Sutra Studies Guide
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(The Following Sutras Were Translated Into English By Sri Swami Satchidananda And Are Briefly Summarized By Me [In Brackets] When Applicable)
Chapter One (Samadhi Pada – Enlightenment/Bliss/Liberation Foot | Section on Enlightenment)
An introduction to Yogic theory and an overview of Samadhi.
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- Now the exposition of Yoga is being made. [Now we will have a discourse/conversation that explains the meaning and purpose of the self-discipline/devoted practice of Yoga/Union.]
- The restraint of the modification of the mind-stuff is Yoga. [Yoga/Union is control over the changing nature of mind-stuff, ie. thoughts, memories, compulsions, delusions, etc.]
- Then the Seer (Self/Drashtuh) abides in Its own nature. [Once the mind-stuff is restrained, then a person can accept and express his/her True Self/nature.]
- At other times (the Self appears to) assume the forms of the mental modifications. [When one is not expressing his/her True Self, he/she has the appearance of over-identifying with his/her changing thoughts/distortions. Over-identifying with distortions creates a false sense of self.]
- There are five kinds of mental modification which are either painful or painless. [Whether painful or painless, distortions are distortions.]
- They are right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep and memory.
- The source of right knowledge are direct perception, inference and scriptural testimony.
- Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon true form.
- An image that arises on hearing words without any reality (as its basis) is verbal delusion.
- That mental modification supported by cognition of nothingness is sleep.
- When a mental modification of an object previously experienced and not forgotten comes back to consciousness, that is memory.
- These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment. [You gain control of your thoughts through practice and non-attachment.]
- Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice. [Keeping your mind steady is considered practice.]
- Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness. [Your practice becomes second nature, and firmly ingrained within you, when you partake in it for a long time, without stopping, and with sincere dedication.]
- The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard about is non-attachment. [The consciousness of self-mastery is free from desire for things seen and imagined.]
- When there is non-thirst for even the gunas (constituents of Nature) due to the realization of the Purusa (True Self in elemental seed form), that is supreme non-attachment. [When there is no desire for even desirable qualities of being due to the attainment of True Self-expression beyond concrete form, then you have achieved supreme non-attachment/self-mastery.]
- Samprajnata samadhi is accompanied by reasoning, reflecting, rejoicing in pure I-am-ness.
- By the firmly convicted practice of the complete cessation of the mental modifications, the impressions only remain. This is the other samadhi [asamprajnata samadhi].
- Those who merely leave their physical bodies and attain the state of celestial deities, or those who get merged with Nature, have rebirth. [Transcending the body to achieve cosmic consciousness is rebirth.]
- For the others, this asamprajnata samadhi could come through faith [devotion], vigor [effort], memory [learning], contemplation [deep reflection] and or/by discernment [discernment here means the absence of judgment in order to obtain true understanding].
- To the keen and intent practitioner, this (samadhi) comes quickly.
- The time necessary for success further depends on whether the practice is mild, medium or intense.
- Or (samadhi is attained) by devotion with total dedication to Isvara.
- Isvara is the supreme Purusa unaffected by any afflictions, actions, fruits of actions or by the inner impressions of desire.
- In Isvara is the complete manifestation of the seed of omniscience.
- Unconditioned by time, Isvara is the teacher of even the most ancient teachers.
- The word expressive of Isvara is the mystic sound OM. (OM is God’s name as well as form.)
- To repeat it [OM] with reflection upon its meaning is an aid.
- From this practice all the obstacles disappear and simultaneously dawns knowledge of the inner Self.
- Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the firm ground gained–these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.
- Accompaniments to the mental distractions include distress, despair, trembling of the body and disturbed breathing.
- The practice of concentration on a single subject (or the use of one technique) is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.
- By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
- Or that calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath.
- Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind.
- Or by concentrating on the supreme, ever-blissful Light within.
- Or by concentrating on a great soul’s mind which is totally freed from attachment to sense objects. [Christ or the Buddha, for example.]
- Or by concentrating on an experience had during dream or deep sleep.
- Or by meditation on anything one chooses that is elevating.
- Gradually, one’s mastery in concentration extends from the primal atom to the greatest magnitude.
- Just as the naturally pure crystal assumes shapes and colors of objects placed near it, so the yogi’s mind, with its totally weakened modifications, becomes clear and balanced and attains the state devoid of differentiation between knower, knowable and knowledge. This culmination of meditation is samadhi.
- The samadhi in which name, form and knowledge of them is mixed is called savitarka samadhi, or samadhi with deliberation.
- When the memory is well purified, the knowledge of the object of concentration shines alone, devoid of the distinction of name and quality. This is nirvitarka samadhi, or samadhi without deliberation.
- In the same way, both savicara (reflective) and nirvicara (super or non-reflective) samadhi, which are practice upon subtle objects, are explained.
- The subtlety of possible objects of concentration ends only at the undeniable.
- Each of the above kinds of samadhi are sabja (with seed), which could bring one back into bondage or mental disturbance.
- In the purity of nirvicara samadhi the supreme Self shines.
- This is rtambhara prajna, or the absolute true consciousness.
- This special truth is totally different from the knowledge gained by hearing, study of scripture or inference.
- The impression produced by this samadhi wipes out all other impressions.
- When even this impression is wiped out, every impression is totally wiped out and there is nirbija (seedless samadhi).
Chapter One Study Overview
Chapter One Introductions & Prompts
Chapter One Check-ins
Chapter One Reflections
Chapter Two (Sadhana Pada – Daily Spiritual Practice Foot | Section on Practice)
A discussion of the practical application of Yogic knowledge and theory. Provides an overview of Yoga Limbs 1-5.
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- Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice.
- They help us minimize obstacles and attain samadhi.
- Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles.
- Ignorance is the field for the others mentioned after it, whether they be dormant, feeble, intercepted or sustained.
- Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant and the non-Self as the Self.
- Egoism is the identification, as it were, of the power of the Seer (Purusa) with that of the instrument of seeing (body-mind).
- Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.
- Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences.
- Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency (due to past experience), exists even in the wise.
- In subtle form, these obstacles can be destroyed by resolving them back into their primal cause (the ego).
- In the active state, they can be destroyed by meditation.
- The womb of karmas (actions and reactions) has its root in these obstacles, and the karmas bring experiences in the seen (present) or in the seen (future) births.
- With the existence of the root, there will be fruits also; namely, the births of different species of life, their life spans and experiences.
- The karmas bear fruits of pleasure and pain caused by merit and demerit.
- To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences: the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas, which control the mind.
- Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.
- The cause of that avoidable pain is the union of the Seer (Purusa) and the Seen (Prakrti or Nature).
- The seen is of the nature of the gunas: illumination, activity and inertia, and consists of the element and seen organs, whose purpose is to provide experiences and liberation to the Purusa.
- The stages of the gunas are specific, non-specific, defined and undefinable.
- The Seer is nothing but the power of seeing which, although pure, appears through the mind.
- The seen exists only for the sake of the Seer.
- Although destroyed for the one who has attained liberation, it (the seen) still exists for others, being common to them.
- The union of the Owner (Purusa) and Owned (Prakrti) caused the recognition of the nature and powers of both.
- The cause of this union is ignorance.
- Without this ignorance, no such union occurs. This is the independence of the Seer.
- Uninterrupted discriminative discernment is the method for its removal.
- One’s wisdom in the final stage is sevenfold. (One experiences the end of 1) the desire to know anything more; 2) the desire to stay away from anything; 3) the desire to gain anything new; 4) the desire to do anything; 5) sorrow; 6) fear; 7) delusion.)
- By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment.
- The eight limbs of Yoga are
- Yama (abstinence)
- Niyama (observance)
- Asana (posture practice)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation, absorption, superconscious state).
- Yama consists of nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-greed.
- These great vows are universal, not limited by class, place, time or circumstance.
- Niyama consists of purity, contentment, accepting but not causing pain, the study of spiritual books and worship of God (self-surrender).
- When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksa bhavana.
- When negative thoughts or acts of such violence, etc. are done, caused to be done or even approved of–whether incited by greed, anger or infatuation–whether indulged in with mild, medium or extreme intensity, they are based on ignorance and bring certain pain. Reflecting upon this is also pratipaksa bhavana.
- In the presence of one firmly established in nonviolence, all hostilities cease.
- To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.
- To one established in non-stealing all wealth comes.
- By one established in continence, vigor is gained.
- When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one’s birth comes. [When you are not greedy, you become aware of your purpose in life.]
- By purification arises disgust for one’s own body and for contact with other bodies.
- Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, onepointedness, mastery over the senses and fitness for Self-realization.
- By contentment, supreme joy is gained.
- By austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained.
- By study of spiritual books comes communion with one’s chosen deity.
- By total surrender to God, samadhi is attained.
- Asana is steady, comfortable posture.
- By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered.
- Thereafter, one is not disturbed by the dualities.
- That (firm posture) being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama.
- The modifications of the life-breath are either external, internal or stationary. They are to be regulated by space, time and number and are either long or short.
- There is a fourth kind of pranayama that occurs during concentration on an internal or external object.
- As its result, the veil over the inner light is destroyed.
- And the mind becomes fit for concentration.
- When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyaharah.
- Then follows supreme mastery over the senses.
Chapter Two Study Overview
Chapter Two Introductions & Prompts
Chapter Two Check-ins
Chapter Two Reflections
Chapter Three (Vibhuti Pada – Power Foot | Section on Spiritual Accomplishments And The Powers of Manifestation)
A discussion of the powers that one gains as a Yoga practitioner. Provides an overview of Yoga Limbs 6-8.
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- Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.
- Dhyana is the continuous flow of cognition toward that [one] object.
- Samadhi is the same meditation when there is the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form.
- The practice of these three (dharana, dhyana and samadhi) upon one object is called samyamh.
- By the mastery of samyama comes the light of knowledge.
- Its practice is to be accomplished in stages.
- These three (dharana, dhyana and samadhi) are more internal than the preceding five limbs.
- Even these three are external to the seedless samadhi.
- The impressions which normally arise are made to disappear by the appearance of suppressive efforts, which in turn create new mental modifications. The moment of conjunction of the mind and new modifications is nirodha parinamh.
- The flow of nirodha parinamh becomes steady through habit.
- When there is a decline in distractedness and appearance of one-pointedness, then comes samadhih parinamh (development in samadhi).
- Then again when the subsiding past and rising present images are identical, there is ekagrata parinamh (one pointedness).
- By this (what has been said in the preceding three sutras), the transformations of the visible characteristics, time factors and conditions of elements and senses are also described.
- It is the substratum (Prakrti) that by nature goes through latent, uprising and unmanifested phases.
- The succession of these different phases is the cause of the difference in stages of evolution.
- By practicing samyama on the three stages of evolution comes knowledge of the past and future.
- A word, its meaning and the idea behin[d] it are normally confused because of superimposition upon one another. By samyama on the word (or sound) produced by any being, knowledge of its meaning is obtained.
- By direct perception, through samyama, of one’s mental impressions, knowledge of the past birth is obtained.
- By samyama on the distinguishing signs of other’s bodies, knowledge of their mental images is obtained.
- But this does not include the support in the person’s mind (such as the motive behind the thought, etc.), as that is not the object of samyama.
- By samyama on the form of one’s body and by checking the power of perception by intercepting light from the eyes of the observer, the body becomes invisible.
- In the same way, the disappearance of sound (and touch, taste smell, etc.) is explained.
- Karmas are of two kinds: quickly manifesting and slowly manifesting. By samyama on them, or on the portents of death, the knowledge of the time of death is obtained.
- By samyama on friendliness and other such qualities, the power to transmit them is obtained.
- By samyama on the strength of elephants and other such animals, their strength is obtained.
- By samyama on the Light within, the knowledge of the subtle, hidden and remote is obtained. (Note: subtle as atoms, hidden as treasure, remote as distant lands.)
- By samyama on the sun, knowledge of the entire solar system is obtained.
- By samyama on the moon, comes knowledge of the stars’ arrangement.
- By samyama on the pole star comes knowledge of stars’ movements.
- By samyama on the navel plexus, knowledge of the body’s constitution is obtained.
- By samyama on the pit of the throat, sensation of hunger and thirst is achieved.
- By samyama on the kurma nadi (a subtle tortoise-shaped tube located below the throat), motionlessness in meditative powers is achieved.
- By samyama on the light at the crown of the head (sahasrara chakra) visions of masters and adepts are obtained.
- Or, in the knowledge that dawns by spontaneous enlightenment (through a life of purity), all the powers come by themselves.
- By samyama on the heart, the knowledge of the mind-stuff is obtained.
- The intellect and the Purusa (Atman, Self) are totally different, the intellect existing for the sake of the Purusa, while the Purusa exists for its own sake. Not distinguishing this is the case of all experiences; and by samyama on the distinction, knowledge of the Purusa is gained.
- From this knowledge arises superphysical hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling through spontaneous intuition.
- These (superphysical sense) are obstacles to [nirbija] samadhi but are siddhis (powers of accomplishments) in the worldy pursuits.
- By the loosening of the cause (of the bondage of mind to body) and by knowledge of the procedure of the mind-stuff’s functioning, entering another’s body is accomplished.
- By mastery over the udana nerve current (the upward vital air), one accomplishes levitation over water, swamps, thorns, etc. and can leave the body at will.
- By mastery over the samana nerve current (the equalizing vital air) comes radiance to support the body.
- By samyama on the relationship between ear and ether, supernormal hearing becomes possible.
- By samyama on the relationship between the body and ether, lightness of cotton fiber is attained, and thus traveling through the ether becomes possible.
- By samyama on the thought waves unidentified by and external to the body (maha-videha, or the great bodilessness), the veil over the light of the Self is destroyed.
- By samyama on the gross and subtle elements and on their essential nature, correlations and purpose, mastery over them is gained.
- From that comes attainment of anima and other siddhis, bodily perfection and non-obstruction of bodily functions by the influence of the elements.
- Beauty, grace, strength, adamantine hardness and robustness constitute bodily perfection.
- By samyama on the power of perception and on the essential nature, correlation with the ego sense and purpose of the sense organs, mastery over them is gained.
- From that, the body gains the power to move as fast as the mind, the ability to function without the aid of the sense order the primary cause (Prakrti).
- By recognition of the distinction between sattva (the pure reflective nature) and the Self, supremacy over all states and forms of existence [omnipotence] is gained, as is omniscience.
- By non-attachment even to that [siddhis], the seed of bondage is destroyed and thus follows kaivalya (independence).
- The Yogi should neither accept nor smile with pride at the admiration of even the celestials being, as there is the possibility of getting caught again in the undesirable.
- By samyama on single movements in sequence comes discriminative knowledge.
- Thus, the indistinguishable differences between objects that are alike in species, characteristic marks and positions become distinguishable.
- The discriminative knowledge that simultaneously comprehends all objects in all conditions is the intuitive knowledge which brings liberation.
- When the tranquil mind attains purity to that of the self, there is Absoluteness.
Chapter Three Study Overview
Chapter ThRee Introductions & Prompts
Chapter Three Check-ins
Chapter Three Reflections
Chapter Four (Kaivalya Pada – Solitude/Absoluteness Foot | Section on Spiritual Liberation)
A discussion of cosmic philosophy.
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- Siddhis are born of practices performed in previous births, or by herbs, mantra repetition, asceticism or by samadhi.
- The transformation of one species into another is brought about by the inflow of Nature.
- Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer (removes the obstacles in the water course running to the field).
- A Yogi’s ego sense alone is the cause of (other) artificially created minds.
- Although the functions in the many created minds may differ, the original mind-stuff of the Yogi is the director of them all.
- Only the minds born of meditation are free from karmic impressions.
- The actions of the Yogi are neither white nor black; but the actions of others are of three kinds: good, bad and mixed.
- Of these (actions), only those vasanas (subconscious impressions) for which there are favorable conditions for producing their fruits will manifest in a particular birth.
- Although desires are separated from their fulfillments by class, space, and time, they have an uninterrupted relationship because the impressions (of desires) and memories of them are identical.
- Since the desire to live is eternal, impressions are also beginningless.
- The impressions being held together by cause, effect, basis and support, they disappear with the disappearance of these four.
- The past and future exist in the real form of objects which manifest due to difference in the conditions of their characteristics.
- Whether manifested or subtle, these characteristics belong to the nature of the gunas.
- The reality of things is due to the uniformity of the gunas’ transformations.
- Due to differences in various minds, perception of even the same object may vary.
- Nor does an object’s existence depend upon a single mind, for if it did, what would become of that object when that mind did not perceive it?
- An object is known or unknown depending on whether or not the mind gets colored by it.
- Due to Its changelessness, changes in the mind-stuff are always known to the Purusa, who is its master.
- The mind-stuff is not self-luminous because it is an object of perception by the Purusa.
- The mind-stuff cannot perceive both subject and object simultaneously (which proved it is not self-luminous).
- If the perception of one mind by another mind is postulated, we would have to assume an endless number of them and the result would be confusion of memory.
- The consciousness of the Purusa is unchangeable; by getting the reflection of it, the mind-stuff becomes conscious of the Self.
- The mind-stuff, when colored by both Seer and seen, understands everything.
- Though having countless desires, the mind-stuff exists for the sake of another [the Purusa] because it can act only in association with It.
- To one who sees the distinction between the mind and the Atman, thoughts of mind as the Atman cease forever.
- Then the mind-stuff is inclined toward discrimination and gravitates toward Absoluteness.
- In-between, distracting thoughts may arise due to past impressions.
- They can be removed, as in the case of the obstacles explained before. (See Book Two, sutras 1, 2, 10, 11, and 26.)
- One who, due to his or her perfect discrimination, is totally disinterested even in the highest rewards, remains in the constant discriminative discernment, which is called dharmamegha (cloud of dharma) samadhi. (Note: The meaning of dharma includes virtue, justice, law, duty, morality, religion, religious merit and steadfast decree.)
- From that samadhi all afflictions and karmas cease.
- Then all the coverings and impurities of knowledge are totally removed. Because of the infinity of this knowledge, what remains to be known is almost nothing.
- Then the gunas terminate their sequence of transformations because they have fulfilled their purpose.
- The sequence (referred to above) means an uninterrupted secession of movements which can be recognized at the end of their transformations.
- Thus, the supreme state of Independence manifests while the gunas reabsorb themselves into Prakrti, having no more purpose to serve Purusa. Or (to look from another angle) the power of pure consciousness settles into its own nature.