(1) If you are cut off (say in solitary confinement) and the need is great, devote several hours a day to the basic practice of disentangling Seer from Seen (e.g. 11.35), When this is established and comes of its own accord sometimes, practise giving up thoughts (1.18) in meditation. The yoga then takes over (1.50)
(2) If you are relatively free from obligations, with basic needs at hand, practise at least three hours a day. Patanjali hardly mentions a guru, but without some senior-adviser few can keep going without changing the rules to suit themselves. This causes many failures. Capacity for devotion to God arises naturally in anyone who meditates with serious inquiry. When developed it gives direct vision (11.44) and perfection in samadhi (11.45).
(3) If you have commitments, you must establish a do-or-die resolution to practise Yoga of Action (11.1,2). It requires some heroism. Evenness of mind in all concerns of daily life is the main tapas. Then there must be determination to set aside at least an hour-and-a-half every single day to the two other elements; self-study includes holy reading. The Gita is a summary of the Upanishads in verse. (Edwin Arnold’s Song Celestial is also in easily memorable verse.) Teachers today give meditations on avatars such as Rama and Jesus; they culminate in a vision, which changes the whole life. It is essential to practise hard at the Yogic action, which must be energetic but free from a claim on results; it is given in detail in the early chapters of the Gita.
Nearly all yogis support themselves with the OM (1.28) and Maitri (1.33) practices. These also bring out hidden natural potentialities from the mind (1.29; 111.23)
But the so-called Glories are delusive manipulations of the world illusion and are mires of attachment.
When enthusiasm flags, read 11.15 – 17; look around you and see how anxiety, pain and death are rushing towards us like an express train. Yoga is a way to escape them.
You have to know enough theory for a working basis; no need now to read the subtleties of the intellectual background.
Readings necessary from Sankara on the Yoga Sutras:
(1) Read the Introduction for the General Reader: pass over the Technical Introduction. Then read these passages of the sutra and commentaries from part I only.
(2) 1.2 – 6 then jump to
(4) 23. – 26, God. Sutras only. Pass over the elaborate proofs. Take as working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.
(7) 41 – 49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in 43 and 47. Not all Samadhi-s are Truth-bearing. .
(8) 50, 51, and refer back to 18.
Re-read these passages till you have a good idea of the basic pattern of the Yoga.
© Trevor Leggett