Sutra I.42 – Chapter I, Sutra 42

तत्र शब्दार्थज्ञानविकल्पैः संकीर्णा सवितर्का समापत्तिः॥४२॥

tatra sabda-artha-jnana-vikalpaih sankirna savitarka samapattih

Reflection (savitarka), followed by complete union (samapattih) occurs when we meditate on one object and there is a blend (sankirna) of the object’s name (sabda), its meaning (artha), the knowledge of this object (jnana) and what the mind imagines when thinking of this object (vikalpaih).

PRACTICAL LIVING     Usually, our mind processes information automatically without us paying much attention. For example, if I said to you “ostrich”, your understanding of “ostrich”  would be processed in 3 different steps that seem as one: (1) your perception of the object in the moment; (2) the word is then associated with the object; and (3) the comprehension you have of the object based on your past experiences. In this sutra however, Patanjali says that we can reach a level of awareness where those 3 steps can occur separately and with clear awareness.

Here, Patanjali begins to describe the different levels of meditation or union with an object. This object may be another person, a symbol like Om, an image of a deity or anything you connect with. In this sutra Patanjali explains the first level of meditation: savitarka samapatti. This state can be achieved when we decide to devote all of our attention to one particular object (ex: cooking). Last night I cooked sweet potato soup. For a moment, I was completely absorbed with the process of chopping, heating and blending the soup. This state involved a few activities of the mind (see Sutra I.5): knowing the words of the ingredients (sabda), their meanings (artha), associating the words in the recipe to certain actions (jnana), and imagination (vikalpaih) – replacing red curry paste with curry powder. Since there were different movements happening in the mind, this can be described as a superficial form of union. I was completely absorbed with my cooking, but there were several things going on in my mind about the ingredients and the steps I had to take in order to make the soup*.

* In reality, the situation I just described is not a state of union (samapattih) but more a state of concentration (dharana). The difference between the two is that union does not require effort, whereas concentration requires a continuous amount of effort to stay with the object (I had a baby and phone calls distracting me throughout the cooking process as well).

IN THE YOGA WORLD     All the tools we learn from our yoga teachers and in the yoga texts are aiming towards awareness. So every time we perform an asana with the breath, we go through the 3 steps above – associating a word to a specific movement and the understanding that comes from that association leads us to perform the pose. With practice, commitment and time (see Sutra I.14), we have the potential to begin experiencing union with our objects of meditation, whether it’s a pose, the breath, a mantra or a devotional image.

This sutra is simply describing what we are capable of if we commit ourselves to our practices 🙂

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     A best friend since Kindergarden (which we both did twice), Elo is one of those Sutra I.42- Eloysepeople you thank life over and over again for being so close to you. I will define her as “union with friendship”. This woman has a devotion to her friends that is admirable and awing. She moved to the other side of the planet when we were eleven years old and since then we have lived in different countries. However, this has not distanced our connection, our friendship, our union at all. I must admit that the reason for not distancing ourselves is mainly because of her. She makes me laugh, she makes me reflect, she makes me celebrate life. Elo, thank you for your friendship: it’s one of the best gifts life has given me. Te amo amiga!

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 next level of meditation!

5 thoughts on “Sutra I.42 – Chapter I, Sutra 42

  1. Beautiful Lucia!!! I really related to this one. I’d like to talk to you about meditation. Looking forward to seeing you and Gaia. Btw you’re welcome to come to my house and then well go to mtg if that’s better or easier baby wise. Just let me know. Cld do 4:30. Xxa

    Sent from my iPhone.


  2. Pingback: Sutra I.44 – Chapter I, Sutra 44 | weeklysutra

  3. Pingback: Sutra I.44 – Chapter I, Sutra 44 | weeklysutra

  4. The mind is powerful. We can certainly do anything if we put our minds into it; that is, the union of the mind and the focus on a certain task. I see it as if i put my heart and soul into it with focus and attention to details, something good will come out of it. But be warned, things may not always turn out as we expect them to be. So, no judgement, just do our best and let go. Whatever comes will come. At least, i could say, hey i tried 🙂

  5. This sutra reminds me of the process of learning. To understand a process or an object we must break it down into comprehensible steps. Over time and repetition these steps and concepts become not just memorized but understood and known. It is at this point that we can not just comprehend the layers and nuances of practice and meaning but also practice and teach with nuance as well. I recognize that i truly know some thing when I am able to take the synthesized whole and then turn back around again and break it down into its parts for some one else to understand.

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