Sutra I.20 – Chapter I, Sutra 20

श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम्॥२०॥

sraddha-virya-smrti-samadhi-prajna-purvaka itaresam

For those who are not born in the state of Yoga (itaresam), it is necessary to cultivate faith (sraddha), which leads to energy or conviction (virya) to be able to create a wonderful life by remembering (smrtti) the goal (samadhi), resulting in the clearest wisdom (prajna).

PRACTICAL LIVING     The previous sutra spoke about those people who are born in a state of clarity and understanding. There are very few of those people. This sutra, on the other hand, presents a solution for the rest of us. This sutra describes some pre-requisites which are essential for success in undertakings in any area of life:

– Sraddha (faith, confidence, belief, trust): a deep, positive, unshakeable conviction that allows us to maintain focus and commitment towards our goal (whatever will bring us to a happier place).

– Virya (energy, vitality, vigor, courage): the enthusiasm that comes as a result of trusting ourselves and life. It is the physical and mental strength required to keep on going, to keep us motivated even when we are hitting a bumo on the road.

– Smrtti (memory): remembering the future is called ‘bhavana’ in yoga. Bhavana is the ability to visualize the most amazing future – one filled with love, peace, confidence and a deep sense of gratitude. ‘Remembering’ the future is essential to keep our confidence and energy up.

– Samadhi (goal, complete absorption): our goal is what we visualize our lives being like. Does it involve loving myself exactly how I am? Does it involve being surrounded by wonderful friends and family? Does it involve dedicating my time to something pleasureful and meaningful? A wonderful activity to figure this out is a vision board: sit with a large sheet of cardboard and old magazines, markers and crayons and create your amazing life on that board. Have faith and let go of fear.

– Prajna (wisdom, higher knowledge): achieving our goals and gradually finding inner peace and love takes us to a place of more awareness and clarity.

We need to visualize the goal in order to get the energy to make the action. What do I visualize as being the best life I could possibly imagine (letting go of fears)? What would this life look like? Can we devote sometime during our day to visualize the most magnificent, pleasurable and meaningful life? The more we are able to “remember” this vision, the more confidence and energy we get, making it more likely that we will move towards this vision and create this spectacular life! As seen in previous sutras, this process also requires action or practice (abhyasa) and letting go or detachment.

Ultimately, the aim of Yoga is to:

  1. reach your goals
  2. refine your goals (clarify values)

IN TEH YOGA WORLD     In its deepest form, Yoga offers the most valuable things – the eternal and highest happiness and peace for which every human being is striving for. The concepts of faith (sraddha), energy (virya) and smrti-samadhi (remembering the goal) are all intertwined. The more faith we have in ourselves and life, trusting that everything will be okay, the more energy we have to focus on those things that we have control over. That trust asks us to let go of those things that we have no control over of, allowing life to show us the way whenever we have this attachment to needing to know everything. Remembering our goal allows us to keep ourselves energized and our trust intact by reminding ourselves that we are gradually moving towards the goal. The trust also reminds us to let go of the attachment to the goal itself and keep the focus on the present action, on the ride as opposed to the destination.

In summary, to experience inner peace and enjoy life, we need:

  1. effort or practice (abhyasa)
  2. let go, detach or create space (vairagya)
  3. faith, trust, belief, confidence (sraddha)

We need these 3 to get out of fear. Later in the second chapter we will learn that fear keeps us from letting go and prevents us from feeling this inner faith and confidence in who we are. The wonderful journey of Yoga is one of cultivating more inner confidence, which creates vitality and a love for life, leading us to become deeply involved with this amazing opportunity called LIFE!

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     The first translation to the word sraddha is often “faith”. I love that word, and I love Sutra I.20-Faiththis wonderful woman named Faith. She is my gringo mother, and this is a coincidence that I am mentioning her just after I mentioned her dear husband. I will never forget the first time I met Faith. She picked me up at the airport and welcomed me to sunny California with a warm, full, loving hug. I remember the moment of the hug very well. It was very special and instantly made me feel part of the family. Faith, you gave all of yourself from the moment you met me. You welcomed me into your home, family and life like few people do. This requires a lot of faith ;). You have taught me, just by being who you are, the art of giving. You are one of the most thoughtful and giving people I know, and for that I am deeply grateful for. I could not have even visualized a more amazing Gringo Mother! Thank you for everything! I love you very much! And your “Hola. Como estas? Bien, muy bien.” on the phone always brings a smile to my face :). Gracias, muchas gracias!

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 how to get closer and closer to our goals next week!

37 thoughts on “Sutra I.20 – Chapter I, Sutra 20

  1. Pingback: Sutra I.21 – Chapter I, Sutra 21 | weeklysutra

  2. I was ironically having a conversation with my best friend tonight which discussed the principles of this Sutra without directly realizing it. We have been daily accountability partners over the last few months, discussing our daily intentions and mapping small actions each day to reach specific goals. We have created images of Bhavana and live Abhysasa each day through this exercise. Yet, we both admitted to our struggles with vairagya or letting go of the actions as we attach to the results and Bhavana. Our shraddha has been tested as we feel discouraged when the goals are not reached as quickly as we wish. Change is truly difficult. This is when shraddha becomes so important. To avoid fear from taking over, we can choose to believe and trust in our journey at this present moment. As difficult as this can be to do, its truly liberating

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  4. Amazing Sutra…Everyday I strive for happiness and peace within myself- it hasnt been easy since I am my toughest critic. Everyday I try to incorporate: practice, Letting go, and Faith to help my become a better person. Since starting my yoga journey, I have gone through ups and downs trying to achieve this state of mind. With my mind set of being a good yoga teacher, the more faith I have in myself , the more I can focus on my students and giving them the best devotion and assistance I can during those 60 minutes.

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  6. I really like this sutra. I think one of the very first e-mails that you sent to me with my inquiry to teacher training said that I’m already creating my bhavana. This bhavana of opening my dream yoga studio gives me the motivation that I need to move forward (because I’m not a huge fan of my current job). I understand that it will be a slow process, but I’m on the right track by doing the teacher training, and I can’t wait to achieve that samadhi. I get really excited just thinking about it. 🙂

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  8. This sutra is very special to me because it is deeply incorporated into my personal practice. Chanting this sutra multiple times on a daily basis has really contributed to change within me! I tend to worry a lot, and am very hard on myself about my performance in all the arenas of my life. Therefore, it can be very hard for me to simply have faith that everything that happens in this life is bringing me closer to my goals, whether it is inadvertent or not. However, through really focusing on this sutra in my personal practice, I have come to see life through an entirely new perspective: The perspective of someone who knows that the universe is looking out for me. I notice the little things that happen naturally, and just so happen to bring me closer to my goals. I appreciate those serendipitous moments in a way I never could before. So in a sense, this sutra has not only given me the opportunity to cultivate an enthusiastic faith in the world, but has also allowed me to experience more gratitude! By continuing to look at my life through the lens of faith, and allowing that faith to fill me with vigor, fearlessness, and eventually, wisdom, I know I can achieve all of my goals.

  9. I have such a hard time imagining ANYTHING bc I am so ‘busy’ or so often helping others…I rarely think about what I want. What my true goals are. Teacher training was the 1st real goal I ever set out for myself that I have actually followed thru with..well, in a long time:) but Im also leaning that its not bout the goals…its about the journey…and finding beauty and acceptance in that.

    • Hi Christina,
      Yes, it is about the journey. And the mind loves having a goal…whether we reach it in the end is a different story. But in the second chapter we will explore the concept of Kriya Yoga and it points out that we in order to change we need to be reflecting and acting – that is what we have control over. The rest, we need to let go of and trust that life will bring us what we need…

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  12. When I read this, it made me think of a circle – a cycle of set a goal, achieve goal, adjust/refine/set new goal, and repeat (maybe that’s just the consultant in me 🙂 ) To me, it’s a positive feedback cycle, leading ever upward to the state to ultimate happiness. We just need to have faith that the actions we take will lead us to where we need to go.

  13. Bhavana is simultaneously invigorating and terrifying. I am an actress and dream of creating meaningful, entertaining, and emotionally effective films and theatre productions with my good friends and with any impassioned people I meet in the future. However, I often find myself asking “who do I think I am to believe I can do this?” Well, me, I’m a wonderful, talented person, that’s who! I am working very hard on letting go of fear- I recently set up some auditions that scare me, but also excite me because I am learning to have faith in who I am and the skills that I have- I just need to trust that my hard work and my faith is enough and then let go of the results. I am learning how to acknowledge my fear but not let it stand in my way!

  14. This sutra brought tears to my eyes and my heart swell. As soon as I reading the practical living section, I thought about the two tattoos I have right now and in the order I got them – and that before I even knew anything about yoga – I was already on my yoga journey and now it’s just becoming more obvious and real that deep down I felt/understood something that my brain had no knowledge of at the time. My first tattoo I ever got was the Italian spelling for the word “faith” on my left wrist. I got that tattoo as a reminder to always have faith in myself, in god, in the universe, in whatever keeps you moving forward. I got the word courage tattooed on my right foot almost a year later to remind myself that I have the courage and the strength to walk through life and no matter what it has to throw me. And, the next one I’m getting this May will be Isvaraprandihana to constantly remind myself to let go. I’ve always thought my tattoos were beautiful, but now they have even more beauty knowing that I was already starting on my yoga journey without knowing this would become such an integral part of my life.

  15. I love the idea of creating a bhavana and doing so in teacher training was a lovely experience! This sutra means a lot to me because I am at a phase in my life where I am completely unsure of the future. I am trying to figure out what career path to take, what will bring me the most joy and where I want to live. Instead of being fearful, I am trying to live by the idea of taking the effort to figure out what to do, let go of all of my doubts and fears, and taking the confidence to act on all of my goals. Finishing up yoga teacher training was just the first step, and I am so grateful for the experience and for learning such wonderful philosophy that will help me with the road ahead.

  16. My bhavana has changed pretty significantly since we created our vision boards. Life happened and each turn made me reassess my previous thoughts about the future. Right now, I would say my long-term bhavana is pretty unclear. The important thing I’ve learned is to detach from my (lovely) vision board and periodically check-in as things re-settle. I am starting to see again what future happiness could look like and hope to create a new vision board as it gets clearer. (Pinterest?)

  17. Who and more importantly what are we without faith? Faith in god, the universe, light, yourself…we would be scared and aimless creatures. I grew up hearing 3 different versions of what faith could be, the catholic version, the animistic version and the muslim version. It wasn’t until I started studying buddhism that I realized all these 3 “versions” were saying the same thing: If you do not believe in something and this something will guide where you are going, then you won’t go anywhere. The body must follow the mind(consciousness) but the mind must know where to take the body. I have slowly being gathering faith that there is a middle path and I will find it and I will walk in it, I just need to visualize and practice and let go of things that hold me back. Faith, to me, is like map of a hidden treasure but if you don’t know what the treasure is, X will never mark the spot.
    The bhavana practice during teacher training was amazing and I am trying to cultivate more of that into my life in order to keep on moving forward, find that treasure, believe in it and X will mark the spot.

  18. I can say that I reached a different or higher state during the last module of teaching training. I was that little baby staring back at me and the baby was me. We were one in the same. The wonder, excitement and enthusiasm I had for life at that time filled me up and I will never forget it. I am so happy I was able to experience that time of wonder you feel when you are a child at an adult state. I am excited for what my bhavana hold, but it is always changing. My focus is yoga – to continue learning, teaching and practicing as much as I can. As long as that is my focus, good things will come of it. That is my detachment or letting go of the results.

  19. The paragraph about how this sutra relates in the yoga world really resonates with me. It says that in order to experience inner peace and enjoy life, we need: practice (abhyasa), letting go (vairagya), and trust (sraddha). Though I have never seen these steps outlined like this I can testified to the fact that I have gained more peace since implementing these things into my life. Though I wish my abhyasa was stronger, I do try to commit to doing a daily personal practice – whether its practice asana, pranayama, meditation, etc. When I skip my daily practice in the morning when I wake up I find it difficult to wake up, I feel groggier, and more susceptible to stress/anxiety. Though I still have bad days, since doing my morning asana/meditation practice I find it easier to wake up in morning and have gained a lot of peace from it. Before practicing yoga I was always stressed out and depressed, I couldn’t sleep and had a very negative self image. Implementing the yogic practices listed by this sutra has made a significant impact in my life and I think this sutra does a good job of explaining the essentials to attaining that journey towards yoga/inner peace.

  20. I like the simplicity of this sutra and how in a concise way sums up the approach towards inner happiness. I can see where I’m strongest and where hopefully this yoga process will help me strengthen the weak areas that I need to work on to attain more inner happiness.

  21. With hope and belief that has been given to me or from myself and with vytita, I’m able to pull through. Reminding myself that the future is in my hands is vital and brings my hope to samadhi. Following will what I hope allow me to land where I plan to be

  22. This particular Sutra really made me reflect on what my goal should or could be for myself. I have many goals in my life but I wanted one that was more meaningful and that didn’t have to do with professional success. I decided my goal would be to surround myself with friends and family that I love…and my puppy. As my grandparents and parents get older I need to make more of an effort to be there with them and talk with them. I need to make more of an effort to be with my husband before we decide to start having children. I also need to make time for my friends that I don’t work with at my job (the ones that take a little more effort to get in touch with). I have confidence and excitement when I think of a future filled with these people. I think this would give me more inner peace and open my life to even more happiness.

  23. I am happy to say that I have already begun to take the steps to actualize my bhavana, and that teacher training is a big part of that. I always try to keep in mind the type of person I would like to be, what my days ideally are comprised of, what my obituary might say about me after I have lived my wonderful life. It’s so freeing to think that everything you are going to be, you already are, and that what you are looking for, is already within you. I took those words from a documentary about director Alejandro Jodorowsky, and I put them on my wall. I really try to internalize this message – and then relax! Little bird, you are already there. xo

  24. I think the beauty of yoga or asana practice is that self awareness helps us realize our own identity and bring us to a higher or better place than the status quo. Coming to yoga, i realize things i can do, and things i have not been able to yet. However, yoga instills in me that with practice and good faith, i can achieve it in the future, maybe not tomorrow, next week, next month but maybe next years or a few down the road. And at the end of the day, the goal may be important but may not be as meaningful as the journey itself, where the laughs and tears are spent, where i struggle to fit in, to survive and to experience it all. The more i learn, the less i know, but i do know that i see things a bit clearer for their true selves . Any chance that i can absorb them a bit more is a next opportunity to learn and to understand them deeper based on observations and facts without judgement. And above all, embrace and respect your problems, dont hate; be aware and tackle them peacefully.

  25. What I loved our class’s bhvana practice. Bhavana is something specific- a specific setting, circumstances, feelings… it’s something that’s tangible. The true beauty lies in the ambiguous path to get there… I can’t spell out how to reach my bhavana: my beautiful wooded crafts studio located close to a city on the water that harbors pets and friends alike. While I could fight at this very moment to obtain that setting by the end of the year, I know it’s not time. I’m not ready for that setting or circumstances. I am ready, though, to embrace that feeling captured in my bhavana. Along with the other daily tools that yoga gives one, I enjoy a little morsel of my bhavana every day. It’s tiny and delicious enough to keep me walking down the path to it’s reality!

  26. “In summary, to experience inner peace and enjoy life, we need:
    1.effort or practice (abhyasa)
    2.let go, detach or create space (vairagya), trust, belief, confidence (sraddha)”

    The journey through yoga teacher training has brought these sutra lessons to life and at the forefront of my mind- specifically this one. This sutra directly applies to my yoga teacher pursuit. As we near the end of the 200 hour training, I am admittedly fearful about releasing myself into the real world and calling myself a “teacher.” My fear doesn’t come from thinking that I didn’t study enough, or ask enough questions, or a lack of knowledge– my fear is about the performance, and that people will expect me to assist them through their own personal yoga journey- especially if I decide to do private lessons. And to me, that’s a lot of pressure! I’ve never truly considered myself a “teacher” with anything-I’ve always considered myself the student- so this is the leap of faith I’m taking for myself- and trusting that my inner strength ( my sraddha and virya) will get me there. It hasn’t ever failed me, so there’s no true reason to doubt my abilities. I’ve put forth the effort (abhyasa), and will continue to do so- now it’s time for vairagya and sraddha to shine. I’m going to fake it until I make it! In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the hell out of the ride to get to where I want to be as a teacher.

  27. This sutra has touched my life the most so far! I have just turned 50 this year and have looked back on my life and am now looking forward and faith is the one constant I have had all the way. There are time I have stumbled and lost my faith but some how I always find. So many times I am reminded to let my sails down and let faith guide me and stop fighting it. When I do let go and trust in faith things always seem to figure there way out. If I would have a girl her name would have been faith.

  28. This sutra speaks to me on many points. Having faith, “remembering” the future, virya, focus on the ride and not the destination. I know what I want, I have faith that it will happen, I have put energy into what I can change, and am working very hard to enjoy the journey to the end result, even though it’s taking longer than I want! I want to move with my family to a new home in a great location. I know in my heart that it is meant to be and will happen. I have decluttered and donated items and saved money in preparation to move. The hardest part is enjoying the journey and letting it all unfold when the time is right, which appears to not be as quickly as I would have liked. It’s challenging, but I don’t want to miss all the great things that happen every day or forget the memories we have created over the last 2 years while waiting for our dream to manifest. Time goes to quickly and my kids keep growing and growing. Great time to read this sutra and be reminded to have faith and let go of my death-grip on the dream, and it will happen in time.

  29. Practice, detachment and confidence. I am using these tools now as I realize that after having posted my comments on the assigned readings, they did not post. So I am doing them again, practice, I a letting go of the irritation of having to do them again, and accepting that by doing them again I am able to understand the ideas with more confidence.

  30. This is a daily practice for me in my business, relationships and parenting. I really like this outline of getting the most peace and joy out of life. I will be printing this out as my mantra!

    effort or practice (abhyasa)
    let go, detach or create space (vairagya)
    faith, trust, belief, confidence (sraddha)

    This is all a practice…all of it. The mind, the breath, patience, faith…..along with the letting go. Thank you for the reminder! I love that when when the people close to you in your life know this, they too will remind you of these things and create support for you when you need it most!

  31. I love this! This is life, I just need to practice, let go and have faith that I will get it right. What is amazing is that just by giving effort to have a better life or more joy, it allows space to come. And when I feel and see that happening I have the trust to give more effort and to let go. It truly is a circle.

  32. As always these sutras are jam packed with amazing pieces of wisdom and insight. This sutra is no different. However, what resonated with me the most is the concept of trust. Honestly, I don’t trust myself, those around me, the universe, the course my life is taking all of it. Now I do have some level of trust – I’m not completely paranoid. However, I call it a cliff’s notes version of trust. It’s not full trust but it’s enough to get you where you need to be. I don’t walk around thinking everyone is out to get me or is a horrible person. However, that full release of trust and letting go is hard for me. I’m not 100% sure why trust is so hard and why I can trust up to a certain point.

  33. This sutra provided all of the knowledge that made me feel left hanging on the last sutra. I love that this sutra connects faith with the energy we need to accomplish a goal. There have been times lately when I am feeling like I cannot achieve something and I am lacking faith. The natural progression is I then become unmotivated and disheartened. For me, faith means reminding myself of my capabilities, staying positive, and relying on God to show me the way. I especially like this concept of Bhavani, which is entirely new to me. I like the idea of dreaming of our most amazing future. This is a source of hope and faith I can draw upon in the future when I am doubting my abilities.

  34. The future can feel so distant. The power of bhavana for me is bringing that “yummy” future into the present so that it’s almost tangible. I learned that I can create whatever future I want with my imagination. Speaking about that future in the present tense makes it so much more believable. And having that belief creates a whole new world of possibilities.

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