Vitaragavisayam Va Cittam
Vita: free (from) | Raga: attachment | Visayam: objects of the senses | Va: or | Cittam: mind-stuff
Guru (gu meaning darkness, and ru meaning light, and together being translated into moving from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge), is the energy of divine assistance that connects your intellect and being to the infinite knowledge of/from the Source of all knowledge. The guru is not an embodied being in human or other form, but can come to you through form via a teacher, guide, leader, or inspirer who, through their connection with this energy, points you back to yourself for the answers that you seek. External guides, connected to this guru energy, can help you to come in touch with the guru, and infinite knowledge/Source, that is already present within you. You are always best served honoring the energy and not merely the form.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to acknowledge the presence of Love in your heart and/or peace in your mind, or enlightenment in your being, either due to lack of confidence, feelings of dysregulation due to overwhelming bio-physical responses, feelings of shame, guilt, or any number of other emotions that leave you feeling incapable or unworthy of attaining the clarity and focus required to reach Samadhi, Patanjali suggests that you instead concentrate on “a great soul’s mind” who has attained liberation.
Focusing on the mind/clear consciousness of a liberated, lighted, or enlightened being will bring you the peace you seek to prepare for higher states of consciousness and Samadhi.
It is a fact that lack of confidence prevents most people from pursuing, or progressing on, the spiritual path. Many believe that, due to their past, their history, birth, current status in society, how others view them, their clothes, their bank account, and so forth, that they cannot attain Samadhi somehow. And many who benefit from supporting this feeling of helplessness, either for egoic or financial reasons, perpetuate the mental states that keep people feeling dependent on outside forces for personal liberation instead of empowering seekers to attain the peace and connection that they seek from within. This dependence-building is so pervasive that in one of my meditation classes, I once viewed several students comment that their “guru” told them that Samadhi was only accessible to a very select few people who trained in a specific way in India.
And this dependence building and false information spreading is not something that is unique to the secular study of Yoga either.
In many religious churches, in this case, the Christian churches by neutral observation and most familiarity, which are often the dominant route to spirituality for much of the world, if one does not pursue the path of a Mystic, priests and other clergies (who often fit a specific set of human demographic and do not simply meet a specific set of qualifications) have, and still do (despite atrocious and abominable scandals), considered themselves to be the gatekeepers to God itself, which means that they have also claimed to hold the only key to their follower’s personal liberation. strength
The fact of the matter, however, is that no one owns God or your Highest Self. No one has more access to God than anyone else on this planet. And most importantly, no one else holds the key to your personal Self-Realization and liberation; only you have access to that which is within you to access. This is a path that you truly only walk alone although you can carry the spirit of others in your mind and heart, as Sutra 37 highlights.
Anyone who does the inner work that is required and gains the confidence/faith and understanding that is necessary to effectively use his/her innate capabilities to truly journey within can attain liberation and connection with the divine. Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras as a handbook for this reason (although historically, this text, like many other spiritual texts that were not simply destroyed, was often guarded by certain groups who deemed themselves more worthy of the knowledge distilled in the chapters).
With or without formal instructions or blessings, however, if one simply looks and journeys within, does their spiritual work wholeheartedly and clearly without distortion, and follows the path of purification and liberation from false identities and ideologies with diligence and discernment, he/she can/will attain Samadhi/Self-Realization. And he/she will do so in any language, outfit, social class, body, or without having to pay anyone.
Freedom that exists outside of the confines of societal structures (religious, spiritual, or otherwise) that picks and chooses the value of others based on arbitrary and artificial standards that are often determined and violently maintained by the people who decide that they are doing the choosing, is always free and accessible to everyone at all times. Even Jesus, because he was a Jewish individual, had to perform “miracles” to convince people that “the Kingdom of Heaven” was within them because the public felt that they needed to attain liberation through the approval/grace of others as opposed to the grace of divinity itself. And even these “miracles” did not support others in fully hearing him or prevent his public murder, which was then used by the same forces that killed him to convince his followers that they needed a middleman (who they had to pay and follow blindly) to attain the same liberation that Jesus himself told them they could attain for free and within themselves.
People are often disempowered in spiritual work (either by others or by their own thinking or misunderstanding). But confidence, understanding, and true seeing always clear the way of distractions, distortions, and obstacles to any true seeker’s attainment of personal liberation.
The good news, however, is that even if you lack confidence in yourself to start, not even that is enough to prevent you from reaching your goal entirely, because reflecting on the mind of the Buddha or Jesus Christ (both men with immerse guru energy), or any other example that you can think of that represents liberated spirits and minds, will assist you with quietening your own disturbed mind enough to focus on the light that brings inner peace. Focusing on this light, whether it is the light that you can see and feel within you, or the one that shines forth from another who has attained liberation, will bring you closer to your goal of enlightenment/liberation/Samadhi.