suksma-visayatvam ca alinga-paryavasanam
And (ca) meditation culminates (paryavasanam) in an object (visayatvam) that is so subtle (suksma) that it has no manifestation (alinga).
PRACTICAL LIVING We have been building up the process of meditation from gross to subtle. This sutra is the culmination of how subtle the object can be. Here Patanjali describes how at a certain point during our paths, we are able to meditate on an object that has no physical manifestation. In other words, Patanjali is saying that the subtlest form of meditation is one where we connect with our true nature, our inner light, the observer within. Before you set this as a goal, remember that this is a process and we cannot practice getting to this place. We can practice meditating on objects that bring us a sense of peace (ex: a person we love, the full moon, a deity) and we may (or may not) be able to one day experience what this sutra is talking about.
IN THE YOGA WORLD According to Samkhya (the philosophy that Yoga is based on), life arises from an eternal and subtle state of infinite potential, referred to as prakrti. Prakrti, or nature, is anything around us that is not man made but occurs naturally in the world. From this source is born our intellect, our ego, our thoughts, emotions and our bodies. One way to view this sutra is to say that the most subtle object of meditation is prakrti – the source of everything around and within us. Yes, this is deep and maybe hard to grasp. If it is, then don’t worry. The more we study this, the easier it becomes to understand it all. It penetrates into our being slowly, one layer at a time.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON In Gautama Buddha’s “birthday”, I could only dedicate this sutra to this being who was filled with light. Today many Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. This sutra describes the ability to meditate on an object that is so subtle that it does not have a physical manifestation. This requires a very stable and clear mind; it is a very “advanced” state of being. It is said and believed that Gautama Buddha had that ability. Statues representing him are found nowadays anywhere from temples in Tibet to nightclubs in Ibiza. Personally, Buddha represents the path inward. He reminds me to act, to let go, to connect to the heart space and live from that pure and loving place. As I look at his statue in my sacred place at home, I am reminded that life is beautiful, that life is happening right here and right now (not yesterday or tomorrow). For that and all of his wise teachings, I am amazingly grateful!