Yoga Sutra 2.23 awareness of the natures of the two powers, the property and its possessor

Sūtra II.23

The conjunction causes awareness of the natures of the two powers, the property and its possessor

Puruṣa is the possessor who is joined to his own seen object for the purpose of seeing. Awareness of the seen object, arising from that conjunction, is experience; but awareness of the nature of the Seer is release.

The Seen has been determined; the Seer has been determined. It has been said that the conjunction of Seer and Seen is the cause of what-is-to-be-escaped, and now it has to be determined what sort of conjunction this is. The sūtra says, The conjunction causes awareness of the nature of the two powers, the property and its possessor.

The two powers, property and its possessor, are the mind and Puruṣa, and the conjunction causes, effects, awareness of their natures. That by whose existence the two natures – as of a face and mirror, as it were – are apprehended, is what causes awareness of the two natures.

Right knowledge (pramāṇa) of it is awareness of the nature of mind and of Puruṣa preceded by their conjunction, it being awareness of the nature of an object and its possessor, like the knowledge of the nature of the perceiving eye and the mirror. Awareness of pleasure and pain, such as the awareness of pleasure or pain from (fragrant) sandalwood or thorns, met with in the world of contrarieties, is preceded by conjunction causing pleasure and pain, from the fact that it is an awareness.

Puruṣa is the possessor who is joined to his own object to his own mind (buddhi) for the purpose of seeing for the purpose of seeing experience and release. The meaning is that the conjunction is through seeing alone. Awareness linked with seeing of the Seen, arising from that conjunction is not discriminated, and so is experience; but awareness of the Seer, being discriminated, is release.

In so far as the conjunction comes to an end when there is seeing and its result, seeing is said to be the cause of disjunction; and failure-to-see, as the opposite of seeing, is said to be the cause of conjunction. It is not that seeing causes release (mokṣa), because release is absence of bondage, simply from absence of failure-to-see. Seeing, namely knowledge, is said to bring about Transcendental Aloneness (kaivalya) only in the sense that in the presence of seeing there is annihilation of failure-to-see which is the cause of bondage.

Inasmuch as the conjunction is linked to both seeing and the effect (of it), the conjunction comes to an end when there is seeing and its result. Seeing is said to bring about Transcendental Aloneness only in the sense that seeing as directed to Puruṣa is said to be the cause of disjunction; seeing that the guṇa-s and Puruṣa are different is called the cause of the disjunction of pradhāna and Puruṣa, because by that seeing, that effect comes to an end. Seeing truly what it is that brings into being saṃsāra and wanderer-in-saṃsāra (samsārin), removes the cause which conjoins the sufferer and the pain. What it sees is the true nature of sufferer and suffering, so it is like seeing the true nature of the cause of illness of a sick man.

Ignorance (a-vidyā) is the cause of joining the Seer to the Seen. As it is Ignorance that causes the pain-giving conjunction, it is like a false suggestion (mithyā-jñāna) of having been in contact with something harmful, which actually causes illness. The connection of Seer and Seen is preceded by illusory knowledge (mithyā-jñāna), and as causing pain, it resembles that (false idea) of having been in contact (with something harmful such as poison) in the case of a sick man. Inasmuch as the opposite of seeing the true nature of what is causing pain to the sufferer is failure-to-see, which sees it wrongly, failure-to-see is said to be the cause of the conjunction, meaning that its cause is Ignorance, and from the fact that the conjunction is pain-giving.

Inasmuch as seeing simply removes failure-to-see and brings about no other effect, it is not that seeing causes release: release is absence of painful bondage simply merely from the absence of failure-to-see. Nor is release something that has to be brought about apart from the absence of bondage, and this is why it is always accepted that release is eternal.

In the presence of seeing, in the presence of seeing directed to the field of Seer-Seen, there is annihilation of failure-to-see in that regard. For seeing and failure-to-see in regard to the same location are contradictories, like two areas of darkness and sunshine. In that sense seeing is said to bring about Transcendental Aloneness (kaivalya) as in the sūtra ‘The means of escape is unwavering Knowledge-of-the-difference’ (II.26).

What then is this failure-to-see?

(Opponent) Why, it has already been said that it is simply Ignorance, and on the analogy of negative forms like ‘no friend’ and ‘trackless’ it was explained as knowledge from illusion (viparyaya).

(Answer) True. But interpretations of a text are put forward by various parties to support their own ideas, and refuting views proposed by others is the best approach to confirming the views proposed by one’s own side.

(1)Is it the involvement (adhikāra) of the guṇa-s?

(2)Or is it the non-appearance of the mind (citta) as object for its owner whose nature is sight – namely, the absence of that seeing by which the object is known to its owner?

(3)Is it the purposiveness of the guṇa-s?

As to what this failure-to-see is, various views are now taken up for examination:

(1) Is it the involvement (adhikāra) of the guṇa-s? The general inquiry now comes down to specific questions. The involvement of the guṇa-s is their engagement (adhikṛti), their operation (pravṛtti).

(Opponent to this view) How can failure-to-see ever be supposed to be involvement of the guṇa-s?

(Answer by the proponent) From the sense of the compound, failure-to-see can certainly be involvement. In so far as there is operation of the guṇa-s, there is bondage, and the fact that the cause of bondage is Ignorance (a-vidyā) would be a strong confirmation of it. Then from the point of view of the words themselves, failure-to-see (a-darśana) is what is other than seeing (darśana), in which case there can be the supposition, because involvement of the guṇa-s is other than seeing.

(2) Or is it the non-appearance of the mind (citta) as object for sight for its owner (svāmin) whose nature is sight? Here the position is put forward on the basis of taking the first element (the negative a-) of the compound a-darśana (failure-to-see) as the principal element. non-appearance of the mind: before it appears, there is no seeing. As to what this so-called non-appearance is, he says further: the absence of that seeing where the object the mind is known to its owner. Failure-to-see is the absence of seeing that Puruṣa and the guṇa-s are different.

(3) Is it the purposiveness of the guṇa-s? The guṇa-s are purposive, acting for experience and release, and this is failure-to-see. Here the supposition relates to a concept (not to the words as such) of failure-to-see, and the point is that when something has a purpose, that purpose inevitably is fulfilled.

Now what is the fallacy in these views? The reply is: if failure-to-see were involvement in the guṇa-s, then knowledge (vidyā) would turn out to be useless. For in this view it would not become an opponent to failure-to-see. Knowledge and involvement not being in opposition, it would mean that there is no release, because the guṇa-s might come into operation again and again, by reason of the purpose which they have.

There is the same defect in the view that failure-to-see is the purposiveness of the guṇa-s, and also in the view of it as non-appearance of the mind, for absence of the mind will be absence of seeing, and if it (mind) is not actually there, knowledge cannot bring about its cessation. If it is not there, there is no place for its antagonist either.

(4)Is it Ignorance inhibited along with its mind, being the seed from which mind arises?

(5)Is it manifestation of the saṃskāra of activity when the saṃskāra of stasis ceases? On this it has been said: ‘If pradhāna were stasis alone, then anything functioning would not be pradhāna, because pradhāna should not be a cause of change; and if pradhāna were activity alone in functioning, again it would not be pradhāna because change would be perpetual. It gets its role as pradhāna by functioning in both ways, and only so. As regards other proposed causes, the same reasoning applies.’

(4) Is it Ignorance inhibited along with its mind, being the seed from which mind arises? The proponent gives an alternative: distinction of a part of Ignorance as failure-to-see. In what way? Ignorance uninhibited is seen, and this is seeing. When inhibited, it is dissolved along with the mind into its cause, being the seed from which mind arises, the cause of that rise. That (inhibited) Ignorance is not seen, and there is therefore failure-to-see – that is the idea. But this view must certainly be defective in that it entails ‘seeing’ of the uninhibited state. But if it were amended to failure-to-see of both inhibited and uninhibited states, the conclusion would be unobjectionable.

(5) Is it manifestation of the saṃskāra of activity when the saṃskāra of stasis ceases? The connection with failure-to-see is not clear, but it may be explained thus: it is being said here that Ignorance inhibited along with its mind is the seed from which mind rises, and it is implied that mind is inhibited in its own cause and then rises again. It is further implied that though the cause of the mind, it functions both in stasis and activity. The point was raised to make this clear. Stasis (sthiti) here means the saṃskāra which causes the state of equipoise of the guṇa-s. Then it says when the saṃskāra of stasis ceases, manifestation of the saṃskāra of activity, namely the saṃskāra going into operation in the form of the Great principle and the rest.

He illustrates what would be the defect if it functioned as stasis alone or as activity alone: If pradhāna were stasis alone, then any thing functioning would not be pradhāna, because it would not be a source of change, because (out of stasis) there would be no transformations in the form of the Great principle etc. But pradhāna is that from which originate (pradhatte) changes, and this not being such, would not be pradhāna.

If pradhāna were activity alone ever functioning in the form of change, then change would be perpetual; so it would not be a source (pradhātṛ) of change, and without that function, would not be pradhāna.

It gets its role as pradhāna by functioning in both ways in activity and in stasis and only so is pradhāna truly pradhāna. In fact as regards other proposed causes such as Puruṣa, a divine Lord (īśvara) or ultimate atoms (paramāṇu), the same reasoning applies reasoning on similar lines.

(6)Some hold that failure-to-see is the bare potential of seeing, for a holy text says that the activity of pradhāna is for the purpose of making itself known.

(7)Some say that Puruṣa with the power of knowing all, does not see before (pradhāna) goes into activity: the Seen with the powers of all effects and instruments is not then seen.

(6) The point is now illustrated: Some hold that failure-to-see is the bare potential of seeing. It is the potential of seeing in the unmanifest state, the seed as it were, the state where no sprout is yet manifest, and that is failure-to-see. Some hold this. On what authority? A holy text (śruti) says that the activity of pradhāna is for the purpose of making itself known, showing what it has to display. The failure-to-see is of this.

In this view, failure-to-see is a power essentially unmanifest, which when manifest is seeing. But as there would be no inherent opposition (between them), it would not be appropriate that failure-to-see should cease as a result of such seeing.

(7) Now another view: Puruṣa with the power of knowing all by its nature as a knower before pradhāna goes into action, does not see even though seeing is his nature: the Seen pradhāna with the powers of all effects and instruments and action is not then seen before going into operation, though in the final analysis existent. This is the state of failure-to-see of pradhāna and of Puruṣa.

Here too, for both of them, the earlier state alone is failure-to-see and the later one is seeing, so that the previous defect has not been touched.

(8)Some think of failure-to-see as a property of both. Though essentially of the Seen, dependent as it is on an idea in Puruṣa, seeing is as a property in Puruṣa. Though essentially not of Puruṣa, dependent as it is on an idea of the Seen, failure-to-see just appears a property in Puruṣa.

(8) Some think of failure-to-see as a property of both pradhāna and Puruṣa. Though essentially of the Seen, not apart (from the Seen) it is dependent on an idea in Puruṣa. It is not seen by Puruṣa as such in his own nature, but it is seen by Puruṣa as distinct from his own nature, and the failure-to-see is a property of Puruṣa in the sense that it depends on an idea in Puruṣa. He clarifies the point: Though essentially not of Puruṣa, dependent as it is on an idea of the Seen. The idea of the Seen is knowledge, and it is dependent on that. How is it dependent? It is not seen by Puruṣa as such, but is seen by a co-operation dependent on an idea in the inner organ (antaḥkaraṇa). This failure-to-see appears as a property of Puruṣa alone, though its essence is not (in fact) of Puruṣa; so there can be no objection to taking it solely as a property of the Seen. All this has been for the sake of putting forward all the views.

(9)Seeing is knowledge, and that very knowledge is failure-to-see – so think some.

These are the accepted views, and there are this many opinions about it.

(9) Seeing is knowledge, and that very knowledge is failure-to-see – so think some. This idea assumes that the second element of the compound (a-darśana – failure-to-see) is the principal. Its defect has been exposed already under the sūtra on Ignorance (II.5).

These are the accepted views held by other schools and there are this many opinions about it. The point is, that the final conclusion is not to be determined by a majority verdict. Failure-to-see is properly defined as the cause of conjunction of mind (buddhi) and Puruṣa, because it is the opposite of seeing (the difference between them). The point has been made clear and need not be laboured.

The conjunction of each Puruṣa with the guṇa-s is the same; what is individual is the conjunction of the separate consciousness (pratyak-cetana) with its own mind.

 

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