Sutra I.37 – Chapter I, Sutra 37

वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तम्॥३७॥

vitaraga-visayam va cittam

Or (va) we can contemplate on people, objects or situations that help us cultivate letting go (vitaraga).

PRACTICAL LIVING     The last sutra (see Sutra I.36) offered us the option of meditating on our inner light. That, however, is an abstract concept that some people find difficult to connect with. So in this sutra Patanjali offers another solution to experiencing more peace: focusing on someone or something that radiates peace and is free from drama. Drama, according to my teacher Robert Birnberg (see Sutra I.6) is the hardest addiction to overcome. “raga” in this sutra refers to this attachment we have to people, objects, ideas and beliefs that eventually leads to suffering. This sutra tells us that detachment can be practiced by observing and reflecting on one of the following:

1. Someone who inspires us to change – a role model. Simply said, we can spend time with people who have detached from something or someone we ourselves are working towards. For example, if one is struggling to quit smoking, then following the steps and wisdom of a trusted person who has successfully quite smoking can be very beneficial. A new mother, for example, needs the ability to detach from work, her hobbies and to a large extent other people in order to give this new being their full attention and love.

2. Study texts that help us reflect on the concept of detachment. This concept can be understood in many different levels and is a recurring subject in the Yoga Sutra-s and many other ancient texts. We may find mantras or significant phrases that “speak” to us that remind us of this letting go that we are practicing.

3. Go to a physical place that can help us connect with this detachment. Some people choose to go on pilgrimages with minimal material goods to experience detachment. Others practice chastity. Having said that, very early in the Yoga Sutra-s we are told that consistency is a key ingredient to finding inner peace. So one way to practice daily is by taking some time every day to do our sadhana (a daily meditative practice that ideally has been given to us by a teacher/mentor that we trust).

IN THE YOGA WORLD     Traditionally, a serious yoga student would look for a yoga teacher that he/she thought had attained a great level of detachment. In India, it is said that there have been many very wise people who have reached levels of clarity that are beyond the average person’s. The idea of detachment requires a mind that is stable, confident and clear. One who sees clearly does not need to cling to ideas, belief systems or other people – there is an understanding of trust: trust in oneself, trust in life. One who is able to detach and let go is one who understands what their fears are and can find a deep sense of sraddha (faith – see Sutra I.20). Detachment, in other words, requires surrendering to the flow of life.

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     A new being has flooded my life with extraordinary beauty these past 2 weeks. Gaia is this little bodyphoto illuminated by a divine light. We spend days and nights together and she has become my object of meditation. Her needs are ones of survival. Apart from food, being clean and sleep she is not attached to anything else. Well, not yet, or not that I know of. She teaches me to surrender on a daily basis. She teaches me to slow down and be here, now with her. She teaches me to trust myself to provide for her and trust her to let me know how I can make her life better. She teaches me that all we need is love (apart from the needs mentioned above). Gai-ta, thank you for teaching me so much, for growing with me, for showing me a side of life I had never known before! Te amo minha gorduchita linda!

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 next week we will look at the importance of sleep and dreams as an object of meditation.

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

  1. What a beautiful way to end the Sutras ❤

    First and foremost, I want to congratulate you and Nate…she is beautiful Lucia 🙂
    Secondly, detachment is something I have been leaning thru my journey this past year.

    After moving, not finding a job right away, and watching all that I saved disappear…
    I prayed (something I had not seriously done, in years) and just surrendered myself to situations i had zero control of.
    I was trying, and trying, and trying…and trying not to feel discouraged.
    It was hard, but once I let go and surrendered to not only a higher power, but as you said, to life itself…
    everything worked out the way it needed to.
    It wasn't going to be an easy paved road…but I would get there, and somehow I knew that b/c I had blind faith.
    (that too was a foreign concept)
    It's hard for me to trust, to let in, and to surrender…like Yoga, its something I work on almost daily.
    I also stopped asking others what I should do when I already had a plan…just not the confidence.
    (and that would just lead to more of a mess b/c if they didnt agree with me, I would become more aggressive and distant)

    Life is so strange..and beautiful 🙂

    im learning more about myself everyday and a big part of that is b/c of your teachings.
    There was a reason I was just driving down Lincoln ave and just signed up for teacher training…
    Life brought us together…for a greater purpose.
    You didnt give up on me…and I was good at pushing people out.
    You showed me love and compassion (and sometimes tough love 😉 )
    I have learned an grown immensely having you as a mentor.

    and I have no doubt you will/are an AMAZING mother.
    Gai chose one of the best people I have ever met to call 'Mom' ❤

    Again, manymany blessings to you 3 and enjoy every min of it 🙂

    • Christina, thank you for the beautiful words. I am happy to hear that even though life shows you challenges, that you are taking them as life lessons. Your heart is immense, share it with the world. Lots and lots of love lady!

  2. Lulita– Nate and yourself have created this beautiful soul, Gaia, whom, like you said: “is this little body illuminated by a divine light.” I was blessed so grateful to have met her in her second week of life into the World, lived with her, laughed and even shed a few tears whilst simply observing her on the magical ball 🙂 I love her so much! It is so crazy!

    I love you and Nate and may God bless you both. Thank you for this Sutra, it is beautiful, like you and your baby.

    All my love, today and always,


  3. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot.

  4. Being in college with 3 other roommates, often my practice (meditaion, asana, and pranayama) are interrupted. Finding a place that helps me connect with detachment is key. I have found a place in fact! Not one I can go to at any hour of the night, but a peaceful place that allows me to let go of the rest of the world. Here in the agriculture hall where I am surrounded by my love and life source, plants, I detach from the stressful, rushed world around me and can surrender to my flow of life.

  5. My role model in life: Roger Federer; the guys is humble, talented, humane, inspiring and charismatic. My professional role model is currently my mentor, a fellow engineer at work. He is the best at what he does. He kindly gives guidances to me and others to better design and control a process or even a piece of equipment. And a phrase/text i always love is “To err is humane, but to forgive is divine”. That forgive and forget mentality is the same of being able to let go and move on without judgement. Are we being kind to ourselves, or others? We all make errors, big deal!? Let’s forgive ourselves, be happy and get on to other things. Let’s roll 🙂

  6. Pingback: Sutra II.11 – Chapter II, Sutra 11 | weeklysutra

  7. While self-love is foremost and essential, focusing on a person, object or situation outside of ourselves is necessary for inner peace! It is tempting to search for the one role-model, the one “thing” or the one trip that can solve our attachment woes. However, just as in integrating asana into daily life, it is the small, incremental acts of noticing people, objects and journeys in our routines and “normal” places that have just as much transformative power as a “wow” person or place.

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