29) Yoga-sutra 1-36

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viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī
Stability of the mind can can also be produced by perception that is beyond
all the sorrow (blissfulness) and is radiant (shining). So this sūtra may
appear to be somewhat abstract and lead people to speculate upon its meaning.
To really understand it, we need to remember the characteristics of what we
call the three guṇas… three guṇa – the three modes of material nature:
sāttva, rajas and tamas. Rajas and tamas guna give rise to pain, suffering, and
further ignorance. Sāttva, on the other hand, is luminous and
blissful by nature. So in this regard, there is a couple of verses in the
Bhagavad-gīta: “O chief of the Bhāratas, when there is an increase in the mode of
passion the symptoms of great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and
uncontrollable desire and hankering develop. When there is an increase in the
mode of ignorance, O son of Kuru, darkness, inertia, madness and illusion are
manifested.” And then within the sixteenth śloka in that same fourth chapter, it states that: “… action done in the mode
of passion results in misery, and action performed me
mode of ignorance results in foolishness.” So one important focus of yoga practice
or a yoga lifestyle, is to become more situated in the mode of goodness or
sāttva-guṇa. In sāttva-guṇa, the mind is purified; the mind and intelligence can
remain absorbed then in transcendental contemplation, and appear
“like a waveless ocean, placid and limitless.” So that description is given
by Vyāsa, and is actually found in many parts of the Vedas – the mind being like a
waveless ocean, placid and limitless. So Vyāsa says, “By the reflective meditation
upon the self in its pure form within the core of the heart, there arises the
pure knowledge of ‘I am’.” – this experience of my actual existence separate from the
body and the mind. This higher perception he says is called
viśokā jyotiṣmatī – that brilliantly shining light, devoid of sorrow. So in
hearing that explanation, probably most people that are not schooled in
Vedic and traditional yogic thought, probably wouldn’t have reached the same
conclusion about the meaning of it – unlike
Vyāsa in his explanation. So an important point is that this… what has
been spoken of, is not a perception – meaning of that which is perceivable;
It’s material objects and things that are perceived by the senses. But rather,
this is an experience of the existence of the actual self. So in this early
stage of awakening… and this is still a very early stage of self-realization; of
enlightenment…in this early stage of true self-realization, the perception
that ‘I’…’I’ am spiritual by nature, is of supreme importance. And I’ll again use
the Bhagavad-gīta as a reference source to confirm this. We have this most
wonderful verse in the sixth chapter – Dhyāna-yoga, in the twentieth śloka, where it
states: “In the stage of perfection called trance or samādhi, one’s mind is
completely restrained from material mental activities by the practice of
yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the
pure mind and to relish and to rejoice in the self.” So this is a more probably
detailed and very pointed explanation of this experience that’s been pointed to by
Patañjali, and once again the reference to samādhi,
and even the English translated word here – trance. We’re not talking about a
mental state, because actual samādhi; actual self-realization, means to become
free from the influence of the mind. It is an experience of the actual, eternal
and pure living being, not an experience of the mind. So these are different
things, and I think that that point is really important for anybody that is
very interested in this journey, to come to appreciate and understand. If we do
not come to this understanding, then we will be constantly simply trying to
arrange the mind, or produce effects or experiences within the mind, and
considering those to be transcendental when they are not transcendental at
all. And that point, we of course referenced many times in the
explanations, or our commentary related to some of the previous sūtras. Thank you
very much.

 

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