Sutra I.3 – Chapter I, Sutra 3

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्

tada drastuh svarupe-avasthanam

As a result of directing the mind exclusively towards an object and sustaining that focus in one direction without distractions, we experience the deepest part of ourselves.

PRACTICAL LIVING    This sutra is directly connected to the previous one, and states that when we are in the state of Yoga, then (tada), as a result of choosing an object, focusing on it and sustaining that focus, the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent. In the state of Yoga the different preconceptions and products of the imagination that can prevent or distort understanding are controlled, reduced or eliminated. This can be elucidated by a simple metaphor where we imagine the mind as a mirror. For most of us that mirror is dirty and bent, which results in a distorted image. In other words, we usually perceive ourselves and the world in a distorted manner. This sutra states that when we’ve done the work and have cleaned and smoothened our mirrors, then we begin to perceive ourselves and the world with clarity. We perceive things just as they are. Why is it rude to belch in some cultures and not not in others? When we stop and reflect on the cultural phenomena of belching, we realize that the act in itself is not rude, it just is what it is. Some of us have learned to associate the act with rudeness. This is one of millions of examples which illustrate what prevents us from seeing things as they are: a conditioned mind.

In the state of Yoga :

  • we are who we are
  • we see things as they are (without the learned judgments)
  • we are firmly established (avasthanam) in our own (svarupe) true nature (drastuh)

IN THE YOGA WORLD     Then, when the mind is calm and focused, it no longer distorts the true expression of the soul. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are based on Samkhya philosophy, which says that living beings are made out of 2 different parts: an unchanging, formless light which is the source of our inner joy, peace and wisdom (purusha or drastuh), and a changing part which consists of our body, thoughts and emotions (prakrti). According to Samkhya, we experience suffering because we are disconnected from our purusha. We think we are only bodies that think and feel. We are that, but there is also something deeper (drastuh). The mind is the only way to experience purusha. Since most of us have distorted mirrors as minds, it is difficult to experience our inner light. When the mind is unclear, we only perceive the mind’s projection, not the truth. So, on a more positive note, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are primarily concerned with explaining the nature of the mind and providing us with tools to “clean our mirrors” and therefore cultivate more clarity (viveka), so that we eventually establish ourselves in our own true nature 🙂 Of course, this is easier said than done. In fact, Sutras I.1 and I.2 emphasize that commitment and action are required to reach a state of Yoga! Meanwhile, reflect, act and enjoy the ride!

Reflect and Enjoy

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     This incredible woman has known me all my life. In fact, she gave me my first home: her womb. MamaMagic is a fountain of love. She has taught me some of the most beautiful lessons I have received in life: connecting to and expressing love, the beauty of crying, observing nature, taking the time to reflect, and the joy of spontaneity. She also introduced me to Yoga. This woman has a connection to nature, to reflection and to life that amazes me. Thank you Mama for always supporting me in my path, for all the inspiring conversations about life, and for helping me to experience my inner light little by little. I feel profound gratitude for this huge blessing in my life. Like Mami (and Violeta Parra) would sing: “Gracias a la vida que me has dado tanto!” Translation: Thank you life, whose given me so much!

Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!

Thanks and we will look at what happens when we’re not in a state of yoga next week!

80 thoughts on “Sutra I.3 – Chapter I, Sutra 3

  1. One of the ways in which I have learned to apply this sutra to my life is by not taking things personally and not assuming that negative perceptions I have of myself are shared with the people that know me.

    At times, I find myself having very strong opinions on things and have a hard time recognizing that it is my PERCEPTION, not exactly how it really is. For example, if someone is rude to me- it’s difficult at first to recognize that their bad mood isn’t solely based on the interaction with me- they could be having a horrible day, they are tired, or received horrible news beforehand. It is through my judgment of the situation which cloud my mirrors. I believe that in these scenarios, basic empathy goes a long way towards clarity and inner peace.

    In addition, there are also times in which I have a negative opinion about certain aspects of myself- personality, looks, etc. Often times, when reflecting on these negative thoughts and having conversations with others about this, I find that more often than not I am completely clouded. The more confident you are in yourself, the more you radiate that towards others- and in turn, you become the best version of yourself- your purusha radiates outward, and you are firmly established in your own true nature.

  2. I think my mirror is cloudy because of the society’s expectations and how the world “ought ” to be and behave. I believe that my mirror would be much smoother and cleaner if I would really allow myself to be ….myself, without any reservations and judgment.

  3. As I think about this Sutra, I’m reminded of when I first started taking classes at Chicago School of Yoga. I was stressed from Grad School and my self-love was rajasic and tamasic – drastically changing all the time. I could look at myself in the mirror and absolutely love a part of my body (to the point of vanity) and the next second I would absolutely hate myself. I remember I was particularly down on myself and I looked at my legs I was just disgusted. How could I let myself look like this? How could I let myself go? In actuality, I was in good shape and healthy, I just couldn’t see that. It was after a few weeks of yoga at CSOY that I looked at myself, saw that exact same flaw on my legs and I didn’t care. I saw it and it didn’t make me feel disgusted. I was at peace with my body. I didn’t know it at the time, but now I realize that through yoga I was able to focus my mind and as a result my mirror was smooth and clear. Yoga helped me clear up the avidya and connect more with purusha.

  4. Our thoughts are not always a reflection of reality. It is sometimes necessary to count on a good friend, a teacher, somebody that loves us well to help us distinguish reality from our distorted images of the world. This statement is actually comforting and disconcerting at the same time.

    Comforting because it reminds us that despite how bad reality looks from our eyes, there is probably a solution to our problems just right there but escaping from us simply because of our blurry and worried vision; maybe, even there is not such problem but a game our thoughts are playing on us and we just need to distance ourselves to discover it and find our peace again. Disconcerting because we, or at least I, love to be right! I tend to think that the way I see things is the most accurate and always have a hard time listening to advice.

    This sutra is there to remind us that our inner peace is there, waiting for us to do our homework and clean our mirrors. And this sutra is there to remind us that everybody has this inner light that can be met and enjoyed. I believe I have some housecleaning to do in my mind and my body, and I am ready for that. However, the same question bothers me whenever I finish reading a sutra: so alright, I am ready to apply the teachings to myself, because I want the change. But how can I share and help others, that I see in need?

  5. Pingback: Sutra II.20 – Chapter II, Sutra 20 | weeklysutra

  6. I can completely see how the first three sutras are connected, that focus and commitment are necessary for the our inner light to able to shine through and for the mind to be clear of all misperceptions. I find that when I focus my energy on something healthy and cleansing, like the practice of yoga, that my mind is able to start brushing the dust away from my mirror and I am able to begin appreciating my own inner light. The issue is, this doesn’t last long. It has always been a challenge for me to remain consistent with something for an extended period of time. I’m getting better at it because I am taking the time to reflect more often. The act of reflection gives me the ability to be more aware of the actions in my life that clear or cloud my mirror. With more practice, I know I will become stronger and more capable of sustaining healthy, cleansing practices for longer periods of time.

  7. Sutra 1.3 really connects with myself, and the deeper conversation that is evokes. Perception can be dangerous, leading people to believe things that are not true about themselves. I will openly admit that I often view myself through a clouded, dirty mirror that does not allow me to see my true self and connect with my inner being. In the modern world, people can become so easily concerned about flaws and imperfections that they fail to understand what truly wonderful beings we can all be. Those flaws make people unique, but they do not make a person less of a being. We are all connected with one another, which can be truly helpful to have such a social support system in place. People can help to point out the false perceptions that are held by others, and can help bring a person closer to their deepest parts. As a grad student studying the field of counseling and art therapy, much of my job will ultimately consist of assisting people to remove the misconceptions they hold about themselves and rather develop a more clear, true, and positive view of themselves and their capabilities. When true, clear focus is present, knowledge can be obtained, but we must be aware of those distractions as not to be fooled by inaccurate views of the world or the self.

  8. Pingback: Sūtra III.14 – Chapter III, Sūtra 14 | weeklysutra

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