Week 14: What Does It Mean To “Be In The World But Not Of It” (Sutra 18)

“By the firmly convicted practice of the complete cessation of the mental modification, the impressions only remain. This is the other samadhi [asamprajnata samadhi].”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Virama Pratyayabhyasa Purvah Samskaraseso’nyah

Virama: complete cessation | Pratyaya: content of mind (mental modification) | Abhyasa: by the practice | Purvah: of the previous | Samskara: impressions | Sesah (seso): remain | Anyah (nyah): the other [samadhi]

“[U]nderstand the nature completely, then bring it under your control and then push it aside and get liberated…There is no other way except to understand it, handle it properly and then rise above it.”

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

What does it mean to “be in this world, but not of it?”

Well, in Yoga, the simple answer is to be in a state of consciousness referred to as Samadhi.

It is important, however, to remember that, according to Patanjali, there are two types of Samadhi that are focused on obtaining enlightenment through a focus on the Self, Distinguished Samadhi (Samprajnata Samadhi), and Undistinguished Samadhi (Asamprajnata Samadhi), which have nothing to do with the common use of the word distinction that we often use to elevate something to a more honorable place than something else in our Western societies.

The difference between Distinguished Samadhi and Undistinguished Samadhi is in the technicality of how identity, or the “I” self, is present or not present/perceived within the two given states.

In Distinguished Samadhi, one is simply distinguished as an individual with a sense of individual “I” identity as he/she navigates through the world, while in Undistinguished Samadhi, no “I,” or separate ego identity (not even buried in the subconscious mind to potentially be aroused) is present. In Undistinguished Samadhi there is no distinction between the human-being expressed in physical human form and his/her true self.

Distinguished Samadhi, therefore, is a state in which a person is in the world, but not of it’s trappings and illusions (although he/she may still have the seeds of Samskaras (impressions) present within him/her that could potentially grow into mental distortions or suffering in the future, or at any time, since there is still an “I” to which any past impressions could get attached.

In Undistinguished Samadhi, however, all Samskaras become nullified since they cannot, even potentially, get attached to any ego identity when the ego is not present. In this state, a person is in this world, but truly beyond it, and is, therefore, free from suffering in it. In this state, one’s experiential point of view directly reflects knowledge of the true reality and the true self within it. Undistinguished Samadhi is the state in which a person is self-realized and free from the trappings of illusion.

IMPORTANT STUDY TIP! Reaching Undistinguished Samadhi is the aim of contemplating the four different areas discussed last week.

Once the “I’ is dissolved, “[o]nly the consciousness is there and nothing else. Once this is achieved, the individual is completely liberated and there is no more coming into the world and getting tossed” (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali). In this state, there is only peace and the experience of the Purusa, or pure self, and one lives out the rest of his/her days as a Jivanmukta, or one who exists in physical expression but is simultaneously liberated from it, while present on the Earth.

In last week’s Reflection, I introduced this week’s prompt/activity, which I hope some of you have already begun practicing:

“Samadhi reminds you that you are nothing and everything simultaneously. If selfishness is present, then you are still lacking in self awareness.

First seek to know your true self, by removing all false selves through practicing with this aim in mind. Once your false selves are dissolved, only love is present, and then, you can serve fully from that place. In service to your true self, connected to all of creation.

This week, I invite you to integrate this intention into your practice:

Set the intention to drop all of your false selves while practicing all limbs of your Yoga.

Ask yourself this question:

How can I incorporate this intention into my practice of my Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas, Pranayamas, Pratyaharas, Dharanas, and Dhyanas, and what will it mean, or look, or feel like for me to live as my true self in Samadhi once all false selves are dissolved and no longer getting in the way of my full being, and expressing, in life?”

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