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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.25 Sadhana Pada

Heidi Jahn

Essay by Heidi Jahn

The word "yoga" means union - the union between the individual mind and universal consciousness. Yoga Sutra, or The Threads of Union, was written by the sage Patanjali in the third century BC. In Yoga Sutra Patanjali codified the teachings on Yoga which had been passed down verbally for centuries. In a concise and profound way Patanjali threads together series of aphorisms (threads), inspired by Advaita Vedanta and Hindu philosophical tradition. Yoga Sutra consists of four chapters and 194 aphorisms altogether. -Veronica Verai

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.25 Sadhana Pada

The dissociation of Purusha and Prakriti brought about by the dispersion of Avidya is the real remedy and that is the liberation of the seer.
Chapter two focuses on the effective practice (Sadhana Pada) of Yoga. Sadhana means spiritual practice. Yoga sadhana is something we "do" in order to move from a disconnected spiritual state and connect more fully with spirit. Here we learn experientially through practice.i The following is my own interpretation and understanding of the Yoga Sutra Chapter 2, sutra 25 by Patanjali. The Seer and Seen, Purusha(self/conciousness) and Prakriti(world/matter): This is a concept of the world as most people see and experience it, as dualistic, that there is a subject and an object, self and the world, consciousness and matter, whether as a principle (purusha-prakriti) or expression (seer-seen). This really is simply a matter of perception, a point of view that the mind perceives as real. It is one way of understanding our experience of the world. I state most people as being those that are not on a spiritual path. Unfortunately, seeing the world from this angle is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, fears and attachments, misunderstanding of our minds, uncontrolled thoughts and feelings, no true concept or understanding of the self, false identity, these being some of the Kleshas or afflictions that effect the un-awakened human experience.

It is seeing and experiencing the human condition or life through a myriad of filters, for example: euphoria, greed, possessiveness, wants, perceived needs, thousands of thoughts and emotions that we believe to be real and should be acted upon. What causes this state of confusion? In a word, ignorance (or Avidya). In a sense, it is like being asleep. Or living under a veil. Asleep, unawake, unaware to the possibility of another path, or way of being, or point of view.

Dispersion of Avidya: This split view (dualism), is the expression of Avidya (ignorance). The dualistic nature of seeing the world is termed by Patanjali as Avidya. Avidya refers to a whole state of being, total ignorance of the oneness of the universe, of contraction, of being unawakened. Vidya is knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Avidya is the opposite of this. Therefore, Avidya makes the world appear as something separate from the individual. In this state of perception we are constantly being pulled and controlled by our Kleshas or afflictions, the root of all Kleshas being Avidya. The afflictions as described in the Yoga Sutras are; ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and the tenacious clinging to existence. Meditation and yoga can bring the kleshas into our consciousness in a controlled manner by creating space around each thought or emotion, so you have more choice in your reactions and have time to understand and identify wrong thinking.ii We want for things we think we need to be happy or think we have to acquire to be happy. Experiencing the world in this dualistic manner is confusing and reactive, it is hard work, it takes up a lot of energy and leaves many humans exhausted and questioning what this life is really all about. If you ask any individual what they would most like to attain in this life and I would maintain that the vast majority would answer happiness/contentment/peace. Yet this eludes billions of us all over the world, despite most people working very hard at acquiring the very things that they think will make them happy or content. It is elusive because people are not awake to the reality of the universe they exist in or how to live in harmony with one, the universe. There is a constant struggle in our minds over this and that, rather than simply surrendering to the flow of the universe as one. I believe this dualistic view of the world should really be questioned by everyone, because there is in fact another way of looking at the world, which can bring this elusive peace and contentment to anyone who is seriously interested. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras describes how this can be achieved. Austerity, self-study and devoted self-surrender to Shiva constitute the practice of yoga. It requires work but it is possible to attain relaxation or tranquility of the mind that will dissolve ignorance and leave one refreshed and calm and seeing things in a different light. The light of higher consciousness.

Liberation of the Seer: Dissociation, or resolving this perception of the world as being dualistic, will result in the real remedy or liberation of the seer, pure meditation or peace. Merging with the self, self realisation, surrender of the dualistic notion, merging with consciousness, this is the crown of yoga. Steady and continuous peace is the eventual result of the insights that accrue from and within samadhi, insights that undermine identification with perception, action and object. The mind becomes objective and not responsive to, what I call the non-sense, of dualism. Samadhi, or perfect meditation, can be achieved by a process of working from the outside in, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras Sadhana Pada. A union in the sense of non-division. What does this mean? Well, from my own experience I have to suggest that you need to practice the suggested combination of yogic practices on a regular basis and you will then experience movement toward liberation for yourself. He describes practices for those interested in attaining liberation which have been documented and proven over many hundreds, even thousands of years to be effective for the human being to attain a tranquil mind. As described in the Yoga Sutras, the perceptual split is resolved through sadhana (spiritual practice/yoga); the subject, object and relationship (action) disappear into the impersonal flow of consciousness as impersonal seeing or pure awareness. This is what we also call peace or contentment, attaining the higher self. That is, an awareness unqualified by any dualistic notion. To attain pure awareness the real remedy is the dispersion of Avidya via yoga to eventually sit in the reality that the world is non-dualistic and is one. To achieve this Patanjali states that one must practice yoga. Yoga in the sense of a combined spiritual approach aimed to reach Samadhi, insights that undermine identification with perception, action and object. Patanjali describes how one can disperse ignorance or Avidya by undertaking a series of yogic actions, an eightfold path, the eight limbs of yoga or Ashtanga. If this sounds familiar to Buddhist practice and theory, it is. At the time of writing of the Yoga Sutras, Buddhism was a very strong influence and there are many parallels between the two philosophies. The eight limbs described in the Yoga Sutras are restraint (yama), binding observance (niyama), posture (asana), regulation of breath (pranayama), abstraction and sensewithdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), contemplation (dhyana) and perfect meditative absorption (samadhi). Following the eightfold path (not particularly in order but rather simultaneously and as suits the individual) is the path to the real remedy, the solution to contraction, the opposite of ignorance; it will lead to attainment of the self or kaivalya. Briefly, this eightfold practice involves the first four limbs which are a little more physical in nature. Yama and Nimyama, getting your house in order so to speak, practising self restraint, non-violence, good moral conduct, dos and donts. They are like the basics, you cant be doing really bad things and expect to get very far along the spiritual path so its like the first steps, get things in order and right in your life first.

Asana is sitting in meditative practice, steady and comfortable and this is where physical yoga is helpful. Pranayama, focus on the breath as breath has a proven link to and can affect your mental state to a great degree (hence the term take a deep breath). Then there are the second set of four limbs, more mind based, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dyana and Samadhi. These are guidelines for meditative practice designed to turn your attention within to attain deeper and deeper states of meditation. As you progress with meditative practice, you begin to see the light of higher consciousness, it is something everyone can experience and is best practiced for yourself as it can be described in words only so far. I would like to emphasise my belief that the Yoga Sutras are best used as a guidebook, handbook or study guide to aid the yogi in practice, where in turn the practice leads to yoga/samadhi experienced subjectively and fully. The Yoga Sutras, in order to be taken to heart, have to be read in context of one's own meditation experience. There exists no other adequate way to evaluate it, because the vary context which it tries to elucidate lies outside of the individual intellect, conceptual reality, duality of any separate self -- of any disconnection from anything else itself, from labeling, categorizing, or the process of identification itself. This of course sounds strange to someone who is intellectually bent, but through meditation one understands this with an absolute certainty.iii By stepping onto the path of spiritual enlightenment, by following Patanjalis eightfold path of study of the self, one can expect to start to glimpse moments of oneness immediately, you can actually begin at the end with Yoga. What I mean by this, is you can attain the result you want to achieve right from the very beginning. You will begin experiencing sitting in the self right from the start, albeit momentarily, during yogic practices such as meditation, chanting, seva (selfless service), scriptural studies, mantra and hatha yoga. Over time these glimpses become longer and more sustained, until such a stage where you sit in the self without being pulled out or distracted and the feeling is continuous. This state is referred to as enlightenment or liberation of the seer or self realisation. There are many terms for this state of mind but they all mean a pure, peaceful, sustained and continuous contentment of the mind. In Yoga Sutra 2.25 Patanjali is saying that this state of being is entirely possible and that dissolving ones view of reality as dualistic in nature (via yogic practices) is the answer. I believe that The Yoga Sutras will appear in your life when you need them and will mean what they mean to you. It is really that simple.

In conclusion, rather than climbing a ladder to liberation in a prescribed order, with strict rules and regulations, I understand Patanjalis description for attaining enlightenment as an overall guideline for those seriously interested. Its a list of sound and proven ideas to practice upon in combinations based on your needs and where you are at along the path, where one can actually experience the self from the very beginning of the spiritual journey. Over time one can expect to increasingly disperse ignorance, through repetition of these yogic practices, to finally sit permanently in this state of enlightenment. The yogic practices described in the sutras will change your relationship with your mind, will assist you to become one with the universe, to ultimately attain perfect peace.

Asatoma Sadgamaya Thamaso Maa Jyothir Gamaya Mrithyor Maa Amrutham Gamaya Aum Shanti Shanti Shantihi Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality. May there be peace everywhere.


i ii Justine Aldersey-Williams,