Week 5: Discovering Your True Self Identity (Sutra 4)

“At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of the mental modifications.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Vrtti Sarupyam Itaratra

Vrtti: modification/distortion | Sarupyam: assumes form, identification | Itaratra: at other times


“[W]ithout any identifications [with your body, mind, culture, history, accomplishments, bank account, etc], who are you? Have you ever thought about it? When you really understand that, you will see we are all the same.”

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

It is now a proven fact that everything that ever existed and will ever exist, came from the singular event of the Big Bang.

Every atom, element, rock, molecule, lifeform (including us), and so forth, was literally created from the same explosion of potential that brought everything into existence, and it is for this reason that we can say without a shadow of a doubt that we are all one and the same, made up from the same basic elements that continue to be recycled into new forms and expand forward through space and time.

“[But B]ehind the different forms of energy is one unchanging consciousness or spirit or self.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda

Yoga’s aim is to come to a personal awareness of this truth so that we can live our lives in honor of it. Science has provided us with the confirmation that we needed to verify this statement, but our work in Yoga still asks us to look beyond our different sub/smaller identities of body, mind, culture, history, accomplishments, bank account, etc to connect with our core truth so that we can then choose to live “happy and harmonious lives” (Sri Swami Satchidananda) that fully recognize this reality. And the teachings of this integrated way of life, further recognizes that it is only when we connect to this understanding of our reality that we can truly “love our neighbors as ourself” and work to create lives and worlds in honor of all creation.


Because of the distortions (vrittis) of our mind, however, and because of our illusions derived from weak thinking, mal-informed ideologies, personal and collective clinging to artificial identities, and due to general and simple lack of awareness, we humans collectively often fail to see this truth, and sometimes even distort it through the corrupt filter of dogma to points that only create further separation from it, leading to increased confusion and the generation of negative karma (actions that have a cause and effect) in the world.

“[W]ithout correcting the jaundice[d eye that sees everything incorrectly], however much we scrub the outside things, we are not going to make them white or blue or green; they will always be [or appear to us as] yellow. That’s why Yoga is based on self-reformation, self-control and self-adjustment…

When this reformation is accomplished we will see a new world, a harmonious and happy world. That’s why we should keep ourselves free from these wrong identifications [with religions, incorrect doctrines, false ideologies and illusory identities.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda

It is only when we purify our minds and our “selves” that we are free to see the world as it truly is and to fully live as we truly are without distortion. It is only when we look, and correctly see, the truth of all that we are that we can then fully recognize how much more meaningful and powerful our connection to our spirit and to everything else in all of our existence truly is.


This week, I invite you to contemplate the question that Patanjali asks in our 4th sutra: “[W]ithout any identifications [with your body, mind, culture, history, accomplishments, bank account, etc], who are you?

What are the answers that come to mind for you, and what does this mean for you moving forward as you shape your creations and interactions from this point of discovery?


Suggested Reading:

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life

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