Once an individual has mastered the balance between practice and detachment (tat param), leading to an experience of the true Self (purusakhyateh), then even the natural flow of nature (gunas) ceases to be a distraction (vaitrsnyam), where one is not influenced by things around him/her.
PRACTICAL LIVING This sutra describes the result of cultivating continuous practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagya) (see Sutra I.12). Mastery in detachment (see Sutra I.15) leads us to have no thirst/desire in objects, thoughts or ideas. As seen in the previous sutra, with continuous effort we develop different levels of detachment. Ordinary or simple detachment is when the mind detaches from its everyday desires and enjoyment. For example, I have recently stopped eating desserts. My mind will often crave the dessert that everyone else is enjoying, but having control, I say “No” and the desire stays away. In this level of non-attachment we may be free from new things coming in to tempt us. But the next levels call for becoming aware of the impressions (samskaras) that our mind has had for a lifetime. The memory of having experienced something will still be there. We may have stopped a behavior, but the impressions (linked to memory) are still there. We can’t just go into the mind and erase those impressions.
According to Patanjali, the impressions get erased at some point. It occurs when we have an experience of peace and joy within, of our own true Self. The moment we understand our true Self, we find such peace and joy that we understand the difference between (i) the body, thought and emotions, and (ii) the true Self.
It is important to understand that this experience cannot be practiced, it is a result of action (abhyasa) and detachment/letting go/acceptance (vairagya). So let us practice self awareness and just observe what happens, seeing where life takes us 🙂
IN THE YOGA WORLD This sutra mentions the gunas, which brings us back to Samkhya philosophy stating that we are made out of two things: (i) matter (prakrti), which is constantly changing, including our bodies, thoughts and emotions, and (ii) consciousness/true Self/ soul (purusa), which is eternal and unchanging, and is the source of inner joy and peace. Matter is described as having three fundamental qualities (gunas):
- Sattva = quality of revelation, clarification, “that which sheds light”, luminosity, serenity
- Rajas = quality of activation, transformation, agitation, passion, vibrance, restlessness
- Tamas = quality of compression, density, stillness, inertia, dormancy
The aim of Yoga is to cultivate more and more sattva, where the mind is in a place of clarity, seeing things exactly how they are, uninfluenced by the colored lenses that we tend to have, distorting our perception. Sattva is the closest that matter can be to consciousness. It is only in this state of mind that we can experience the beauty of our soul. The ultimate experience is when one transcends the qualities of nature and perceives the soul. Luminosity in our minds is necessary for this to happen.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON T.K.V. Desikachar, son of T. Krishnamacharya, studied Yoga with his father for decades to transmit these teachings to people all over the world. His father was a traditional Indian man, who never left India. Desikachar, on the other hand, spent much of his life traveling to different countries teaching Yoga in ways that other cultures could relate to. His dedication to Yoga has been outstanding. It is because of him that I was able to find Yoga in a form that I could relate to. He taught his son, who taught my teacher, who teaches me. I deeply appreciate the concept of a lineage, where every teacher continues to be a student. Desikachar, also known as “Sir”, is one of the most important links to Yoga taught in its deepest manner: teacher to student, individualized, based on the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali and with the concept that “I cannot promise I will heal you, but I promise I will care”. Sir, thank you for your undivided dedication to transmitting these beautiful teachings!
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 how the process in Yoga is gradual, it does not happen from one day to the next 🙂