiritual and mental powers may seem practically unlimited must not waste his energy or misuse his hard-won gifts. If he were to do so, he would risk getting entangled in worldly concerns in the myriad ways from which he had sought to free himself. Instead, the mind must be merged into the inmost spirit, the result of which is kaivalya, steadfast isolation or eventual emancipation from the bonds of illusion and the meretricious glamour of terrestrial existence.
In Kaivalya Pada, the fourth book which crowns the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali conveys the true nature of isolation or supreme spiritual freedom insofar as it is possible to do so in words. Since kaivalya is the term used for the sublime state of consciousness in which the enlightened soul has gone beyond the differentiating sense of ‘I am’, it cannot be characterized in the conceptual languages that are dependent on the subject-object distinction. Isolation is not nothingness, nor is it a static condition. Patanjali throws light on this state of gnosis by providing a metaphysical and metapsychological explanation of cosmic and human intellection, the operation of karma and the deep-seated persistence of the tendency of selflimitation. By showing how the suppression of modifications of consciousness can enable it to realize its true nature as pure potential and master the lessons of manifested Nature, he intimates the immense potency of the highest meditations and the inscrutable purpose of cosmic selfhood.
The metapsychology of the Yoga Sutras bridges complex metaphysics and compelling ethics, creative transcendence and critical immanence, in an original, inspiring and penetrating style, whilst its aphoristic method leaves much unsaid, throwing aspirants back upon themselves with a powerful stimulus to self-testing and self-discovery. Despite his sophisticated use of Sankhya concepts and presuppositions, Patanjali’s text has a universal appeal for all ardent aspirants to Raja Yoga. He conveys the vast spectrum of consciousness, diagnoses the common predicament of human bondage to mental ailments, and offers practical guidance on the arduous pathway of lifelong contemplation that could lead to the summit of self-mastery and spiritual freedom.
Kommentar IV: Samadhi Pada
Through study let one practise yoga.
Through yoga let one concentrate on study.
By perfection in study and in yoga
The Supreme Soul shines forth clearly.
The classic text of Patanjali opens with the simplest statement: “atha yoganushasanam’, “Now begins instruction in yoga. ” The typical reader today might well expect this terse announcement to be followed by a full explanation of the term yoga and its diverse meanings, perhaps a polemical digression on different schools of thought and some methodological guidance concerning the best way to use the text. None of this occurs. Rather, Patanjali set down his most famous words: “yogash chitta-vritti-nirodhah”, “Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind.” He stated the essential meaning of yoga without any argument or illustration, as if he were providing a basic axiom. He thus showed at the very start that he was concerned with practical instruction rather than theoretical exposition. He thereby took for granted that the user of the text already had some understanding of the task of yoga and was ready to undergo a demanding daily discipline.
Yoga psychology differs radically from more recent, and especially post-Freudian, schools of thought in its stress on self-emancipation rather than on self-acceptance in relation to social norms or psychic tensions. Most modern varieties of psychology, including even the recent humanistic preoccupation with self-actualization as propounded by Abraham Maslow and elaborated in different directions by Carl Rogers and Rollo May, essentially aim at an integration and harmonizing of otherwise disparate and conflicting elements in a person in contemporary society. For Patanjali, all these identifiable elements — thoughts, feelings, intentions, motives and desires (conscious and unconscious) — are chittavrittis, mental modifications which must be seen as hindrances to contemplative calm. Even if they are deftly balanced and fully integrated, the individual would at best be a mature person marked by thoughtful and creative responses in a world of suffering and ignorance. Conquering, not coping, transcending, not reconciling, were Patanjali’s chief concerns. For him, the latter were by-products of the former, and never the reverse. The psychology of self-emancipation means the deliberate and self-conscious restraint of everything that is productive of mental confusion, weakness and pain.
Patanjali’s stipulative definition of yoga might seem dogmatic, but this reaction springs from ignorance of his central purpose and unstated presuppositions. Patanjali wrote not from the standpoint of revealed scripture, academic scholarship or of theoretical clarification, but from the standpoint of concrete experience through controlled experiment. If truth is ontologically bound up and intimately fused with self-transcendence, then what from the standpoint of self- emancipation is a stark description is, from the standpoint of the unenlightened, an arbitrary prescription. What would be the naturalistic fallacy on a single plane of manifested Nature becomes a necessary line of thought when multiple planes of unmanifested Nature are taken into account. The ability to alter states of consciousness presupposes the capacity to emulate the architectonics of a higher and less differentiated plane on a lower and more fragmented plane of percepts and concepts. In other words, yoga is that science in which the descriptions of reality necessarily function as prescriptions for those who have not experienced it. The analogy would be closer to music or mathematics than to the visual arts or the empirical sciences as normally understood.
Skilful methods are those which provide apt descriptions, giving the instructional guidance needed. Hence, in the hands of a spiritual master, the actual method to be pursued varies with each aspirant, for it is the vital and original link between the adept’s transcendent (taraka) wisdom and the disciple’s mental temperament and devotion (bhakti). There is a reciprocal interaction between the readiness to receive and the mode of giving — of disciple and master. For Patanjali, the true nature of chitta, the mind, can be known only when it is not modified by external influences and their internal impresses. For as long as modifications persist without being deliberately chosen for a purpose, the mind unwittingly identifies with them, falling into passivity, habitude, and the pain which results from a state of fragmentation and self-alienation.
Since mental modifications ramify in myriad directions, their root causes need to be grasped clearly if they are to be firmly removed. The essential principle to be understood is central to the second and third of Gautama Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. Those persistent misconceptions which, directly or indirectly, produce discontent and suffering have a distinctive set of causes which, if eliminated, inevitably ensure the cessation of their concomitant effects. Patanjali pointed to five chittavrittis which are distinct and yet share the common tendency to be pleasurable or painful. Whilst yoga psychology fully acknowledges the strength of the pleasure principle — the propensity to be drawn towards pleasurable sensations as if by a magnet and to be repelled by painful ones — it denies its relevance to real individuation as a moral agent, a Manushya, whose name comes from manas, ‘mind’, the root of which is man, ‘to think’. Self- emancipation, the culmination in yoga of self-transcendence, requires the complete subordination of the pleasure-pain principle to the reality principle. Reality, in this view, has nothing to do with involuntary change, the inherent propensity of prakriti, matter, and not purusha, spirit, whilst pleasure and pain are necessarily bound up with conditioning and change. This is why the most attractive states of mind seem so readily and recurrently to alter into the most repugnant states. In general, mental modifications obscure and obstruct the intrinsically blissful nature of pure consciousness, the serene state of mind of the “spectator without a spectacle”.
The five types of mental modifications are: correct cognition, based on direct perception, valid inference and verbal testimony; misconception, based upon something other than itself, namely the five kleshas or sources of sorrow — ignorance, egoism, attachment, hate and the fear of death, according to the Yogabhashya; fantasy, engendered by words and concepts, when and to the degree that they do not refer to reality; sleep, which occurs when other modifications cease and the mind is emptied of mental contents; and memory, which is the result of clinging to, or at least not letting go of, objects or images of subjective experiences. The chittavrittis can be diagrammatically depicted as follows:
Although this array of mental modifications is easy to outline, its implications are extensive and radical. When Patanjali included correct cognition amongst the mental modifications, he was adhering to strict theoretical and practical consistency. He was concerned to deny that mundane insight, discursive thought and even scriptural authority can free the mind from bondage to delusion and suffering. Yet without a preliminary apprehension of yoga philosophy, how could one adopt its methods and hope to achieve its aims? In part the answer lies in a proper grasp of the pervasiveness of maya or illusion. If everything that conceals the changeless Real is maya, then the human being who seeks to know the Real by conventional methods is trapped in some sort of metaphysical split or even schizophrenia. Philosophers from the pre-Socratics and Platonists to Descartes and Spinoza recognized that a substance cannot become what it is not. To say that human beings are intrinsically capable of attaining kaivalya, self-emancipation or transcendence of maya, is to affirm that they are quintessentially what they seek. Their inmost nature is one with the Real. On the other hand, to say that they have to strive in earnest to realize fully what they essentially are implies that they have allowed themselves to become captive to maya through persistent self-limitation.
Given this delusive condition, the mere temporary cessation of modifications, such as occurs in sleep, will not help to liberate man’s immortal spirit. As maya is pervasive illusion, humanity as it knows itself is a part of it. Ignorant or involuntary withdrawal from its action only makes it unconscious, and this is why sleep is classed as one of the chittavrittis. Rather, one has to master the rules of maya and learn how to extricate oneself gradually from it. Otherwise, one only makes random moves, embedding oneself in deeper ignorance and greater suffering. Patanjali taught that deliverance can only come through abhyasa, assiduous practice, and vairagya, dispassionate detachment. Abhyasa is the active opposite of passive sleep, and vairagya frees one from all attachments, including the kleshas, which induce misconceptions. Together, these two mirror in the world of change that which is changeless beyond it. In the language of the Isha Upanishad, one has to find the transcendent in the immanent, and for Patanjali, abhyasa and vairagya constitute exactly that mode of awareness.
For Patanjali, however, abhyasa is not just striving to do something; it is rather the effort to be something. “Abhyasa is the continuous effort to abide in a steady state.” According to the Yogabhashya, abhyasa is the attempt to preserve prashantavahita, continuity of mind or consciousness which is both fully awake and without fluctuations. Like all such spiritual exercises, abhyasa becomes richer, more refined and more relaxed with persistence that comes from repeated effort, moral earnestness and joyous devotion. Abhyasa is the constant criterion for all effort, and the indispensable tool, whenever and however taken up.
Vairagya cannot be merely passive disinterest in the content of experience any more than sleep can substitute for wakeful serenity. It is true detachment whilst being fully aware of the relative significance of objects, and this element of self-conscious maintenance of calm detachment is exactly what makes it real vairagya. Through vairagya, one comes to know the world for what it is because one recognizes that every object of sense, whether seen or unseen, is an assemblage of evanescent attributes or qualities (gunas) of prakriti, whereas the enduring reality, from the standpoint of the seeker for emancipation, is purusha, the Self of all. Shankaracharya stated: “The seer of purusha becomes one who is freed from rejecting or accepting anything…. Detachment is extreme clarity of cognition.”
Abhyasa and vairagya are fused in the intense yet serene mental absorption known as samadhi. Patanjali characterized samadhi (which means ‘concentration’, ‘contemplation’ and ‘meditation’, depending on the context) in relation to a succession of stages, for if samadhi signifies a specific state, the contemplative seeker would either abide in it or fail to do so. But Patanjali knew that no one can suddenly bridge the gap between fragmented, distracted consciousness and wholly unified meditation. Rather, concentration (samadhi) proceeds by degrees for one who persists in the effort, because one progressively overcomes everything that hinders it. In the arduous ascent from greater degrees of relative maya towards greater degrees of reality, the transformation of consciousness requires a calm apprehension of those higher states. The conscious descent from exalted planes of being requires the capacity to bring down a clearer awareness of reality into the grosser regions of maya. Continuous self-transformation on the ascent must be converted into confident self-transmutation on the descent.
Patanjali saw in the evolving process of meditation several broad but distinct levels of samadhi. The first is sanprajnata samadhi, cognitive contemplation, in which the meditator is aware of a distinction between himself and the thought he entertains. This form of meditation is also called sabija samadhi, or meditation with a seed (bija), wherein some object or specific theme serves as a focal point on which to settle the mind in a steady state. Since such a point is extrinsic to pure consciousness, the basic distinction between thinker and thought persists. In its least abstracted form,sanprajnata samadhi involves vitarka (reasoning), vichara (deliberation), ananda (bliss) and asmita (the sense of ‘I’). Meditation is some sort of bhavana, or becoming that upon which one ponders, for consciousness identifies with, takes on and virtually becomes what it contemplates. Meditation on a seed passes through stages in which these types of conditioning recede and vanish as the focal point of consciousness passes beyond every kind of deliberation and even bliss itself, until only asmita or the pure sense of ‘I’ remains. Even this, however, is a limiting focus which can be transcended.
Asanprajnata samadhi arises out of meditation on a seed though it is itself seedless. Here supreme detachment frees one from even the subtlest cognition and one enters nirbija samadhi, meditation without a seed, which is self-sustaining because free of any supporting focalization on an object. From the standpoint of the succession of objects of thought — the type of consciousness all human beings experience in a chaotic or fragmentary way and a few encounter even in meditation on a seed — nirbija samadhi is nonexistence or emptiness, for it is absolutely quiescent consciousness. Nonetheless, it is not the highest consciousness attainable, for it is the retreat of mind to a neutral (laya) centre from which it can begin to operate on a wholly different plane of being. This elevated form of pure consciousness is similar to a state experienced in a disembodied condition between death and rebirth, when consciousness is free of the involvement with vestures needed for manifestation in differentiated matter. Just as an individual becomes unconscious when falling into deep dreamless sleep, because consciousness fails to remain alert except in conditions of differentiation, so too consciousness in a body becomes unconscious and forgetful of its intrinsic nature on higher planes. Samadhi aims to restore that essential awareness self-consciously, making the alert meditator capable of altering planes of consciousness without any loss of awareness.
For earnest practitioners, Patanjali taught, samadhi is attained in several distinct but interrelated ways — through shraddha (faith), virya (energy), smriti (retentiveness) and prajna (intellectual insight) — which are vital prerequisites for the metapsychological yoga of samadhi. Shraddha is the calm and confident conviction that yoga is efficacious, coupled with the wholehearted orientation of one’s psychic, moral and mental nature towards experiential confirmation. Undistracted shraddha of this sort leads naturally to virya, energy which releases the resolve to reach the goal and the resourceful courage needed to persist in seeking it. In The Voice of the Silence, an ancient text of spiritual discipline, virya is viewed as the fifth of seven keys required to unlock seven portals on the path to wisdom. In this text, virya follows upon dana, shila, kshanti and viraga (vairagya) — charity, harmony in conduct, patience, and detachment in regard to the fruits of action — all suggesting the hidden depths of shraddha which can release dauntless energy in the pursuit of Truth.
Smriti implies the refinement of memory which helps to extract the essential lesson of each experience without the needless elaboration of irrelevancies. It requires the perception of significant connections and the summoning of full recollection, the soulmemory stressed by Plato wherein one awakens powers and potentialities transcending the experiences of a lifetime. Prajna, released by such inner awakenings, enables consciousness to turn within and cognize the deeper layers of oneself. Seen and strengthened in this manner, one’s innate soul-wisdom becomes the basis of one’s progressive understanding of the integral connection between freedom and necessity. In time, the ‘is’ of external facticity becomes a vital pointer to the ‘ought’ of the spiritual Path and the ‘can’ of one’s true self-hood.
Supreme meditation, the most complete samadhi, is possible for those who can bring clarity, control and imaginative intensity to daily practice. Yet Patanjali’s instructions, like those of an athletic coach who guides the gifted but also aids those who show lesser promise, apply to every seeker who sincerely strives to make a modest beginning in the direction of the highest samadhi as well as to those able to make its attainment the constant target of their contemplations. He spoke explicitly of those whose progress is rapid but also of those whose efforts are mild or moderate. An individual’s strivings are stimulated to the degree they recognize that they are ever reaching beyond themselves as they have come to think of themselves through habit, convention, weakness and every form of ignorance. Rather than naively thinking that one is suddenly going to surmount every obstacle and obscuration in one’s own nature, one can sedulously foster bhakti, total devotion and willing surrender to Ishvara, the Supreme Spirit immanent in all souls, even if one has hardly begun to grasp one’s true self- hood. Such sustained devotion is ishvarapranidhana, the potent invocation of the Supreme Self through persistent surrender to It, isomorphic on the plane of consciousness with abnegation of the fruits of all acts to Krishna on the plane of conduct, as taught in the Bhagavad Gita.
Ishvara is saguna brahman, the supreme repository of all resplendent qualities, in contrast to nirguna brahman, the attributeless Absolute. Ishvara is purusha, “untouched by troubles, actions and their results” (I.24), immanent in all prakriti. Cherishing the one source of all is the means by which one moves through degrees of samadhi, culminating in the complete union of the individual and the cosmic, the state of kaivalya or isolation. Like Kether, the crown in the Kabbalah, Ishvara is at once the single motivating force behind the cosmic activity of prakriti and the utterly transcendent (nirguna) purusha or pure spirit. What exists in each human soul as the latent bud of omniscience is awakened and it expands into the realm of infinitude in Ishvara itself. Untouched by time and therefore untrammelled by ordinary consciousness which is time-bound, Ishvara is the supreme Initiator of all, from the ancient Rishis to the humble disciple sitting in meditation. Ishvara is OM, the primal sound, the basic keynote of all being, the source of the music of the spheres, mirrored in the myriad manifestations of prakriti. Surrender to Ishvara is aided by the silent repetition of the sacred OM and by deep meditation upon its mystery and meaning. When bhakti flows freely in this rapturous rhythm, consciousness readily turns inward and removes all hindrances to progress in samadhi.
Surrender to the luminous core of one’s consciousness, which is more powerful than one’s strongest proclivities, initiates a mighty countervailing force against the cumulative momentum generated by the chittavrittis. As the mind has grown accustomed to indulge, identify with and even cherish ceaseless modifications, any attempt to check those modifications runs against the self-reproducing tenacity of longestablished habits, impressions and tendencies. The chittavrittis are virtually infinite in their discrete manifestations and yet are amenable to broad classification on the basis of essential traits. The hindrances which aggravate mental distraction, fragmented consciousness and continual modification are disease, dullness, doubt, heedlessness, indolence, addiction to objects of sense, distorted perception, and failure to stabilize the mind in any particular state. Though distinct from each other, these distractions are all accompanied by sorrow (duhkha), depression, bodily agitation and irregular breathing. They can, however, be most effectively eliminated through abhyasa, or constant practice of a single truth or principle. Whilst any profound truth which deeply moves one can be chosen, to the degree that it is true — and so to the degree that it is efficacious over time — it is ekatattva, the one principle, which in Sankhya philosophy is purusha or pure spirit.
Overcoming mental obstructions through abhyasa in respect to one principle requires the progressive purification of the mind, freeing it from the froth and dross of old patterns fostered by feeble and fickle attention. Most seekers typically find easiest and most effective a concerted effort to expand the feeling of friendliness towards all beings, compassion for every creature, inward gladness and a cool detachment in regard to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice. On the physical plane of human nature, one can learn to make one’s breathing calm and even, steady and rhythmical. Through intense concentration, one can begin to awaken subtler perceptions which are not subject to hindrances in the way the ordinary sense-organs are, to an almost grotesque extent. One may even activate a spark of buddhi, pure insight and deep penetration, sensing the vast ocean of supernal cosmic light which interpenetrates and encloses everything. Some seekers will find it more feasible to contemplate the lustrous splendour of a mythic, historical or living being who is a paragon of supreme self-mastery. Others may benefit by brooding on flashes of reminiscence that recur in dreams or come from deep dreamless sleep. Patanjali also pointed out that one could gain mental stability by meditating intently upon what one most ardently desired. In the words of Charles Johnston, “Love is a form of knowledge”, when it is profound and sacrificial, constant and unconditional.
All such efforts to surmount the hindrances which distract the mind are aids to deep meditation, and when they have fully worked their benevolent magic, the becalmed mind becomes the effortless master of everything which comes into the horizon of consciousness, from the atomic to the infinite. When all the hindrances disappear, mental modifications cease and the mind “becomes like a transparent crystal, attaining the power of transformation, taking on the colour of what it rests on, whether it be the cognizer, the cognized or the act of cognition”.(I.41) When the mind is distracted through discursive trains of thought, it tends to oscillate between passive disorientation and aggressive attempts to conceal its ignorance through contentious and partisan fixations. But when the memory is purged of external traces and encrusted conditionality, and the mind is withdrawn from all limiting conceptions — including even its abstract self-image, thus focussed solely on ekatattva, truth alone — it is free from obscuration, unclouded (nirvitarka), and sees each truth as a whole. It notices the subtle elements behind shifting appearances, including the noumenal, primordial and undifferentiated sources and causes of all mental modifications. This serene self-emancipation of consciousness is called sabija samadhi, meditation with a seed, the fulcrum for gaining all knowledge. In this sublime condition, the mind has become as pellucid as crystal and mirrors the spiritual light of purusha, whence dawns direct insight (prajna) into the ultimate Truth.
Unlike other methods of cognizing truth — which concern this or that and hence are involved with samvritti satya, relative truths, though truths nonetheless — prajna has but one single object for its focus, the Supreme Truth itself (paramartha satya). Its power displaces and transcends all lesser forms of truth, exiling them permanently from consciousness. Beyond this lies only that indescribable state called nirbija samadhi, meditation without a seed, wherein the mind lets go of even Truth itself as an object. When the mind ceases to function, the Yogabhashya teaches, purusha becomes isolated, pure and liberated. Mind has become the pure instrument that guides the soul ever closer to that threshold where, when reached, spirit steps from false finitude into inconceivable infinitude, leaving the mind behind, passing into kaivalya, total isolation or supreme freedom. The last psychic veil is drawn aside and the spiritual man stands with unveiled vision. As M.N. Dvivedi commented, “The mind thus having nothing to rest upon exhausts itself. . . and purusha alone shines in perfect bliss and peace.” “The Light”, I.K. Taimni remarked, “which was up to this stage illuminating other objects now illuminates Itself, for it has withdrawn beyond the realm of these objects. The Seer is now established in his own Self.”
Having depicted the entire path leading from ignorance and bewilderment to beatific illumination, Patanjali saw only two tasks remaining: (1) to explain in detail the diverse means for attaining concentration and meditation, and (2) to elucidate the idea of kaivalya or isolation, insofar as it is possible to convey it through words.
Kommentar V: Sadhana Pada
A person without self-discipline cannot attain perfection in yoga….
An undisturbed course of self-purificatory conduct should be practised.
Patanjali initiated his teaching concerning praxis by calling attention to the three chief elements in the discipline of yoga: tapas, austerity, self-restraint and eventually self-mastery; svadhyaya, self-study, self-examination, including calm contemplation of purusha, the Supreme Self; and ishvarapranidhana, self-surrender to the Lord, the omnipresent divine spirit within the secret heart. The threefold practice or sadhana can remove the kleshas or afflictions which imprison purusha and thus facilitate samadhi or meditative absorption. This arduous alchemical effort was summed up succinctly by Shankaracharya: “Right vision (samyagdarshana) is the means to transcendental aloneness (kaivalya)…. Yoga practice, being the means to right vision, comes before it…. Ignorance is destroyed when directly confronted by right vision.” The kleshas, though varied in their myriad manifestations, are essentially five: avidya, ignorance; asmita, egoism; raga, attachment; dvesha, aversion; and abhinivesha, tenacious clinging to mundane existence. Ignorance, however, is the broad field in which all the other kleshas arise, because they are no more than distinct specializations of ignorance.
Ignorance is a fundamental inverted confusion which mistakes prakriti for purusha, the false for the true, the impure for the pure, and the painful for the pleasurable a persisting malaise which might have been difficult to comprehend in the past but which is now a familiar condition in contemporary psychology. Springing from fundamental ignorance, egoism (asmita) confuses the potency of the Seer (purusha) with the power of sight (buddhi). Attachment (raga) is the pursuit of what is mistaken to be pleasurable, whilst aversion (dvesha) flees from what is believed to be painful. These two constitute the primary pair of opposites on the psychological level in the field of ignorance, and all other pairs of opposites are derived from them. Clinging to phenomenal existence (abhinivesha) is the logical outcome of the operation of ignorance, and once aroused is self-sustaining through the inertia of habit, so that countervailing measures are needed to eradicate it, together with the other kleshas.
Through ignorance (avidya) there is an obscuration of the cosmic Self (purusha), a fundamental misidentification of what is real, a persistent misconception which carries its own distinct logic within the complex dialectic of maya:
Since the kleshas are engendered by a persistent error, at root mistaking prakriti for purusha, or attributing the essential characteristics of purusha to one or another aspect of prakriti, they can be eliminated only by a radical reversal of the downward tendency of alienation and retreat from truth. This fundamental correction, as far reaching as the entrenched habit of inversion which necessitates it, is dhyana, meditation, together with the mental and moral exercises which strengthen it. To say, as Hindu and Buddhist thinkers alike assert, that karma is rooted in avidya is to imply that the ramifying results of karma now experienced, or yet to be experienced in a future incarnation, are all rooted in the kleshas.
In the graphic language of spiritual physiology, the kleshas constitute a psychic colouring or peculiar obsession which forms a persisting matrix of karma, the results of which must eventually be experienced, and also creates mental deposits which channel mental energies into repeatedly reinforcing the kleshas. Dhyana alone can effectively eradicate these mental deposits while providing the clear detachment (vairagya) and cool patience (kshanti)to exhaust and dissolve the karmic matrix over time. As long as the kleshas remain, involuntary incarnation into bodies captive to the pleasure pain principle is inescapable. Elation and depression are the inevitable effects of such embodiment. Since these are the product of egoism and the polarity of attraction and aversion, rooted in ignorance and resulting in the tenacious clinging to mundane existence, the discerning yogin comes to see that the truth of spiritual freedom and the rapture of limitless love transcend the kleshas entirely. All karma brings discord and distress, including the insistent pains of loss and gain, growth and decay.
Karma means parinama, change, and this invariably induces the longing to recover what is receding, to enhance what is emerging, or to sustain a static balance where no thing can endure. To be drawn to some objects and conditions and to be disinclined towards others is indeed to foster tapa, anxious brooding over what might be lost or what one might be forced to encounter. All experiences leave residual impressions, samskaras, which agitate the mind and stimulate desires to have or to avoid possible future experiences. In general, the gunas or root qualities of prakriti — sattva, rajas and tamas: luminosity, action and inertia; purity, restlessness and languor; or harmony, volatility and fixity persist in ceaselessly shifting permutations which continually modify the uncontrolled mind. For these reasons, Patanjali taught, all life without spiritual freedom is fraught with sorrow. Through yoga, it is not possible to avoid consequences already set in motion, but it is feasible to destroy the kleshas and thereby remove the causal chain of suffering.
Metaphysically, buddhi, intuitive intellect, is closer to purusha than any other aspect of prakriti. Nonetheless, buddhi is still what is seen by purusha,the Perceiver, and it is through confounding the Perceiver with what is perceived at the super-sensuous level that suffering arises. Prakriti, consisting of the gunas, is the entire field, enclosing the objective world and the organs of sensation. It exists solely for the sake of the soul’s education and emancipation. The Yogabhashya teaches that identification of the Perceiver with the seen constitutes experience, “whilst realizing the true nature of purusha is emancipation”. In the realm of prakriti, wherein the Perceiver is captive to the ever- changing panorama of Nature, the gunas, which may be construed as the properties of perceptible objects but which are really propensities from the standpoint of psycho-mental faculties, act at every level of conscious awareness.
At the level of differentiated consciousness, vitarka, wherein the mind scrutinizes specific objects and features, the gunas are particularized (vishesha). When consciousness apprehends archetypes, laws and abstract concepts (vichara), the gunas are archetypal (avishesha). When the gunas are discerned as signs and signatures (linga), objects are resolved into symbols of differentiation in a universal field of complete objectivity, and consciousness experiences ecstasy (ananda). Though discrete, objects are no longer distinguished in contrast to one another or through divergent characteristics; they are distinct but seen as parts of a single whole. They are apprehended through buddhi or intuitive insight.
The gunas are alinga — signless, irresolvable, undifferentiated — and lose their distinction from consciousness itself when objects dissolve in the recognition that consciousness and its modifications alone constitute the noumenal and phenomenal world. Hence, pure consciousness (lingamatra),which is the simple, unqualified sense of ‘I’, subsists in a pristine noumenal condition (alinga) wherein it does not witness the ceaseless operation of the gunas. This divine consciousness is the highest state of meditative absorption, beyond which lies complete emancipation, purusha without any tincture of prakriti. The Perceiver is pure vision, apprehending ideas seemingly through the mind. Once final emancipation, which is the ultimate aim and purpose of all experience, is attained, purusha no longer encounters the confusion of spirit and matter through mental modifications. As experience, correctly understood, culminates in eventual self-emancipation, kaivalya, Patanjali held that “the very essence of the visible is that it exists for the sake of the Seer, the Self alone” (II.21).
The world does not vanish for all others when a man of meditation attains kaivalya; they remain in confusion until they also attain the same utterly transcendent state of awareness. Here Yoga philosophy exhausts its conceptual and descriptive vocabulary. Whether one asserts that there is an indefinite number of purushas, each capable of attaining kaivalya, or one states that purusha attains kaivalya in this instance but not that, is a matter of indifference, for one perforce invokes enumeration, time and space terms properly applying to prakriti alone to characterize a wholly transcendent reality. The pervasive existential fact is that prakriti persists so long as there are beings trapped through ignorance, and the vital psychological truth is that no being who attains the transcendent (taraka) reality of unqualified, pure purusha can do so vicariously for another. Through their hard-won wisdom and compassion, emancipated seers and sages can point the way with unerring accuracy. They know how to make their magnanimous guidance most effective for every human being, but each seeker must make the ascent unaided.
If the cosmos as considered in contemporary physics resolved itself into a condition of undisturbed entropy, or if, in the language of Sankhya, the gunasachieved total and enduring equilibrium, Nature (prakriti) would cease to exist, since there would be nothing to be perceived. Ignorance and its inseparable concomitant, suffering, arise from a broken symmetry in Nature. In contemporary thought there is no adequate explanation for the origin of that ‘cosmic disaster’, for the emergence of sentience is said to occur within the broken symmetry. If the scientific community were trained to use the language of Sankhya and Yoga philosophy, it would have to speak of the origin of purusha, consciousness, within the evolutionary permutations and convolutions of prakriti. Sankhya and Yoga teach, however, that purusha, sempiternal and independent, perceives prakriti and indirectly gives rise to the broken symmetry itself, the anti-entropic condition which is the activity of the gunas. For Patanjali, prakriti must necessarily exist, for it is through experience conjunction with prakriti that purusha knows itself as it is. But when purusha wrongly apprehends prakriti, as it must until it knows itself truly as it is, ignorance and all the entangling kleshas arise. When purusha attains kaivalya, emancipation, it sees without error, and this is gained through experience in self-correction and self-mastery. From the highest standpoint, this means that purusha preserves its freedom and intrinsic purity by avoiding mistaken assumptions and false conclusions. From the standpoint of any individual involved in prakriti, unbroken discriminative cognition (vivekakhyati) is the sole means to emancipation, for it releases the abiding sense of reality (purusha) in him. The dual process of removing the kleshasand reflecting on the Self (purusha) assures the progressive and climactic attainment of emancipation (kaivalya) such that ignorance does not arise again.
Having delineated the path to kaivalya, Patanjali discoursed in some detail on the seven successive stages of yoga which lead to samadhi, full meditative absorption, but he insisted that, even though each stage must be passed in succession, truth and wisdom dawn progressively upon the aspirant to stimulate his endeavour. Yoga is successive, gradual and recursive, the path of ascent which alone leads from darkness to light, from ignorance to transcendental wisdom, from death and recurring rebirth to conscious immortality and universal self-consciousness. Although the stages through which consciousness must ascend are sequential in one sense, the practice of Taraka Raja Yoga involves eight limbs or aspects which are logically successive but ethically and psychologically simultaneous. In fact, one can hardly pursue one part of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga (ashtangayoga) without also attending to its other divisions. Just as a human being, despite his ignorance, is an integrated whole, so too ashtangayoga, despite its logical sequence, is an integral unity. Patanjali enumerated the eight (ashta) limbs (anga) of this Taraka Raja Yoga as five which concern karma and lay the foundation for meditation, and three which constitute meditation itself: restraint (yama), binding observance (niyama), posture (asana), regulation of breath (pranayama), abstraction and withdrawal from the senses (pratyahara); concentration (dharana),contemplation (dhyana) and complete meditative absorption (samadhi).
The yamas or restraints are five, constituting a firm ethical foundation for spiritual growth, starting with ahimsa (nonviolence) and including satya(truth), asteya (nonstealing), brahmacharya (continence) and aparigraha (nonpossession). Shankaracharya held that ahimsa — nonviolence, harmlessness, defencelessness in Shelley’s phrase — is the most important of the yamas and niyamas, and is the root of restraint. Like all constraints and observances, ahimsa must not be interpreted narrowly but should be seen in its widest sense. For Shankaracharya, this meant that ahimsa should be practised in body, speech and mind so that one avoids harming others in any way, even through an unkind thought. Ahimsa can be taken to include the classical Greek sense of sophrosyne, a sense of proportion which voids all excess, the state of mind which can avoid even unintentional harm to a single being in the cosmos. In employing ahimsa as a talismanic tool of political and social reform, Gandhi exemplified the central importance and far-reaching scope of ahimsa. For Patanjali, however, ahimsa and the other yamas and niyamas constitute the daily moral discipline needed to pursue Taraka Raja Yoga. Taraka Raja Yoga is not a narrowly technical or specialized practice to be added to other instrumental activities in the world; it is rather the indispensable means for radically transforming one’s essential perception of, and therefore one’s entire relation to, the world. From the standpoint of Self-knowledge, which is ultimate gnosis, there are no greater disciplines. Hence the yamas are not altered by condition and circumstance, social class or nationality, nor by time nor the actual level of spiritual attainment. Together they constitute the awesome mahavrata or Great Vow, the first crucial step to true spiritual freedom.
The niyamas or binding observances are also five, constituting the positive dimension of ethical probity. They are shaucha (purity), santosha(contentment), tapas (austerity, self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-study) and ishvarapranidhana (surrender to the Lord). Like the yamas, the niyamascannot be fully grasped as specific and bounded concepts. First of all, they should be seen as evolving conceptions — for example, purity of thought is deepened through purity of conduct — and then they will rapidly unfold subtler levels of meaning as the aspirant attains more intensive depths of meditation. Purity of volition is thus ever enriched and refined. The greatest obstacles to the restraints and binding observances are those thoughts which run in the opposite direction — thinking of impure things or acts, wishing to do harm for a perceived injustice, self-indulgence, self-deception and self-assertion. Such illicit and destructive thoughts are perverse precisely because they belie and defeat the initial commitment to the yamas and niyamas. Instead of suppressing such scattered thoughts or wallowing in hideous self-pity, one must firmly and deliberately insert into the mind their potent opposites — love for hate, tenderness for temerity, sweetness for spite, virile confidence for the devilry of self-doubt, authentic self-conquest for compulsive self-indulgence. Thus what begins as a shrewd defence against deleterious thoughts becomes a deft substitution of one kind of thought for another and results in sublimation, the skilful transformation of the tonality and texture of consciousness. Strict and consistent measures are needed to deal with subversive thoughts, not in order to repress them or to hide guilt for having them, but only because they induce depression and self-loathing, with predictable and pathetic consequences. Facing unworthy thoughts firmly, and thereby exorcising them, is to free oneself from their nefarious spell.
When any object is forcibly confined, it exerts crude pressure against its external constraints. In the ethical realm, effortless self-restraint produces a powerful glow of well-being which others can appreciate and even emulate. When, for example, one is established in ahimsa, others do become aware of an encompassing and inclusive love, and latent or overt hostility dissolves around one’s radius of benevolence. Satya, truth, is the path of least resistance amongst the shifting ratios of the gunas, and when one is clearly established in truth, the predictable consequences of thought, word and deed are constructive and consistent. Similarly, strengthening oneself through asteya (nonstealing), one desists from every form of misappropriation, even on the plane of thought and feeling, and discovers what is apposite on all sides. Nature protects and even provides for those who do not appropriate its abundant resources. Brahmacharya, selfless continence in thought and conduct, fosters vitality and vigour. Aparigraha,nonpossessiveness, promotes noetic insight into the deeper meaning and purpose of one’s probationary sojourn on earth.
Expansiveness too has its compelling effects. Shaucha, inward and outer purity, protects the mind and body from moral and magnetic pollution, and prevents one from tarnishing or misusing others. One acquires a dependable degree of serenity, control of the senses and one-pointedness in concentration, thus preparing oneself for the direct apprehension of purusha, the Self. Santosha, deep contentment, assures satisfaction not through the gratification of wants (which can at most provide a temporary escape from frustration), but rather through the progressive cessation of craving and its prolific yearnings and regrets. Tapas, austerity, penance or self-discipline, removes pollution inherited from one’s own past and releases the full potentials of mind, senses and body, including those psychic faculties mistakenly called supernormal only because seldom developed. Svadhyaya, self-study, calls for careful study and calm reflection, including the diligent recitation and deep contemplation of texts, thus giving voice to potent mantrasand sacred utterances. It achieves its apotheosis through direct communion with the ishtadevata, the chosen deity upon whom one has concentrated one’s complete attention, will and imagination. This exalted state readily leads to ishvarapranidhana, one-pointed and single-hearted devotion to the Lord. Such devotion soon deepens until one enters the succeeding stages of meditative absorption (samadhi).
With the firm foundation of yamas and niyamas, one can begin to benefit from the noetic discipline of intense meditation and become modestly proficient in it over a lifetime of service to humanity. Since the untrained mind is easily distracted by external and internal disturbance, real meditation is aided by an alert and relaxed bodily vesture. To this end, a steady posture (asana) is chosen, not to indulge the acrobatic antics of the shallow Hatha Yogin, but rather to subdue and command the body, whilst retaining its alertness and resilience. The correct posture will be firm and flexible without violating the mind’s vigorous concentration and precise focus. Once the appropriate asana is assumed by each neophyte, the mind is becalmed and turned towards the Infinite, becoming wholly impervious to bodily movement and change, immersed in the boundless space of the akashic empyrean. Thus the impact of the oscillating pairs of opposites upon the volatile brain mind, captivated by sharp contrasts and idle speculations, and the agitation of the body through recurring sensations are at least temporarily muted. In this state of serene peace, the effortless regulation of rhythmic breath (pranayama) becomes as natural as floating on the waters of space. Just as the mind and body are intimately interlinked at every point, such that even holding a firm physical posture aids the calming of the mind, so too pranayama points to silent mental breathing as well as smooth respiration.
Prana, which includes the solar life-breath, is the efflux of the constant flow of cosmic energy, regulated by the ideation of purusha and radiating from the luminous substance of pure prakriti. From the nadabrahman the Divine Resonance and perpetual motion of absolute Spirit and the global respiration of the earth reverberating at its hidden core, its slowly rolling mantle and its shifting crust, to the inspiration and expiration of every creature in the cosmos, the ocean of prana permeates and purifies all planes of being. In the human constitution, irregular, spasmodic or strained, uneven breathing can disturb the homeostatic equilibrium of the body and cause fragmented, uncoordinated modes of awareness. Proper breathing oxygenates the physical system optimally, and also aids the mind in maintaining a steady rhythm of unbroken ideation, fusing thought, will and energy. Pranayama begins with deliberate exhalation, so that the lungs are generously emptied and the unusable matter expelled into them is made to exit the bodily temple. Thereupon, slow inbreathing invites oxygen to permeate the entire lung system and penetrate the blood, arteries, nerves and cells. Holding the breath in a benevolent pause permits the respiratory system to adjust gently to the next phase of oxygenation and detoxification. When these rhythmic movements are marked by due measure and proportion, mantramically fused into the inaudible OM, there is a distinct improvement in psychophysical health and a remarkable increase of vigilance and vigour.
The fourth step in pranayama transcends the physiological dimensions of respiration for which they are a preparation. The highest pranayamabecomes possible when one has gained sufficient sensitivity through the earlier stages of pranayama to sense and direct the divine flow of pranathroughout one’s entropic psychophysical system. Then one may, through mental volition alone, fuse mental serenity and single-mindedness with psychophysical equilibrium, and also convey subtle pranic currents, charged with selfless ideation, to various padmas or vital centres (chakras) in the body. Since each of the seven padmas is precisely correlated with the corresponding state of concentrated consciousness, the fearless equipoise needed to activate these magnetic centres and the benevolent siddhis or theurgic powers thereby released requires the commensurate and controlled alteration in the tonality and texture of consciousness. When the highest padma is effortlessly and gently touched by mind-directed prana, nonviolent consciousness simultaneously attains full samadhi. “Thus is worn away”, said Patanjali, “the veil which obscures the light” (II.52), thereby pointing to the subduing of the kleshas and the neutralization of karma through the progressive awakening of discriminative insight and intuitive wisdom.
The process of purification is not an end in itself, but the necessary condition to prepare the mind for dharana, complete concentration. Pranayama,delusive and dangerous when misappropriated for selfish purposes pursued through subtle enslavement by the kleshas, is hereby integrated into Patanjali’s eight-fold yoga as a preliminary step towards subduing the restless mind, freeing it to become the servant of the immortal soul, seeking greater wisdom, self-mastery and universal self-consciousness. Pratyahara, abstraction and disassociation of sensory perception from sense-objects, is now accessible. Withdrawal of the senses from their objects of attraction does not destroy them. Rather, the subtler senses take on the plastic and fluidic nature of the serene mind itself. Without the myriad distractions of familiar and strange sense-objects, the senses become subtilized and pliant, no longer pulling consciousness towards internal images, external objects or captivating sense data. Instead, the noetic mind firmly expels images and subdues impulses, gaining sovereign mastery over them. Patanjali ended the second pada here, having shown the pathway to proper preparation for profound meditation. The significance of the last three interconnected angas or stages of yoga is indicated by the fact that Patanjali set them apart in the third pada for his authoritative exposition.
The preparatory discipline or sadhana of the second pada has been thus strikingly extolled by Rishi Vasishtha:
He engaged in the practice of Raja Yoga, remaining silent and graceful in countenance. He abstracted his senses from their objects as the oil is separated from the sesamum seed, withdrawing their organs within himself as the turtle contracts his limbs under his hard shell.
With his steady mind he cast all external sensations far off from himself, as a rich and brilliant gem, shedding a coating of dust, then scattered its rays to a distance. Without coming in contact with them, he compressed his sensations within himself, as a tree in the cold season compresses its sap within its bark….
He confined his subdued mind in the cave of his heart, as a great elephant is imprisoned in a cavern of the Vindhya Mountain when it has been brought by stratagem under subjection. When his soul had gained its clarity, resembling the serenity of the autumnal sky, it forsook all unsteadiness, like the calm ocean unagitated by any winds.
Kommentar VI: Vibhuti Pada
Attention is the first and indispensable step in all knowledge.
Attention to spiritual things is the first step to spiritual knowledge.
Patanjali commenced the third pada of the Yoga Sutras with a compelling distinction between three phases of meditation. Dharana is full concentration, the focussing of consciousness on a particular point, which may be any object in the world or a subject chosen by the mind. The ability to fix attention is strengthened by the practice of the first five angas of Patanjali’s ashtangayoga, for without some cultivation of them the mind tends to meander and drift in every direction. Dhyana is meditation in the technical sense of the term, meaning the calm sustaining of focussed attention. In dhyana, consciousness still encounters some modifications, but they all flow in one direction and are not disturbed by other fluctuations of any sort. Rather like iron — consisting of molecules clustered together in various ways, their axes oriented in different directions — undergoes a shift of alignment of all molecules in a single direction when magnetized, so too consciousness can become unidirectional through experiencing a current of continuity in time.
Samadhi, broadly characterized as ‘meditative absorption’ or ‘full meditation’, signifies the deepening of dhyana until the chosen object of meditation stands alone and consciousness is no longer aware of itself as contemplating an object. In samadhi consciousness loses the sense of separateness from what is contemplated and, in effect, becomes one with it. Like a person wholly lost in their work, “the object stands by itself”, in the words of the Yogabhashya, as if there were only the object itself. Although these three phases can be viewed as separate and successive, when they occur together in one simultaneous act they constitute sanyama, serene constraint or luminous concentration. The novice who nonetheless is capable of entering samadhi may take a long time to move from dharana to deep samadhi, because he experiences the entire movement as a radical change in consciousness. But the adept in sanyama can include all three in a virtually instantaneous act, thus arousing the ability to move from one object of contemplation to another almost effortlessly.
Prajna, cognitive insight, the resplendent light of wisdom, or intuitive apprehension, comes as a result of mastering sanyama. Although prajna is the highest level of knowledge to which philosophy can aspire, it is not the supreme state, for it halts at the threshold of vivekakhyati, pristine awareness of Reality, which can be neither articulated nor elucidated. Sanyama, Patanjali taught, is not completely mastered all at once. Rather, once sanyama isattained, it is strengthened in stages by deft application to different objects and levels of being. Each such application reveals the divine light as it manifests in that context, until the adept practitioner of exalted sanyama can focus entirely on purusha itself. In sanyama the patient aspirant glimpses the divine radiance, the resplendent reflection of purusha, wherever he focusses attention, but in time he will behold only purusha. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna asked Arjuna to see Himself in all things, but in the climactic cosmic vision, Arjuna witnessed the cosmic form (vishvarupa) of the Lord.Sanyama is wholly internal, whilst the first five yoga practices are external. Though all the angas are crucial to yoga, the last three, harmoniously synthesized in sanyama, constitute yoga proper. Since this is the central aim of everything stated so far in the Yoga Sutras, sanyama received considerable emphasis from Patanjali.
Nirodha, restraint, cessation or interception, is essential to sanyama because it is concerned neither with different states nor objects of consciousness, but chiefly with the process of transformation or replacement of the contents of consciousness. In sanyama the definite shift from one object of attention to another — and these can be wholly abstract and mental objects — involves a change of mental impression. As an object fades from mental view, another appears on the mental horizon to take its place. But like the pregnant moment just before dawn, when night is fleeing and the first light of day is sensed but has not yet shown itself, there is a suspended moment when what is fading has receded and the new object of focus is yet to appear. This is nirodhaparinama, the moment, however fleeting, between successive modifications when, according to the Yogabhashya, “the mind has nothing but subliminal impressions”. (III.9) Should the mind lose its alertness at just that point, it would fall into a somnolent state, for in sanyama, consciousness is wholly absorbed in the object of consciousness, whilst in nirodhaparinama that object has vanished. But if it remains fully awake, it gains a powerful glimpse of the tranquil state of nonmodification, and may thus pass through the laya or still point of equilibrium to enter into a higher plane. With sufficient practice, the yogin learns to extend nirodha and abide in it long enough to initiate this transition. The less accomplished, if they do not get caught in the torpor of the penultimate void, may notice the passage of nirodha as a missed opportunity. With persistent effort, the yoginlearns to remain in nirodha, relishing the peaceful, smooth flow of cosmic consciousness and reaching the highest samadhi.
Samadhiparinama, meditative transformation, occurs when nirodha is experienced not simply as a negation of objects of consciousness but rather as a positive meditation on nothingness. One-pointedness of consciousness has been so mastered through the progressive displacement of all distractions that ekagrata, one-pointedness, alone subsists, and this becomes ekagrataparinama, total one-pointedness. It is as if the seed of meditation, first sought and recovered every single time the mind wandered and was sharply brought back to a focus, then firmly fixed in focus, had been split asunder until nothing remained but the empty core upon which the mind settles peacefully. Here the besetting tendency to fluctuate has become feeble, whilst the propensity to apply restraint is strong. Since all states of consciousness are necessarily correlated with states of matter, both being products of the gunas stimulated to action by the presence of purusha, the depiction of consciousness also pertains to matter. The powerful transformation of consciousness is precisely matched in the continual transformations of matter, though the ordinary eye fails to apprehend the critical states in the transformation of matter, just as it remains largely unaware of nirodha. Nonetheless, there is a single substratum, dharmin, which underlies all change, whether in consciousness or in matter, and this is prakriti, the primeval root of all phenomena. For Patanjali, this means that all transformations are phenomenal in respect to prakriti the prima materia in its essential nature, and, like purusha, ever unmodified. The ceaseless fluctuations of mind and world are merely countless variations of succession owing to alterations of cause. Realizing this, the yogin who has mastered sanyama, and thereby controls the mind at will, can equally control all processes of gestation and growth.
Having elucidated the nature of concentration as the sole means for discovering and transforming consciousness at all levels, Patanjali turned to the remarkable phenomenal effects possible through sanyama. Any fundamental change in consciousness initiates a corresponding change in and around one’s vestures. A decisive shift in the operation and balance of the gunas, in thought, focus and awareness, reverberates throughout the oscillating ratios between the gunas everywhere. Since any significant refocussing of the mind produces dazzling insights and diverse phenomena, Patanjali conveyed their range and scope. For yoga they are not important in themselves because the goal is kaivalya, liberation, but they are vitally important as aids or obstacles on the way to achieving the goal. Patanjali could not dismiss or overlook them, since they are real enough and inescapable, and so he delineated them clearly, knowing fully that all such arcane information can be abused. One who willingly uses such knowledge to stray off the arduous path to emancipation brings misery upon himself. One who would use this knowledge wisely needs to understand the many ways one can be misled into wasting the abundant resources accessible to the yogin. Profound alterations in states of consciousness through sanyama can bring about awakened powers called siddhis, attainments, many of which may seem to be supernatural and supernormal to the average person. They are, however, neither miraculous nor supernatural, since they suspend, circumvent or violate no laws. Rather, they merely indicate the immense powers of controlled consciousness within the perspective of great Nature, powers that are largely latent, untapped and dormant in most human beings. They are suggestive parameters of the operation of the vast scope and potency of consciousness in diverse arenas of prakriti.
Sanyama, the electric fusion of dharana, dhyana and samadhi, can release preternatural knowledge of past and future; the yogin gains profound insight into the metaphysical mystery of time. The future is ever conditioned by the past, and the past is accurately reflected in every aspect of the future. The present is strictly not a period of time; it is that ceaselessly moving point which marks the continual transition from future to past. Comprehending causality, seeing the effect in the cause, like the tree in the seed, the yogin perceives past and future alike by concentrating on the three phases of transformation experienced in the present and which, at the critical points of transformation, indicate the eternal, changeless substratum hidden behind them. Once conscious awareness is fixed beyond the temporal succession of states of consciousness, causality ceases to be experienced as a series of interrelated events — since the succession is itself the operation of past karma — and is perceived as an integrated whole in the timeless present. Thus past and future are seen from the same transcendent perspective as the timeless present. Freeing oneself from captivity to the mechanical succession of moments in clock time, one can rise beyond temporality and grasp causality noetically rather than phenomenally.
Although language is often viewed as an arbitrary and conventional system of communication, interpersonal understanding and mental telepathy as well as rapport between receptive and congenial minds are based on more than mere convention. Just as time is experienced as internal to the subject when the mind is mechanical, whilst causality is not necessarily time-bound, the evolution of language cannot dispense with intersubjectivity, shared clusters of concepts, rites and rituals, habits and customs, races and cultures. The deepest meaning of sounds is subtle and elusive, dissolving meanings and expectations. The linkage connected to the possibility of speech as well as to the potency of the primordial OM, the secret name of Ishvara, is sphota, the ineffable and inscrutable meaning intimated by sounds and speech. Through sanyama, the yogin can so deftly discern sound, meaning and idea that he instantly grasps the meaning, whatever the utterance of any person. Not only does he readily understand what is said by anyone, however awkward, disingenuous or deceptive the utterance, but he also apprehends the meaning of any sound uttered by any sentient being, whether birds and beasts, insects; trees or aquatic creatures.
The focussing power of sanyama enables the yogin to explore the subtlest impressions retained on the mental screen, and in so doing he can summon them into the light of consciousness. In this way, he can examine his entire mental inheritance and even discern previous lives. Knowing the exact correlations between states of consciousness and external conditions, he can recognize the linkage between latent memories and the traumas they induce, as well as the integral connection between past impressions and their inevitable karmic effects, thereby recollecting the patterns of previous incarnations. Similarly, by directing his yogic focus on the pratyaya or content of any mind functioning through a set of vestures, he can cognize that mental condition. Since all such mental contents are mirrored in the features and gestures of another, he can read the thoughts of another by looking at the person, and he can make the same determination by examining any portion of the expressed thought of another. Rather like a hologram, each and every aspect of an individual reflects the evolving structure of the whole being. Through sanyama, any facet of the person can reveal his psychic and mental make-up. Such attention will not, however, unveil the underlying structure of another’s deepest consciousness, since that is hidden even to the person scrutinized. To discover the inward depths of the person, the yogin has to take the subject as the sole object of his sustained concentration and not merely that subject’s mental contents. The ultimate question “Who are you?” can be resolved only in the way the question “Who am I?” is taken as a theme of intense meditation.
For Patanjali, as for different schools of Indian thought and for Plato (Republic, Book VI), seeing is a positive act and not merely a passive reception of light refracted from an object in the line of sight. Seeing involves the confluence of light (an aspect of sattvaguna) from the object of sight and the light from the eye of the seer, an active power (another aspect of sattva). The yogin can direct sanyama to the form and colour of his own body and draw in the light radiating from it, centring it wholly within his mind, manas, so that the sattva from the eye of another cannot fuse with it. Thus the body of the yogin cannot be seen, for he has made himself invisible. Similarly, by meditation upon the ultimate basis of any sensory power, the element essential to that sense, and its corresponding sense-organ, the yogin can become soundless, intangible and beyond the limited range of all the bodily senses. With the proper inversion of the process, he can dampen or delete any senseimage, like glaring lights or background noise, either converting them into mild sensations or blanketing them entirely.
If the yogin should choose to practise sanyama on his past karma, he can obtain unerring insight into every causal chain he once initiated. Recognizing which tendencies are being expended and at what rates, as well as those lines of force which cannot bear fruit in this life, he may discern the time of his death — that point wherein the fruition of karma ensures the complete cessation of vital bodily functions. At the same time, such knowledge readily gives warnings of future events, all of which are the inevitable fruition of karma, and thus the yogin readily sees in each moment signs and portents of the future. He does not perceive, in such instances, something that is present only to his penetrating gaze. Rather, he is only reading correctly the futurity which ever lurks in present events, just as gold ore inheres in the dull rock even though only the trained eye of the prospector can see it and know it for what it is. Whilst such practical wisdom allows the yogin to foresee mental and physical conditions, he can also discern more fundamental changes which are due to the inexorable working of overlapping cycles, and, even more, he can focus on those critical points which trace the curve of potentiality for permanent spiritual change, or metanoia.
By focussing on maitri, kindliness, or any similar grace of character, the yogin can fortify that virtue in himself, thereby increasing his mental and moral strength and becoming the shining exemplar and serene repository of a host of spiritual graces. The yogin can activate and master any power manifest in Nature and mirrored in the human microcosm, refining its operation through his vestures, honing his inward poise and inimitable timeliness in its benevolent use. Thus, by contemplating the sattva or light within, discarding the reflected lights imperfectly and intermittently transmitted through the sensory apparatus, the yogin can investigate and come to cognize every subtle thing, whether small, hidden, veiled or very distant. He can discern the atom (anu) by deploying the light within, for all light is ultimately one. Should he choose to practise sanyama in respect to the sun, he can come to know the harmonies of the solar system from the standpoint of its hidden structure as a matrix of solar energies. Further, he can know all solar systems by analogy with ours, and so his comprehension of cosmic forces expressed in, through and around the sun is more than mere familiarity with the structure of a physical system. He also grasps the architectonics — psychic, mental and spiritual — of all such systems. Similarly, his concentration on the moon yields insights into the intricate arrangements of the stars, since, like the moon, they are all in motion around multiple centres. By concentrating on the pole-star — whose arcane significance is far more than what is commonly assumed on the basis of its visible locus in the sidereal vault — he discerns the motions of the stars in relation to one another, not just on the physical plane but also as the shimmering veil of Ishvara, the manifested Logos of the cosmos.
Directing the power of sanyama upon the soul’s vestures, the yogin can calmly concentrate on the solar plexus, connected with the pivotal chakra or psycho-spiritual centre in the human constitution, and thus thoroughly grasp the structure and dynamics of the physical body. By concentrating on the pit of the throat, connected with the trachea, he can control hunger and thirst. Since hunger and thirst are physical expressions at one level of being which have corresponding correlates and functions at every level, his concentration can also affect mental and psychic cravings, since he has mastered the prana or vital energy flowing from this particular chakra. More specifically, by concentrating on the nadi, or nervecentre called the ‘tortoise’, below the trachea, the yogin gains mental, psychic and physical steadiness, facilitating enormous feats of strength.
If sanyama is directed to the divine light in the head, the yogin can come to see siddhas, perfected beings. This supple light is hidden in the central sushumna nerve in the spinal column, and emanates that pristine vibration (suddhasattva) which is magnetically linked to the sun and is transmitted through the moon. Concentrating on that supernal light, the yogin can perceive those perfected beings whose luminous and translucent vestures are irradiated by the light of the Logos (daiviprakriti). Similarly, concentration on the laser light of spiritual intuition, kundalini released by buddhi, results in flashes of inward illumination. This light emanates from pratibha, the pure intellect which is self-luminous and omnidirectional, constant and complete, unconnected with earthly aims and objects. Focussing on its radiance releases taraka jnana, the transcendental gnosis which has been aptly termed ‘the knowledge that saves’. This primeval wisdom is wholly unconditioned by any temporal concern for self or the external world, is self- validating and self-shining, the ultimate goal of Taraka Raja Yoga. It puts one in close communion with Ishvara whilst preserving a vital link, like a silver thread, with the world of woe, illusion and ignorance. Pratibha is that crystalline intellection exemplified by Bodhisattvas who have transcended all conditionality, yet seek to serve ceaselessly all souls trapped in the chains of bondage. By concentration on the secret, spiritual heart — the anahata chakra — the yogin becomes attuned to cosmic intellection, for the anahata is man’s sacred connection with cosmic consciousness, reverberating until near death with the inaudible yet ever pulsating OM.
Should the yogin master all these marvellous siddhis, he would still remain ensnared in the world which is pervaded by pain and nescience, until he is prepared to take the next, absolutely vital step in the mastery of taraka jnana. Any individual involuntarily participates in the stream of sensory experience by blindly assenting to the pleasurepain principle. This will last as long as he cannot discriminate between purusha, the cosmic Self, and the individuating principle of spiritual insight, sattva. Even the subtlest light shining in the incomprehensible darkness of pure Spirit, purusha, must be transcended. The Yogabhashya states the central issue: “It has therefore been asked in the Upanishad: By what means can the Knower be known?” Sanyama must be entirely directed to purusha so that it is perfectly mirrored in the serene light of noetic understanding (sattva). Buddhi that intuitive faculty of divine discernment through which the highest sattva expresses itself, becomes a pellucid mirror for purusha. Just as purusha, cosmically and individually, penetrates and comprehendsprakriti, so too the highestprakriti now becomes the indispensable means for apprehending purusha. This is the basis for svasamvedana, ultimate self-knowledge, the paradigm for all possible self-study at any and every level of consciousness and being. Once this fundamental revolution has occurred, self-consciousness can turn back to the world of objects — which once plunged it into a state of delusion and later gave rise to a series of obstacles to be surmounted — and adopt a steadfast, universal standpoint flowing from allpotent, pure awareness. What once needed various mental and psychophysical mechanisms can now be accomplished without adventitious aids, thereby dispensing altogether with all conditionality and systemic error.
In practice, the yogin can now freely and directly exercise the powers commonly connected with the lower sense-organs, without dependence on sensory data. Hence his sight, hearing, smell, taste and especially touch are extrasensory, far greater in range and reach than ever before, precisely because there is no longer reliance on imperfect sensory mechanisms conditioned by physical space and psychological time. What were once obstructions to the deepest meditation (samadhi) can now serve as talismanic aids in benefitting both Nature and Humanity. The yogin can, for example, choose at will to enter another’s body with full consent, because his mind is no longer entangled with a physical or astral vesture and because he knows the precise conduits through which minds are tethered to bodies. Having risen above any and all temptation to gratify the thirst for sensation or the craving for experience, he can employ his extraordinary powers and extra-sensory faculties solely for the sake of universal enlightenment and the welfare of the weak.
Having gained complete self-mastery, the yogin can now exercise benevolent control over invisible and visible Nature (prakriti) for the Agathon, the greatest good of all. Since even his own vestures are now viewed as external to him, his relation to them has become wholly isomorphic with his conscious connection to the vital centres in the Great Macrocosm. By mastering udana, one of the five currents of prana, chiefly connected with vertical motion, the yogin makes his body essentially impervious to external influences, including the presence of gravity and the inevitability of death. By mastering samana, the current of prana which governs metabolic and systemic processes, he can render his body self-luminous and radiant, as Jesus did during his climactic transfiguration and as Moses is said to have done during his salvific descent from Mount Sinai. Knowing the integral connection between the inner ear and akasha, the supple light and etheric empyrean in invisible space, the trained yogin can hear anything that ever impressed itself, however distantly, upon that universal, homogeneous and supersensuous medium. Similarly, knowing the vital connection between the astral body and akasha, he can make his body light and even weightless, and also as pliable and versatile as a superb musical instrument.
From the standpoint of self-consciousness, the yogin who has mastered taraka jnana can practise mahavideha, the power of making the mind wholly incorporeal, so that it abides in pure and perfect awareness beyond even buddhi. Such a state of cosmic consciousness is indescribable, though it can be identified as that exalted condition in which no light anywhere is absent from his mental horizon. From the standpoint of Nature, the perfected yoginhas total control of matter and can fully comprehend it in its subtlest and most minute forms. He can manifest through his vestures the entire spectrum of possibilities of universal self-consciousness and effortless control over matter — merging into the atom, magnifying himself into the galactic sphere, making the human temple worthy of every perfection, including grace, beauty, strength, porosity, malleability and rock-like hardness. Controlling the seven sense-organs, the masterly yogin knows precisely how they function on the spiritual, mental, moral and physical planes, and he can instantaneously cognize anything he chooses. Comprehending and controlling pradhana, the common principle and substratum of invisible Nature, he can direct every change and mutation in material prakriti. He is no longer subject to the instruments he employs, for the entire cosmos has become his aeolian harp and sounding-board.
The yogin’s total grasp of the elusive and ever-shifting distinction between purusha and prakriti, especially between the universal Self and the individuating principle of understanding (sattva), between subject and object at all levels, becomes the basis for his unostentatious sovereignty over every possible state of existence. His complete comprehension of the Soundless Sound (OM), of the Sound in the Light and the Light in the Sound, results in what is tantamount to serene omnipotence and silent omniscience. Yet although the perfected yogin is a Magus, a Master of gnosis, wholly lifted out of the sphere of prakriti and supremely free, self-existent and self-conquered, he does not allow even the shadow of attachment to transcendental joy to stain his sphere of benevolence to all. Complete and invulnerable non-attachment, vairagya, can destroy the lurking seeds of self-concern and susceptibility to delusion, and he may thus approach the threshold of kaivalya, supreme self-emancipation. If, however, he is enthralled by the glorious deities and celestial wonders he encounters in the spiritual empyrean, he could rekindle the dormant yearning for terrestrial life, with its fastproliferating chain of earthly entanglements. But if he steadfastly practises sanyama on the kalachakra, the Wheel of Time, and even more, penetrates the last veil of kala, the mystery of Being, Becoming and Beness, the infinitude of the Eternal Now hidden within the infinitesimal core of the passing moment, he can dissolve without trace the divine yogamaya of conditioned space-time. Such unfathomable depths of consciousness transcend the very boundaries of gnosis and cannot be conveyed in any language, conceptual or ontological .
The purest and most perfect awareness is indistinguishable from the direct apprehension of ultimate Reality wherein, in the words of Shankaracharya, the very distinctions between seer, seeing and sight, or knower, knowing and known, wholly vanish. Here, for example, the Leibnizian principle of the identity of indiscernibles collapses in thought and language. Knowing eternityintime in its irreducible moments, even indistinguishable events or objects can be instantaneously separated in an ecstatic, simultaneous apprehension of the One without a second, of the One mirrored in the many, of the many copresent in the One, of the tree of knowledge within the tree of life. And yet nothing is known by species, genus or class: each thing is known by its instantaneous co-presence. Taraka jnana is thus not only omniscient in its range but simultaneous in its scope. The yogin knows at once all that can possibly be known, in a world of commonalities, comparisons and contrasts, and infinitesimal parts within infinite wholes.
Supreme emancipation, kaivalya, dawns only when purusha shines unhindered and sattva receives the full measure of light. Purusha is no longer veiled, obscured or mirrored by the faculties and functions of prakriti and buddhi becomes unconditional, untainted by any teleological or temporal trace. There is no more any consciousness of seeking the light, which the aspirant legitimately entertains, or of radiating the light, which the recently omniscient yogin experiences. There is now solely the supernal and omnipresent, everexisting light of purusha, abiding in its intrinsic splendour of supreme freedom, and this is kaivalya, the supreme state of being “aloof and unattached, like akasha” (Srimad Bhagavatam Vl). Since this is the ultimate goal of Taraka Raja Yoga, in terms of which each spiritual potency, skill and striving must be calibrated, Patanjali devoted the concluding fourth pada to this exalted theme.
In the memorable words of the Sage Kapila to Devahuti, the daughter of Manu:
The moment his mind ceases to discriminate, by reason of the activities of the senses, between objects which are not intrinsically different, looking upon some as pleasant, on others as not, that moment he sees with his own mind his own SELF, equable and self-luminous, free from likes and dislikes, and completely aloof, serenely established in the intuition of transcendental rapture. Pure Consciousness is spoken of variously as parabrahm, paramatman, Ishvara or purusha. The Lord, the One without a second, masquerades as the multiplicity of seer, seen and so on. The one goal of all yoga, practised perfectly with all its ancillary disciplines, is the attainment by the yogin of total detachment from the world….
At the same time he should learn to see the SELF in all creatures, and all creatures in the SELF, making no difference between them, even as in all creatures he recognizes the presence of the gross elements. Just as fire looks different in the diverse logs that it burns, owing to the difference between the logs, so too does the SELF seem different in the varied bodies it indwells. The yogin, vanquishing thus the inscrutable maya of the Lord, which deludes the jiva and is the cause of the phenomenal world, rests secure in his own true state.
Kommentar VII: Kaivalya Pada
With the fulfillment of their twofold purpose, the experience and the emancipation of the SELF,
and with the cessation of mutations, the gunas cannot manifest even for a moment.
Patanjali provided a vast perspective on consciousness and its varied levels, as well as the necessary and sufficient conditions for sustained meditation. He set forth the essential prerequisites to meditation, the persisting obstacles to be overcome by the conscientious seeker, and the awesome powers and exhilarating experiences resulting from the progressive attainment of samadhi. In the fourth pada, the heart of which is kaivalya, the ultimate aim and transcendental culmination of the discipline of Taraka Raja Yoga, Patanjali epitomized the entire process from the standpoint of the adept yogin in meditation. He was thus able to offer a rounded exposition which might otherwise remain obscure. The Yoga Sutras is for daily use, and not dilettantish perusal. Its compelling logic is intrinsically self validating as well as capable of continuous self testing. Its reasonableness and efficacy are endorsed by a long succession of accredited seers and seekers.
The siddhis, or arcane, supernormal and spiritual powers, may be inborn in any incarnation. Although they may appear spontaneous or superfluous to the superficial eye, they are strictly the products of profound meditations in previous lives, as they depend for their development on mastery of the mind and its myriad correlations amongst the manifold elements in the cosmos. Since individual consciousness may have undergone such strenuous discipline in prior incarnations but not in the present life, the imprint of these practices in the immortal soul can be retained without conscious remembrance of the fact. If, however, it is not supported and strengthened by conscious discipline (abhyasa) in this life, the manifestation of unusual mental capacities and uncommon siddhis may be sporadic, relatively uncontrolled and precariously inconstant. Furthermore, because all knowledge is recollection, in a Platonic sense, and the residues of the past linger in the present, siddhis can sometimes be stimulated by hallucinogenic drugs and herbs like verbena, or by sacred chants and time honoured incantations, although the effects of external aids are notoriously uneven and ever unpredictable. Systematic austerities (tapas) may also release something of the attainments of previous incarnations, but true samadhi alone provides the rigorous, progressive and reliable pathway to self-mastery and sovereignty over the subtle forces of Nature. With such complete command of the gunas or modes of prakriti as it manifests in the mind and in the external world, the adept yogin can alter his nature from one class of being (the human) to another (a deva or god, in a broad sense of the term), if the karmic conditions in life are congenial and conducive to rapid development. Even then, the wise practitioner would not pursue this discipline except from the highest of motives, for anything less would hinder prakrityapurat, the ‘flow of prakriti’ needed for its safe and smooth accomplishment.
No significant change of human nature would be possible if it merely depended upon instrumental causes, for these can only rearrange components or unveil hidden but pre-existent features. Hence, doing good deeds cannot transform one’s composite nature, nor need they bear that burden, for one’s inmost nature is purusha, Self alone, and this is reflected by pure consciousness, buddhi. Right conduct on the moral and mental planes can remove various obstructions to the rapid unfoldment of the vast potential of consciousness and that complete realization of purusha known as self-emancipation (kaivalya). To the yogin, his mind serves as the director of any number of mental matrices or emanated minds which can carry out semiindependent functions under its supervision. Just as the presence of purusha quickens and facilitates the fertile expansion of consciousness, so too the controlled mind of the yogin stimulates intellection everywhere. The yogin can work through the receptive minds of mature disciples, aiding all humanity by strengthening its spiritual aspirations. Whether mental aspects of the yogin or the sympathetic minds of others, no matrix of consciousness is free of samskaras or mental deposits, save the yogin ‘s mind born of meditation. Only the consciousness integrated by pure dhyana is devoid of all impediment.
The yogin is above good and evil acts, not because he has become indifferent to the consequences of action, but rather because he is naturally disposed to remove all obstructions and mental deposits. Good conduct as well as bad bears fruit for the doer, but the yogin acts in such complete accord with Nature that what he does responds to necessity, being neither pure (sattva) nor polluted (tamas) nor mixed, like that of most human beings. His conduct follows a fourth course, that of nishkama or desirelessness, so that he cannot be said to do what he wishes, but rather he only does what needs to be done. Nishkama karma, the fruition of pure desireless action, neither returns nor clings to the yogin. Being one with Nature, he ceases to be a separative centre of focus or agency, and his actions, strictly speaking, are no longer ‘his’, being the spontaneous play of prakriti before purusha. Hence, he leaves no impressions or residues in his consciousness even whilst doing his duty with single minded precision, since he acts as the willing instrument of purusha immanent in prakriti. He has only former mental deposits, resulting from past karma, which he meticulously removes to attain total freedom.
The yogin’s assiduously nurtured capacities disallow the emergence of fresh karma, the results of which could adhere to him because he is no longer subject to vasana, the force of craving and the unchecked impulse for life in form, with its attendant consequences. But he cannot instantly dissolve karma generated long ago, for whatever was the result of vasana in the past must inevitably linger, although the yogin is aware of its antecedents and does not become distracted or discouraged by it. In addition to the results that are already manifest, the force of craving and the vasanas (identifiable traces of unfulfilled longings and the cumulative karma they rapidly engender) deposit unconscious residues in the mind. These are more difficult to discern, for they are not recurring modifications of consciousness such as those induced by specific objects of desire, but are subtle tinctures or discolorations in the lens of cognition, hard to detect, recognize and remove. Being unconscious, and unknown to the thinker, they will appear only when conditions are ripe, and the yogin must patiently wait for their emergence in order to eliminate them. Even though immense periods of time and many incarnations may intervene between the initial insertion of the vasanas into consciousness and their eventual emergence, they are neither dissolved nor transformed, for they are retained in a stream of soul reminiscence which is not brain dependent, and which indeed provides a basis of continuity. This stream of latent reminiscence is revealed in the sometimes sudden appearance of surprising tendencies that seem out of character, but are nonetheless inescapable in the strict operation of karma.
Although any specific vasana could, in principle, be traced to a particular point in time — some previous incarnation — when the stream of consciousness encountered a similar cluster of thoughts, feelings or acts, vasana or desire in general is atemporal. It is coeval with mind (chitta) and with the cosmos. Whilst any distinct vasana could first appear only when a congenial psychophysical structure arose to make its manifestation possible, vasana as a force is an inextricable element in the matrices of differentiated matter. Just because the propensity to enjoyment or self-indulgence is an integral aspect of the cosmic process — the captivating dance of prakriti before purusha — the overcoming of all such propensities demands a deliberate choice maintained over time through Taraka Raja Yoga, the discipline of transcendental detachment. Vasana finds its support in the mutable mind, which is the action of prakriti owing to the proximity of purusha. Only when the mind is fully awake, wholly focussed and serenely steadfast will vasana vanish. This is equivalent to the potential ability of prakriti to behold purusha qua purusha without wavering, and this is only possible as a deliberate act — buddhi reflecting purusha without distortion or fluctuation.
Considered from the temporal standpoint, the protracted continuity of vasana as a strong force and the specific vasanas as persisting matrices of memory suggest the arbitrariness of the divisions of time into past, present and future. Each vasana is but a seed which inevitably grows into a plant and bears appropriate fruit: knowing the seed, one can cognize all future states of development. In the present lie latent the past and the future, just as the present was contained in the future and will remain until it slides speedily into the past. The underlying reality cannot be understood without seeing the present as no more than a moving phase through the limitless continuum of time, all of which is latent save for the swiftly passing moment. When all the vasanas have been consigned to the past, and when even the very basis of desire ceases to bother consciousness, kaivalya alone abides. All continuous change and the ramifying consequences of change are the tumultuous activity of the gunas, and when that relentless activity belongs to the past, no longer swaying the mind of the yogin, the gunas have ceased their incessant interplay in the stream of consciousness. Becoming latent, they have ceased to manifest and have become dormant or homogeneous, leaving intact the luminous vision of serene self emancipation (kaivalya).
An object is what it is not because of some unique substratum, for the ultimate substratum of everything is the same. An object is distinct only because of the complex configuration of the gunas, the ceaseless interplay of which constitutes its nature. The fluid geometry of Nature, with the shifting ratios of gunas, permits some objects to persist longer than others, but the principle remains the same and endurance is merely relative. Even though an object survives for a time, the mutual activity of the gunas which constitutes each mind is different and alters at varying rates. Hence each person cognizes the object distinctively. The object is independent of each and every mind, though all apprehension of the object is entirely mind-dependent. Whether an object is known or not is the result of whether or not a particular mind is attracted to it. Purusha, however, cannot be a mental object. Rather, it is seen directly when the mind remains focussed upon it and does not move. Significantly, direct awareness of purusha occurs when the mind ceases to act, which in Sankhya philosophy is equivalent to saying that the mind ceases to be what it is. Purusha witnesses all mental modifications and is the true Knower precisely because it does not alter or waver.
The mind is not self-luminous and cannot know itself by its own effort. Subject to change, it can be seen as an object by another, and ceaselessly changing, it cannot know itself, for change cannot discern change, just as relativities cannot calibrate relativities. Purusha, the ever changeless, is alone the Knower, whose reflection is cast upon consciousness, which thenknows derivatively. Since the mind moves from moment to moment, it cannot both function as that which cognizes and that which is cognized. Hence, that which cognizes the mind whilst it cognizes objects (and so undergoes modification) is above the mind. Since consciousness operates on many levels, the level of awareness which apprehends consciousness necessarily transcends the level of the apprehended consciousness. Ultimately, purusha comprehends all consciousness. One cannot speak of one mind knowing another within itself, as if the human being were constituted by many minds — an erroneous view encouraged by the limitations of descriptive and conceptual languages; one would have to posit an infinite regress of such minds, each knowing the one ‘below’ or ‘in front of’ itself, since none could know itself. The absurdity of an infinite series of minds within the consciousness of each individual is shown clearly by the problem of memory. Which mind would then remember? All of them? An infinitude of interacting memories would result in utter confusion of consciousness.
Self-cognition is possible when the relativating nature of the mind — its constant fluctuation which is the activity of the gunas — ceases. Pure consciousness desists from deploying the mind and so can know it, and when it does so, it ceases to be involved in any sort of movement from moment to moment. “The self-knowledge spoken of here”, W. Q. Judge wrote, “is that interior illumination desired by all mystics, and is not merely a knowledge of self in the ordinary sense.” Likening consciousness to light and the mind to a globe, I. K. Taimini suggested a striking metaphor: “If a light is enclosed within a translucent globe, it reveals the globe. If the globe is removed, the light reveals itself.” This revelation is not knowledge in any ordinary sense, because within it there is no subject/object distinction, no separation of perceiver, perceived and perception; there is only the eternal Reality of the Self-illuminated purusha. Although the mind, acted upon by the gunas and so consisting wholly of prakriti, is not consciousness, it is tinctured by purushaand receives its luminous hue from it, even whilst suffused with the gaudier colours of the world of objects. It seems to be both conscious and nonconscious, and so those who do not know purusha but experience its effects in prakriti mistake the mind, an instrument, for consciousness itself, when in fact the true cognizer of objects impressed upon the mind is purusha. This root error — mistaking the organ of perception for the power of perception — is the origin of all ignorance, illusion and sorrow.
The mind, which is essentially an assemblage,” the Yogabhashya teaches, “cannot act on its own to serve its own interests.” (IV.24) Modified by a chaotic series of new impressions and weighed down by myriad deposits from past impressions, the mind cannot act for itself even though it thinks it does. From a teleological standpoint, the mind exists solely for purusha, and despite an individual’s deep-seated, ignorant confusion — the inexorable cause of sorrow — all mental activity arises in association with the Self, which it unknowingly seeks. Impressions engender a maya of independent activity which is dispelled in samadhi wherein the nature of the mind is discerned. When the Perceiver, purusha, sees beyond the confusion of ordinary cerebrations, there is no identification of the power of sight with the instrument of seeing, and it is entirely unaffected by the attributes, tendencies and images of the mind. The fully awakened, alert and tranquil mind, settled in the supreme stillness of samadhi, speedily learns correct cognition and moves steadily in the direction of kaivalya, self-emancipation. In fact, it is purusha hidden behind the gossamer veils of intellection whose light illumines the way, but, in the apt analogy of I. K. Taimini, like the magnet attracting iron filings, the mind seems to move towards the magnetic purusha, when in truth the invisible power of purusha draws the mind to itself. At this exalted stage, the individual seeks nothing except the total freedom of self emancipation. Even when the mind, like a guided missile locked on to its target, moves without the slightest wavering or change of course towards the luminous purusha, old impressions will cyclically reassert themselves, owing to their unspent momentum. They can be eliminated by the same methods developed for dissolving the kleshas or afflictions, except that here the yogin knows them already for what they are and can instantaneously destroy them, or return them to complete dormancy, through undisturbed discernment (vivekakhyati) of the True Self (purusha).
When the yogin abides in this peaceful state wherein purusha alone stands at the focal point of his entire consciousness, he verges on prasankhyana, omniscience or complete illumination. Since any lurking attachment can be a hindrance to self realization, he must renounce even the desire for the highest illumination, save insofar as it may elevate all existence. From the inception of his spiritual quest in lives long past, viveka (discrimination) and vairagya (detachment) have been crucial to his endeavours. As viveka culminates in vivekakhyati (discernment of the Real), so too vairagyaculminates in paravairagya, supreme detachment towards the highest conceivable fruit of effort, prasankhyana. When this occurs, samadhi becomes dharmamegha, the rain cloud of righteousness, which is perpetual discernment of purusha or unending enlightenment. The circle is closed, the line returns upon itself, and the yogin passes from linear time into the omnidirectional realization of purusha, the Self, rising above time to the Eternal Now which transcends every moment though implicit in temporal succession. All the residues of the afflictions (kleshas) simply drop away as water runs off an impervious surface, and the yogin finds self-emancipation even in embodied life. Dharmamegha samadhi destroys the residuum of karma and the kleshas at the root, so that they can never arise again. The yogin has attained that supreme felicity from which there is no falling away.
The yogin’s cognition becomes infinite and without any limit whatsoever, for of the three gunas, rajas and tamas have ceased to be active. But even this cognition is transcended, for the stilling of rajas and tamas deprives sattva of a contrasting field for expression, and so all three gunas become quiescent. This can be conceived as their merger into homogeneous latency or as their cessation, for they no longer sustain the process of ceaseless transformation. Without such transformation, there is no existence as evident in Nature (prakriti), and yet since they remain latent they still exist for all those who live in ignorance. As all knowledge depends upon transformations of consciousness which occur through the succession of moments (kshanas), knowledge is limited by the discontinuity of moments. For the yogin who has reached the threshold of kaivalya, the succession of moments is seen as a discrete continuum and is wholly transcended. His knowledge is no longer bound by temporal succession because he beholds the process as a whole. Rather than being subject to the transformations of the world, he sees them as an endless succession of discrete states, whilst his transcendental (taraka) knowledge is continuous and complete. He is now the Perceiver (purusha), utterly unaffected by the passing show of phenomenal Nature (prakriti).
The gunas, no longer stirred to activity by the presence of purusha, are reabsorbed into absolute latency, and purusha abides in its own essential nature, without any trace of ignorance, misconception, confusion and sorrow. For the yogin, experience comes to an end, for he has become one with his true nature, which is purusha, the energy of pure consciousness — devoid of moments — which is cosmic ideation, upon which all noumena and phenomena depend. This is complete emancipation, kaivalya, and supreme peace, nirvana. Kaivalya is the ineffable state of stillness — though such terms are wholly inadequate, metaphysically and metapsychologically — which is the self-existence of purusha in and as itself. The yogin is no longer captive to the central duality postulated in Sankhya philosophy, for he beholds purusha, which is himself, in the entire cosmos, and the entire cosmos, which is also himself, in purusha.For him, as in Mahayana mysticism, nirvana is samsara and vice versa. Since there is no separation between the two, there is no room for even the subtlest error, and so sin and sorrow vanish forever. Sat-chit-ananda, Being, Consciousness and Bliss, constitute for him the fullness of purusha, which nonetheless abides beyond them as the attributeless Self.
What, one might ask, does the yogin do now? Does he abide forever in unalloyed bliss? Such questions cannot be raised, for the yogin is no longer a creature of time and space. Rather than being now or doing then, he always was, is and will be, for he lives in the Eternal Now. Even though consciousness, bound by time, change and error, makes of such an inconceivable condition a frozen ecstasy, no picture of it can be anything but a fantasy rooted in ignorance. The yogin is entirely free and moves through sublime states of awareness which the unenlightened mind can neither imagine nor articulate, and therefore Patanjali, a true Sage, remained silent. When the yogin ceases to be a part of the temporal process and becomes indistinguishable from it — on the principle of the identity of indiscernibles — he becomes its creator. He was there in the beginning and he is its eschaton, the end and goal beyond which there is only Silence.
In the memorable words of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Book XI:
The yogin, having discarded the notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, though experiencing the objects of the senses in all their diversity, is no more addicted to them than the wind to the places where it happens to blow. The yogin who has realized the SELF, though he seems to identify with the properties of the material vesture he inhabits, is no more attached to them than the breeze is attached to the fragrant scent it carries. Even whilst remaining in the body, the Sage should think of his soul as unattached to the body and the like, and unlimited just as the sky is, not only because it is present in all Nature, animate and inanimate, as the invariable concomitant, but being identical with the Supreme, it is also all pervading….
Pure and kind-hearted by nature, the Sage is like water, in that he is a sanctifying influence in the lives of those who purify themselves by seeing, touching or speaking of him. Radiating power, enhanced by austerities, possessing nothing, yet imperturbable, the yogin who has steadied his mind remains unsoiled like the fire, regardless of what he may consume…. While the creation and destruction of the bodies that the SELF assumes proceeds every moment at the hands of Time, which rushes like a swift stream, the SELF remains unnoticed, like the emergence and subsidence of tongues of flame in a burning fire.