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Patanjali Yoga Philosophy Sutras

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Patanjali Yoga Philosophy is presented in the Yoga Sutras as Patanjali Eight Limb Yoga Philosophy

The Yoga Sutras that relate Patanjali Yoga Philosophy are divided into four padas or chapters as:

      1. Samadhi Pada – On being absorbed in spirit
      2. Sadhana Pada – On the practice or discipline
      3. Vibhuti Pada – On the power or manifestation
      4. Kaivalya Pada – On freedom without measure

Yoga is one of the six philosophical traditions of India.

  1. Samkhya, the enumeration school
  2. Yoga, the school of Patanjali (which provisionally asserts the metaphysics of Samkhya)
  3. Nyaya, the school of logic
  4. Vaisheshika, the atomist school
  5. Purva Mimamsa (or simply Mimamsa), the tradition of Vedic exegesis, with emphasis on Vedic ritual, and
  6. Vedanta (also called Uttara Mimamsa), the Upanishadic tradition, with emphasis on Vedic philosophy.

Note that the philosophies of Samkhya and Yoga are complementary. Samkhya may be regarded as primarily science and Yoga as art.

Patanjali gives the definition of Yoga in the second sutra as:

2) Yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ

Yoga is the cessation of the wrong turning of the mind – Yoga (yogaḥ) is the suppression/cessation (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications/whirling (vṛtti) of mind (citta)

Notice that the yoga definition provided by Patanjali, who is said to be the father of yoga, is mental in nature and that his definition is much different than the way that yoga is approached in much of the world currently. Also notice that he begins the compilation of the Yoga Sutras with Samadhi Pada, which is about being absorbed in spirit, which is spoken about elsewhere as enlightenment, and the misunderstandings or wrong turning of the mind that negate this.

In this way the Patanjali Yoga Sutras begin with enlightenment and misunderstanding. The second chapter describes the Sadhana or practice that leads to enlightenment – in sutra 2 – 29 he lists the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga. The third chapter, the Vibhuti Pada, describes supernatural powers and cautions that although things like the power of manifestation is a signpost of deeper practice and that such powers can be a distraction. The last chapter describes the fruit of the practice as freedom that is beyond the measure of the of the mind, which also means that mental activity is available functionally without falling back into the trappings of deriving identity via the content and activity of the mind.

“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”

William Blake

The key to understanding the Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali Yoga is the ability to discriminate what he means by seeing through the mind and seeing with the mind. Patanjali provides the distinction in the definition of yoga [stated above] and in the third and fourth sutras as follows:

2) Yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ

Yoga is the cessation of the wrong turning of the mind – Yoga (yogaḥ) is the suppression/cessation (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications/whirling (vṛtti) of mind (citta)

3) Tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam

Then seeing is not distorted – Then (tadā), there is an abiding (avasthānam) in the essential nature (sva-rūpe) of the Seer (draṣṭuḥ)

4) Vṛttisārūpyamitaratra

Otherwise there is identification derived out of the content and activity of the mind – On other occasions (itaratra), there is identity (sārūpyam) (between the Seer and) the modifications (of mind) (vṛtti)

Commentary:

The menu is not the meal – the mental representation of a thing is not the thing itself. Mistaking the mental representation for the thing itself is Maya, the illusion – that which is true is clearly seen when the mind is silent. In that seeing mental activity finds its appropriate place as the servant of authentic being rather than a personna that veils true being.

Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali

The second sutra says that yoga, which means union or skill in action [via clarity], is the case when there is seeing through the mind. In this case the mind is available yet silent such that there is no labeling or reacting to what is seen, what is experienced. Then spontaneous action that is appropriate to the situation happens naturally as this quality of seeing is not distorted [seeing is doing; thus clear seeing means appropriate action]. This action is pure – it leaves nothing lacking and no residue.

The fourth sutra speaks about identity that is mentally derived. In this case the identity is formed out of past knowledge, memories and experiences and current experience is filtered or veiled with that identity. This is seeing with the mind and the action that arises via this form of seeing is reaction instead of pure action. It is this quality of seeing that generates suffering and discord.

The Philosophy of Yoga and Patanjali Yoga Philosophy Sutras – a helpful story

 

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About James Traverse

James Traverse
James Traverse

James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of James’ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely for 15 years.

 

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James Traverse
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James Traverse

Yoga Educator at Nisarga Yoga
James Traverse is a yoga educator and writer who communicates the direct approach to understanding your true nature. This experiential means, which is founded on a shift of attention from conceiving to purely perceiving, flowered principally out of James’ studies with his teacher, Jean Klein, who initiated him in the ways of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri Shaivism. His other influences include the works of J. Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Rumi, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Atmananda Krishnamenon and the yoga of B K S Iyengar, whose method he studied intensely
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