Week 16: The Path To/of Deep Contemplation (Sutra 20)

“For the others, this asamprajnata samadhi could come through faith, vigor, memory, contemplation and/or by discernment.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Sraddhaviryasmrtisamadhiprajnapurvaka Itaresam

Sraddha: faith | Smrti: memory | Samadhi: contemplation | Prajna: discernment, wisdom, insight | Purakah: precedes | Itaresam: for the others

If one does not attain, or maintain, Samadhi (or more specifically Asamprajnata Samadhi) in the celestial sense described last week in Sutra 19, there is another route by which the state of consciousness can be obtained. This alternative way is through “faith, vigor, memory, contemplation and/or by discernment” (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).

Because of the nature of the mind to gather, sort, distill, and sift through information in order to gain and build upon understanding and knowledge, a practice completely devoted to any one of these five concepts is sufficient for attaining one’s goal of Asamprajnata Samadhi when deeply engaged.

I believe, however, and our translator/narrator seems to suggest this as well based on a bit of punctuation, that Patanjali also simultaneously advises that one can pursue the five concepts in a formulaic fashion as well. This formula, he suggests, will produce the same growth in one’s level of awareness and self-awareness as is gained from a celestial connection.

For this alternative route, in the form of a formula (which not only attains, but also maintains, Samadhi, as well as shows the process and the benefits of the process, for attaining Samadhi), faith is key, and the most foundational ingredient that one must possess and utilize.

The solid ground of faith allows you to step forward into the unknown space of time unfolding in every moment and into all of the possibilities and potential possibilities that could exist or unfold, with trust and confidence that connection and understanding will come to you when you apply astute attention and effort, even if you are not yet done with all of your work and are still progressing toward full connection and greater awareness/expression each day.

And this is because, once you are on your path, it is only in full trust and faith that you will find the courage, energy and vigor that is required in order to keep steady on your course and not step off of it.

As you journey from the unknown toward the seemingly unknowable state of greater awareness, your faith will be tested (and if you still have any remnant attachments to desires, your temptation may be quizzed as well).

When your faith is strong and “whole,” like Jesus would say, however, nothing can shake your connection to the truth, and, therefore, nothing can shake your ability to fully realize your truth of full self-awareness.

Here in vigor, the opinions of others do not matter, unfortunate setbacks are only learning experiences, “failures” and seeming trials and tribulations only help you to deepen your faith, and none of life’s uncertainties, or even any current cloudiness and confusion in your mind, can shake your resolve to continue moving forward on your path. This does not only ensure the longevity of your practice (as is recommended in Sutra 14), but also deepens your will, and your “thy will be done (trusting will)” as well, which will give you more fuel and understanding to use in order to press forward in faith that is strong enough to remove any blockages/distortions that might present themselves along the way.

Which is why the next ingredient in this formula is memory, but not the personal ruminating one that was discussed before.

This memory is the memory of stored, filtered (with discernment), and carefully organized information, called learning.

The suggestion of learned memory in this Sutra invites you to absorb knowledge and information from everything, and to retain your learnings in order to build upon them gradually and effectively, especially when it comes to learning from your past mistakes, observations, successes, states-of-being, and overall life experiences.

This will allow you to effectively understand more as you journey forward through life, which will guide you to take the right actions that avoid dragging yourself back into any distractions, heaviness, delusions, and attachments that you may still have with the world and with your ego.

Once you learn to, and learn how to, learn, and then learn deeply, from every experience, you are more likely to create the right environment within you to obtain true self-awareness through practice and conditioning.

This process of creating the right conditions in your mind for higher levels of contemplation and seeing, is what creates the right consciousness conditions for higher awareness and knowledge to take place as mentioned before.

These optimal cognitive conditions, will then allow you to fully contemplate, your “I” self in Samadhi, which will, over time (paired with your skill of discernment), allow you to clearly realize/recognize/know your true self separate from your ego self.

At this point, you can then more fully detach yourself from maya (illusions of the world) and chitta vrittis (illusions of the mind) in order to truly be your self undistorted by the ego.

Enacting any of these actionable concepts in your life, and on your journey, will naturally compel you to employ the others along the way as well. “[F]aith, vigor, memory, contemplation and/or…discernment” are all complementary to one another when one’s goal is to attain greater self-awareness and true self-expression in a world composed of many delusions, distractions, repulsions, and attractions that amaze, torture, and delight only the ego, but never truly bring the peace and satisfaction that true self awareness brings.

This week, I invite you to examine/reexamine, and take a good look at, your faith.

How strong is it?

Can it, as it stands, set the right foundation for the vigor and “hard work” that will be required in order to get you to your goal of full self-realization?

On a scale of 1-10, how whole is your faith in the truth of who you are and in your ability to fully realize your truth in the world and to separate it from the delusions/distortions (whether appealing or unappealing) of your ego and it’s desires/attachments?

Take a closer look at yourself for this assignment, and be sure to document your observations in your journal as always.

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