तस्य सप्तधा प्रान्तभूमिः प्रज्ञा
tasya saptadhā prānta-bhūmiḥ prajñā
That (tasya) clarity and wisdom (prajñā) is cultivated gradually in seven (saptadhā) stages (bhūmiḥ).
PRACTICAL LIVING After telling us that the symptom is suffering (see sūtra II.16), the cause is misperception (see sūtra II.24), the goal is freedom (see sūtra II.25) and the path is clarity and discernment (see sūtra II.26), Patañjali says that the path to freedom is gradual and occurs in precisely seven stages. This is all he says. Commentators have explored this simple statement and there are a lot of differences between texts. Below is an interpretation of the famous Vyasa’s interpretation:
i. Be aware of suffering, understand that we all suffer, and study yourself in order to understand how suffering can be avoided in the future. This also includes the ability to look inward instead of continuously pointing our fingers to the external as a cause for our pain.
ii. Recognize the seeds that cause pain in our lives, find what causes and triggers them whether they manifest in thoughts, speech or action. As we become clearer about these seeds, we “water” them less which causes the seeds to gradually “dry up”.
iii. Set goals and act. Now that we understand where our suffering comes from, something (or many things) needs to change. Here we are told that reflection, though necessary, is not enough. Action is required in order for transformation to occur. The mind is clearer and calmer.
iv. With the correct tools, one experiences profound internal changes. “Doing” becomes less important and letting go and surrendering is understood to be the path towards the spirit.
v. The ego is no longer the master of our lives since its purpose has been completed. It loses its strength and is only consulted when needed (as opposed to leading the game 24/7).
vi. The conditioned mind has lost its dominance and one rests in the soul, the heart space.
vii. The Self/spirit/soul is seen to stand by itself, it reveals its light, which like the sun, shines light onto the moon, which in turn reflects light (which is not its own). The intellect, like the moon, reflects the light of the soul.
IN THE YOGA WORLD Whatever the interpretation is, Patañjali is telling us that the process is gradual. The process of living only in our bodies and minds, to experiencing our spirits, happens in stages. I have personally experienced profound shifts in my understanding of myself and the world. These shifts are usually accompanied by emotionally challenging moments. As I understand myself more, I have grown to welcome these tough times and have followed Ram Dass’ suggestion of telling my thoughts and emotions “I love you”. It’s through acceptance and love that we transform.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON When life is great, we feel good and it’s like being in a playground on a sunny day. It’s when life throws us some unexpected challenges that we are challenged to grow. Marcy, a HUGE petit woman, has stepped up to life’s main stage under a thunderstorm. To watch her gather her tribe to strengthen herself, be open to love and laughter, and to reflect on the most peaceful ways to proceed, has been awing. I cannot tell you how much I have been inspired by your journey Marcy! I’ve always thought you were a wonderful human being. But now, more than ever, I see the powerful light within you and the effects of your shining rays. Amazing, woman! Thank you for welcoming me into your personal transformation. Beijos com MUITO carinho!
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 look at the benefits of being in a journey of self awareness!