Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A consideration of the yoga sutras (8)

By realizing that all forms are self-awareness, I have beheld my consort's face - the true Mind Within. – Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa

By way of summary, I see Patanjali laying out a very non-religious spiritual path to that “mind within”. Īśvara, that great antiquity known to be the teacher of the ancients is that ever-present reverberation, praṇava. We have always had this reverberation present to our conscious awareness.

I am paraphrasing: 43 nirvitarka is, literally, without (nir) rational inquiry (vitarka). But I think the gist of this curious and difficult word is “beyond rational inquiry”, that is, to comprehend things just as they are. When we are shown something we have never seen before, something for which we have no referents, then we just see it, we don’t have any memories or notions to colour our perception. Thus, the object just shines, it doesn’t depend upon memory for meaning. It is as if the mindfulness (smṛti) were wiped clean. - Compare this, if you will, with Mahesh's old-time constant reference to CC and so forth as putting on golden glasses. For Patanjali, we put on nothing to see things as they are, to experience our true being, we simply let go of vṛtti, obscuration, conceptualizations. All of this has been a minute explanation of sutra 2, yogacittavṛttinirodhaḥ.

44: in this way, reflecting and not reflection the subtle viṣaya (sense object) is explained.

“Reflecting and not reflecting” – This expression indicates that we are aware of the object arising on the mirror of mind and yet we do not reflect or think about it; we just know it, experience it.

45: aliṅgaparyavāsna, literally: formless conclusion. Liṅga is mark, token, possibly characteristic. The “a” before it makes it negative, like “un” or “a” in English: unreasonable, amoral. Monier-Williams gives two interesting meanings for aliṅga: “having no distinguishing features” and “an epithet of the supreme being”. (Yes, liṅga also means penis and is the object of worship as the Shivaliṅga.) – I think the sense here is a conclusion not based on pre-conceived notions. We experience the object aliṅga, formlessly, without conclusions attached, just as it is.

We experience the object subtly and in its “thusness” viṣayatvaṃ.

46: we might as well address sabīja first. We have previously considered “bjīa” as “source” (sutra 25). The simple prefix sa means “with”. In this context, therefore, having a source, coming from some place or some cause, having an origin – the negative would be “beginningless”.

these (tā) [are] explicity (eva) “samādhi” with source.

What these? The foregoing sutras have used some challenging words vicāra, nirvicāra, savicāra, vitarka, nivitarka that I have not discussed in much detail. They all have, however referred to paths to samādhi. Here, we learn that samādhi is with a source. Samādhi has been referred to in sutra 20 and translated as trance. “Trance” is not an adequate translation for samādhi, but one I am going to use until Patanjali gives a more precise one. At this point, however, we may infer that Patanjali is saying that there are several sources for experiencing the purity of mind-itself. None of them involve dulling the mind by repeating a meaningless sound.

Further paraphrasing the next 5 sutras, Patanjali says that (47) this non-reflecting quality is the quality of pure-self/mind-itself (adhyātma, core being, primordial nature, a reference to īśvara and praṇava). (48) Truth is born/understood in that prajña (see also 20). Prajña is wisdom, but here, again, we infer a special wisdom, that wisdom arising from seeing things as they are without any overlay or overshadowing of preconceptions. (49) [the ending –abhyām is dual Instrumental/Dative/Ablative all three of which, in this case, can be rendered “by”] [What has been] heard/seen [or] inferred [in the ordinary world on one hand] and [what has been gained] by wisdom/prajña [on the other hand] are distinct from one another arthatvāt by this significance. That is, there are two ways of understanding: by ordinary learning (which Patanjali does not put down) and by direct perception, again, an inference to samādhi. (50) thus the latent impressions (saṃskāra) born of other latent impressions is prevented (the cycle is broken, notions generated by other notions is seen through). (51) Then or through this sourceless (nirbīja) [process] all (sarva) [is] ended ([is] by nothing or is brought to nothing) (rirodhe, Dative singular of nirodha).

If it’s source-less, then it isn’t TM, because the source of quiet (I really suspect of dullness and sleep) in TM is a mantra and Patanjali very clearly by the mid-point of this section of the Yoga Sutras parted from anything Mahesh has been teaching. Yes, Mahesh talks about pure consciousness, but more or less holds it hostage … you can’t have it without “his method” of meditation. Patanjali says quite the opposite, it’s always been there and you can experience it by simply becoming increasingly aware of that reverberation (praṇava) that you have always experienced.

All well and good. But how? How do you "do" samādhi?

It isn’t immediately obvious that we can be aware of what has always been there. Where is it, how do we find it?

First point: you don’t have to give your money to a con man. Money isn’t involved.

Second point: the second section of the Yoga Sutras talks about the way, the method.

The second part of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga teachings, yoga spirituality (darśana), is very fascinating. The means he outlines simply is not TM and without Patanjali’s method, you cannot make sense of what has been mistaken, mis-managed, mis-handled in the name of yogic powers in section three. It is, of course, Mahesh’s method of meditation to which he, Mahesh, has added all sorts of nonsense and corruption. It’s his to do with as he pleases. But his obvious misappropriation of Patanjali’s teachings bears no resemblance to what Patanjali is teaching. Hence, we can anticipate different teachings and different results from Patanjali.


A consideration of kriyāyogaḥ in the the yoga sutras(9)

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