Wednesday, March 07, 2007

a consideration of the yoga sutras (4)

a consideration of the yoga sutras (1)
a consideration of the yoga sutras (2)
a consideration of the yoga sutras (3)

Sutras 1-15 have laid out the undertaking. Now 16-22 clarifies more detail. The difficult word in sutra 16 is puruṣa (purusha). Fortunately, we all know what Purusha is; it’s Mahesh’s monastic thing, young guys wearing wet diapers so they don’t get erections. Ah, vṛtti spotted. A preconceived notion can really be a limitation. Mahesh’s Purusha either hadn’t been invented when I started my translation project or, more likely I didn’t know about it.

In Sanskrit, puruṣa means many things. These days, it’s easy to check on-line dictionaries for many languages. When I started my project, however, there was no “on-line”, so I bought many, many dictionaries of Sanskrit, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Pāli, Chinese (because many Sanskrit texts were translated into Chinese and knowing what the ancient translators in China thought the equally ancient Sanskrit words meant is quite valuable).

So, puruṣa; here I think the word just refers to the individual person. But in the sense spoken of in the preceding 15 sutras. Not just the ordinary person, but much more likely, the essence of the individual person. The sutra could be read: this [is] the essence of non-attachment (referring to vṛtti), the ultimate clarity of the individual (what is the essence of the individual person, mind, of course, just mind, clear mind, unclouded by preconception).

17: this is an explanation of 16 – [the essence of non-attachment is the ultimate clarity of the individual (mind)] [i.e. this] samprajñāta (insight or clear sight) is accompanied by awareness, happiness and reflection (as in thought or contemplation, pondering; any yet, not exactly the same as thinking).

Meditation becomes a matter of clarity of a fully awake mind. Curiously, Hartranft’s text add’s rūpa, but Taimni does not. No one makes this easy. Do not leap to the conclusion or vṛtti that Patañjali is talking about pure consciousness in TM terms. He is definitely talking about pure awareness, pure consciousness in terms of the always awakened mind being free from all obstruction of perception. The mind seeing things just as they are, not as bad, or ugly, or nice, or possess-able or any such thing. He is talking about just seeing/perceiving.

18: the remnant of impressions left from before is no more. The pratyaya (tendencies or propensities) is no more.

The author is talking about proper training, something involved both in intellectual understanding of what to do, where to aim and how to do as well as doing it with intent and purpose. One does not learn to realize clarity of mind by thinking a meaningless thought.

19: those/for those [who are] absorbed in the natural (prakṛti) videha (dead?, probably not, more like “no-more-ness”) [i.e. those who by diligent practise achieve (merge with) calm and clarity, videhaprakṛtilayānām)] become.

I don’t think bhava here means to take birth. That doesn’t seem to fit. The meaning seems to be that those who are diligent in applying the lessons presented here achieve awakening, something like “realization of” their calm and clarity which then becomes that in effect is what could be seen as taking birth.

20: others, people who do not have the advantage of this teaching may achieve this “birth” or achievement of clarity and consciousness by faith, diligence, mental-purposefulness (smṛti), trance (samādhi … lots of meanings for this word, but I think that at this stage the author is talking about just plain ‘spacing-out’ which really does generate insight sometimes, which we all know from experience) or wisdom (prajñā). Some people are just very wise, have penetrating understanding. We’ve all met them. They’re just that way. For the rest of us, there’s hard work and application (as directed).

21: it is near for those who are seeking it.

Obviously, be careful what you wish for. The sutras lay out the definitions and the procedures. There is a clarity here, difficult to wade through, granted. But what to do and how to recognize the correctness of what one is doing as well as how to recognize the goal and whether or not it is being achieved is here. It's a cookbook and the author is at pains to make sure you know how to pay attention to the directions (if, of course, you are paying attention to begin with).

22: how near? That depends on you. Like somewhat outdated computer language, GIGO. You get out of it what you put into it.

a consideration of the yoga sutras (5)

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