Yoga Sutras 1.33 to 1.40

Sutra 1.33

The mind is made clear by meditation on friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the suffering, goodwill towards the virtuous, and disinterest in the sinful

Let him practise friendliness towards all beings experiencing happiness, compassion to those in pain, goodwill to the habitually virtuous, and disinterest in habitual sinners. Such devoted meditations produce pure dharma, and thereby the mind becomes clear. When it is clear, it attains steadiness in one-pointedness.

How is the mind to be trained? Practice on one principle has been taught; what is the one principle which is to be the object of the practice? He says, meditation on friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the suffering, goodwill towards the virtuous, and disinterest in the sinful.

Friendliness is meditation on being a friend, one who rejoices in happiness when he sees it without anything like envy. So towards suffering, a kindly sympathy, and to the righteous he feels goodwill. It is added that he should practise disinterest in regard to the doings of the habitually sinful.

Practice of this all the time produces pure dharma, which does no injury to living beings; this dharma makes the mind clear. When it is clear, it attains steadiness in one-pointedness; the meaning is that by one-pointedness it is concentrated in samadhi, as the Gita says, ‘The mind of the pure-hearted soon becomes steady’ (11.65).

(Opponent) Disinterest cannot produce dharma because it is not an action, so why is it included?

(Answer) If indifference were not mentioned, the mind would become engaged with those habitually sinful, and from the taint arising from dealings with them, it would not be fit for meditations on friendliness and the others. Disinterest is mentioned only in the context of steadying the mind so that there should be no a-dharma arising from casual dealings involving habitual sinners. The great thing here is steadiness of the mind.

When he has thus engaged his mind in meditation on one principle in this way, the mind will come to samadhi and no obstacles will then arise.

Sutra 1.34

Or by expulsion and retention of prana

Expulsion is emission of the abdominal air through the two nostrils by a conscious effort; retention refers to the process of pranayama. By these two means one can attain steadiness of the mind.

The word Or means an alternative, so this is a means to steadiness other than meditations on friendliness, etc. The sense is that one should attain steadiness by some one of the means beginning with meditation on friendliness; a number of means are given, with the idea that one of them will be easier to a particular person and time and place.

Expulsion and retention separately or together. The first is emission of the abdominal air up to the limit through the nostrils, not by the mouth. Retention is the full process of pranayama, to the limit. Though prana is to some extent restrained even by expulsion (alone), its function of going out has not been inhibited, and so retention is added, meaning pranayama.

Sutra 1.35

Or achievement of supernormal perception of a divine object brings the mind to steadiness

When one makes a concentration (dharana) on the tip of the nose, he will have a sensation (samvit) of divine fragrance; on the palate, of colour; on the middle of the tongue, of touch; and on the root of the tongue, of sound. These supernormal perceptions arising hold the mind in steadiness, remove doubts, and become a means to samadhi cognition (samadhi-prajha).

In the same way experiences like the moon, sun, a planet, a jewel, a light or a ray, are to be known as supernormal perceptions of actual objects.

Although what is understood from the scriptures and inferences from them, and from instruction by a teacher, are real facts, since these are qualified to describe things as they really are, still until some one part of it has been known directly for oneself, it is all second-hand as it were, and does not produce a firm conviction about release and other subtle things. Therefore some one definite thing has to be directly experienced in confirmation of what has been learned from scripture and inference and the teacher.

Or a supernormal perception of a divine object brings the mind to steadiness. This is a yogic perception, of some object like fragrance, for example, when that has been made the object of the meditation. There is a direct awareness (samvedana) of that fragrance.

For the yogin who is practising yoga which is to give face-to-face experience, the perception is the first direct awareness, and it gives him confidence, creating enthusiasm for the practice of yoga; it is like the appearance of smoke when wood is being rubbed together to create fire. Such a perception fills him with joy because of the confidence it creates, and brings his mind to steadiness.

When one makes a concentration on the tip of the nose, he will have a sensation (samvit) offragrance an experience of delightful fragrance arises and continues, as if by the ordinary sense contact. This is the perception of fragrance. So with the tongue and others; they are the locations of concentration. These perceptions hold the mind in steadiness, remove doubts, and become a means to samadhi-cognition.

The forms of a ray, moon, sun, planet, or a light and so on, appearing to one who is concentrating his mind on them, or spontaneously when the meditation on the lotus of the heart is unsteady (vaisamya), are to be known as perceptions of actual objects.

Although what is understood from the scriptures and inferences from them and from instruction by a teacher, are real facts, and there is no uncertainty about them, inasmuch as there is no contradictory teaching, still until some one part of it has been known directly for oneself until there is a direct perception (pratyaksa) of at least one thing taught by them it is all second-hand, as it were, and does not produce a firm conviction about such subtle things as release. Therefore some specific thing has to be directly experienced, to reinforce what has been so learnt.

When some one thing out of what has been taught has been directly perceived, everything else is firmly believed, including such subtle matters as release, and this is why the yogin is directed to train the mind in this way.

As regards the concentrations of the mind which have not been mastered, when the consciousness of mastery has arisen in regard to the objects (so far practised), he will be able to perceive directly (and thereby master) all the others. Then faith, energy, memory and samadhi will come to him without hindrance.

When some one thing out of what has been taught has been directly perceived, everything else is firmly believed, including such subtle matters as release, and this is why the yogin is directed to train the mind in this way, beginning with friendliness and compassion (sutra 1.33) up to mastery, from the ultimate atomic particles up to ultimate magnitude (sutra 1.40); the training is set out in the section beginning with restraints, observances, posture and so on (sutra 11.29).

To sum up: by undertaking one of the practices taught in this section, some one thing is directly perceived; by this, doubt is removed and faith firmly established in the teachings right up to such subtle things as release, the extravertive mental processes are calmed, and the detachment called consciousness of mastery is accomplished. Then he will be capable of experiencing directly any of the things taught in the third chapter, beginning with the three transformations (past, present and future), whether to attain knowledge or powers. This is the purpose of teaching this mental training here, as the commentator has explained.

Sutra 1.36

Or a radiant perception beyond sorrow

The words ‘brings the mind to steadiness are to be supplied from the previous sutra. When one concentrates on the heart-lotus, there is direct awareness of the buddhi.

The buddhi-sattva is like shining space, but while the concentration is still wavering in stability, the perception takes the luminous form of a sun, or a moon, planet, or gems.

When the mind reaches samadhi on I-am-ness, it is like the still ocean, serene and infinite, I-am alone. On which it has been said: Having discovered the self which is subtle as an atom, he should be conscious of I-am alone.

There are thus the two sorrowless perceptions, one of divine objects, and one of self alone, by which the mind of the yogin attains steadiness.

The sutra has to be completed from the context, so that it runs: ‘Or where a radiant perception, beyond sorrow, is attained, it brings the mind to steadiness.’ As a perception in which light is experienced, it is called radiant, and as it causes sorrow to pass away, it is beyond sorrow. How is it produced? When one concentrates on the heart-lotus, there is a direct awareness of the buddhi an experience of its true nature. What then is this nature of the buddhi-sattva?

Like shining space, ever radiant and all-pervading. But because there in that buddhi-sattva there is still wavering (vaisamya) in the stability, because the concentration has not come to complete likeness of the buddhi-sattva as it is in itself, the radiant perception of the yogic concentration on the heart-lotus takes the luminous form of a sun or moon, planet or gems.

When the mind reaches samadhi on I-am-ness, on ‘I’ (aharikara), which happens when the buddhi-sattva approximates to its own true nature, it is like a still ocean, serene and infinite, I-am alone. On which it has been said as regards this samadhi Having discovered having attained the self the atman of I-am-ness (asmita) which is being explained, which is subtle as an atom being so subtle he should be conscious of I-atn alone. He should be conscious only of the likeness of the object of the meditation. As the true form of the I alone, it is seen as distinct from what has coloured it, like a crystal taking on the colour of what it is laid on.

There are these two sorrowless perceptions, one of divine objects and one of self alone. All of them, from the perception of fragrance to I-am-ness, are entirely without sorrow. But the radiant perception is different from the group of five beginning with the experience of fragrance. The ones connected with an object are preliminary to the pure I-am, and as such, there is a difference in their fields. By which sorrowless radiant perception the mind of the yogin attains steadiness.

Sutra 1.37

Or on a mind whose meditation is on freedom from passion

Coloured by meditation on a mind free from passion, the mind of the yogin attains steadiness.

He from whose thinking all passion has gone, is free from passion, namely dispassionate. It is well known what dispassion is: there must be freedom from desire even in the case of a naturally passionate man in the presence of objects of desire, for instance women or possessions. Let him practise with this idea in mind. But actual objects should not be part of the meditation, because of the evils in them. Thus coloured by meditation on a mind free from passion, the mind of the yogin attains steadiness. For a mind, once the bridle of passion has been set on it, runs like a horse driven by another.

Sutra 1.38

Or meditating on the knowledge of dream and sleep

Either on the knowledge of dream or on the knowledge of sleep; the yogin’s mind in that form attains steadiness.

Meditating, either on the knowledge of dream or on the knowledge of sleep, the mind becomes of that form alone. What the mind meditates on as its own being, that form indeed it becomes. In the dream state, there is knowledge without any physical objects like sound and so on, and the nature of that knowledge is pure illumination. Now he meditates on what that knowledge is, but not on the remembered objects themselves (which appear in the dream). For the mind can be caught by the bridle of an object even merely remembered.

But the meditation on the knowledge of deep sleep, which is essentially non-perception of any particular objects, rests on the idea of non-existence, and is peaceful, infinite, and characterized by an experience of immutability. When the mind rests on that, it is natural that it attains steadiness.

Sutra 1.39

Or by meditation on what appeals to him

Let him meditate on whatever appeals to him. Having found some one thing on which he can steady his mind, he will be able to steady it on other things also.

Let him meditate on whatever appeals with the aim of steadying the mind, for steadying the mind is the purpose here. It must not be to secure pleasures and so on, for there is the prohibition ‘Even if one should obtain objects, let him never dwell on them in any way’. Having found something which is a proper object for meditation on which he can steady his mind, he will be able to steady it on other things also, the things specifically prescribed for the training.

Sutra 1.40

His mastery extends right to the ultimate atom and to the ultimate magnitude

When he concentrates on it, he can steady his mind on anything subtle, right down to the ultimate atom; when he concentrates on it, he has steadiness of mind on anything substantial, up to the ultimate magnitude. When one can take his practice to either at will, it is full mastery; when he has full mastery, he does not require further practice in training.

The words right to are to be taken with both the extremes. When he concentrates on something subtle, in the course of his practice the mind experiences things progressively smaller and smaller till he comes to the ultimate atom. By practice he becomes able to remain steady in that experience.

When he can take his practice to either limit at will, it is full mastery. He has complete mastery who is not obstructed by any opposing thought in his experience of either the very small or the very great. The earlier practices are (part of) the highest (mastery), but there is this distinction: when he has full mastery he does not require further practice in training, whereas those in the early stages do require some more training.

There is, then, a three-fold concentration (dharana): the contracted which touches the limit of minuteness, the extended which touches the limit of greatness, and the third which experiences both of the limits. The sutra implies all three.

Now when the mind has attained steadiness (sthiti), what sort of samadhi does it have, and on what objects?

When the mind has attained steadiness by one or more of the methods given what sort of samadhi does it have and on what objects? The following sutra has been given to answer this question.

Recap

Trevor Leggett’s meditation instructions on the Yoga Sutras:

He says “you have to know enough theory for a working basis” and referring to his book  ‘Sankara on the Yoga Sutras’, he says ” there is no need immediately to read the subtleties of the intellectual background”.

His instructions are:

THEORY

(1)    Read the Introduction for the General Reader.

Then read the following passages of the sutra and commentaries from part 1 only:-

(2)    1.2 – 1.6 then jump to

(3)    1.12 – 1.22

(4)    1.23 – 26, God. Sutra-s only – pass over the elaborate proofs. Take it as a working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.

(5)    1.27 -1.32

(6)    1.33 – 1.40

(7)    1.41 – 1.49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in 1.43 and 1.47. Not all Samadhi-s are Truth-bearing.

(8)    1.50 and 1.51, and refer back to 1.18.

Re-read these passages till you have a good idea of the basic pattern of the Yoga.

PRACTICE

(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 enquiry. 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 ( Sir 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; 111.33). But the so- called Glories are the 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.

The hyperlinks open in a new tab for navigation purposes.

(1)  Introduction for the General Reader.

(2)    I.2 – I.6

(3)    I.12 – I.22

(4)    I.23 – I.26, God. Sutra-s only – pass over the elaborate proofs. Take it as a working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.

(5)    I.27 -I.32

(6)    I.33 – I.40

(7)    I.41 – I.49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in I.43 and I.47. Not all Samadhi-s are Truth-bearing.

(8)    I.50 and I.51, and refer back to I.18.

 

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