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Yoga Book Review

Yoga Book Reviews


Work in Progress

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Aug 8-???, 2023

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, pdf

Author: Sri Swami Satchidananda
ISBN-10: 1938477073
ISBN-13: 978-1938477072
Genre: Yoga, Eastern Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy
Pages: 272 pages
Country: India
Publisher: Integral Yoga Publications
Publication date: September 14, 2012)
Rating: star star star star star (5 out of 5 stars)

*** A lot of different words are thrown around, but they all mean the same thing:
Consciousness = Seer = Observer = Purusha = True Self = Atma = Absolute Truth = Moksha = Non-changing = Citta
Material World = Seen = Observed = Prakrti = Mind = Default World = Illusion = Maya = Ever-changing

Foreword

As a general rule, I try to finish my current book (Yoga Yajnavalkya) before moving on to another book. But I was hitting an impasse with Yajnavalkya. I had to do something equally productive that excites me. Luckily, the one book I couldn't find free on the internet, I finally found - The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

It is my intention to learn from this book and add to my practice. It is not my intention to go deep into the rabbit hole of scholarly / intellectual domain of yoga - I'll leave that to the academics. As far as concepts go, it's enough that I learn the fundamental cornerstones to ground my practice.

If I don't understand an explanation or if I find it lacking, I go to the language A.I.s (ChatGPT4 OpenChat, Bard Google, Bing Microsoft, and Aria Opera) and supplement the information. Thus, what's written here could be an amalgamation.

Classic Yoga Reference
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali have been the classic reference and standard in the practice of Raja Yoga - yoga of the mind (other types of yoga are Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga). Beyond asana, this book underscores the importance of ethics/morality (Yama / Niyama) and meditation. In this book, Sri Swami Satchidananda gives his commentary.



Who is Sri Swami Satchidananda?

Sri Swami SatchidanandaSri Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002) comes from a long established lineage dating back to Shankaracharya (Shankaracharya > Patanjali > Vishwananda > Sivananda Saraswati > Satchidananda). He had many teachers along the way until he met Swami Sivananda who became his guru. He taught Integral Yoga - a holistic synthesis of all of man's aspects (body, mind, spirit, environment, etc.). In other interpretations, Integral Yoga is the synthesis of all the yoga traditions. In 1966, he was invited to the West by pop-culture icon, Peter Max. Satchidananda is best remembered at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 for giving a speech in front of all the hippies in attendance.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Swami Satchidananda at Woodstock


Introduction

While yoga nowadays is practiced for fitness, the real essence of Raja Yoga is mastery of the mind. This book explores that through the experience of sages, seers and saddhus through milennia.

Sutra translates to 'thread' - thus the sutras are the distilled essence yoga. By itself, it is not comprehensible, thus the commentary of wise men to make it understandable and relevant to people of today. There are less than 200 sutras divided into 4 sections:

4 Sections of the Yoga Sutras.

  1. Samadhi Pada - Contemplation, the theory of yoga and description of the most advanced states of Samadhi
  2. Sadhana Pada - Practice, doing the practice on the first 5 limbs of yoga
  3. Vibhuti Pada - Accomplishments, practice on the last 3 limbs including all powers and accomplishments awaiting the yogi
  4. Kaivalya Pada - Absoluteness, discussing yoga from a more cosmic and philosophical point of view

Yoga was already in existence long before Patanjali. But he was the one who codified it into an accessible practice for the masses. The sutras is perhaps the earliest known text on yoga - thus, the Yoga Bible.

There are many books on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras authored by many teachers with their own commentaries. What makes Satchidananda's book unique is that Satchi didn't write this book as a written commentary for publication. This book is a compilation of his lectures and teaching in front of students and disciples, as he answered their questions and inquiries related to Raja Yoga. Thus, the book has a conversational feel with lots of analogies to make the abstract more concrete.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


THE SUTRAS

I: Samadhi Pada (Contemplation)

Portion on Contemplation
It's unusual to start this book on Samadhi, when it should be the pinnacle. However, perhaps it sets the goal in mind to establish that at this point.

1. Just practice

Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.

Practice...don't intellectualize yoga. It's a practice!

2. Controling the mind

Restraining the runaway-thoughts is Yoga.

If you can control the mind, then the yoga objective is met - so it's about controlling the mind and not letting it run loose. Citta is the totally of the mind. But the mind has many layers - the intellect, the part that desires, etc. (e.g., when the mind is still but you smell durian, your desires are stirred up and now you want that durian and will act on it. At that point, the mind has been derailed).

The world is based on your perception - it's only real to you and necessary of everytone else. Thus, it's useless to argue because their perception is also too real for them. Other people will see the same thing but their perception will be different. You see the glass as half full, but somebody will see it as half empty - but you're both looking at the same glass. Thus, reality as you see it, is not absolute - you just made it about you. Or, the guards are just as much prisoners as the inmates within the same prison walls, but both see their lot differently - again, it's perception.

This is the reason why yoga makes no attempt to change the outside world, but the world inside you.

3. Knower & the Seer

Then the Seer (Self) abides in Its own nature.

You are the Knower and the Seer. You are not the body or mind. For the Seer to see its true self, the mind must be still...in the same way that if you want to see a perfect image of your face, the mirror has to be flawless, otherwise, you only see distortion.

4. Identifying with labels

At other times the Self appears to be the runaway-thoughts.

We identify ourselves as the father, the son, the rich guy, the handsome guy, the fit guy, the intelligent one, etc. But all these things are not permanent and will go away. When all of that goes away, what is left? What's left is the same thing that is left with everyone else.

Everything is energy and the underlying consciousness behind that energy is the same consciousness that envelopes all of us - thus we are all the same...people, plants, animals and inanimate objects. When we internalize that, then we see everything as an extension of ourselves...thus we cannot hurt anyone or hurt the planet - that is yoga.

We cannot identify with the roles we play in life (father, son, friend). If we remove all those roles, we see ourselves one with everything as buildding blocks of the cosmic consciousness.

5. Runaway thoughts

There are five kinds of runaway-thoughts which are either painful or painless.

Vrttis or thought forms come in 5 kinds. Instead of categorizing thought-forms as painful or pleasurable, it's more accurate to call it selfish or selfless. Even anger can be selfless...showing anger to a child to keep him from misbehaving. Or love can be painful...because if we don't get what we want from it, we end up broken hearted. So seeing mental forms in terms of pain or painless is not accurate.

We cannot make our minds empty - at least not until we become expert meditators. Until then, we can just be aware to choose being the Knower (observing our thoughts without reacting to them) or the Thinker (reacting with our thoughts). By making a wise choice, we end up less stressed and perhaps even happy. The key is catching our thoughts and making that choice: Knower or Thinker.

6. Thought forms

(p. 56) 5 thought-forms.

  1. Right knowledge
    The sources of right knowledge are direct perception, inference and scriptural testimony.
    One valid knowledge is direct experience - being there, seeing it yourself and not heresay. Another is inference - if there's only 2 of you inside an elevator and you smelled a fart, and it's not you, then it can only be the other guy - even if he denies it. Lastly, there are the sacred texts - even though we have not experienced what it's saying, we believe it because countless seers, sages and saddhus had the same experience over millenia.

    Truth is truth - it will not change. The manner how it is presented may change (Christianity, Muslim, Buddhism, etc.), the words or form may change (Hail Mary, OM, etc.), but the essence remains the same (reality as we know it is an illusion). Example is you change your attire if you're going to the beach, or office or night out. But you remain the same person regardless of the clothes.

    (Aug 10) Mental garbage has to be sorted out first before being disposed of - because we cling to some more than others. It's just less painful that way - cut yourself some slack too (if you decide to give away all your old clothes, there could be one you'd still like to keep).
  2. Misconception
    Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.
    You might hate Trump, but half of America loves him. Hmmm. There must be something you're missing. What's the misconception?
  3. Verbal delusion
    An image that arises on hearing mere words without any reality [as its basis] is verbal delusion.
    Rumours spread and destroy people's lives. Those who believed the rumour with no basis or no investigation are buying that delusion.
  4. Sleep
    That mental modification supported by cognition of nothingness is sleep.
  5. Memory
    When a mental modification of an object previously experienced and not forgotten comes back to consciousness, that is memory.
    Day dreaming, dreaming or just memories...these are thought-forms.

The above are the 5 thought forms that need to be transcended. We can rise above these when we control the mind. But how do we control the mind? That's almost impossible.

12. Restraining thoughts thru practice

These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment.

Keep practicing and all is coming. While practicing, be aware of these thought forms as they happen. Between practice and non-attachment, the non-attachment is more important!

13. Remaining aware

Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.

Make the practice a 24/7 activity...remain vigilant, be aware of your thoughts. You could set up a timer that alarms every hour...just as a reminder for you to bring awareness back.

14. Practice without break but with love

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.

Patanjali specifies that the practice that to be for a loooong time without break - in short, 24/7. But practice with love and not feel that it's a burden or a burnout. If you feel impatience, it'll take longer (honestly, I would like to develop my Siddhis and the impatience is creeping up. I know, I should not even think about Siddhis to begin with).

15. For the greater good

The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.

When the eyes see something, or the ear hears something, or the nose smells something, the mind is pulled away towards it (my craving is to develop my Siddhis...I can't help it). Be aware of what's happening. But it is ok to be attached to your desires if it's about the betterment of others and not about you. The key is unattached to your selfish desires. So, if you want to establish a Vipassana center, it's ok to have that desire. Even if you desire for enlightenment, it's still about you, so it's a selfish and unworthy desire.

In nature, you see existence for the greater good...the candle that burns itself to give light, the incense that turns to ashes so it can give fragrance. If you can give something for humanity without a quest for money, it's noble and righteous (I have to take exception at this. For many years, I was teaching free yoga as my service to humanity. But people don't value it...they show up late, don't show up at all, turn to their phones, etc. Why? Because if it's free, then it must be worthless! Now, I teach yoga for a fee. Because they paid for it, they take it seriously and learn).

There are people who have been meditating for years, or go to the temples and prostrate themselves and yet nothing happens. Why? Because the mind is not focused...it still wanders while praying, while doing yoga, etc. So, the practice becomes nothing more than a mechanical ritual (or perhaps there is an underlying selfish craving...like developing Siddhis).

The more we possess, the more we become attached...the more we feel the need to protect what we have. People with money are good examples - they have wealth and prosperity, but they are usually worried, minds always racing, and almost invariably, they are sick and taking medication (this brings me to a dilemma...I want to establish a yoga ashram that will outlive me. But to have that means I'm tethered to it...I'm no longer as free...an impediment to my mobility).

16. Non-attachement

When there is non-thirst for even the gunas (constituents of Nature) due to the realization of the Puruna (True Self), that is supreme non-attachment.

It would be easier to say you're no longer attached to things that catch your senses. But it's harder to be non-attached to things you have already enjoyed before - these are the samskaras that leave in imprint on your psyche.

At this point in my reading, I'm beginning to question if this extreme 'non-attachment' is for me. Sure, I understand what it means and what it entails. But I don't plan on becoming an ascetic living in a cave. I will continue to live in society and continue to have these 'basic' attachments as I continue to interact with people, events and places.
17. Samprajnata samadhi

Samprajnata samadhi (Distinguished, Savikalpa) is accompanied by reasoning, reflecting, rejoicing and pure I-am-ness.

(p95) Samadhi only becomes accessible when a person has achieved perfection in concentration and meditation (so, if you're still into bandhas and mudras, you're still a long way). The mind must already have a single-focus. In Samadhi the entire mind is used - thus the mind must have been sharpened through the practice of the first 7 limbs.

  1. Savitarka samadhi (reasoning) - samadhi practiced on the gross objects. But at this point, the mind is already single-focused. The mind will penetrate that object into its quantum anatomy until the entire power about that object is understood by the mind.

    This is the case with the scientists who worked on splitting the atom - their knowledge was at the smallest unit of measure and they understood the powerful potential of the atom. This is good and dangerous at the same time. Ultimately, the atom bomb was developed and used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Power at this level without moral fortification is very dangerous. Thus, developing Siddhis without mastering Yama and Niyama is equally dangerous.
  2. Savicara samadhi (reflecting) - No concrete object is used for meditation. Savicara is samadhi practiced on the subtle elements and concepts - abstract things like a feeling. Subtle elements are closer to the source of all creation and develop a deeper understanding of the nature of reality. Initiates can also experience a sense of oneness with the universe as they realize that everything is made up of the same basic energy, thus transcending time and space.
  3. Sa-ananda samadhi (rejoicing) - samadhi practiced on the sattvic mind - the yogi's consciousness is not focused on any particular object except its own joy. There is no need to reflect or understand anything. The mind transcends the objective world and moves beyond the intellect. Only bliss exists here. This experience is often accompanied by a sense of peace, love, and joy.
  4. Sa-asmita samadhi (I am-ness) - I feeling alone - awareness of individuality. There is a recognition of the ego as a component of the self but not as the sole identity. Not even the joy of Sa-ananda Samadhi is here. However, Samskaras are still in hibernation.

Thus the process of Samprajnata samadhi is involution, and not evolution. With involution, we reverse back the process of evolution until we arrive at the genesis. Thus, we begin with concrete objects (something from the outside). We apply reasoning to it. Then we reflect on subtle elements, then joy, then emptiness before anything began.

In Samprajnata samadhi, the buried seeds can still come into the conscious mind when the proper opportunity is given and pull you into worldly experience. That is why all the four stages should be passed before progressing into Asamprajnata samadhi.

18. Asamprajnata samadhi

Asamprajnata samadhi (Indistinguished, Nirvikalpa), by the firmly convinced practice of the complete cessation of the mental modifications, the impressions only remain. This is the other samadhi.

(p103) This samadhi is achieved when there is dedicated and unwavering commitment to the practice of meditation. A state where all mental activities, including thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, come to a complete stop - the mind is completely still. In this state, the mind is free from all distractions and is completely focused on the object of meditation - there is no sense of separation between the yogi and the object of their concentration. The yogi experiences a state of pure consciousness, free from all thoughts and distractions where there is no sense of self or individuality. This state is also known as Nirbija Samadhi or Seedless Samadhi. The Samskaras (impressions left by past thoughts, emotions, perceptions) remain, but the yogi is not affected by it nor thinking about it. He is just aware that they still exist.

Once achieved, the yogi is then liberated - this means he is still alive and functioning in the real world. But the real world becomes just a shadow or a past pre-liberation life where you are tossed and turned by events, places and people. Being liberated, these events, people and circumstances no longer have a hold on you - you have transcended them. You achieve a state of JivanMukta - someone who lives, but is liberated.

Thus, in summary, you must examine nature (don't deny it by isolating yourself, meditating in a cave), then learn how to control it, then push it aside and be liberated. Therefore, it is very important to master the 4 levels of Samprajnata first in order to experience Asamprajnata.

19. Rebirth

Those who merely leave their physical bodies and attain the state of celestial deities, or those who get merged in Nature, have rebirth.

(p105) One who has achieved a certain level of Samadhi but dies before becoming liberated, is reborn as a celestial being (like Sri Yukteshwar Giri who came back a celestial being for Hiranyaloka after he died) in the higher planes (astral planes, etc) or goes back straight to earth as a human being. These celestial beings ultimately have to come back to earth also as a human being and again work their way towards liberation. However, since they have attained a level of Samadhi from a previous life, they may come back as a Siddha, a spiritual guru or an evolved soul. They don't start all over again, but continue where they left off before they died.

It's important to note that to be liberated, you have to be human. Thus the gods or celestial beings have to come back to earth as human beings in order to achieve liberation. Once they are liberated, they become Non-returners or Arahants. This means they are no longer subject to death and rebirth.

20. Triggers for Samprajnata samadhi

For the others, this Samprajnata samadhi could come through faith, vigor, memory, contemplation and/or by discernment.

(p108) In essence, there are other ways to achieve Asamprajnata other than meditation, namely: a strong conviction that this state-of-being exists, energetic zeal to pursue it, karmic blessings from the past, and wisdom to discern real and illusion. These are the other means by which an individual can progress along the path to spiritual realization, ultimately leading to the experience of Asamprajnata Samadhi.

21. Quick samadhi

To the keen and intent practitioner, samadhi comes very quickly.

22. Intensity of practice

The time necessary for success further depends on whether the practice is mild, medium or intense.

23. Devotion to Isvara

Samadhi is attained by devotion with total dedication to Isvara.

(p110) Self-surrender to the supreme consciousness also takes you to Samadhi.

24. Isvara is the ultimate reality

Isvara (Supreme Consciousness, Supreme Being or Ultimate Reality) is the supreme Purusa, unaffected by any afflictions, actions, fruits of actions or by any inner impressions of desires.

(p111) Isvara (Supreme Consciousness, Supreme Being or Ultimate Reality) has no desire, thus no action and no need to reap the fruits of action. Isvara is the universal consciousness that underlies all of creation. It is the source of all existence and the ultimate reality from which everything emanates.

25. Isvara is everything

In Isvara is the complete manifestation of the seed of omniscience.

(p112) Isvara is everything. If we think we live in a finite reality, then we must accept that there is an infinite aspect of reality. How can there be a left without a right? One is simply a reference to the other. Thus, Isvara is both the finite and the infinite - the totality of everything.

26. Isvara is the root of all knowledge

Unconditioned by time, Isvara is the teacher of even the most ancient teachers.

(p113) Aside from life experience, you get your knowledge from external sources - books, guru, etc. But these external sources got their knowledge from someone as well. If you trace the one source of all these knowledge, it leads you to Isvara - the source.

Emotional way is the easiest way to attain samadhi. All you have to do is surrender to the almighty. When you say, "I can", that is ego. When you say, "I can't , but I'll try and the rest is up to you." When you do that, you dissolve your ego. Thus devotion to Isvara is another way to achieve Samadhi. When we strive to be united with God, or the Universe, then we transcend nature and rise above our human limitations.

27. Isvara and OM

The word expressive of Isvara is the mystic sound OM. OM is God’s name as well as form.

(p117) OM is the sound of God. It has the right vibration that encompasses all sound. We can chant OM and feel God within us - don't be mechanical...FEEL. God has been given thousands of names, but none exactly conveys God. If God is infinite, omnipresent and omniscient, then the only name that fits is OM. We can say "sugar", but you can't taste it. But when we chant OM, we feel God within. That is why the sound of OM is universal in many religions. The Christians say "Amen" and the Muslims say "Ameen".

There are 4 sounds to OM: A (ah), U (oo), M (mmmm) and the Anahata sound which is the vibration inherent in you (nada sound). Anahata is a continuous sound...so it doesn't end and repeat itself. It can be heard when all sounds cease - including the sound of thought. Yes, thought creates a sound, and that too must be silenced. Then you hear Anahata.

OM has a creative capacity like that of a seed. OM can manifest a reality you architecture. By chanting OM with intention, you co-create reality - for good or bad. You can use a mantra to bless or to curse.

28. Mantra and Japa

To repeat it with reflection upon its meaning is an aid.

(p126) OM is a mantra. A mantra is an utterance of sacred sounds. To chant a mantra repeatedly is japa. This repetition is practiced across many religions. In Christianity, they repeat the Hail Mary on the rosary, similarly to how a Hindu would chant on mala beads.

A mantra resides in your heart - thus you can chant it anytime, anywhere. You don't need a picture, token or be in a temple. You can half-silently chant as you wait your turn in a grocery checkout counter.

Your mantra must be kept secret (a guru usually gives you one) and regarded as sacred.

By repeatedly chanting a mantra, you develop an umbilical cord with your benevolent universe. You become tethered to divinity. When shit hits the fan, you just need to tug on that cord (chant your mantra) and divinity intervenes.

At first, there is no need to define the mantra - the vibrational frequency of the mantra is its meaning. Just chant, feel the reverberaton and remain aware. Feel divinity within as you chant.

As you chant, you feel divinity within. Your mind is focused on divinity. Where the mind goes, you invariably take that direction as well (as you think, so you become) - you head towards Godhead.

There are many mantras...some are just syllables while others are long elaborations. Different mantras serve different purposes. But any and all mantras have their basis in OM.

29. Removal of obstacles

From this practice all the obstacles disappear and simultaneously dawns knowledge of the inner Self

(p131) As you are tethered to divinity when you chant, you hurdle all obstacles. You move through life with grace, unlike others who might be intelligent, muscular and imposing, but they hit a snag too often as they navigate themselves through life. You, as the meditator and the one who chants the mantra, you're like the surfer who found his 50-foot wave and simply enjoys the magical and struggle-free existence.

30. Many forms of obstacles

Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained — these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.

(p132) These obstacles usually develop as a domino-effect. A disease can create dullness of the mind. Dullness cause doubt, and you slide down this slippery path. Sometimes, you suffer a setback and you can't move on - you're energetically stuck. This is typical of the tamasic guna.

The yogic practice is full of obstacles and it's your challenge to navigate and hurdle them. If it were easy, then you're probably doing something wrong. My current obstacle is being in a yoga-rut. But it picks up again with continued practice. Now, I find excitement reading this book by supplementing it with input from the language AIs and my own insight, plus actually using my laptop time-break to practice it.

31. Keeping fit

Accompaniments to the mental distractions include distress, despair, trembling of the body and disturbed breathing.

(p135) At times, it's hard to meditate and concentrate. It happens. But sometimes, it could be because we are neglecting something more basic - exercise, enough sleep, healthy diet, etc. Meditation will not work if the body is weak and unhealthy.

32. Object of meditation

The practice of concentration on a single subject [or the use of one technique] is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.

(p137) Deliberate on what object to meditate on or the technique in meditation. Then stick to it no matter what. As you continue meditating on that object/method, you are akin to digging a deeper hole in the ground. If you keep changing the object/method, then you're like digging many shallow holes. Hmmm. I'm guilty of this. I do many types of meditation according to what suits me at the moment - nada, sambhavi, anapana, vipassana, mantra, etc. However, I don't feel that I should just stick to one. All of these methods are dear to me and they work for me. I don't know. I'm not ready to choose only one. Besides, objects of meditation or even mantras or any feature of yoga are just aids, like rungs on a ladder to help you climb up - they are not the goal unto themselves. The real goal is still mastery of the mind. Once you reach the roof, you don't need the ladder anymore.

33. Dealing with the 4 types of people

By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff (citta) retains its undisturbed calmness.

(p140) Satchidananda feels very strongly about this sutra. He says that if he can choose only one sutra, this is it. This refers to what we do or how we behave when we have to deal with these people. And nearly everyone falls in one of these:

  1. Happy people - when someone is happy or prosperous, it's human nature to feel jealous or even spiteful even though the other person has done us no harm. We can transcend this by being happy for them and hope that we experience the same abundance ourselves. We keep the balance of our mind by thinking like this (instead of seething in jealousy)
  2. Unhappy people - most people are unhappy but some are really obviously unhappy. Be compassionate instead of condemning them for their lot. Share bread if they are hungry. When I see unhappy people, I usually keep away from them, as they exude 'negative energy'. I once had a girlfriend who was full of health and trauma issues. I eagerly tried to help for free because I knew I could. That backfired. I was accused of vanity and ego-masturbation. My fault is, I was too forthcoming and too extended. Now, I don't offer anything, but if they wish to be helped, I charge them for my time and effort. This way, they appreciate my help. The key is to be prepared to help, but never for free. I should not feign compassion but remain cautious that extending myself can be abused as it has been.
  3. Virtuous people - again, it's easy to feel jealous when someone has exalted qualities you don't have. Human nature dictates you pull them down - the crab mentality. The best behavior is to celebrate their abilities for they must be contributing something positive to society. Without these people, the human gene pool will stagnate. Find inspiration so that you develop your own inherent skills or gifts. (Generally, I exalt people who push the boundaries of their abilities. We have many such people now...Wim Hof, Joe Rogan, etc. However, I remember feeling jealous when a yoga teacher was improving himself ahead of everyone else. I knew I was feeling jealous but couldn't help it.)
  4. Wicked people - ignore them but don't hate them. Don't attempt to 'advise' them - let them go through their karmic process. Think that on one occasion or another, you may have been wicked too. I can ignore wicked people, as I often do. But wicked people who harm me, or continue to harm me...they have to be held accountable.

It's important to note that the goal of the above is not to help people per se, but to behave in such a way that we keep the balance of the mind. People being helped in the process is just gravy.

34. Breath, Prana and Mind affect each other

Or that calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath.

(p147) This sutra is about controlling the flow of prana - through Pranayama. This is done through our breathing. Patanjali didn't specify which Pranayama to do or what Kumbhaka to do. He simply said observe the breath as you regulate it.

Breath, prana and the mind directly influence each other. To control the mind, we can control prana through pranayama. By controlling the mind, breathing follows suit (when the mind is agitated, the breathing deepens and hastens). When the mind is in deep thought, the breathing almost stops. When we are angry, we can take a few deep breaths and that calms the mind.

35. Meditating on the sensation

Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind.

(p150) While in meditative concentration, you'll feel some isoteric sensations. You make these sensations as the object of the meditation. This is a good validation and leads to one-pointedness.

When you focus on the tip of the nose, at some point, you'll smell something fragrant. That means your mind reached single-pointedness. But it's just a test or a benchmark. Don't make 'nose-gazing and smelling fragrance' the objective of the meditation. Don't make it a game of sensation.

36. Envisioning Light

Or by concentrating on the supreme, ever-blissful Light within.

(p153) You can imagine Light on the Ajna chakra. At some point, the mind will be absorbed in it and it will be a pleasant experience. With continued practice, you won't have to imagine the Light. It will emanate.

37. Concentrating on someone's Light

Or by concentrating on a great soul’s mind which is totally freed from attachment to sense objects.

(p154) If it is not possible to imagine a Light within (maybe you have a low self-esteem), try to imagine a Light on someone you hold in high regard - a guru, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Goraknath, etc. Concentrate on that person's virtues. Again, the mind can be absorbed in something lofty.

38. Dwelling on spiritual dreams

Or by concentrating on an experience had during dream or deep sleep.

(p155) When we experience spiritual dreams and feel exalted, try to dwell on that upon waking up. This instills serenity and one-pointedness. If you can't remember your dreams, but know you had a deep peaceful sleep, dwell on the peace in that sleep (not on the sleep per se).

39. Meditate on Anything

Or by meditating on anything one chooses that is elevating.

(p159) It's ok to meditate on anything that elevates you (not just make you feel good). There is no hard-and-fast rule that you should meditate on the guru, talisman or lingam. If you don't know, ask someone who knows - a teacher or guru. It's faster this way than to hit-or-miss.

40. Nothing is unknowable

Gradually, one’s mastery in concentration extends from the primal atom to the greatest magnitude.

(p158) When meditation is mastered, nothing is unknowable. You gain access to the smallest particle to the entire universe. That's why sages knew about atoms thousands of years ago.

41. Everything merges into a singlularity

Just as the naturally pure crystal assumes shapes and colors of objects placed near it, so the yogi’s mind, with its totally weakened modifications, becomes clear and balanced and attains the state devoid of differentiation between knower, knowable and knowledge. This culmination of meditation is samadhi.

(p160) In yoga, as meditation becomes concentrated, thoughts and other sensory perceptions diminish until they all go away and the mind is single-pointed. In deep samadhi, you may not even be aware of what happens to your body. Such was the case of Ramana Maharshi who was in deep samadhi that he didn't realize his body was being devoured by insects. In Samadhi, the knowledge, knower and the knowing merge into one. Another way of putting it is, Consciousness, God and the Universe merge into one...into Emptiness.

42. Savitarka samadhi: name, form and knowledge of object

The samadhi in which name, form and knowledge of them is mixed is called savitarka samadhi, or samadhi with deliberation

(p170) Going back to Savitarka samadhi from #, by meditating on an object, you can actually understand the sound, the meaning and the resulting knowledge of that object. While all these happen almost simultaneously, during samadhi, we can break it down to its anatomy.

43. Nirvitarka samadhi - only knowledge

When the memory is well purified, the knowledge of the non-physical object of concentration shines alone, devoid of the distinction of name and quality. This is nirvitarka samadhi, or samadhi without deliberation.

(p172) In Nirvitarka samadhi, when the mind has become clear and free from distractions, the meditator experiences a pure, unadulterated state of awareness without the influence of conceptual distinctions or labels (name, form and quality are gone). In this deep state of samadhi, there is no active thinking, deliberation or analysis - there is just awareness.

44. Samadhi without active thinking or analysis

In the same way, both savicara (reflective) and nirvicara (super or non-reflective) samadhi, which are practiced upon subtle objects, are explained.

(p173) Savicara and Nirvitarka reveal finer qualities of the meditated non-physical object

45. Going beyond definition and concept

The subtlety of possible objects of concentration ends only at the undefinable.

(p174) During samadhi, the finer (non-physical) objects (sound, touch, mind, ego) go into involution (reverts back to their unmanifested state where you cannot differentiate one from the other) - this is nature before form took place. The mind has the power to meditate on an object (Savitarka) and pierce through its involution before it came into its manifested form. Through the practice of yoga and meditation, one can go beyond the surface level of reality and experience the profound, tranquil, and unmanifested nature of existence - where there is no individual identity, form, or thought, only pure potential.

46. Strings attached

Each of the above kinds of samadhi are sabīja (with seed), which could bring one back into bondage or mental disturbance.

(p175) In this state of Sabija samadhi, even though there is absorption of the mind, the mind is not completely free because there are still strings attached to the default world of desire, memory and attachment. One can still slide back unless the mind is pure. How to purify? It wasn't mentioned but the only logical process is Shatkriya.

47. Realizing the Atma

In the purity of nirvicara samadhi, the supreme Self shines.

(p178) In Nirvicara samadhi (no more strings - no thoughts, desires, memories, fluctuations, etc), the true nature of the self is experienced - no ego and no individual identity. This is not just an intellecutual understanding but a direct experience.

48. Tambhara prajna is the highest state of self-realization

This is tambhara prajna, or the absolute true consciousness

(p178) Tambhara is a state of consciousness in which there is an unqualified and direct experience of the true nature of reality. The practitioner experiences the ultimate truth without any distortions or limitations. This is the highest level of consciousness attainable through meditation and self-realization.

49. Truth is expereinced, not learned

This special truth is totally different from knowledge gained by hearing, study of scripture or inference.

(p179) Tambhara prajna connects you with God and allows you to know and understand without study. This means you have transcended mind - because mind cannot access God. God can be accessed by silence, but not by a preacher or books.

50. An overwriting

The impression produced by this samādhi wipes out all other impressions.

(p183) In this samadhi, the mind is focused and still, leading to profound insights or experiences that overshadow the previous thoughts and conditioning of the yogi. This transformation is foundational and irreversible - like going to Burningman and coming back a different person. You become a Jivanmukta - someone who is still alive but liberated. A Jivanmukta usually lives in the default world (not secluded in a cave), interacting with humanity but not attached. He is not affected by a rotting corpse or winning the lottery. He knows it's all an illusion...Praktri

51. Nirbīja samādhi

When even this impression is wiped out, every impression is totally wiped out and there is nirbīja [seedless] samādhi.

(p185) The profound insights gained from lower samadhi are all overwritten by the highest samadhi. This is Nirbīja samādhi, the highest samadhi higher than Tambhara prajna. There is no more birth or death for you; you realize your immortality - an arahant.



II: Sadhana Pada (Practice)

Kriya Yoga
Pantanjali now talks about the progressive practice of Kriya Yoga. This is not the same as Paramahansa Yogananda's Kriya Yoga (breathing and mantra). Kriya Yoga in reference to his Yoga Sutras are of 3 elements:

  1. Tapas (discipline or austerity) - this involves cultivating self-discipline, focusing on austerity, and maintaining a dedicated and consistent practice to purify the body and mind.
  2. Svadhyaya (self-study or self-reflection) - this involves self-reflection, introspection, and the study of sacred texts to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and the spiritual path.
  3. Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion to a higher power) - devotion to a higher power. This aspect involves surrendering one's ego to a higher power or divine source, recognizing that there is a force greater than oneself that guides and supports the yogic journey.
1. Tapas, Study and Surrender

Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice.

(p189) Purification by pain (Tapas)
This means viewing challenges as a means to progress - don't focus on the discomfort but focus on the opportunity to learn. This is Tapas (austerity) where you do something the hard way instead of the easy way to develop toughness and strong mental resolve - tapas is not about self-torture. By enduring pain and hardship, you burn your impurities. We exist in this lifetime in human form to learn lessons specific to our karma. Life throws us a series of tests in order for us to learn these lessons. These tests can consist of hardship, betrayal, desperation, hunger, etc. How we deal with these tests determine if we have learned the lesson. If we fail, we are doomed to be reborn to go through that test again. This becomes a vicious cycle until we get it - just like Groundhog Day.

Another analogy is Super Mario. He tries to reach the end goal but early on, he fails a test and dies. He lives again (reincarnation) to try that test again. When he passes the test, he continues to live, goes on a higher level and is presented a more difficult test which he has to pass (or die and be reborn again). This goes on until he passes all the tests and there are no more tests (self-realization).


Brahmacharya doesn't mean suppress sex - no, because that will fail and turn priests into pedofiles. It means control.

Words can be manifested as tapas too. Words should be truthful, pleasant and beneficial. It shoud bring understanding. (I would like to add that words should also be spoken only when needed. Otherwise, it's best to just listen and understand. And when speaking, talk slowly. Unless needed, don't make it about you - nobody is interested).

Even with a guru, it is still best to keep reading and be educated by sacred text on anything about self-evolution (not just any book). Why? Because the guru cannot teach you everything - and doesn't know everything. Through books, you glean the wisdom of other teachers and develop a profound understanding of the principles of yoga. And once read, try to practice the teachings and read them again - new insights will emerge as your evolution needs it. (This is the same with going to a 10-day Vipassana course. It's the same video tape you listen to, but you always come away with something different that you need to learn. So it's always fresh even after so many sits).

You have to become the living embodiment of the book - don't just become a walking library or a talking head, impressing people with how much you know. In the same way, to fully understand God, you have to become God yourself, otherwise, you only understand him from your limited human bias - you have to transcend the mind, trusting that true knowledge lies beyond the mind. When the mind has been breached, then knowledge becomes experiential...not just concept. And the only thing worthy of being quoted is your experience (not any external reference).

You dissolve your ego and surrender to the bigger forces at play. Cover your bases and do your due diligence but keep humble for divine intervention to make things happen. Oftentimes, your thinking gets in the way of the process. Let go and let divinity do what it's supposed to do.

In doing an act of kindness, you'll know if you did it to stroke your ego. To be selfless, it helps to think, "May this act of kindness make me a worthy creation." Then you no longer think of how great you are.

In practising non-attachment, it helps to see your role as 'trustee' and not 'owner'. So yoga is not just asana but positive thinking/action in difficult times (tapas), pursuit of knowledge (svadhyaha) and subordination to the divine (isvara puja).

2. Obstacles to Samadhi (kleshas)

Kriya Yoga helps us minimize obstacles and attain samadhi.

(p198) /When Kriya Yoga is practiced (tapas, self-study/reflection, surrender to the divine), all obstacles to samadhi are removed.

3. Five Obstacles to Samadhi

Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles (klesas).

(p200) These 5 obstacles to samadhi adhere to the domino-principle - one causes failure to the next. With ignorance, ego comes into play. With ego comes attachment to prop the ego. With attachment comes hatred to anyone who comes in between. And with attachment, you want to live forever to keep it forever after.

  1. Ignorance
  2. Ego
  3. Attachment
  4. Aversion
  5. Attachment to Life
4. Ignorance (Avidya)

Ignorance is the field for the others mentioned after it, whether they be dormant, feeble, intercepted or sustained.

(p201) Ignorance comes in 4 levels depending on the person's age and evolution.

  1. Dormant - a baby has dormant ignorance because it doesn't know any better. But with maturity, the karmic ignorance of past life will manifest and the baby-turned-adult's apparent nature emerges.
  2. Sustained - this is how it is for the general population. Their ignorance is sustained 24/7 because they're not even aware they are ignorant, let alone do something about it. Other times, they might be aware but the mind and body are too weak to say no. e.g. a guy with no girlfriend gets horny. Without pausing, he watches porn and whacks off, leaving soiled sheets.
  3. Intercepted - a novice yogi will be bombarded by opportunities for transgression, but will be quick to neutralize them. e.g. a guy with no girlfriend gets horny. He pauses and deliberates if he's going to whack off. Knowing he'll feel 'used' immediately after he ejaculates, he decides not to jerk off and instead, meditates.
  4. Feeble - an evolved yogi will keep balance of the mind but the ignorance lies buried or sleeping. It's still there but powerless. e.g. a guy with no girlfriend gets horny. He acknowledges the feeling but does not act on it.
  5. *** Tantric Yogi - this is not in the book, but this is perhaps the smartest because he is not only non-ignorant, but finds a clever hack around it. e.g. the Tantric Yogi with no girlfriend gets horny. He actually whacks off, but before coming to the point of no return, stops and performs Maha bandha mudra. He doesn't come. He resumes whacking off again and stops again. He keeps doing that until he's head is about to burst. Then he meditates. The following day, he feels the strength of a raging locomotive.
5. Self and Non-Self

Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant and the non-Self as the Self.

(p204) Ignorance being the way it is, is operating on faulty assumptions based on limited human perception.

  1. Self and Non-Self - the True Self (Boddhi Citta) is the one that has no birth and no death. The body dies and memories and feelings are lost with it. But the True Self survives the death of the body. The body and everything else that dies, are the Non-Self. But often, due to ignorance, we mistake our body as our True Self - to a point that we think death is the end of us.

    Avidya involves identifying oneself with things that are not the true self, such as the physical body, thoughts, or ego. This misperception contributes to a false sense of identity and reinforces the illusion of separateness.
6. Ego (asmita)

Egoism is the identification, as it were, of the power of the Seer (Puruṣa) with that of the instrument of seeing [body/mind].

(p209) This sutra suggests that egoism, or the sense of "I" and "mine," arises when the consciousness (True Self, Purusa, Seer, ATma, Boddhi Citta) becomes entangled or identified with the experiences and perceptions of the mind and body - happiness, sadness, prosperity, impoverishness. The practice of yoga involves disentangling Consciousness from external perceptions.

e.g. If you are good looking and became a star because of it, you identify yourself as this good looking guy. If you age and become wrinkled, it's very hard to accept this degeneration. It's very hard for the ego to take this. If you don't identify with this, then it's ok to age gracefully - you are unaffected by the aging process.

e.g. If you are intelligent and keep impressing others about your intellect, then you are constantly afraid of someone being smarter than you. You are also constantly afraid of looking stupid. There is so much invested on the ego that it becomes catastrophic to be made to appear dumb.

7. Attachment (Raga)

Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.

(p211) Any desire or longing for something impermanent is attachement - flashy car, fame, wealth, popularity, etc. If it's hard for you to walk away from it, chances are, you are already attached to it. The mind is pulled towards these attachements and it can no longer remain still and focused - it now behaves like a junkie in search of his fix. It reinforces ego by saying, "I love this." The mind becomes entangled with the pleasures of the material world and fears its loss.

This doesn't mean you isolate yourself in a cave. As human beings functioning in the real world, we just need to be vigilant and aware of our attachment - when you own a fancy car, be aware that this car will not last forever. So when someone steals it, you can just say, "Ah that moment has arrived." It's still painful, but you get over it fast. You don't lose the balance of your mind.

8. Aversion (Dvesha)

Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences.

(p211) Aversion is a personal mental/emotional state of avoiding/rejecting/repulsing things, people, events, actions that cause unpleasantness or unhappiness. We develop an aversion to anger, resentment, pain, suffering, loss, fear, etc. It reinforces ego by saying, "I don't like this." As soon as we have this aversion, the balance of the mind is already compromised - thus samadhi is no longer possible. Like attachment, aversion distracts the mind from focus and thereby making samadhi impossible.

9. Clinging to life (Abhinivesa)

Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency [due to past experience], exists even in the wise.

(p214) This isn't so much as love of life as it is of fearing death and change - an aversion. With too much survival instinct in play (prepping, etc.), the mind cannot be still. To overcome this fear of death and fear of the unknown, one must develop a deeper understanding of impermanence. It also helps to understand that death is not the end but simply a transition for the Boddhi Citta to leave the current body and move to the next one - much like changing clothes. Consciousness does not die.

10. Ignorance: the root cause of Obstacles to Samadhi

In subtle form, these obstacles can be destroyed by resolving them back into their primal cause [the ego].

(p218) ChatFPT4: These obstacles have their root cause in Ignorance. Through the practice of yoga (self-inquiry, discernment, cultivation of knowledge, tapas, reflection and surrender), then insights into the nature of reality, the true-self, and the interconnectedness of all things are revealed that ultimately dissolve ignorance. This paves the way to samadhi (deep meditative absorption and unification with the divine).

11. Removing Thought-Forms

In the active state, thought-forms can be destroyed by meditation

(p219) Satchidananda: There are 2 thought-forms:

  1. Potential - before they come to the surface and get acted upon. You cannot meditate on its removal. Only when it is active can you act upon it.
  2. Manifested - when they are brought to the surface (you haven't acted on it...not yet). Once on the surface, you can observe it (vedania) without reacting. You can trace it down to its origin, which is always ego. When you relinquish ego through awareness, observation and meditation, all these thought forms vanish as well.
12. Karma

The womb of karmas (actions and reactions) has its root in these 5 obstacles, and the karmas bring experiences in the present life or in the future births

(p221) Bad karma is caused by the 5 obstacles to samadhi (ignorance, ego, attachment, craving, and clinging to life). Karma is causality - action (cause) and its result (effect). For every action, there is reaction. For every deed (good or bad), there is a corresponding result (parami or merits for a good deed and 'punishment' for a bad deed). If the corresponding result is not immediately manifested, it doesn't go away. It is stored for future manifestation - therefore, karma is debt you cannot escape. Not even death will break you free of your karma. If you die with unmanifested karma (unpaid debts), you will be reborn to pay for that debt. As you are reborn, you can cause more bad karma so you'll have more karma in the succedding life than in the previous life. The intention is to remove all bad karma.

As you pay your karma, it means you're also learning the lessons you need to learn in your human-life existence, making you a more evolved person. When there is no karma left, you must have already learned everything you needed to learn in your lifetime, thus no more rebirth (arahant). Your existence has served its purpose.

13. Reborn as a Non-Human

(p226) With the existence of the root (karmic action), there will be fruits (consequences) also: namely, the births of different species of life, their life spans and experiences.

Satchidananda: When you get reborn, you may not be born as a human being. If you tried to be cunning in your previous life, you could be born as a fox. If you were a glutton for food, you can be reborn as a pig. Even if it's a step-back from Darwinian evolution, the soul continues to grow and evolve.

ME: Some animals are not sentient. How can they evolve if they're not even self-aware? And really, how can an animal who acts on instinct ever be bad? So this rebirth as an animal doesn't make sense to me. It makes more sense to me that you are born as another human being, somehow being instinctive of your previous life's transgressions, so you can pick up where you left off and re-do life this time, hopefully, learning from your past mistakes so you don't suffer that same karma. My analogy to all this birth and rebirth is Super Mario - he dies so many times, but every incarnation makes him better than the last time, and he goes on living life until he gets realized (no longer being 'killed' in the game).

ChatGPT4: What we are now, is a result of what we did in the previous life. We cannot do anything about that. However, what we do now, determines what our next life will be - and we have full control over that. So, use this life wisely.

14. Be Aware of your Actions Now

(p228) The karmas bear fruits of pleasure and pain caused by merit and demerit.

For good actions, you get rewarded with prosperity, happiness and bliss. For bad deeds, you experience suffering. However you are in the current state, is all your making (even if the cause was a bad deed from a previous life) - no one else. Life is that simple. So, be aware of what you think, what you do and what you say because there will be repercussions - either immediately, later or in the next life.

15. Attachment and Suffering

(p230) To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences: the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas, which control the mind.

ChatGPT4: This refers to the nature of suffering and the consequences of attachment. Anyone who can discern real/unreal, will see everything in this material world to cause anxiety (for fear of losing something you are attached to), craving (for the temporary sense pleasure it provides and more craving), mental agitation (the gunas or quality shifts and fluctuates - sattvic, tamasic and rajasic).

Thus attachment and craving lead to suffering. Question: What are you attached to?

Satchidananda: All experiences in the external world are temporary, no matter how painful or sweet. Attachment brings pain in the long term because you can't have it for all time. Even if you don't lose it, you fear losing it and this fear is also an obstacle to samadhi. It doesn't mean you walk away from the default world. No. If you don't fit into society, don't take refuge in an ashram. Deal with reality. Live life but be aware that anything you have is temporary and will go away. This way, when you do lose them, you still keep the balance of your mind.

16. Mindfulness and Awareness to Stay Present

(p235) Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.

ChatGPT4: This refers to living in the present moment and cultivating mindfulness to avoid unnecessary suffering associated with future events. Suffering is caused by attachment, craving and fear/worry about the future. But if we stay present and remain equanimous and reflect on the nature of impermanence and detachment, the attachment/craving/fear dissipate and suffering ceases. While suffering begins at the external, the mind amplifies it when it reacts and gets sucked into the game. But by becoming aware, the mind regains equanimity.

ME: Actually, any form of mental agitation is helped by awareness alone. Add breathing and it goes away. At least the mild ones. The very strong fluctuations are more challenging to neutralize.

17. Suffering results when Consciousness is sucked in the Material World

(p236) The cause of that avoidable pain is the union of the Seer (Purusa) and the Seen (Prakrti or Nature).

Satchidananda: Suffering is caused when the Seer identifies with the Seen - when the Observer thinks he is what he observes (he sees his jacked body in a mirror and he basks in his muscularity,"I am beautiful" instead of "this body is beautiful"). The observer is Consciousness and the observed is everything else.

Google Bard: There should be a stronger emphasis to actively disengage the entanglement of the consciousness and the material world as this is the root cause of suffering. Examples:

1. Observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment - when something pisses you off (barking dogs, garbage burning), instead of reacting, pause and observe your thoughts as they arise without changing or suppressing them - just observe.

2. Disconnect from external stimuli - in the default world can be a dysfunctional society with all its lights, noise and chaos. Step back from all of that - do an detox on social media, go to nature, meditate.

3. Cultivate a sense of equanimity - go to a place where it's noisy and chaotic. In the middle of all that, try to observe what's around you while keeping calm and balanced. By remaining non-reactive, you realize you have power over all these aberrations.

4. Engage in selfless service - volunteer in a clean-up drive, soup kitchen, or bring a sack and collect garbage. With selfless service, you don't make it about you. Your suffering becomes less important.

5. Remember your true nature - constantly remind yourself that you are not the body, the senses and the feeling. You are timeless and eternal - you are consciousness.

18. What exactly is the Seen (the observed, Prakrti, nature, observed, illusion)

(p238) The seen is of the nature of the gunas: illumination, activity and inertia; and consists of the elements and sense organs, whose purpose is to provide both experiences and liberation to the Purusa.

Satchidananda: The Seen (the observed, the material world) gives us our human experience. But what exactly is the Seen? The Seen is made up of the 5 elements, the qualities of nature, our senses. We experience them altogether as life and we react to it. But all of life is just a passing show - we observe and learn without being sucked into it.

ChatGPT4: This elaborates on what make up the external world. This external world (Prakrti, Nature, observed, illusion) is a manifestation of the 5 elements, the 5 perception senses, and the qualities inherent in nature. These elements interact and give rise to various forms and manifestations in the external world. As our sensory organs (nose, eyes, tongue, ear, flesh) interact with these forms, we get experience. The world is there for us to experience and learn from life. The external world is also the means to liberation - through the lessons we learn, we ultimately liberate ourselves. So, without the external world, no experience is gained, no lesson is learned and no liberation takes place.

ME: The Seen that gives us the human experience happens because we need to learn something in this lifetime - that is our purpose. We are not here to just occupy space. You have a different life experience from the other guy because the lessons you need to learn are unique to you. When you learn these lessons, you'll be reborn to learn other lessons. When you learn all these lessons, then your existence already served its purpose and there is no more reason for a rebirth. Again, it's like Super Mario - you keep dying and keep getting reborn, going through the same hurdles until you reach the ultimate destination.

19. Qualities of the Seen (nature, observed, material world, illusion)

(p250) The stages of the gunas are specific, non-specific, defined and undefinable.

Satchidananda: Nature (the Seen, observed, material world, illusion) is categorized into 4 stages:

  1. Manifested - nature is manifested as gross, physical objects which we can hear, feel, see, touch, smell and taste. E.g. seeing the physical flower
  2. More developed - nature forms into the subtle senses, buddhi and mind. E,g, not seeing the flower, but smelling it
  3. Slightly manifested - nature is defined. E,g, subtle perception allows us to see the emanating force of the flower
  4. Unmanifested - nature is static and has no definition. E,g, seeing the aura of the flower

ChatGPT4: (ME: here, ChatGPT4 presents a very different interpretation of this sutra. But this is quite powerful and presents a clear distinction between Purusa (consciousness) and Prakrti (the material world)) This sutra elaborates on the qualities of nature (gunas) and what make them up. All of creation have 3 inherent qualities to it - sattvic (clarity), rajasic (action) and tamasic (inert). These Gunas manifest in various ways to influence the Element, Sense Objects and Sense Organs.

3 Gunas (3 qualities inherent in nature)

  1. Sattvic (purity, harmony, and knowledge) Imagine a placid lake in the wilderness - this has the Sattvic quality. This Guna (Sattvic guna) influences the elements (earth, wind, space and water) by harmonizing them. The Sense Objects (trees, lake, wildlife) live in harmony in this ecosystem. Now, our sense organs experience this nature and instill a calmness in the beholder.
  2. Rajasic (activity, desire, and passion) This is action and kinetic in nature. Imagine being in a busy city setting with its dynamic energy, movement and activies. This influence the sense objects to be streets, lights, cars, billboards. Our sensory organs interact with this energy and leaves us stressed and exhausted.
  3. Tamasic (inertia, darkness, and ignorance) This is inert, energy being on-hold. Imagine a quiet and dimly lit room used for sleeping and resting. The sense objects are soft comfy pillows, sofa and lounge furniture. Our senses interact with these by taking rest and recovery.

The 3 Gunas influence the following:

  1. Elements (Linga) - these are the 5 elements that make up nature or reality as we experience it: fire, air, ether, earth, water. Gunas influence these elements
  2. Sense Organs (Matra) - these are the 5 perception organs (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) that help us make sense of the world
  3. Sense Objects (Alingani) - these are the object of perception that the senses interact with. e.g. chocolate and we experience it with our sense of taste. It's pleasant, then we develop a craving, "I want chocolates".

By being aware and understanding how these Gunas influence the fluctuations of our sensory perception and experience of the default world, we develop a better sense of separation or the existing duality (that we are not what we identified ourselves with). This helps us transcend this external world and achieve a higher state of consciousness.

This Yoga sutra is aligned along the Samkhya philosophy (one of the 6 classical schools of Hindu philosophy)which presents that the universe as a interplay between two fundamental principles: Purusha (pure consciousness), and Prakriti (material world) with its qualities (Gunas) of clarity, activity, and inertia. It explains how the world evolves from the interaction of these principles (gunas, 5 sensory perceptions [+ ego, mind, intellect, cosmic existence], sense objects, 5 elements) and emphasizes that understanding this distinction leads to liberation. Samkhya is closely linked with Yoga, collectively known as Samkhya-Yoga, which combines philosophical insights (Samkhya) with practical techniques (Yoga) for spiritual growth and self-realization.

20. Qualities of the Seer (Purusha, True self, Consciousness, Observer)

(p252) The Seer is nothing but the power of seeing which, although pure, appears to see through the mind.

Satchidananda: The previous sutra talked about the Seen. In this sutra, the Seer is discussed. When the mind gains medical knowledge, it wants to be a doctor - this is how the Seer is sucked into the mind's world and begins to identify with the mind. Yoga aids in making the distinction that the Seer can break-away from its tether. E.g. instead of condemning sinners, yoga helps in seeing sinners as tomorrow's saints, that everyone was also a sinner at one point. This allows the Seer to escape the clutches of the mind.

ChatGPT4:
"The Seer is pure vision; even though pure, it looks through the (mind's) ideas."

This sutra continues to explore the relationship between the Seer (Purusha, True self, Consciousness, Observer) and what is Seen (Prakriti, external world, including the mind). The Seer is distinct from the mind. The Seer sees reality as it is - it is not influenced by worldly experiences. The Seer is pure, eternal and unchanging. However, as pure as it is, the Seer is engaged with the experience of the mind. Thus, the Seer sees reality through the mental constructs of the mind - not reality as it really is. The Seer plays 2 roles - one as unchanging/pure, and the other one, largely influenced by what the mind experiences.

When the Seer realizes that it is dancing with the mind and then maintains a detached awareness, observing the activities of the mind without being entangled or identified with them, when it realizes the distinction between the unchanging Seer and the changing phenomena of the mind, then the Seer is aligned back to its true nature, leading to self-realization and liberation.

ME: Getting the Seer to rise up above the mental fluctuation is really hard because the Seer experiences reality through the mind. The Seer must remain aware while being inside the mind which means constant awareness. This is very difficult.

21. The Seer is Witness to the Mind

(p254) The seen exists only for the sake of the Seer.

Satchidananda: The Seer appears to be experiencing the fluctuation of the mind because that's how we see it from our human perspective. But the truth is, the Seer is simply the witness to what the mind is experiencing.

ME: The material world (Seen) is dormant without the interaction of consciousness (Seer). It is that interaction that gives us the human experience from which to learn the lessons we need to learn in this lifetime. It's up to us to be vigilant not to be caught up on the fluctuations of the mind so that consciousness remains unaffected by the mind.

22. Success and Exhilaration fades away as the New Normal

(p256) Although destroyed for one who has attained liberation, the Seen still exists for others, being common to them.

Satchidananda: To one who is evolved, he understands the illusion of reality and impermanence of achievement. A beauty queen so becomes wrinkled. A rich man can suffer losses and become poor. These are all fluctuations a yogi realizes and becomes aware of. But before the yogi becomes realized, he has to do his fair share of living life and learning from it. You have to face your fear or be reborn reliving that fear...until you finally get it.

ChatGPT4:
"What has been accomplished is lost when its purpose is fulfilled ; what has not been accomplished is not lost. It is common to all."

This sutra addresses the nature of attachments and desires, highlighting the impermanence of fulfillment and the enduring nature of that which remains unfulfilled. When a desire has been fulfilled, the sense of achievement is temporary and soon fades away. For unfulfilled desires, the longing continues.

E.g. When you gain a much coveted promotion, you feel elated and gains a sense of heightened self-worth. But after a while, this feeling fades away since this now becomes the new normal. So this feeling of exhilaration does not last. Better to put your bet on something permanent...like reaching new heights in yoga. However, if you don't achieve your goal, you will remain motivated.

23. Seer and Seen are Co-dependents

(p260) The union of the Owner (Purusa) and Owned (Prakrti) causes the recognition of the nature and powers them both.

Satchidananda: It is through the interaction of the Seer with the Seen that the Seer realizes its true nature. The Seer needs this interaction and experience to realize itself because the Seer alone cannot achieve this. By itself, the Seen is dormant. But together, they perform a dance.

ChatGPT4:
"The union between the Seer and the Seen is the means of realizing one's true nature."

Self-realization happens when the Seer engages with the Seen and the Seer sees that it is timeless and spaceless while the Seen is a temporary illusion.

ME: Again, I go back to my position that the Seer needs to interact with the Seen for its human experience to learn whatever lessons need to be learned. This will not happen in the vacuum of non-interaction.

24. Ignorance and Maya

(p261) The cause of the Observer/Observed union is ignorance

Satchidananda: Ignorance is a late realization by the Observer. After havng united with the Observed, it realizes that it is sucked into the world of illusion (Maya) and snaps out of it. Thus there was ignorance for the union to take place in the first place.

ChatGPT4: The Observer (Purusha, consciousness, True Self) is caught in this cycle of birth, death and rebirth (Samsara) because of Ignorance (lack of true knowledge about the nature of reality, particularly the misidentification of the True Self with the fluctuations of the mind and the material world).

ME: Instead of calling it 'ignorance', I would simply call the union a 'process that needed to take place'. Again, I restate my position that the Observer needs to interact with the Observed for the human experience to take place, and thus learn the lessons that need to be learned for self-realization to happen. True, to someone who doesn't know any better (someone who lived a normal life toiling the 9-5 job and looking after family without any kind of spiritual awakening) this union (Consciousness mired in the default world) is a rite of passage that happens unbeknownst to the Observer - if you want to call that ígnorance. But after the realization, the Observer realizes it is much bigger than the Observed and thus breaks away from the union.

25. No Ignorance, No Union

(p263) Without this ignorance, no such union occurs. This is the independence of the Seer.

Satchidananda: As soon as ignorance is lifted, Purusha (Conciousness, Seer, Observer, True Self) reverts back to its true nature, unshackled by the fluctuation of mind and the world. Everything we experience is mental, no matter how painful, joyful or real. When the mind is shifted from its focus of pain, we don't feel the pain. E.g. You were pissed because you lost your watch. Then you heard your friend died. Suddenly, you are overcome with grief - you forgot that you were pissed. Same thing with the lifting of ignorance...the mental fluctuation dimishes in its intensity.

ChatGPT4:
"By the absence of ignorance, the conjunction of the seer and the seen does not exist, and ignorance is dissolved; this is the isolation of the seer."

This emphasizes the profound impact of eliminating ignorance (avidya) through the practice of yoga. Ignorance is seen as the root cause of the union or entanglement of the seer (the true self or Purusha) with the fluctuations of the mind and the material world. Through the removal of this ignorance, the seer attains isolation or liberation, experiencing a state of pure consciousness independent of the external world.

ME: I disagree that the union should not happen to avoid ignorance - the union has to take place. Consciousness in human form cannot experience liberation independent of "reality". Ignorance must take place in order for lessons to be learned. We can look at human life as a microcosm of this bigger cosmic evolution. A baby is born ignorant and finds sustenance from the default world. It's very survival hinges on that interaction with reality. As the baby matures, it gets slapped around by life. And with mindfulness and deep insight, he comes to a realization that identifying with this default world is all bullshit. This begins his spiritual evolution that leads to liberation. But my whole point is that reaity has to be experienced first before any kind of realization to happen - union and ignorance must take place. This is the baby-step.

26. Discerning the Eternal and Non-eternal duality of matter

(p267) Uninterrupted discriminative discernment is the method for the removal of ignorance.

Satchidananda: This is about Discernment (Viveka). Everything can be classified as either non-changing and ever-changing. It is important to constantly discern what is non-changing from the ever-changing.

E.g. your self. The body is ever-changing since new cells are born as old cells die. In 12 years, all the cells in your body would have already been replaced. However, your Consciousness remains without change. Keep this discernment that even within you, there are elements of eternal and transitional. The same is true for everything else.

ChatGPT4:
"Through the unwavering discernment comes the means of destruction of ignorance."

A constant and unwavering awareness of what is real vs unreal, eternal vs non-eternal, removes the tethering of the Oberser from the Observed.

ME: In thermodynamics, tree is turned to firewood and firewood becomes ash and ash reverts back to the elements and morphs into something else. This element keeps morphing, assuming many states and names. But its very essence remains there - the information is never lost. This is the cardinal rule of Thermodynamics - information is never lost. This mirrors this Sutra - that there are eternal elements (information) and there are non-eternal elements (wood, ash, etc.) existing in the same matter.

This is another convergence of mysticism and science - truth is universal. No matter where it comes from (from science, from mysticism or from someone's shithole), ultimately, it says the same thing.

27. Seven Stages to Final Wisdom

(p270) One's wisdom in the final stage is sevenfold:

Note: It should be noted that the Sutra did not specify the 7 phases but the Author listed 7 down - perhaps this is from his yogic tradition

Satchidananda: These are the different stages along the Yogic path:

  1. External Knowledge - true knowledge can only be gained from within - not outside where everything fluctuates and changes, arising and passing away.
  2. Aversion and Exercisable Options - pain is external, but suffering is internal. Pain is real, but it's our choice to suffer or not. So, how we feel is our own perception, and our perception depends if we are sucked in to Maya ("I'm hurt, it's so painful!") or unshackled from it through Awareness ("There is pain and I see blood. Let's see if the intensity is still the same after 1 hour. I'll observe with no reaction."). It's all in the mind. The mind dictates what we experience and what we are feeling. But this can be transcended by reverting back to being an Observer.
  3. Knowledge from Within - there is a wealth of knowledge within. Most saints were never schooled in colleges and universities. They just sat under a tree and went deep inside themselves - all the answers were there. They learned and understood without being taught. This is how Buddha gained enlightenment. When he realized he could no longer learn from his teachers, he went within himself in search of answers.
  4. Lifting of Ignorance - once the veil of ignorance is lifted and the Purusha transcends the fluctuation of the mind/world, there is no more need to do anything - no dos, no don'ts. Everything is already accomplished. This completely frees the Citta. The cosmic mind may prompt us to act on something and we act, but there is no need to know why or know the outcome - you just do it.
  5. Freedom of Citta - because Ignorance is lifted, Citta (consciousness) is free from the habit patterns of the mind. It no longer needs to prove anything - thus ego dissolves and past impressions (pain, joy, need to be right, etc.) lose their grip.
  6. Absorption of Mind - to the destruction or dissolution of the mind where mental disturbances, fluctuations, and distractions cease to exist, leading to a state of profound stillness and clarity.
  7. Liberation - with the mind being absorbed, only the Perusha is left. Nothing else exists. Liberation has been attained.

You can read all the yoga books, go to all the pilgrimages, live in an ashram, wear the saffron robe, argue with the scholars, but realization will not take place because these are all external sources. All you have to do is find the answers within - close the senses to the outside world and look inside.

Books, yantras, etc are enablers. But once they serve their purpose, you move on and leave them behind. E.g. you use the breath to go into deep meditation. Once in meditative absorption, there is no longer any need to focus on the breath. Focus on the next thing. E.g. once you finish learning and practicing what's on the book, give the book to the next guy - don't perch the book on an altar.

I remember a good friend from Chiang Mai who makes a living being a guru. He has read 34 boxes of spiritual books and can recite a non-ending discourse on anything about spirituality. At the end, he confided that the books began to sound all the same - they were saying the same thing. Lesson here is you don't have to devour the world's knowledge - they get in the way of the process, stroke your ego (Oh, I'm so smart I know more than anyone else here). Work with an idea that caught your attention and dive deep into it. You'll know when the time to move on happens.

ChatGPT4:
"The practitioner's consciousness reaches the ultimate stage of sevenfold knowledge."

This sutra suggests the progression of knowledge or consciousness through seven stages. Patanjali does not explicitly list the seven stages of knowledge.

28. Practicing the 8 Limbs of Yoga leads to Discernment

(p280) By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment.

Satchidananda: Patanjali describes another way to practice yoga - the 8 Limbs method.

ChatGPT4:
"Indeed, through the practice of the limbs of yoga and with the destruction of impurities, there arises the light of knowledge, leading to discriminative discernment."

Through the practice of the 8 limbs of yoga, impurities are burned, true knowledge is gained leading to discernment of the Observer vs the Observed.

29. 8 Limbs of Yoga

(p281) The eight limbs of Yoga are:

  1. 30. Yama (abstinence) - abstinences, regulations

    1. Nonviolence (Ahimsā) - do not cause pain (do not kill is different). It's not just physical. You can cause pain through your words and writing
    2. Truthfulness (Satya) - this is not just lying, don't exaggerate, don't say half-truths, don't embellish
    3. Non-stealing (Asteya) - if it's not yours, don't take it. This applies to someone's ideas, someone's time. Don't grab credit
    4. Continence (Brahmacarya) - celibacy
    5. Non-greed (Aparigrahā) - b don't be greedy. Don't hoard things. When something already served the purpose, give it away b do not accept gifts
  2. 32. Niyama (observance)

    Satchidananda:
    Niyama complements Yama. Together, they form the moral and behavioral foundation for a yogic life. All religions have this cornerstone.

    ChatGPT4:
    In this sutra, Patanjali introduces the second limb of Ashtanga Yoga consisting of five observances or ethical disciplines:
    1. Śauca (Purity or Cleanliness) - this involves both external and internal cleanliness. It includes maintaining physical cleanliness in one's surroundings and body, as well as cultivating purity of thoughts and emotions.
    2. Santosha (Contentment) - practitioners are encouraged to find contentment and satisfaction with what they have, avoiding excessive desire for material possessions. Contentment leads to inner peace and reduces the distractions of worldly desires.
    3. Tapas (Austerity or Discipline) - tapas involves the practice of self-discipline and austerity. It includes efforts to overcome physical and mental challenges, cultivating inner strength and resilience.
    4. Svādhyāya (Self-study or Study of Sacred Texts) - this niyama emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and the study of sacred texts. Through self-study, individuals gain deeper insights into their own nature and the principles of yoga.
    5. Īśvara Pranidhānāni (Surrender to the Supreme Reality or Devotion to God) - this niyama encourages practitioners to surrender their ego and individual will to the divine or the supreme reality. It involves cultivating a sense of devotion and recognizing a higher power beyond the self.

    These niyamas complement the yamas (ethical restraints) and together form the ethical foundation of the yogic path.

  3. asana (posture practice) -
  4. Pranayama (breath control) -
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) -
  6. Dharana (concentration) -
  7. Dhyana (meditation) -
  8. Samadhi(contemplation, absorption, superconscious state) -

Satchidananda:

ChatGPT4:


xxxxx

ME:

31. Yoga is Universal

(p284) These great vows are universal, not limited by class, place, time or circumstance.

Satchidananda: These are Great Vows and cannot be broken by any excuse for any dedicated Yogi. Lesser mortals are allowed to modify.

ChatGPT4:
"The great vow is universal and not restricted by birth, region, time, or tradition."

The practice of yoga is universal. No one is excluded regardless of age, sex, caste, or religion.

33. Replacing Negative Thinking with Positive Thinking

(p287) When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksa bhāvana

Satchidananda: If one is flooded by hatred, instead of immersing into it, think of the opposite - love. If we can't mentally do that, be with someone you love or change your environment. Hatred will not go to the surface. This is a good way to control the mind. If husband/wife are fighting, the tension dissipates when the baby crawls up to them.

34. Catching Negative Thoughts

(p290) When negative thoughts or acts such as violence, etc. are done, caused to be done or even approved of - whether incited by greed, anger or infatuation - whether indulged in with mild, medium or extreme intensity, they are based on ignorance and bring certain pain. Reflecting upon this is also pratipakṣa bhāvana.

Satchidananda: When we allow negativity inflicted to others, directly or indirectly, it ultimately leads to pain and misery. This is ignorance.

ChatGPT4:
"When disturbed by thoughts of violence and others, whether done, caused, or approved, whether arising from greed, anger, or delusion, and whether mild, moderate, or intense, cultivate the opposite mental attitude. These thoughts, when they become infinite, result in infinite pain and ignorance. Thus, cultivate the opposite."

Negative thoughts can come from many sources, even external people. If left unchecked, it will manifest as violence and ultimately lead to pain and misery. With awareness, you can catch the negative thought early on and replace it with love, compassion or empathy.

35. Ahimsa (non-violence) and its Surrounding Resonance

(p292) In the presence of one firmly established in nonviolence, all hostilities cease.

Satchidananda: No violence happens around a person who vibrates ahimsa (through thought, words and deeds). It's like water that douses fire. Sages and seers in the jungle are not harmed by wild animals if they practice ahimsa. A person practising ahimsa vibrates peace, harmony and connectedness. This was practiced by Buddha, Gandhi, Mandela, etc.

Google Bard:
"When non-violence (ahimsa) is established, hostility ceases in one's vicinity."

This sutra emphasizes the transformative power of non-violence (ahimsa) in cultivating inner peace and harmony. It states that when non-violence becomes firmly established within an individual, hostility or animosity (vaira) naturally subsides in those around them.

The sutra highlights the ripple effect of ahimsa, suggesting that our own actions and intentions have a profound influence on the environment and interactions we create. By embodying non-violence in our thoughts, words, and deeds, we foster a peaceful atmosphere that disarms hostility and promotes understanding.

Ahimsa is not merely about avoiding physical harm; it extends to the realm of thoughts and emotions. It encompasses cultivating kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, refraining from judgment and criticism, and extending empathy to all living beings.

When ahimsa becomes deeply rooted in our being, it radiates outwards, creating a magnetic field of peace that gently dissolves animosity in others. This transformative power of ahimsa is not forceful or coercive; rather, it operates through the subtle power of resonance, inspiring others to adopt a similar mindset of non-violence.

In essence, Sutra 2.35 underscores the interconnectedness of our actions and the impact we have on the world around us. By cultivating ahimsa within ourselves, we not only promote inner peace but also contribute to a more harmonious and peaceful world.

ME: I rememmber a time in Canada, I was walking towards home at around 2:30am. Most of the people still out at that time were either drunk, smashed already or warlike. There was a bloodied group of young guys walking in front of me who were openly looking for a fight. They yelled expletives at everyone they saw. Of course they saw me behind, but I was in a state of bliss, completely non-reative to their threatening presence. They completely ignored me, but yelled expletives at everyone else.

36. Satya (truthfulness) Leads to Manifestation

(p294) To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.

Satchidananda: When someone practices truthfulness, his words manifest. This is almost magical. A person who speaks the truth is bestowed with almost magical power to manifest his words. He doesn't have to do any work because his words alone will ensure the task is done. When one is honest, there is no fear, there is nothing to hide and one experiences freedom. But if our honesty will cause harm or pain, it is best to be silent. When pushed, instead of saying, "I don't know" (which is a lie), you say, "I know, but I'll keep it to myself.". Once the benefit of being truthful is experienced, it gets addicting to be truthful because it produces a high.

ChatGPT4:
"When truthfulness (satya) is established, the fruits of actions become dependent on truth."

Essentially, it highlights the idea that living truthfully in speech, action and thought leads to a harmonious alignment between one's actions and their consequences.

Google Bard:
Truthfulness permeates every aspect of our lives, guiding our intentions and shaping our actions. The sutra suggests that when we act with truthfulness, our actions become aligned with the natural order of the universe (no self-interest, ego, or fear), and a genuine desire to contribute to the well-being of all. As a result, the outcomes of our actions become pure and unblemished, free from negative karma or unintended consequences. When we embrace truthfulness, we see the world with clarity and discern the right course of action. Our actions become aligned with dharma, the ethical and harmonious way of living, leading to positive and beneficial outcomes. By cultivating truthfulness in all aspects of our lives, we purify our intentions, enhance our actions, and pave the way for a life of fulfillment and meaningful results.

ME: As a general rule, I don't lie. By not lying, I feel a lightness of being - no baggage. Perhaps this is due to absence of guilt. You know you are aligned to virtue and the right way. Of course if my truthfulness will cause harm, I rather keep my mouth shut.

37. Non-stealing (asteya) leads to Abundance

Satchidananda:
"To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes."

(p298) When you want to become rich, all you have to do is not steal. When we want to take everything without giving as much, it's stealing because it's greed. Nature is naturally benevolent to those who are not greedy and don't steal. When you hoard wealth and it's not shared, energy is stuck and there is a natural tendency for that wealth to 'escape'. But when used properly, it's an energy that moves and enriches. When surplus potatoes are dumped in the ocean to 'stabilize prize', this is theft to those who are hungry with nothing to eat. It's a sinful way to use what nature has endowed. The richest person is the one with a cool mind, free of tension and anxiety.

ChatGPT4:
"When non-stealing (asteya) is established, all jewels come."

It suggests that when an individual adheres to the principle of non-stealing, not only in terms of material possessions but also in a broader sense of ethical conduct, they attain a state where all valuable and precious things come to them. This could be interpreted not only as material wealth but also as spiritual and ethical richness that manifests when one lives a life of integrity and honesty.

Google Bard:
When non-stealing becomes firmly established within an individual, all wealth naturally comes to them. Non-stealing encompasses not only refraining from physical theft but also avoiding the exploitation of others, taking advantage of others' misfortune, and harboring greed. When non-stealing becomes deeply ingrained in our being, it cultivates a sense of contentment and abundance, eliminating the need for material possessions to fill a void within. The sutra suggests that when we live in accordance with the principle of non-stealing, we align ourselves with the natural flow of abundance and prosperity. We become magnets for wealth, not in the sense of material riches alone, but also in the form of knowledge, wisdom, and meaningful experiences. The transformative power of non-stealing lies in its ability to dissolve the illusion of scarcity and separation. When we embrace non-stealing, we recognize that abundance is not limited and that we are all interconnected parts of a vast and bountiful universe. We cultivate a sense of gratitude for what we have and a willingness to share our gifts with others. By cultivating non-stealing in our thoughts, words, and actions, we open ourselves to a life of abundance, not just in material possessions but also in love, compassion, and inner peace.

ME: By practicing asteya, even when no money is coming in, there is always food on the table and a roof over my head. I felt that there was an unseen hand looking after my well being. This was my way of life in the many years I traveled Southeast Asia with very little money. I know this to be true because I've lived it - it's not just a concept. But this abundance is also a result of many yogic practices, not just asteya.

38. Brahmacarya: controlling Sexual Energy

Satchidananda:
"By one established in celibacy, vigor is gain"

(p306) By releasing, man feels mentally and physically depleted - this is true in our human experience. Spiritual advancement cannot be gained with a depleted body and mind. Seminal fluid is stored properly and re-absorbed into the system it gets transformed into prana. Additionally, sexual energy that is preserved gets transformed into a subtle energy called ojas. It develops personality, builds the nerves, improves brain power and stills the mind. The person develops magneticism. When ojas is stored, it creates tejas - a glow or radiance that lights up a room.

ChatGPT4:
"By the establishment of continence, vigor is gained."

By establishing continence or practicing self-restraint in the context of one's sexual energy, an individual can gain increased vigor or vitality. Energy is preserved and channeled for increased physical, mental, and spiritual strength.

Google Bard:
"By establishing celibacy, one gains virility."

By practicing celibacy and controlling one's sexual energy, an individual can gain increased physical, mental, and spiritual power. When sexual energy is not dissipated through sexual activity (no ejaculation), it is believed to be channeled into other areas of life, leading to greater physical strength, mental focus, and spiritual awareness.

ME: True, by practicing "non-ejaculation" (you can still have sex, just don't 'come'), not only do you save energy, but you gain access to increased energy you can unleash. The method is to stop before that point of no-return, rest a bit, and then go for it again. By doing this, sexual energy gets pumped and pumped until your head feels like exploding. I could do about 5 sex-reps without coming before I stop. The following day, I could really feel my strength surge - even a yoga teacher noticed and commented on it. After some time of doing this repeatedly, I woke up one morning with an acute pain in that area. I had to have sex in order to come and release.

39. Aparigraha: Non-Greed

Satchidananda:
"When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one's birth comes."

(p314) Non-greed can extend to being cautious about gifting. If you receiving a gift, there could be string. And if you give away a gift, you may not even be aware that you tied strings to it. When we see the cause and effect of relationships, you no longer see the bondage and thus can be free and clear of obligation.

ChatGPT4:
"By non-attachment, one attains serenity. When one is not attached, there is the understanding of the wholeness of life."

The practice of aparigraha (non-attachment or non-grasping) encourages individuals to cultivate a mindset of detachment from material possessions and desires. By letting go of attachments, one is said to attain serenity and a deeper understanding of the true nature of life, gains insight into the continuity of life or the cyclical nature of existence.

Google Bard:
"By establishing non-possessiveness, one gains knowledge of past and future lives."

Aparigraha is non-possessiveness, non-grasping, greedlessness, and freedom from attachments. By cultivating non-attachment to material possessions and desires, an individual can gain access to knowledge of their past and future lives, ultimately achieving enlightenment.

Clear perception: By letting go of attachments, one's mind becomes clearer and more discerning, allowing them to perceive the true nature of reality and understand the interconnectedness of all things, including past and future lives.

Transcending ego: Attachment can be seen as a manifestation of the ego, the false sense of self and ownership. By overcoming attachment, one transcends the ego and gains access to a deeper level of consciousness, where past and future lives are revealed.

Accessing karmic memory: Some interpretations suggest that non-attachment allows one to tap into the karmic memory, which holds the record of all past experiences, including those from previous lives.

Understanding the cycle of reincarnation: By understanding the cycle of birth and death, one can break free from its limitations and achieve liberation.

ME: I regard possession as being tethered to the burden of ownership. With ownership, I now have to guard against its loss or destruction. If it's land, I now have to build fences around it. If it's jewelry, I now have to insure it or keep it in a safe, etc. By only acquiring for my essential needs, I am free from that burden. And for the things I already own, it practically has no value that I can even leave it behind when I move on - no attachment. This gives me a feeling of freedom that is hard to just conceptualize. It needs to be experienced.

40. Saucha: cleanliness, inside and out

Satchidananda:
"By purification arises disgust for one's own body and for contact with other bodies."

(p316) Sauca practice makes you realize that even your own body is impure - you get sick, you age, you get injured. Thus it's best to look after your body, but don't treat it like an altar and get attached to it. The union of 2 bodies (male and female) is not ideal as pursuing the yogic path of brahmacharya.

ChatGPT4:
"Through cleanliness, there arises disgust for one's own body and a disinclination to contact with others."

This sutra emphasizes the importance of cleanliness (saucha) that goes beyond physical cleanliness and extends to purity of mind and spirit. By practicing saucha, one develops a sense of detachment or disinterest in one's own body and a reduced inclination for unnecessary contact with others.

Google Bard:
"From purity arises aversion to one's own body and the company of others."

Sauca (purity or cleanliness) are both in a physical and internal sense. It encompasses practices like hygiene, bodily purification techniques (Shatkriya), and cultivating a clean mind free from negativity and impurities. It recognizes the limitations and temporary nature of the physical form. It encourages avoidance of unnecessary contact with others - a conscious choice to minimize distractions and interactions that may hinder spiritual progress, especially from people who don't vibrate with you.

ME: I fully subscribe to cleanliness - in the body, mind, spirit and in the external world. I bathe daily, mostly in a natural spring water source, I cleanse my mind by mantra chanting, and my spirit with meditation. As for the external world, I do not associate myself with drunks, addicts or obnoxious people. True to Desiderata, they are vexations to the spirit. Thus, I feel clean and I feel the lightness of being.

I disagree however, to feeling 'disgust' about the body. While in human form, my body is the interface to learn all the lessons that need to learn. I treat my body as an altar and hold inviolate of bad food, drugs or alcohol. I am also aware that this body is only temporary while this human life persists. I think it's a much healthier outlook - sorry Patanjali.

41. Purity in thought, word and deed

Satchidananda:
"Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, onepointedness, mastery over the senses and fitness for Selfrealization."

(p323) By being pure, you become honest and life becomes fluid and easy. You understand the body, the heart is uplifted and you become happy. Self-realization becomes accessible.

ChatGPT4:
"Through the purity of the mind (sattva), one attains cheerfulness of mind (saumanasya), one-pointedness (ekāgrata), control over the senses (indriyajaya), and fitness for realizing the self (ātmadarśanayogyatvāni)."

By purifying the mind and cultivating sattva (the highest quality found in nature which is characterized by purity, clarity, and harmony.), positive attributes (positive and joyful mental disposition, ability to focus the mind and maintain one-pointed attention., mastery or control over the senses, e pursuit of self-realization) are attained.

Google Bard:
"From the purification of sattva arise happiness, one-pointedness, mastery over the senses, and fitness for self-realization."

When we live a life of clarity, purity, joy, and peace, we invariably come to a state of well-being and emotional stability. We develop a one-pointedness of the mind and control over the senses. We become fit for self-realization.

Inner purification leads to outer manifestation: By purifying the inner self through practices like meditation and ethical conduct, one experiences positive changes in their emotions, thoughts, and actions.

ME: By remaining authentic, saying the truth even though it's easier to lie, you lift the burdens of life many people carry. You feel the lightness of being - no excess baggage. Without anything weighing you down, there is clarity of thinking and the path for realization seem visible.

42. Contentment: feeling satisfaction with what's on the table

Satchidananda:
"By contentment, supreme joy is gained."

(p325) Contentment means acceptance of the present without going to outside things for our happiness. If something comes, we let it come. If not, it doesn't matter. Contentment means neither to like nor dislike.

ChatGPT4:
"From contentment, unsurpassed joy is obtained."

Finding satisfaction with one's current situation, circumstances, and possessions. By adopting an attitude of contentment, one can experience a profound sense of joy that surpasses the happiness derived from external circumstances. It encourages practitioners to find fulfillment within themselves rather than relying solely on external factors for happiness. It involves appreciating what one has in the present moment rather than constantly seeking fulfillment in external achievements or possessions.

Google Bard:
"From contentment arises the highest happiness."

By cultivating contentment, one can achieve a profound and enduring Inner peace that surpasses fleeting pleasures derived from external sources. Contentment arises from within, regardless of external circumstances. By developing this inner peace, one becomes less susceptible to external fluctuations and experiences a deeper sense of well-being. Contentment allows one to be free from cravings and attachments. Contentment involves accepting what life offers, both the pleasant and the unpleasant. By embracing all experiences with equanimity, one can find happiness even in the midst of challenges.

ME: I cannot say I have no desires but I can say I'm not attached to my desires. I think it's healthy to have desires - it acknowledges that you're still human. Just don't get attached to them. I am contented with what I have despite unmet desires. Sure, I have desires. I'd like to have a Lamborghini Diablo, a yoga ashram and a more comfortable living space. If I don't get any of that, it's ok. I'm just grateful that I have a spartan shelter that I got cheap, a bicycle that gives me a workout and a motorcycle that gets me to far places. The universe has been kind and benevolent. If it grants me my desires, a big thank you. If not, that's ok, thank you just the same.

I cannot say there is joy in me for being contented. Joy seems to be the wrong word. Contentment is simply acceptance of your present lot - neither happy nor sad for it. I'm just thankful for whatever is on the table.

43. Tapas: Austerity for mental toughness, purification and Siddhi

Satchidananda:
"Austerity destroys impurities and occult powers are gained"

(p 326) Tapas means 'burning'. Tapas on food means we fast and burn fat. Verbal tapas means we go silent and listen. Mental tapas means we refrain from thinking about past impressions (karmic deeds). By undergoing Tapas, we undergo pain and discomfort because we do things outside our comfort level. We must welcome pain with a calm and relaxed mind - no reaction, no aversion. Tapas is a purification process. By mastering Tapas, we control our senses and our bodies.

E.g. Dirty laundry has to be scrubbed, tumbled, rolled, beaten, sun-fried and ironed in order to get it clean and wearable again. Same with Tapas, it gets our impurities out. We come out of it cleansed. If someone insults us, don't react and instead, extend compassionate feelings. Bearing the insult and returning with compassion is the highest Tapas - means more than 1000 Hail Marys.

ChatGPT4:
"When austerity is practiced with the body and the senses brought under control, and impurities are destroyed or diminished, the perfection of the body and the senses is attained."

Tapas involves disciplined and focused effort, often in the form of ascetic practices, to purify the body and mind. One can ultimately attain siddhi or perfection in the functioning of the body and senses (note that the A.I.s refrain from using 'Siddhi' to mean superhuman ability).

Google Bard:
"Through the destruction of impurities, the presence of austerities brings about special powers to the organs and the body."

When we practice Tapas, which includes various forms of discipline, self-control, and effort, we can purify the body and senses ( attachments, desires, and distractions). By mastering Tapas, we gain control over our senses and develop sensitivity to subtle energies. The goal of tapas is about transformation, self-mastery, and aligning our body and mind with our spiritual goal.

E.g. Practicing the 8 limbs of yoga asana is a form of tapas.

ME:
There are many interpretations of Tapas. Here is the one that resonates the most to me, and has become the cornerstone of my practice:

"Between doing something the easy way and the hard way, choose the hard way and embrace the discomfort"

E.g. 1 I checked-in on the 23rd floor of Golden Peak Hotel in Cebu. Instead of taking the elevator, I used the staircase, climbing all the way up with my 22-kilo backpack. I never used the elevator during my 15-day stay. I welcomed the difficulty of stairclimbing. As a general rule, I use the stairs instead of an elevator. E.g. 2 I take cold showers instead of hot, even in winter. There are many ways in our everyday lives where Tapas can be engaged.

By choosing to do something the hard way and welcoming the discomfort, I develop mental toughness. By mastering this, very few things in life can hurt me.



44. Practice and reading the scriptures lead one to the Divine

Satchidananda:
"By study of spiritual books comes communion with one's chosen deity."

(p 331) With continued practice and reading the scriptures, our deity will ultimately appear before us - either in human form, light or sound.

ChatGPT4:
"By self-study and contemplation of the sacred scriptures, one gains a connection with higher deities or divinity."

Self-reflection and the study of sacred texts, scriptures, or teachings establish a connection with the divine.

Google Bard:
"Through the union with the divine arising from self-study and other yogic practices..."

Self-reflection, study of scriptures, and contemplation on yogic principles, along with other dedicated yogic practices (meditation, pranayama), can lead to a state of union with the divine (Universal consciousness, Higher Self or Inner divine spark). This sutra encourages dedication and sincere practice for experiencing profound inner transformation and alignment with something greater than ourselves.

ME:
This sutra defines my yoga discipline - practice and reading. I evolve my practice as I come across something new and powerful in my readings. Currently, I'm reading 3 yogic books - Yoga Upanushads, Yoga Sutras and Vinyasa Yoga. At this point in my readings, they all seem to say the same thing. But every once in a while, I stumple upon something powerful - like Maha Vedha Mudra. This is now an integral part of my practice.

Am I now in union with the divine? Let's just say I make a conscious effort of be a better person. I try to be mindful of yogic principles (impermanence of what's here and now, detachment to what gives me pleasure, desire to transcend this 3-dimensional reality). When I am by the seawall, I keep reminding myself that this wonderful place is an illusion I have to deal with just the same because this is what I can work with to learn the lessons that warranted my existence to begin with.

E.g. It like watching a movie. I can get sucked into the story and the emotions, but I remind myself to critique the cinematography, acting, screenplay and directorship. Downside? It ruins the movie. Same thing for life - it ruins the spontaneity.

45. Surrendering to a Higher Power

Satchidananda:
"By total surrender to God, samādhi is attained."

(p 332) Man must serve God and humanity. Humanity is a manifestation of God - better help an old woman cross the street than to say 10 Hail Marys in church. But not just humans, to all things - treat your properties with love and care as you would your prized possession. Don't drag the chair - lift it up when you move it. Wash dishes with attention and care - these inanimate things will reciprocate. You cannot have desires and have peace - they don't go together. To be desireless, you must be a renunciate or give everything to God. There are many ways to be in union with God. It doesn't matter what - afterall there are many religions and philosophies. The important thing is, you unite with God.

ChatGPT4:
"Through dedication, surrender, or devotion to the divine (īśvara), the accomplishment of samādhi is perfected (siddhi)."

It emphasizes the role of dedicating one's practice to the divine, surrendering to a higher power, or cultivating devotion as a means to achieve the profound state of samādhi in the yogic journey.

Google Bard:
"The perfection of samadhi comes through the grace of the Lord (īśvara) arising from surrender (pradhānāt)."

Practice and discipline are important. But for Samadhi, one must also be devoted to a higher power (through detachment, disolution of ego, doing it right with no expectation of outcome, etc.). Surrender to a higher power allows us to tap into deeper states of awareness and receive guidance that can accelerate our progress.

ME:
Life taught me that there is always an unseen Hand looking after my well-being. But for this Hand to benefit me, I have to acknowledge it, surrender to it as I perform my due-diligence. This means I still have to do the real work even though the outcome may come from a different source. In short, I let go so that the higher intelligence can take over. When I wrestle control, I get there, but soon realize it wasn't what I thought it was. But when I let go and 'let the wind take me where it takes me', I always find myself in the right place at the right time where my desires can manifest. By letting go, I surrender to the higher power. It's not exactly Samadhi, but "I get there faster".

46. Asana: to develop a supple body

Satchidananda:
"Āsana is a steady, comfortable posture."

(p 336) A yoga pose that is comfortable and steady is an Asana. It's not that easy to be both comfortable and steady. Even a comfortable pose can turn out uncomfortable after a while. Toxins in our bodies will not allow us to sit comfortably for great lengths of time. These toxins are removed from the body by 'squeezing' them out, like a toothpaste. How? Asana's twists and bends. The body must be so supple it can bend any way you want it to. Such a body will always be healthy and tension-free.

ChatGPT4:
"The yogic posture should be steady and comfortable."

This sutra highlights the importance of the physical aspect of yoga practice, particularly the seated posture, as a foundation for deeper states of concentration and meditation. It encourages practitioners to find a position that combines stability with comfort, fostering a conducive environment for the practice of higher limbs of yoga, such as concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). The idea is that a balanced and comfortable posture supports the mental focus required for the internal practices of yoga.

Google Bard:
"A steady and comfortable posture."

This seemingly simple verse offers a foundational principle for finding a posture that is both stable and comfortable. A steady posture fosters a calm and focused mind, creating a foundation for deeper meditation.

ME:
By comforable and steady, Patanjali meant a seated pose. All of them are comfortable to me and I can remain steady. Given that, I do what is most powerful. There are 2 - Siddhasana and Padmasana. For Mandukasana Mudra, I do the Vajrasana pose. I subscribe to the adage that one can only be as young as his spine is flexible - thus I do forward bends, side bends, back bends and twists on every yoga session I do. Apart from that, I do a full body stretching. I don't necessarily have to do the major asanas as long as I get my full body stretch. At this point I don't do as much power-asanas but proper stretching is a must. My body is pliant and supple. My digestion-assimilation-elimination is optimized. And at my age, I don't have any kind of body ache.

47. Asana: effort and flow

Satchidananda:
"By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered."

(p 341) When the body is still, the mind becomes still. Sit quietly for 3 hours and the mind automatically becomes still. Envision being a mountain and you become stable and steady. You can make a vow of commitment on just about anything and the restlessness stops because no matter how restless the mind gets, the commitment has to be done - the mind cannot make a choice. E.g. "I will not eat chocolate for the next month." But once you commit, you must comply.

Satchidananda offers a technique on how to stop the jitteriness of the mind.

ChatGPT4:
"By lessening the effort and by allowing the mind to merge in the infinite, one attains perfection in an asana."

In the practice of asanas, there should be a balance between effort and relaxation. Effort should be done to align the body properly, and then sink into the pose fluidly. In this asana, let the mind merge into the infinite consciousness. The yogi attains a harmonious integration of body and mind. This is a holistic approach to yoga postures, where the practitioner not only focuses on the physical form but also cultivates a state of mental ease and unity with a broader, infinite awareness.
It seems like ChatGPT4 is suggesting that with balanced effort / relaxation, the mind can merge with the infinite (Samadhi?). I didn't even know that is possible.

Google Bard:
"Through attainments arising from effort, reduced effort, and non-effortfulness."

This speaks of achieving samadhi through different levels of effort and surrender in asana - exertion, relaxation, effortlessness. In the beginning, there is a lot of effort required to develop proficiency (concentration, focus, and overcoming distraction). With proficiency comes a more natural approach (a shift towards more natural flow of the mind), then simply spontaneously arriving at Samadhi (effortlessly, as the mind settles into boundless awareness). From 2.47 (keeping a comfortable and steady pose), one can begin to exert effort in attaining Samadhi.
Bard is suggesting that there are many ways to sink into a perfect asana - from effortful to effortless.

ME:
I guess I'm still at the stage where I take the body to its safety edge before I stop pushing it. I let the body ease itself into the 'safety edge'. Lately, I developed Yin Yoga Meditation that literally complies with this sutra. In my earlier days when the thinking was 'no pain no gain', I even injured myself because I pushed it too hard.

Have I now merged into the infinite while in the asana? No. I didn't even know that's possible. I've always thought that you need to be in meditation to achieve that...not while in asana.

However, I've reached stages while in asana where I felt the body in sync with the pose that it felt natural. This is as profound as I have taken my asanas.

48. Asana: dissolving dualities

Satchidananda:
"Thereafter, one is not disturbed by the dualities."

(p 348) If you make the posture firm and comfortable, then you are not affected by the dualities - neither heat nor cold, praise nor censure, profit nor loss will affect you. You are neutral. Whether someone blesses or curses you, praises or pulls you down, whether you gain or lose a million dollars - you will be neutral. Just by posture alone you can rise above the dualities, because the mind is under your control.

ChatGPT4:
"From that [state of perfection in asana], there is non-attachment to the pairs of opposites."

This sutra follows the previous one (2.47), which discussed the attainment of perfection in an asana through the balance of effort and relaxation, and merging with the infinite. The practitioner, having achieved perfection in the asana, enters a state of non-attachment, a mental state where the individual is not affected or disturbed by the dualities or pairs of opposites (dvandva) that exist in the external world.

The pairs of opposites refer to various dualities such as pleasure and pain, success and failure, heat and cold, etc. The practitioner, having transcended attachment, remains unaffected by the fluctuations of these opposites.

This sutra suggests that a yogi, having attained a state of non-attachment through the practice of asana, can navigate the challenges and fluctuations of life without being overly swayed by them.

The perfection in the physical posture (asana) prepares the mind for higher stages of yoga. The practitioner's ability to remain non-attached to dualities reflects an integrated and balanced state of body and mind.

The mental outcome of achieving perfection in asana, emphasizing the practitioner's non-attachment to the pairs of opposites in the external world. This mental state of non-attachment contributes to the overall goal of yoga, which is to cultivate inner peace, self-realization, and harmony with the surrounding world.

Google Bard:
"From that, there is non-arising of the pairs (of opposites)."

This sutra suggests that when we reach samadhi through varying levels of effort and surrender, we transcend the limitations of our ordinary experience, which is characterized by duality (feeling the separation of self from everything else). Duality can refer to various pairs of opposing concepts like Pleasure and pain, Hot and cold, Success and failure, Love and hate, Desire and aversion. Overcoming these dualities signifies transcending our usual attachment to one side of the pair while rejecting the other. In samadhi, we experience a state of equanimity, where we remain unaffected by the constant push and pull of opposing sensations and emotions.

We achieve this freedom through deep meditation. This allows us to observe the arising and passing of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences without getting caught up in their cycle.

We achieve this freedom by recognizing the impermanent nature of all phenomena, including our own thoughts and emotions. This helps us detach from the allure of any single opposite. We see both sides of the coin as part of a larger interconnected reality.

We achieve this freedom by integrating this craving-aversion into our daily lives by responding to situations with non-attachment and acceptance, choosing actions based on wisdom rather than being swayed by the pull of extremes.

Achieving freedom from opposites is a gradual process and unfolds at different rates for each individual. Focus on deepening your meditation practice, cultivating wisdom through study and reflection, and applying these principles to your daily life.

ME:
Asana to dissolve dualities? Sometimes, an asana can be challenging, and by observing the difficulty without reacting to it, I dissolve aversion. Sometimes, while in Padmasana in meditation, I come into a deeply relaxed state rarely reached. By being aware that the next meditation may not be this blissful, I do not develop craving. This is the extent I can say that my asana transcends duality of nature.

49. Pranayama: an introduction

Satchidananda:
"That [firm posture] being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama."

(p 349) After mastering Asana, we must now control Prana through breathing - inhalation and exhalation. Breathing must be slow and gentle - never forceful. You should not do Kumbhaka until you reach proficiency. When doing Kumbhaka, you should not strain.

Prana is energy that gives life - like gasoline to a car, like electricity to a light bulb. Since we are dealing with energy, we must be careful. There is a finite amount of Prana in everyone. Controlling Prana takes time and it's not easy.

Apart from our daily need and use, we have a tremendous amount of untapped Prana called Kundalini. Never rush the awakening of Kundalini - you may not be ready and you may not be able to contain the powerful surge of energy. When you are ready through constant practice, Kundalini will be released spontaneously.

ChatGPT4:
"When non-attachment to duality is attained, there is interruption of the movement of inhalation and exhalation, which is pranayama."

This sutra builds on the preceding ones (2.47 and 2.48), which discuss the perfection of asana and the state of non-attachment. Sutra 2.49 introduces the concept of pranayama, the yogic practice of breath control, as a natural progression from Asana. Here are key points:

When the practitioner attains the state of non-attachment described in the previous sutras, there should now be a conscious and regulated control of the breath. The intentional control of breath is an integral aspect of the yogic journey - the 4th limb of classical yoga outlined by Patanjali.

The introduction of pranayama signifies a transition from the more physical aspects of Asana to practices that involve the regulation of breath and, subsequently, the subtle energies (prana) in the body.

This sutra underscores the systematic progression in yogic practice, highlighting the interconnection between physical postures, mental states, and the regulation of breath. It suggests that as practitioners cultivate non-attachment, they naturally move toward the practice of pranayama, which plays a crucial role in preparing the mind for deeper stages of meditation and self-realization.

Google Bard:
"When freedom from duality is achieved, then Pranayama is the regulation of the inhalation and exhalation."

When we reach the state of equanimity and freedom from duality (perfection of Asana), then our practice of pranayama becomes less about forceful breath control and more about naturally observing and allowing the flow of breath.

In the initial stages of pranayama, we often emphasize techniques like regulating breath length, holding the breath, or directing it through different channels. This helps develop focus and control over the prana (vital energy).

However, when we reach a deeper level of awareness, the purpose of pranayama changes. The emphasis shifts from manipulating the breath to simply observing its natural rhythm and allowing it to flow freely without interference (Anapana Meditation?).

Refined Pranayama leads to Deeper meditation: By observing the breath, the fluctuations of the mind is reduced. We create a deeper foundation for meditation and access to subtler states of consciousness.

Refined Pranayama results in Energy integration: Observing the breath without interruption allows for a more harmonious flow of prana throughout the body and mind, contributing to overall well-being.

Refined Pranayama result in Spontaneous stillness: As we let go of control and effortlessly observe the breath, the mind can settle into a state of natural stillness and effortless concentration.

Experiencing refined pranayama takes time and dedication. Be patient with your practice, focus on developing a strong foundation in basic breathing techniques, and allow your practice to evolve naturally as your awareness deepens.

Reflecting on your own breath experiences and observing how your mind and body respond to different pranayama techniques can guide you towards finding your unique expression of this powerful practice.

ME:
I was already strong in my Asana practice when I discovered that in yoga, there is also Pranayama. Thus, my body was already well prepared for the delicate task. Not knowing how, and not finding a Pranayama teacher, I simply followed a book. My initial stint at Pranayama was half a day of hyperventilating. I achieved what I would call the Superman Effect. It was a very powerful surge of energy that lasted about 2 weeks. It was fortunate that my body was already strong at that time. Had I been weak and took on that intensive Pranayama, the body may not have sustained that surge and could have been damaged. That's why I know Pranayama works.

In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, they say, "If you want strength and long life, do Asana and Pranayama." My daily practice now always consists of Pranayama as the core practice.

50. Kumbhaka: breath retention

Satchidananda:
"The regulation of the breath are either external, internal or stationary. They are to be regulated by space, time and number and are either long or short."

(p 352) Patañjali talks about the retention of breath (Kumbhaka) either on the exhalation (Bahya Kumbhaka) or inhalation (Antara/Abhyantara Kumbhaka). One should be very careful about retention, however. It should be practiced properly with a guru. The prana is very powerful energy. We shouldn't play with cobras without a proper cobra trainer nearby. Antara/Abhyantara Kumbhaka should be practiced first; this is easy and safe. With proficiency, Bahya Kumbhaka can begin.

In Pranayama, we can place our attention on the base of the spine, its middle or higher regions. We can time how long we retain the breath, count the amount of breath in and out and the time with which we hold it.

In the normal practice of Nadi Shodhana, we keep a ratio of 1:2 (inhale to exhale). Usually we exhale more quickly than we inhale. In this practice, we try to reverse that procedure and gain mastery over the involuntary muscles.

By regulating the prana, we regulate our minds, because the two always go together. If one is controlled, the other is automatically controlled as well.

Eventually, we can add some retention (Kumbhaka): 10:5:20 then to 10:15:20 then to 10:25:20 then to 10:40:20 and stop. It's not the ratio with which you practice this pranayama that will help you, but the amount of pranayamas you do at a stretch. So, even without retention, if we can do thirty or forty Nadi Shodhana at a stretch, it will be very beneficial.

ChatGPT4:
"The modification of the support (posture) is external, internal, regulated by place, time, and number, and is observed as long and subtle."

ChatGPT mistook 'breath' for 'asana'. Its long explanation is therefore flawed. This is the reason why I ask different AIs the same question. Most of the time their answers are similar but sometimes, like this, ChatGPT4 completely got it wrong.

Google Bard:
"The breath becomes long and subtle when inspiration and exhalation holds, the location, time, and number are regulated."
Google Bard also got this wrong when it interpreted 'external' as the outside environment. External meant holding the breath on the exhale.

ME:
I'm a big fan of Kumbhaka and this is the core of my current practice whether done together with bandha, mudra or simply on its own. When the breath is held, Prana stops flowing along Ida and Pingala but along Sushumna. This speeds up Kundlini awakening.

51. Kevala Kumbhaka? Pratyahara? Dharana?
This Sutra is confusing because Satchidananda explains it as Kevala Kumbhaka but Bard describes it as Visayaksepī (Pranayama stage where you withdraw the senses). ChatGPT, reverses Bard saying instead of withdrawal, it is the inclusion of all sensory perception! This is interesting because they all have valid contentions. I'm putting all here.

Satchidananda:
"There is a fourth kind of pranayama (Visayaksepī ***) that occurs during concentration on an internal or external object."

(p 357) The fourth type of pranayama happens automatically. We do not have to concentrate on retention of breath here, because it will stop automatically while in deep meditation while concentrating on an object or idea. When we are deeply interested in something we are reading, the breath stops. If at that time we look at the breath, we will hardly be breathing. If something disturbs our concentration, we will sigh deeply to make up for that retention. Similarly, if all of a sudden some terrible news comes to us, the breath will stop completely. Afterward, we will take in a deep breath. That is because the sudden news stops the mind and, along with it, the breathing.

When breath retention happens during our japa or meditation, it is good. It won't happen unless the system is ready. If we are deep enough, the breath might even stop for a few minutes. In samādhi it stops for several hours. People don't die, because there is no wastage of energy. It is being preserved.

When the mind comes to a standstill, the prana automatically does the same. Wherever the mind goes, the prana follows. They are inseparable. Control the easiest first and the rest will follow. So, first we learn to control the physical body, then the movement of the breath, then the senses and finally the mind. It is very scientific, gradual and easy.

ChatGPT4:
"The fourth [type of concentration] is that which is directed to external and internal objects, having set aside all distractions."

This sutra introduces the fourth type of concentration or meditation (Dharana) and emphasizes that it involves focusing on both external and internal objects while eliminating distractions. Sutra 2.51 introduces a fourth type of concentration that encompasses both external and internal objects. This implies a broader scope of concentration that includes the diversity of experiences in the external world and the internal mental landscape.

This sutra suggests a more inclusive form of concentration that is not limited to a specific type of object. The practitioner is directed to concentrate on both the external and internal aspects of experience, implying a holistic approach to meditation.

By incorporating both external and internal objects, the fourth type of concentration acknowledges the interconnectedness of the inner and outer realms of experience. This integration aligns with the broader yogic goal of realizing the unity of the self with the universe.

Sutra 2.51 introduces a comprehensive form of concentration that involves focusing on external and internal objects while maintaining a state of undisturbed attention. This type of concentration reflects a more inclusive and integrated approach to meditation within the context of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Essentially, ChatGPT is saying observe all stimuli but don't react to it. Do not suppress, but instead, observe all thoughts, emotions, sensations, sound. light, memories that come flooding into your mind - but don't get caught up with it. Just observe them with a calm and equanimous mind. You are like a mountain range that is not moved or affected by passing clouds. These sensory input arises and dissipates in compliance to the natural law of impermanence. You sit in meditation and observe this process happen.

Google Bard:
"The 4th phase of Pranayama - the withdrawal of the sense organs from both external and internal objects."

This sutra shifts the focus from regulating the breath itself (Pranayama/Kumbhaka) to withdrawing the attention from external and internal distractions.

This detaches your awareness from the stimuli they perceive. By becoming the observer of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, you disengage from their distraction and create a space for inner stillness. This withdrawal extends beyond external sights, sounds, and smells. It also involves letting go of internal objects like thoughts, emotions, and memories. When you stop judging your inner experiences and simply observe them, you cultivate equanimity and prevent them from influencing your breath and concentration.

In connection to the previous Sutra 2.49 (refined pranayama involves observing the breath without manipulating it), Sutra 2.50 (how regulating the breath contributes to its refinement), Sutra 2.51 builds upon these principles by highlighting the crucial role of sensory withdrawal in achieving deeper meditative states.

Withdrawing the senses strengthens concentration and allows you to access subtler layers of awareness. Letting go of external and internal distractions creates a sense of inner peace and stability, regardless of what's happening around you. By observing your senses without judgment, you gain a deeper understanding of your own mental and emotional patterns.

Visayāksepī is a gradual process that unfolds with consistent practice. Don't be discouraged if you find it challenging to detach from your senses at first. Keep returning your attention to your breath and observe how your awareness naturally expands and contracts.

Reflecting on your own experiences of distraction and practicing mindful observation of your sensory inputs can cultivate greater awareness and control over your attention.

According to Bard, Visayaksepī is different from Pratyahara. Although both means withdrawal of the senses, Visayaksepi (4th phase of Pranayama) is more specific towards Pranayama while Pratyahara (4th Limb of Yoga) is a broader scope of controlling the senses.

ME:
I don't know if this sutra is talking about Kevala Kumbhaka, Pratyahara or mindful awareness of sensory perceptions. In my quiet meditation, the breath slows down, but it hasn't stopped - so, no Kevala Kumbhaka. As far as withdrawal from the senses, it happens automatically when you focus awareness on breath or body sensation. Of course, the mind drifts at some point, but when the mind catches itself, it returns back to awareness of breath/sensation. At this point in meditative absorption, regulating the breath is already past and done with. As far as ChatGPT's point, sure, I can sit in meditation and simply observe all stimuli with no reaction and watch these things arise and dissipate. But it's like standing on the river being aware of its current and being swept by it. Sometimes, a strong current simply takes you along with it. The fluctuation is so strong you are swept away too. This is a slippery slope as a meditative practice.

52. Prakasa: the inner light unveiled

Satchidananda:
"As its result, the veil over the inner Light is destroyed."

(p 361) If we meticulously remove the sense perceptions one by one, piece by piece, the veil of ignorance or darkness is lifted and the light within (Prakasa) is revealed. Pranayama helps in achieving this. By controlling the breath, the mind is controlled. When the mind is controlled, the sensory perceptions are removed easily, one after the other until the radiance within is revealed and we see our true nature (that we are eternal...we are Consciousness).

ChatGPT4:
"By that, the covering of the inner light is destroyed."

This sutra suggests that by practicing the concentration mentioned in the previous sutra (2.51), the veil covering the inner light is eliminated.

Inner Light: In the context of yogic philosophy, the "inner light" often refers to the consciousness within the individual. It symbolizes the true nature of the self, which is often obscured by mental fluctuations, distractions, and ignorance.

Elimination of Covering: The practice of concentration (Dharana) on external and internal objects, as mentioned in the preceding sutra (2.51), is described as the means by which the covering of the inner light is destroyed. Concentration helps to still the mind, reduce distractions, and lift the veils that hinder self-realization.

Progression in Yoga: The sutra implies a progression in the yogic path. As the practitioner advances in the practice of concentration, the inner light becomes more apparent as the obscuring factors are gradually diminished.

Spiritual Awakening: The elimination of the covering is associated with the awakening of spiritual insight and self-awareness. It signifies the realization of one's true nature, unobscured by the illusions of the mind.

In summary, Sutra 2.52 emphasizes the transformative impact of meditation. The practice is seen as a process of removing the veils that obscure the luminosity of the self, leading to greater self-realization and spiritual awakening.

Google Bard:
"Then, the covering of the light is destroyed."

This sutra suggests that through the consistent practice of yoga, including the techniques described in the previous verses like pranayama and visayāksepī, the obstacles that obscure our inner light are gradually removed.

These obstacles are external sensory stimuli (lights, sounds, smell), internal mental fluctuations (thoughts, feelings, memories), unhealthy habits, negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, lack of awareness about our true nature and forgeting the interconnectedness of all things.

By cultivating focus and equanimity through pranayama, we learn to detach from distractions and find stillness within. By withdrawing our senses (visayāksepī), we break free from the sway of external stimuli and internal chatter. Through meditation and self-reflection, we gain insights into the roots of our limitations and begin to break free from their grip. The result of this dedicated practice is the progressive removal of the "covering of the light" - the light being, inner wisdom (our innate capacity for discernment, intuition, and understanding), essence of our being, the connection to a higher power or universal consciousness.

Sutra 2.52 offers a message of hope and transformation. It suggests that through dedicated yoga practice, we can remove the veils that obscure our true nature and experience the radiant light of our own being.

Yoga is a lifelong journey of self-discovery and inner transformation. Embrace the challenges and celebrate the progress as you move towards experiencing the radiant light within you.

ME:
My yoga practice has definitely unveiled a lot of ignorance to my existence. Before yoga, I saw myself as a guy who has to make it in the dog-eat-dog convention of the urban jungle, replete with the job, the staion in society, wealth defining one's worth, etc. After 2 decades doing yoga, I see myself as pure consciousness (the light, eternal and pervasive), confined in a 3-dimensional holographic reality (the veil covering the light), paying off my karmic debts until I can transcend this confinement and live my true expansive nature - beyond this universe, beyond my sensory perception and beyond my human comprehension.

53. Dharana: mental concentration

Satchidananda:
"And the mind becomes fit for concentration."

(p 363) If the veil is removed, but the mind is not completely focused, its density is reduced and it becomes more capable of practicing Dharana

ChatGPT4:
"And the mind becomes fit for concentration."

Through the preceding practices of yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama, the mind becomes ready and capable of focusing in a concentrated manner. Dharana is one of the steps leading towards meditation, and it involves directing attention to a single point or object.

Google Bard:
"The mind also becomes fit for concentration in a meditative state."

When you practice dharana with dedication and consistency, your mind gradually develops the qualities necessary for sustained concentration. These qualities include:

One-pointedness: The ability to focus your attention on a single object or point.

Stability: The capacity to maintain your focus even in the face of external or internal disturbances.

Clarity: The ability to perceive the object of your concentration with precision and without distortion.

Tranquility: The freedom from mental chatter and emotional fluctuations.

As you progress in your practice, your mind becomes increasingly refined and capable of deeper and more stable states of concentration. Keep practicing and observing your mind with patience and compassion. The benefits of developing yogic concentration extend beyond meditation. It can enhance your focus, clarity, and productivity in all aspects of your life.

ME:
Even though I'd been meditating for years, I can't say I've reached single-pointed focus of the mind - Dharana. My mind still drifts and my attention span is still short. However, I can put my body in complete relaxation with just a few meditative breaths.

54. Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses from the outside world

Satchidananda:
"When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is Pratyahara."

(p 363) With Pranayama, the mind is still not completely fit, because the senses will always distract the mind (with what we see, smell, hear, etc.). We must be vigilant over these turbulent senses.

When the mind is withdrawn from the sense objects, the sense organs also withdraw themselves from their respective objects and, thus, are said to imitate the mind. If the senses are allowed to see outside, they try to grasp pictures of the outside world. If they are turned inward, they will see the purity of the mind. Thus, it's important to focus the mind inward because the senses follow.

Pratyahara is another way of controlling the mind. To gain mastery in it is not easy. You shouldn't delude yourself into thinking you've gained mastery after even a few years of practice. Any minute, there can be a slip. For example, if a man is interested in observing strict celibacy, he should stay away from women. Because if you see a cleavage, there goes the mind and it's hard to reel it back.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
years of mindful meditation down the drain over a cleavage

ChatGPT4:
"Withdrawal [of the mind] is the same as that of the senses when not engaged with their respective objects; it is, in other words, the non-participation of the mind in the sensual functions, resembling the non-functioning of the senses."

This sutra, known as Pratyahara, highlights the concept of withdrawing the mind from external sensory stimuli. It suggests that when the mind is not engaged with external objects, it should withdraw from sensory experiences. This withdrawal is crucial in the path of yoga as it prepares the mind for deeper states of concentration and meditation.

Google Bard:
"When the senses come into contact with their own objects, their withdrawal [pratyahara] is like the mimicking of the nature of consciousness."

Sutra 2.54 offers a profound statement about the practice of pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses, and focusing inward. When our senses encounter their respective objects (E.g. eyes see food), ideally, they should not become attached or engaged with them. The mind should be unperturbed by external fluctuations. Therefore, pratyahara is not simply about blocking out the senses but also blocking out the external objects.

ME:
The way I understand this sutra about Pratyahara is to shut the outside world together with the senses - close the eyes so it doesn't see the Lamborghini, remove all aromatic food so the nose doesn't sniff the fragrant smell of squid stir-fried in oyster sauce. Without these distractions, the mind can remain concentrated.

55. Pratyahara: mastery of the senses

Satchidananda:
"Then follows supreme mastery over the senses."

(p 369) By the proper practice of Pratyahara, your senses come fully under your control. They become obedient horses, taking you wherever you want. You become a complete master over them. We should all become masters. That is true freedom and real victory. If you are free from your own mind and senses, nothing can bind you; then you are really free. Even imperial power, even dictatorship, can never bind you. You are not afraid of anything. But we should build up our mastery, never allowing the mind to fall back. If we have that control, we can do whatever we want, find peace and joy within and share the same with all humanity.

ChatGPT4:
"From that, the highest mastery over the senses."

Through successful pratyāhāra, one attains the highest level of control or mastery over the senses. The idea here is that by withdrawing the mind from external sensory distractions, the practitioner gains a profound level of influence and control over their senses. This mastery is considered essential for progressing further along the path of yoga towards concentration, meditation, and ultimately, spiritual realization.

Google Bard:
"Then, the supreme control of the senses arises."

This sutra suggests that through consistent and dedicated practice of pratyahara, one can achieve the absolute control of the senses. This doesn't necessarily imply an ability to physically restrain or shut down the senses entirely, but rather a profound shift in their relationship with the external world. The senses are no longer easily swayed or captivated by external objects. The mind becomes the gatekeeper, choosing what receives attention and what gets filtered out. Even when engaged with the external world, the mind maintains a sense of inner peace and stability - the senses no longer pull the mind towards the external world. Reaching this level of mastery doesn't happen overnight. It requires consistent effort and practice of the limbs of yoga.

ME:
Pratyahara to master the senses? I'm not there yet. I haven't mastered my thoughts. These sneaky thoughts creep into my concentration and it might take a long time to realize I've drifted.

III: Vibhuti / Siddhi Pada (Accomplishments)

The Vibhuti are all the accomplishments which come as by-products of your Yoga practice. They are also sometimes called the Siddhis, or supernatural powers. These powers begin to come with the practice of the final three limbs of Raja Yoga: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation). On Books 3 and 4, I have translated all the sutras but I have chosen not to comment on them all. Those who wish to study the no-comment sutras can consult one of the books on the Yoga Sutras listed in the Selected Reading. -- Satchidananda

That being the case, no problem. I have included commentaries by the AIs on all sutras for Books 3 and 4. Surprisingly though, I did not find any 'sensitive' information about Siddhi that would be cause for a non-comment by Satchidananda.

1. Dharana: training the mind to concentrate

Satchidananda:
"Dharana (concentration) is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea."

(p 373) When the cittam, (sum-total of the mind) is being bound by one thing or bound in one place, it is in Dharana. It is the beginning of meditation. Concentration is the beginning of meditation; meditation is the culmination of concentration. They are more or less inseparable.

Let's get Physical First
Imagine you just want to fix the mind on a beautiful rose. The best practice would be to keep a physical rose in front of you as it's easier for the mind.

Gazing with Intention
Tradak is actually gazing at something, sometimes without even blinking. Don't strain the eyes. Just look at your object as long as you can. You'll be able to look longer if you put your mind on the idea behind the object: Trataka on candle light, the light is healing the eyes. The gaze will be forgotten; but you will still be gazing without blinking. Don't try to gaze just for the purpose of gazing; if you do that the eyes will get tired quickly.

Imprinting the Object in the Mind
After a while, you can gently close the eyes and try to bring a mental picture of your object of concentration. First it is outside; then you try to bring it within the mind. It might come for a while, and then you lose it. Again, open the eyes. Slowly learn to grasp it within the mind alone. That means you will be developing that impression in your mind. After a while, you will easily be able to see it within, without the aid of any physical object outside. At that stage you no longer need altars and this and that.

E.g. Even in your Puja (worship service) this is what is supposed to be done. You do the Puja physically and then sit back and try to bring the whole picture in your mind. How did you begin the Puja? What did you do next, next, next? Bring the whole procedure to mind in the proper sequence. Once it becomes easy, you don't even need the physical objects or Puja anymore.

Accept: the mind will drift
The mind drifts. But it doesn't matter. That's the nature of the mind. There's no point in getting frustrated. Accept that as part of the process. Persevere.

Running after the Mind
This very practice itself is called concentration: the mind running, your bringing it back; its running, your bringing it back. You are taming a monkey. Once it's tamed, it will just listen to you. Training your mind to meditate is what is called Dharana.

ChatGPT4:
"Concentration is the binding of the mental powers to a physical object."

Patanjali explains that Dharana, or concentration, involves binding or fixing the mental faculties to a specific point or object. This point of focus could be an external physical object, an internal concept, or even the breath. The purpose of Dharana is to develop one-pointed concentration, a crucial step on the path towards meditation and heightened states of awareness.

Google Gemini:
"The fixing of the mind upon a specific location or object is [one form of] Dharana."

Unlike other forms of Dharana that might focus on internal aspects like the breath or a mantra, deshabandha Dharana involves directing the mind's attention outward to a specific point in space or a physical object. E.g. Gazing at a flame or a mandala, focusing on the space between the eyebrows.

Concentration develops one-pointedness, trains the mind to resist distractions and external stimuli, serves as a springboard for developing vivid mental imagery, beneficial for meditation and other yogic practices.

Start with short practice sessions and gradually increase the duration as your concentration improves. Don't get discouraged if your mind wanders - it's part of the training process. Gently bring your attention back to the chosen object with patience and compassion (interestingly, Gemini only talks about external concentration and not bring the mental focus within. But this still works - you can time your meditation into 1 min intervals. If no drifting, time it to 2 mins until drifting happens. You become aware how long you can concentrate before the focus is lost).

ME:
There are good days and bad days with Dharana. Sometimes, I can focus my mind for long periods (like finishing a full body scan). Other times, it's just hopeless. When it's hopeless, I don't push it. I give the mind some slack. When I do that, I notice the mind rebounds next time for deeper concentration.

2. Dhyana: uninterrupted flow

Satchidananda:
"Dhyana is the continuous flow of cognition toward that object."

(p 378) The Hindu scriptures give a beautiful example of this "continuous flow." They say it is like pouring oil from one pot into another. It is a continuous string; it doesn't break. The mind is fixed. Communication between meditator and object of meditation is steady. That's what is called Dhyana. After long practice of Dharana, gradually the "flow of cognition" gets a little longer and it becomes Dhyana.

Meditating vs Concentrating
When would you know that you have really meditated? There are some signs for that. When an hour of meditation felt like 5 mins, then you were meditating in Dharana. But when you feel 5 minutes as one hour, you are not meditating; you are still concentrating in Dharana.

Time has no meaning in meditation and space also is lost. You don't know where you are. If you break that meditation all of a sudden, you may wonder, "What happened to my body?" Even the body is forgotten in real meditation. In this sense, meditation is similar to sleep. You don't know you have a body. Even though you still have it, you don't know it (this is exactly my analogy of meditation. Dharana is you trying to fall asleep but you are still wide awake, Dhyana is you between being awake and sleeping, and Samadhi is being asleep where you are no longer aware that you are trying to sleep).

There are other signs of meditation also - you get beautiful visions, or you see beautiful light or you just hear beautiful sounds. These are all various signs you may come across.

ChatGPT4:
"There, the continuity of the thought of that object is meditation."

This sutra introduces the concept of Dhyana. Patanjali explains that in Dhyana, there is a continuous flow of awareness or thought directed towards the chosen point of concentration. It involves sustained focus on the object of meditation, without distraction or interruption. Dhyana is a state of profound concentration where the practitioner becomes fully absorbed in the object of meditation, leading to a deeper level of awareness and inner stillness.

Google Gemini:
"The uninterrupted flow of one-pointed mental focus is called Dhyana."

This sutra suggests that when the state of Dharana (concentration) becomes refined and sustained, it transforms into Dhyana, a deeper state of meditative absorption.

Key features of Dhyana

Uninterrupted flow: The mind remains focused on the object of concentration without significant distractions or fluctuations.

One-pointedness: The attention is completely absorbed in the chosen object, with no peripheral awareness or mental chatter.

Effortlessness: Compared to Dharana, which often requires some mental effort to maintain focus, Dhyana arises spontaneously when concentration becomes effortless and deeply rooted.

Dharana vs Dhyana
Dharana is like gathering kindling and starting the fire. Dhyana is like the fire burning steadily and consistently on its own. Reaching Dhyana requires consistent practice of Dharana

Benefits of Dhyana

Deep inner peace and tranquility: The mind transcends the limitations of thoughts and emotions, finding stillness and spaciousness within.

Insight and self-awareness: Dhyana provides a profound sense of clarity and understanding of oneself and the nature of reality.

Increased focus spills over into daily life: The ability to hold attention effortlessly in Dhyana spills over into daily life, improving focus and productivity.

Dhyana is a gradual process, not an instant achievement. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress towards sustained concentration.

ME:
"Uninterrupted flow" - I'm not there yet. But it's a good practice to start with a short time frame and build from there. Maybe 1 min, then 2 mins...

3. Samadhi: the final stage of complete absorption and union with the divine

Satchidananda:
"Samadhi is the same meditation when there is the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form."

(p 381) There is not much I can say about this one. You will easily understand when you have a little experience. Meditation culminates in the state of Samadhi. It's not that you practice Samadhi. Nobody can consciously practice Samadhi. Our effort is there only up to meditation. Here is how it goes:

  1. Dharana - you put all your effort in Dharana. You think first with a lot of interruptions; that is Dharana.
  2. Dhyana - the effort becomes effortless in Dhyana and you are just there, knowing that you are in meditation
  3. Samadhi - you don't even know you are in meditation. Then when you become what you think, that is Samadhi. You are not there to know it because you merge with the object of meditation and the process of meditation (you, the object of meditation and the process of meditation are fused together into one). In Samadhi there is neither the object or the meditator. There is no feeling of 'I am meditating on that.'

In meditation you have three things:
meditator, the meditation and the object meditated upon. In Samadhi, all that merge into one.

Alkaline Analogy:
To give a scientific analogy, if you keep on adding drops of an alkaline solution to an acid, at one point the solution becomes alkaline. At that point you are simply adding alkali to alkali; there's no more acid there. The giver and receiver become one. You and God become one. That's Samadhi.

Sabija Samadhi: 4 Lower Samadhis
It's rather difficult to put it in words. If you just keep working, you will know what Samadhi is. Of course, there are different lower Samadhis, as we talked about in the first book, where you attain that level and then come back. These are Samadhis connected with form, with idea, with bliss and with pure ego. All these four still leave some parts of the mind with hidden desires. You are not completely free. The ideas in the mind are not completely free of desire. They could still germinate again. That's why all these four are called Sabija Samadhi. Bija means seed. They are with seed. Don't think you are all clean and everything is okay. As long as the seed is in the bag it seems to be innocent. But the minute you take one seed out, dig a little hole, put it in and pour a little water, then up it comes again. The sprouting tendency is still there. As long as you have that tendency, you are still in the Sabija or savikalpa Samadhi. But once you get completely roasted, even that germinating capacity goes away. The seeds are still there. In all external appearance they are the same. But, even if they are put into holes and watered they won't germinate.

Nirbija/Nirvikalpa Samadhi
When the hidden desires are taken out, you become completely free. You enter Nirbija Samadhi / Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This is the final state of Samadhi. One who has achieved this may look similar to anyone else. But there is no more desire. no more strings to the external material world.

Jivanmukta
The difference between ordinary people and the Jivanmuktas (liberated beings who are still alive) is the absence of desire. Jivamuktas also eat, sleep and do everything like everybody else. They may be doing anything, but they are not affected by what they do. There is no desire to cause attachment. They are living liberated people. Liberation is not something you experience when you die. While living, you should be liberated. Jivanmukta: mukta means liberated, Jivan, while living.

Being Jivanmukta is not sitting stiffly with eyes closed, as some people think. No. You will be useful; you will be active - more active than other people. Your actions are more perfect than other people's. You are dynamic, but unruffled.

Google Gemini:
"In Dhyana, the essence of the object shines forth, as if devoid even of its own form, that is called Samadhi."

Sutra 3.3 describes the final stage of yogic practice, Samadhi, which is a state of complete absorption and union with the divine. This sutra suggests that in the state of Samadhi, the mind becomes so deeply absorbed in the object of concentration that it loses all sense of separation between itself and the object. The object is no longer perceived as an external thing, but rather as an expression of the yogi's own true nature.

In this state, the mind is completely still and empty of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It is as if the mind has disappeared altogether, leaving only the pure awareness of the object.

Samadhi is a profound and transformative state of consciousness that can lead to a deep understanding of the nature of reality and the Self. It is the culmination of yogic practice and the ultimate goal of the yogi's journey.

Here are some of the characteristics of Samadhi:

Unity: The yogi feels a deep sense of unity with the object of concentration, with other beings, and with the entire universe.

Emptiness: The mind is completely still and empty of thoughts, emotions, and sensations.

Awareness: There is a deep sense of awareness and presence, even in the absence of thoughts and emotions.

Ineffability: Samadhi is a state that is beyond words and concepts. It can only be experienced directly.

Samadhi is not an easy state to achieve. It requires years of dedicated yogic practice and discipline. Samadhi is a precious gift that can transform your life. It is a state of deep peace, clarity, and understanding that can lead to a profound sense of fulfillment and well-being.

ME:
My analogy about 'not being aware of being in meditation while in Samadhi', is dreaming. When you want to go to sleep, you are make an effort to fall asleep [Dharana], then the effort is gone and there is fluidity where you hover between that spacey realm of being between awake and sleeping stage [Dhyana], then you finally fall asleep [Samadhi]. While being asleep, you are no longer aware that you are sleeping because you, sleeping and your dreams become its own reality. Samadhi is perhaps stepping into another dimension where you lose touch of default reality...just like being in a dream.

This is all speculation as I'm still struggling in Dharana (making an effort to be in a meditative state, dealing with mental fluctuations and aberrations), let alone Samadhi.

4. Siddhis / Vibhuti: nature reveals her secrets

Satchidananda:
"The practice of these three [Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi] upon one object is called Samyama."

(p 386) From this practice, come the Siddhis. You dive deeply into an object or idea, and it releases its secrets. In a way, scientists have done Samyama on the atomic particles. The particles released their energy, and the scientists got the knowledge of them. They accomplished the truth behind the particles. When the results come, you call them siddhis or Vibhuti.

ChatGPT4:
"The three, taken together, is called Samyama"

Patanjali is emphasizing that these three stages of mental discipline, when practiced together, constitute the complete practice of Samyama.

Dharana (Concentration): This is the initial stage where the mind is focused on a single point or object. It involves bringing the attention back to the object whenever the mind starts to wander.

Dhyana (Meditation): As concentration deepens, it transforms into meditation. In this stage, there is a continuous and unbroken flow of awareness toward the object. The practitioner becomes absorbed in the object of meditation.

Samadhi (Absorption): The final stage is absorption, where the practitioner experiences complete union with the object of meditation. The distinction between the meditator, the act of meditation, and the object of meditation dissolves, leading to a state of oneness.

Google Gemini:
"The integration of the three [dharana, dhyana, Samadhi] in one place."

This sutra suggests that dharana (focused concentration), dhyana (meditative absorption), and Samadhi (union with the object) are not three separate stages but rather interconnected aspects of the yogic journey towards self-realization. It emphasizes the importance of their unification within a single, integrated experience.

Dharana: Lays the foundation by anchoring the mind to a single object of focus.

Dhyana: Refines the concentration, leading to a state of effortless flow and deep absorption.

Samadhi: Represents the culmination of the process, where the mind transcends the duality of subject and object, merging with the essence of the chosen focus.

Reaching Samadhi isn't just about achieving a specific state; it's about cultivating a holistic approach where all three limbs work together seamlessly. Focusing solely on attaining Samadhi might neglect the crucial groundwork laid by dharana and dhyana. Each limb has its own value and plays a vital role in the overall journey towards self-awareness and liberation.

Don't get caught up in chasing Samadhi as an end goal. Focus on deepening your concentration, awareness, and surrender in each stage of the process.

ME:
Samyama? Not there yet. No comment.

5. Prajna: deep and intuitive wisdom

Satchidananda:
"By the mastery of Samyama comes Prajna (light of knowledge)."

(p 387) This means that the truth behind the object on which we do Samyama becomes known to us (e.g. like unleasing the nuclear energy of the atom). That is what we call discovery. The truth was "covered" before; now we "discover" it. It's not that anyone creates anything new. Some truth was hidden (e.g. that the infinitesimally small atom can unleash enough energy to erase a city from the map). By Samyama, we understood what it was. That's the true meaning of discovery.

ChatGPT4:
"From mastery over Samyama, the light of knowledge."

By gaining mastery over the process of Samyama (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi), the practitioner experiences an inner illumination or insight that leads to profound knowledge and understanding - Prajna.

In essence, when one successfully engages in and masters the practice of Samyama, it brings about a heightened state of awareness, clarity of perception, a deeper understanding of the self/the nature of consciousness, and the true reality - beyond the limitations of ordinary perception. It reflects the idea that through the disciplined practices outlined by Patanjali, individuals can attain a state of profound wisdom and insight.

Google Gemini:
"From its victory, the world of wisdom arises."

When one masters the state of Samadhi, the blossoming of Prajna, a deep and intuitive wisdom, takes place. Prajna impacts on every aspect of life. It's like stepping into a new realm of clarity, understanding, and purpose. Prajna includes:

Intellectual knowledge: Nature's secrets are revealed.

Intuitive understanding: Seeing beyond the surface of things, grasping the deeper nature of reality and oneself.

Discernment: The ability to distinguish between truth and illusion, right and wrong, with clarity and precision.

Creativity: Accessing new and previously unimagined possibilities and solutions.

Compassion: Cultivating a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings, leading to selfless love and empathy.

For someone who has mastered Samadhi, here are some ways Prajna manifests in daily life:

Making wise decisions: They intuitively grasp the consequences of their actions and choose the path that aligns with their highest good and the well-being of others.

Living with purpose: Their life becomes guided by a deeper understanding of their true nature and role in the world.

Responding to challenges with calmness and clarity: They face difficulties with equanimity and find creative solutions based on insight rather than reactive emotions.

Sharing their wisdom with others: They become natural guides and teachers, inspiring others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

Reaching Samadhi and unlocking the transformative power of Prajna is a long-term journey. Dedicate yourself to consistent practice that supports the blooming of Prajna. We unleash the boundless wisdom within, allowing us to live a life of profound understanding, purpose, and joy.

ME:
Prajna seems to be inherent in us, but 'calcified' until unleased. I'm far from Samadhi, but I get fleeting glimpses of Prajna already - equanimity in times of turmoil, creative problem solving, developing a deeper understanding of nature and human fallibility, etc. Maybe it's 10% of what full Prajna can deliver. So, I could just imagine what Prajna is like when you actually attain the level of Samyama.

6. Prajna: accomplished in stages

Satchidananda:
"Prajna is to be accomplished in stages."

(p 388) (no explanation offered by Satchidananda)

ChatGPT4:
"Its application is in stages."

This sutra refers to the progressive application of Samyama (combination of concentration, meditation, and absorption) in stages based on the practitioner's readiness, understanding, and spiritual development.

This sutra underscores the importance of a systematic and gradual approach to spiritual practice, indicating that the practitioner should progress step by step in their journey toward higher states of consciousness and self-realization.

ChatGPT interprets "stages" as stages in one's spiritual growth. The problem with the sutras is that it doesn't specify what it means when it throws words. Like 'stages'. Stages in life? Stages in spiritual progression? Stages in the development of Prajna? This also means any guru will interpret this according to his own bias.

Google Gemini:
"Prajna's application in the stages [of life]."

Prajna gained through Samadhi isn't a static achievement but a dynamic force that can be applied and integrated into all stages and situations of life. Just as land provides various platforms for building and farming, the different "stages" or "levels" of life become fertile ground for applying and expressing Prajna.

These "stages" could refer to:

Physical and mental development: Applying Prajna to maintain health, make informed decisions, cultivate positive relationships, and navigate challenges with maturity and clarity.

Professional and creative pursuits: Utilizing Prajna to find your calling, make meaningful contributions, solve problems creatively, and inspire others with your wisdom.

Spiritual growth and understanding: Integrating Prajna into your spiritual practice, deepening your self-awareness, and serving as a beacon of knowledge and compassion for others.

Applying Prajna in your life is an ongoing process. Be patient with yourself as you learn to translate your inner wisdom into your outer actions. Seek opportunities to express your Prajna through your unique skills, interests, and talents. Sharing your wisdom has the power to positively impact the lives of others.

The benefits of applying Prajna extend far beyond personal gain. It contributes to a more harmonious and enlightened world by inspiring others to cultivate their own wisdom and live with purpose and compassion.

Sutra 3.6 invites us to see our lives as a canvas where the wisdom gained from Samadhi can be expressed in countless ways. It leaves us with a powerful message: by applying Prajna in every stage of life, we can transform ourselves and become forces for positive change in the world.

Gemini sees 'stages' as stages in life, not necessarily stages of development of Prajna itself.

ME:
This sutra is not specific enough for me to even give a guess. But as a general rule, I take my practice one step at a time, building progression from session to session. It's never wise to do shortcuts because the body may not be ready to take the ensuing energetic surge. Step-by-step builds a more stable foundation for expansion of consciousness.

7. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are all internal

Satchidananda:
"These three [Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi] are more internal than the preceding five limbs."

(p 389) In Ashtanga Yoga, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are the more inner practices. Even to practice yama and niyama, you need the outside world. How will you practice non-injury if there is nothing outside to injure? How to deal with the outside world is taught through yama and niyama. Even your body is an outside world for you, so in Asana you do something with your body; in Pranayama you do something with your Prana; in Pratyahara you do something with your senses. But Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are totally inward. They are on the mental level. That is what Patanjali means by saying these three are more inner than the preceding five.

ChatGPT4:
"These three are more intimate than the preceding ones."

The sutra suggests that these three aspects of Samyama (concentration, meditation, and absorption) are more internal or closer to the essence of yogic practice compared to the preceding limbs.

The sutra encourages practitioners to recognize the profound inner work involved in concentration, meditation, and absorption, suggesting that these aspects bring the yogi into a more intimate relationship with their own consciousness and the ultimate reality. It underscores the transformative power of these internal practices in the path of yoga.

Google Gemini:
"The three [dharana, dhyana, Samadhi] are more internal than the previous ones."

Sutra 3.7 offers a nuanced understanding of the relationship between the three limbs of yoga leading to Samyama: dharana (focused concentration), dhyana (meditative absorption), and Samadhi (union with the object).

This sutra suggests that dharana, dharana, and Samadhi, the limbs directly related to meditation and self-realization, are more "internal" or "intrinsic" in nature than the preceding limbs of Yama (ethical principles) and Niyama (self-discipline).

Here's how to understand the progression:

Yama and Niyama: Lay the foundation by cultivating ethical conduct and self-discipline within the external world and yourself, creating a conducive environment for inner exploration.

Dharana: Marks the inward turn, directing the mind's attention to a specific object for sustained focus.

Dhyana: Deepens the internal process, refining the concentration and leading to effortless flow of awareness towards the object.

Samadhi: Represents the culmination of inner exploration, where the mind transcends duality and merges with the essence of the object.

The journey towards Samadhi is a progressive deepening of inward exploration. Yama and Niyama provide the external framework for creating an inner landscape conducive to meditation. Dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi operate on a more subtle and internal level, focusing on the mind's relationship with itself and the object of concentration.

Cultivating all limbs of yoga, both external and internal, is crucial for a balanced and integrated practice. Don't neglect the importance of Yama and Niyama as they create the foundation for internal progress. As your practice deepens, expect your focus to shift more inwards, towards dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi. Sutra 3.7 offers a valuable perspective on the internal journey of yoga, encouraging practitioners to move beyond external practices and explore the vast depths of their own minds.

ME:
This is probably semantics but I see the first 4 limbs as external because you need to interact with the outside world including your physical body to make progress - it's what you need to work with. However, beginning in Pratyahara to Samadhi, you shut the doors to the outside world and begin to deal with the mind. I see the wisdom of progression with the 8 limbs of yoga beginning with morality and ending in enlightenment or unification with all.

8. Internal becomes External with progress

Satchidananda:
"Even these three are external to the seedless Samadhi."

(p 390) When these three are compared with the preceding five steps, they are more internal. But when they are compared with Nirbija / Nirvikalpa Samadhi, they become external and gross.

ChatGPT4:
"Even Sabija Samadhi is external for one who has attained the seedless (Nirbija) state."

This sutra addresses the nature of Samadhi, the highest state of absorption, in the context of someone who has achieved a state of seedless or Nirbija Samadhi.

In the yogic tradition, Samadhi is often categorized as either Sabija (with seed) or Nirbija (seedless). Sabija Samadhi involves concentration on an object, mantra, or concept, while Nirbija Samadhi is a state of absorption where even the seed, or the object of concentration, dissolves, leading to a state of formless awareness.

Sutra 3.8 suggests that even the profound state of Samadhi is considered external or a lower stage for someone who has attained Nirbija Samadhi. In other words, for those who have transcended the need for a specific object of concentration and have entered a state of formless awareness, the experiences of Samadhi with a seed are seen as relatively external or less advanced.

This sutra highlights the progression in the yogic path, indicating that the ultimate goal is to go beyond even the highest states of absorption and reach a state of pure, unconditioned consciousness in Nirbija Samadhi.

Google Gemini:
"Even that [the three limbs] is external to the one without seeds."

This sutra suggests that despite being more internal than Yama and Niyama, the three limbs of dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi are still considered "external" compared to the ultimate state of "the seedless one," (no seeds from which desire can grow) often interpreted as Samadhi in its purest form - Nirbija / Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

The journey towards self-realization is a continuous process of going deeper and deeper within. Even the apparently internal practices of dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi are stepping stones on a path leading to a state beyond mental activity. The ultimate goal is not simply to master concentration or achieve meditative absorption, but to transcend the mind altogether and realize the infinite potential of consciousness.

Don't get attached to any specific stage of the practice, including dharana, dhyana, or even Samadhi. See them as tools to access the limitless state beyond. Cultivate non-attachment and surrender to the unfolding process of your inner journey. Sutra 3.8 offers a glimpse into the infinite depths of self-realization, reminding us that our journey inwards is ultimately a journey towards transcending any limitation and experiencing the absolute nature of our being.

ME:
This progression into deeper realms of absorption renders the previous Internal stage as now External.

9. Mind Drifts: it's okay, resume practice

Satchidananda:
"The impressions which normally arise are made to disappear by the appearance of suppressive efforts, which in turn create new mental modifications. The moment of conjunction of mind and new modifications is nirodha parināmh."

(p 390) No explanation

ChatGPT4:
"By subjugating the habitual patterns that emerge when the restraint is lifted, the continuity of the restrained mind is in the moments of emergence and restraint. This is the transformation in restraint."

Sutra 3.9 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talks about controlling the mind. It says that when we control the mind, we can change our habits and patterns. The sutra highlights that this change happens when we restrain the mind and deal with the moments when it tries to break free. So, it's saying that transforming the mind through restraint is a key part of the yogic journey.

Google Gemini:
"The rise and development of the impressions of suppression and rise are the modification of the mind in the moment of suppression. This is the transformation of suppression."

This sutra basically says that even though thoughts and emotions arise during meditation (Dharana), that's okay! It's part of the process. As you get better at meditation, these thoughts and emotions will subside more and more, leading to an uninterrupted flow (Dhyana) as you to a deeper state of peace and awareness (Samadhi).

Don't get discouraged if your mind isn't completely still during meditation. Just keep practicing, and eventually, you'll reach that calm and peaceful state.

ME:
This sutra is incomprehensible to me. I had to ask the AIs to rephrase their translation into simple English. They did with different interpretations - but I agree with both.

For me, I simply see the fluctuation of the mind as natural. It will inevitably happen so no need getting flustered over it. They key is to bring the mind back consistently when you catch yourself drifting. It should be easier with time until the mind is tamed.

10. Nirodha Parinamh: profound transformation of the mind

Satchidananda:
"The flow of Nirodha Parinamh (profound transformation of the mind that occurs when it attains a state of stillness and transcendence) becomes steady through habit."

(p 392) no explanation

ChatGPT4:
"His past impressions being dormant, due to the suppression of those impressions."

When the practitioner successfully restrains the mind, the past impressions or mental imprints become dormant or inactive leading to a state of calmness and tranquility in the mind.

The mind is influenced by past experiences and impressions, and through the practice of restraint, one can achieve a state of mental quietude where these influences are subdued.

How is the mind restrained when it has its own life?

  1. Dharana - meditate regularly
  2. Sati - practicing awareness of the moment, the breath, the body sensation, etc.
  3. Pranayama - when we control the breath, we control the mind
  4. Yamas and Niyamas - when moral principles are adhered to, the mind is aligned with proper thinking and behavior
  5. Thoughts - observing thoughts with no reaction
  6. Yoga - consistent practice
The intention is not to forcefully control the mind through suppression, but cultivating harmony and balance to the mind for clarity, focus and a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Google Gemini:
"Its clear and fruitful bearing is due to impressions."

Restraining the mind and practicing control over its fluctuations (going to the past or to the future). When the practitioner successfully restrains the mind, the past impressions or mental imprints (memories of pain and happiness) become dormant or inactive. The impressions are suppressed, leading to a state of calmness and tranquility in the mind.

The transformed mind achieved through Nirodha Parinamh isn't just a temporary state. It acts as seeds for positive transformation in one's life. It has lasting beneficial effects that manifest in the world through one's thoughts, actions, and interactions.

The positive qualities and actions that naturally flow from a transformed mind increases clarity, compassion, creativity, inner peace, and positive influence on others.

The transformed mind isn't static; it continues to interact with the world and accumulate new impressions. However, the foundation of pure consciousness remains, influencing how new information is processed and integrated. Cultivating mindfulness and awareness practices helps ensure that new impressions align with the positive qualities gained through Nirodha Parinamh.

Nirodha Parinamh is the transformation achieved through meditation. It is not just an internal experience. It has the potential to ripple outwards, impacting your life and the lives of others in positive ways.

Thought vs Non-thought

What happens in the mind is the same thing, but how you deal with it can be described as Thought or Non-thought.

Thought streams are opinions, emotions, and judgments. This ongoing internal dialogue is referred to as thinking. We are sucked into this and engage accordingly as though an event in the past is happening all over again and we are actively participating to create a new outcome.

Non-thought isn't about shutting down this entire process entirely. It's about finding a different space where we still witness what's going on, but we are not engaged anymore. We transcend the usual engagement with this internal chatter.

e.g. Imagine your mind going through a busy market filled with vendors shouting their wares. You are attracted to some of the wares and begin to haggle. Now you are engaged. This is Thought. If you are passing through the noisy aisles without being affected by the merchandise or the vendors, when you are disengaged and unruffled by what is happening, then you are into Non-thought.

Key characteristics of Non-thought:

Spaciousness: There's a sense of openness and vastness within the mind, free from the usual mental clutter.

Stillness: The mind is calmer and quieter, not actively chasing thoughts or emotions.

Awareness: There's a heightened awareness of the present moment, without judgment or interpretation.

Presence: You're fully present in your experience, not lost in past memories or future projections.

Accessing Non-thought:

1) Deep meditation practices like mindfulness and focusing on the breath can help cultivate states of Non-thought.

2) Engaging in activities that require present-moment awareness, like nature walks or mindful eating.

Non-thought is not something to force. It's a natural shift in perspective that arises with consistent practice and self-awareness.

Benefits of Non-thought:
  1. Deep inner peace and tranquility
  2. Increased clarity and focus
  3. Greater creativity and intuition
  4. Reduced stress and anxiety
  5. More compassionate and authentic interactions with others
Be patient and enjoy the journey of exploring your inner landscape. Ultimately, "Non-thought" is not about becoming devoid of all mental activity. It's about developing a relationship with your mind where you can choose to engage with or disengage from internal chatter, allowing for greater peace, clarity, and connection with the present moment.

ME:
Even though I am far from reaching Dhyana and Samadhi, I can say I have fleeting moments of Nirodha Parinamh. Awareness helps. Once you become aware, you automatically disengage from reacting with your thoguhts. When that happens, it's easier to step back and get some mental space where you can see what's happening like you would in a movie, except that you are no longer sucked into the storyline. Instead, you observe the lighting, the acting, the cinematography and the soundtrack. You objectify the movie, you objectify your thoughts.

The mind is the hardest to control. You never catch the mind as it drifts off, anymore than you catch yourself drifting into sleep. You only realize you've drifted when you are already drifting (and never in the transition from meditation into drifting) and you could be drifting a long time before you catch yourself.

Lately, what I do is to time my concentration. First, 1 minute and see if I can hold a concentration (maybe Sambhavi mudra) before the 1-min alarm sounds. Then I try 2 minutes and progress from there. I noticed that at the 2-min range, I already catch my mind drifting. But it's easier to catch it because it's in a controlled situation.

11. Samadhi Parinamh: transformation through Samadhi

Satchidananda:
"When there is a decline in distractedness and appearance of one-pointedness, then comes Samadhi Parinamh (development in Samadhi)."

(p 392) no comment

ChatGPT4:
"The transformation into Samadhi arises with the simultaneous destruction of mental fluctuations and the arising of one-pointedness in the dual modification of the mind, which comprehends all objects."

This sutra is describing the process of transformation leading to Samadhi. It suggests that Samadhi arises when there is the simultaneous destruction of mental fluctuations and the emergence of one-pointedness in the mind, which is capable of comprehending all objects.

In simpler terms, the sutra is highlighting that reaching a state of Samadhi involves the mind becoming free from distractions (destruction of mental fluctuations) and developing a concentrated, one-pointed focus that encompasses all aspects of experience. This transformation is crucial on the path of yoga towards the highest state of absorption and union.

Google Gemini:
"The dissolution and rise of being scatter-minded and unfocused of all objects are the transformation of the mind through Samadhi."

Sutra 3.11 unveils a profound insight into the transformative process of Samadhi, the state of union with the chosen object of meditation. The path to Samadhi involves a dynamic interplay between two seemingly opposing states of the mind:

Our minds naturally fluctuate between moments of concentration on a specific object and distractions that draw our attention elsewhere. Through Samadhi, both the distractions and the focusedness on the chosen object eventually dissolve.

Dissolution of distractions: As we deepen our meditation practice, we gradually learn to let go of mental chatter and external stimuli that pull our attention away from the object of focus. This is the "dissolution" of distractions.

Dissolution of focus: Interestingly, the sutra also alludes to the eventual dissolving of even the focusedness on the chosen object. This doesn't imply losing awareness altogether, but rather transcending the need for any specific point of concentration. In Samadhi, the mind rests in pure awareness, beyond the duality of subject and object.

The transformation of the mind through Samadhi involves:

Letting go of mental attachments: We release our grip on both distractions and the object of focus, allowing the mind to become spacious and open.

Merging with pure awareness: The mind transcends the limitations of its usual activity and experiences its true nature as pure consciousness, untouched by thoughts or emotions.

This process of dissolution and transformation is often gradual and may not happen in a linear fashion. Be patient with yourself and trust the unfoldment of your practice. Don't get attached to either the distractions or the focus. Observe them both with equanimity and allow them to naturally fall away.

Sutra 3.11 offers a fascinating insight into the dynamic nature of Samadhi. It reminds us that true transformation involves not just attaining focused concentration but also letting go of all limitations and merging with the boundless potential of pure awareness.

ME:
Again, I'm not at that point where I smoothen out the fluctuation of the mind, let alone having a single-focus on my concentration. But I keep trying, I keep a regular practice of training my mind. The benefit I get though at this point, having wrapped my head around the 'mind' for months now, is that it's no longer just an abstract philosophical concept. It's almost real now even though I haven't experienced it. Analogy: devout Catholics haven't met God but to them, He is as real as their coffee in the morning.

12. One-Pointedness: witnessing fluctuation w/o being affected

Satchidananda:
"Then again when the subsiding past and rising present images are identical, there is ekagrata parinamh (one pointedness)."

(p 393) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"Transformation into one-pointedness occurs when the impressions in the mind are equally balanced between illumination and tranquility."

The sutra is describing the process of transformation leading to one-pointedness or concentration of the mind. When there is a harmonious balance between calmness and clarity in the mind, it becomes conducive to achieving one-pointed concentration.

Google Gemini:
"When both the arising and subsiding thoughts have the same understanding (identical perception), that is the transformation of the mind into one-pointedness within samadhi."

One is witnessing the fluctuations of the mind without getting attached to them. The distinction between subject and object dissolves, resulting in a unified experience. It is enabling us to see beyond the transient nature of thoughts and access a deeper state of being.

ME:
Sachidananda and Gemini are saying the same thing but ChatGPT4 is saying something else. My take in this sutra is that the mental fluctuations become weaker and weaker, enabling the mind to keep a single-pointed focus on the object of meditation. Of course, during Samadhi, all 3 converge into 1 - the meditator, the object of meditation and the process of meditation.

13. One-Pointedness goes beyond mind and affects our sense perception

Satchidananda:
"By this [what has been said in the preceding three sutras], the transformations of the visible characteristics, time factors and conditions of elements and senses are also described."

(p 394) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"Explaining the transformations of the characteristics and conditions of the elements and senses"

(I asked ChatGPT4 to give a dumb-down explanation from here going forward) Practicing the principles outlined in earlier sutras can lead to changes in the way our senses and elements behave. Imagine you're learning to play a musical instrument, like the guitar. At first, your fingers might struggle to find the right strings, and the notes may sound a bit off. But as you practice regularly and follow the techniques taught by your instructor, you start to notice changes. Your fingers become more agile, and you can hit the strings with better accuracy. The sounds you produce become clearer and more melodious.

Similarly, in yoga practice, when you follow the principles of concentration, meditation, and self-discipline, you begin to observe transformations in how your senses and elements behave. For example:

Improved Focus: Through concentration practices, like focusing on your breath during meditation, you may notice that your mind becomes less distracted and more focused on the present moment.

Heightened Awareness: As you become more mindful of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations through meditation and self-reflection, you may develop a greater awareness of your inner experiences and the world around you.

Better Control: Through self-discipline and ethical living (yamas and niyamas), you may find that you have better control over your actions, reactions, and habits, leading to positive changes in your behavior and lifestyle.

Just as regular practice and following instructions can improve your musical skills, consistent yoga practice and adherence to its principles can lead to positive changes in how your mind and body function, ultimately enhancing your overall well-being and inner harmony.

Google Gemini:
"By this (referring to the concept in 3.12), transformations of properties, characteristics, and states in both gross and subtle elements and organs of perception are explained."

(I asked Gemini to give a dumb-down explanation from here going forward) Imagine you're in deep meditation, focusing on a single candle flame. In this state (samadhi), your mind becomes super focused and chill. Sutra 3.12 talks about how even your thoughts about the flame become unified, almost like they blend in with the flame itself (the thought and the object are blending into one?).

But Sutra 3.13 goes beyond your mind. It says that this deep focus affects everything about you, not just your thoughts. It's like putting on special glasses that change how you see the world:

Things around you: Imagine the room you're meditating in. The walls, the furniture, even the air might seem different. They might feel more connected, like they're all part of the same energy. It's not that they physically change, but your perception of them does.

Your senses: Sounds might seem clearer, colors more vibrant, even your sense of touch might feel different. It's like your senses are dialed up to eleven, picking up on things you usually miss.

Yourself: You might feel more connected to your body, like it's not just a bunch of separate parts but a whole system working together. You might also feel more connected to everything around you, like you're part of something bigger than yourself.

This is just an analogy, and the experience in samadhi is much deeper and more subtle. Samadhi isn't just about calming your mind. It's about having a profound shift in how you experience the world and yourself.

ME:
True, even though I haven't experienced Samadhi, the constant practice of meditation and concentration has allowed me to see myself as part of the connected whole, I've become a better person. Even if I do something questionable, I am aware that it is questionable. I am more aware, more focused and more purposeful.

14. Everything has an essence, an unchanging core

Satchidananda:
"It is the substratum (Prakrti) that by nature goes through latent, uprising and unmanifested phases."

(p 395) no commentary

Google Gemini:
"No matter how things change (paint, wobble), the core of what they are stays the same (it's still a chair)."

Imagine a chair: it can be painted, wobbly, or comfy, but it's still a chair. Sutra 3.14 talks about what makes it essentially a chair despite all its different states.

Here's an analogy: Imagine a wave in the ocean. It seems to move and change, but the water itself remains. The wave is like the changing features, and the water is like the object's essence.

This applies to everything, not just physical objects. Even our moods and thoughts change, but there's a deeper sense of "us" that remains constant. In meditation, you can aim to tap into that stable core beneath the surface of all the ever-changing experiences.

ME:
Given my understanding of yoga, the 'Self' has an outer manifestation and an unchanging essence. The outer manifestation is that the 'Self' is the body (can be vibrant, strong, weak and can die), emotions (happy, sad, excited, ever fluctuating), ego (wealth, stature, power) - the things we usually call "I". But the inner unchanging essence of Self is pure Consciousness, eternal, doesn't die, has no beginning. Yoga attempts to reveal to us what our true essence is. When we realize that we are eternal, we are no longer affected by the fluctuation of the external manifestations - losing wealth, dying, aging, getting sick, becoming rich, etc.

15. Causality

Satchidananda:
"The succession of these different phases is the cause of the differences in stages of evolution."

(p 396) no commentary (without any commentary, Satchidananda's translation is gibberish)

ChatGPT4:
"The sequential unfolding of events is the cause of transformation."

Imagine you have a seed that you plant in the ground. Over time, with the right conditions like sunlight, water, and nutrients, the seed sprouts, grows into a plant, and eventually bears fruit. This process of growth and transformation occurs sequentially, with each stage leading to the next (causality or the karmic effect).

Similarly, in the context of yoga practice, this sutra suggests that progress and transformation occur gradually and sequentially. Just as each stage of growth in the plant's life cycle is necessary for the eventual fruition of the plant, each step in the practitioner's yoga journey is essential for their personal growth and transformation (This suggests that the sequences in the yoga practice is already established and just needs to be followed, not changed, and that the result is predictable but it will take time and lots of work).

So, this sutra is highlighting the importance of patience, persistence, and that yoga is a gradual process that unfolds step by step.

Google Gemini:
"The difference in sequence is the cause for the difference in transformation."

Simply put: Sutra 3.15 tells us that the order in which things change determines the outcome of that change.

Think of it like baking a cake. You can use the same ingredients, but if you mix them in a different order or bake for a different time, you'll get a different result (a delicious cake or a burnt mess!).

Transformation isn't random: Every transformation results from a specific sequence (causality or the karmic effect), even if we don't always understand it.

The order matters: Small changes in the sequence can lead to vastly different outcomes (exactly, like the Butterfly Effect. If Hitler's parents never met, WW III may not have happened. Not sure if this implies that the benefits of yoga will differ if you do Shoulderstand first before Headstand, given that the dictum of Krishnamacharya is that Headstand comes first.).

This applies to everything: From physical processes to our thoughts and emotions, the order in which things happen makes a difference.

In yoga practice, understanding this can help us observe how our actions, thoughts, and even breath affect our emotions and overall well-being. We can consciously choose the "recipe" for change we want to see in our lives by mindful attention to the sequence of our actions.

Being aware of the sequence of change empowers us to create the transformations we desire.

ME:
Cause and effect are understandable and self-explanatory. Changes in the sequence changes the outcome - also self-explanatory. The yoga lesson being? That we should be aware in the sequence of our practice? Hmmm...it seems so trite. There must be something more.

16. Samyama: transcending time

Satchidananda:
"By practicing samyama on the three stages of evolution comes knowledge of past and future."

(p 397) In this and in the following sutras, Patanjali describes various samyamas and the siddhis which will result.

ChatGPT4:
"Knowledge of the past and future can be obtained through the practice of samyama."

Through the practice of samyama [concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and absorption (samadhi)], one can gain knowledge or insight into the past and future.

Google Gemini:
"Through intense meditation, knowledge of the past and future is seen."

Basically: The sutra says that through deep meditative concentration (samyama) on how things change in three ways, you might gain insights into the past and future. Now, let's unpack those changes:

1. Properties (dharma): Imagine a building. Its fundamental "properties" are the materials it's made of, its purpose, etc. Deep meditation might connect you to these core qualities, revealing connections to its past (who built it?) and potential future (will it be renovated?).

2. Characteristics (laksana): These are the changing features of the object, like the building's color, cracks, or decorations. By understanding these changes, you might glimpse its history and predict future alterations.

3. Conditions (avastha): This refers to the temporary states of the object, like the building being empty or bustling. Deep meditation might allow you to see its past uses and predict future events happening within it.

ME:
Even physics is saying that the fundamental nature of time is not linear but a singularity. It's only the limitation of our human faculties that limits our perception. It is often said that we are in the 3rd dimension, but once we transcend into the 4th dimension, time becomes a singularity. As wild as that might sound, this phenomena already exists in our reality - with photons. Photons can only travel at the speed of light and with time dilation, it means time already stops for them - they are no longer moving away from the past and neither are they moving towards the future. All three time frames exist in the here and now for the photon.

17. Samyama: revealing the true meaning of word, meaning and concept.

Satchidananda:
"A word, its meaning and the idea behing it are normally confused because of superimposition upon one another. By samyama on the word [or sound] produced by any being, knowledge of its meaning is obtained."

(p 398) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
Through the practice of samyama (the combined practice of concentration, meditation, and absorption) on the relationship between word (sabda), meaning (artha), and concept (pratyaya), one can gain knowledge or awareness of the communication of all beings.

In essence, this sutra suggests that by deeply concentrating, meditating, and absorbing oneself on the relationship between words, meanings, and concepts, one can clarify confusion and gain insight into the communication of all beings. This understanding can lead to greater clarity and effectiveness in communication and interaction with others.

Google Gemini:
"Because of the confusion between word, meaning, and understanding, there is a blending. From practicing focused meditation (samyama) on their distinction, knowledge of the sounds of all beings arises."

This sutra explores the limitations of language and how it can lead to misunderstandings. It suggests that through deep meditation, we can overcome these limitations and access a deeper understanding.

The problem: We tend to confuse the word (a sound), its meaning (the concept it represents), and our understanding of that meaning. This "blending" can limit our perception and communication.

The solution: By practicing samyama (focused meditation) on distinguishing between these three elements, we can gain a clearer understanding. The benefit: This deeper understanding leads to knowledge of the sounds of all beings. This doesn't necessarily mean literal language comprehension, but rather an intuitive understanding of their communication and emotions, transcending the limitations of words.

This sutra doesn't claim we can literally understand any animal's language. It emphasizes the potential for deeper connection and empathy beyond the limitations of human language.

ME:
Even between 2 people speaking the same language, misunderstandings arise. How much more between people of different tongues? How much more of fauna of different species? Samyama bridges the gaps, transcends the limitation of language, and allow authentic communication at an ephemeral level. Ramana Maharshi understands the limitations of words, so he transmits his teachings to his disciples telepathically.

Being able to communicate authentically with other humans is an enhanced human capability. But to communicate with animals? That's Siddhi.

18. Samyama: knowing your past lives

Satchidananda:
"By direct perception, through samyama, of one's mental impressions, knowledge of past birth is obtained."

(p 399) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"By directly perceiving one's past impressions (samskaras), knowledge of previous lives (past experiences) is obtained."

By directly perceiving or becoming aware of one's past impressions or samskaras, one gains insight into their previous experiences.

By developing the ability to directly perceive and understand one's past impressions or samskaras, one can gain insight into their previous lives or past experiences. This understanding can provide valuable insights into patterns of behavior, relationships, and karmic influences, leading to personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Google Gemini:
"Accessing memories from past lives through Samyama."

The sutra suggests that by practicing Samyama and gaining direct insight into our Samskaras (the imprints left by past experiences on our consciousness), we might be able to unlock memories from previous lives.

Samskaras are like mental imprints or grooves created by our thoughts, emotions, and actions. They can be positive or negative, and they shape our current life experiences.

According to the Yoga Sutras, our Samskaras carry over from past lives to the current. By accessing these imprints through deep meditation, we might be able to tap into memories and experiences from past lives.

Benefits of exploring Samskaras:

  1. Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves and our current life experiences
  2. Identifying and releasing negative patterns and beliefs that may be holding us back
  3. Cultivating greater self-awareness and compassion

ME:
I believe in reincarnation, thus I believe in past lives. Arahants gain this knowledge and claim to see thousands of lifetimes that they've journeyed through. By seeing a past life, you tend to understand why you behave in certain ways that may seem out of explanation - could be a carry over. This level of awareness helps in navigating through the current life.

19. Samyama: reading minds

Satchidananda:
"By samyama on the distinguishing signs of other's bodies, knowledge of their mental images is obtained"

(p 400) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"Knowledge of another's mind (or consciousness) can be obtained through their thoughts or mental impressions."

By observing and understanding the thoughts or mental impressions of another person (their pratyayas), one can gain knowledge or insight into their mind or consciousness (their paracitta).

Google Gemini:
"Knowing the thoughts of others"

This sutra suggests the possibility of achieving a level of mental clarity and sensitivity where you can understand the thoughts and emotions of others, not through telepathy, but through deep introspection and understanding your own mind.

This sutra might also emphasize the interconnectedness of all beings, suggesting that at a deeper level, we all share a common consciousness.

Benefits of exploring this concept:

  1. Cultivating greater empathy and compassion for others
  2. Improving communication and relationships
  3. Developing a deeper understanding of human nature and behavior

ME:
The AIs gave flowery explanations that are also true. But the real gift of reading minds is that you will know who is loyal, who is there to use you, who pretends to be your friend but actually envies you, etc. Emperors and people of great power will beg for this.

20. Samyama: reading minds II

Satchidananda:
"But this does not include the support in the person's mind [such as the motive behind the thought, etc.], as that is not the object of the samyama"

(p 401) no commentary

Google Gemini:
"The understanding of another's mind is not obtained through dependence on anything external, because it directly becomes the object of that understanding itself."

This sutra clarifies that the ability to understand another's mind doesn't come from relying on external tools like telepathy or reading physical cues. By cultivating deep meditation and self-awareness, your mind becomes highly sensitive and attuned to subtle energies and vibrations. This allows you to intuitively grasp the thoughts and emotions of others without needing external cues. At a deeper level, all minds are interconnected and share a common consciousness. By accessing your own inner wisdom, you tap into this shared consciousness and understand others on a deeper level.

ME:
I don't really understand this. But my take from this is, from Samyama, our mind has the ability to pierce through another person's thoughts and thinking.

21. Samyama: becoming invisible

Satchidananda:
"By samyama on the form of one's body and by checking the power of perception by intercepting light from the eyes of the observer, the body becomes invisible."

(p 402) Oh boy! Do you want to become invisible? When you want to see something, the form comes onto the retina, gets recorded and then you see the image. Until that is done, you cannot see. So, if by samyama on my own body, I disconnect the light that would affect your retina, no image will be formed on your retina, and you won't see any form.

ChatGPT4:
"Through the practice of samyama (the combined practice of concentration, meditation, and absorption), one can gain the power to render the eyes immovable and achieve the ability to see inner light."

By deeply concentrating, meditating, and absorbing oneself on the form or appearance of the body, one can develop the power to render the eyes immovable and achieve the ability to see the subtle illumination that arises from within during deep states of meditation, symbolizing spiritual insight and realization.

Google Gemini:
"Through deep meditation and transcending the limitations of our physical senses, we might gain the ability to perceive things that are normally hidden from our view."

Through Samyama, we become more sensitive to subtle energies and vibrations, allowing us to perceive things beyond the limitations of our physical sight. Hidden things are not actually hidden but exist on different vibrational frequencies that our normal senses cannot detect. Through meditation, we raise our own vibrational frequency and become able to perceive these hidden realities - clairvoyance.

ME:
Sachidananda talks about being invisible while Gemini talks about seeing invisible things. Maybe both are true. In some books, they say that with Anima Siddhi, you can become so small you cannot be seen anymore. This is not necessarily being invisible.

22. Samyama: disappearance of other sensory perception

Satchidananda:
"In the same way, the disappearance of sound [and touch, taste smell, etc.] is explained."

(p 403) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
Through the practice described in the previous sutras (specifically, the practice of samyama, as discussed in Sutra 3.21), the disappearance or cessation of sounds and other objects of perception where external stimuli, such as sounds and sensory perceptions, fade away or become less prominent.

Google Gemini:
"By what was explained in the previous sutra (3.21) about transcending the body's limitations, the disappearance of sounds and other things is also explained."

This sutra builds upon the previous sutra (3.21) which discussed seeing what's invisible. Through deep meditation and transcending the limitations of the body, we might also experience a disappearance of external stimuli like sounds - not deafness, but a state of deep inner focus where external distractions no longer register.

By stilling the mind and raising our awareness, we become less attached to external sounds and sensations. They might still be present, but our perception of them shifts, and they no longer hold our attention.

The sutra might also suggest that in states of deep meditation, we access deeper levels of reality where external noise fades away, allowing us to connect with the stillness and silence within.

ME:
I once read that a yogi deep in meditation is oblivious to the firing of a gun close to him. Like being in a dream, you no longer know what is happening in your room - you are in your own world.

23. Samyama: karma

Satchidananda:
"Karmas are of two kinds: quickly manifesting and slowly manifesting. By samyama on them, or on the portents of death, the knowledge of the time of death is obtained."

(p 403) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"By practicing samyama on actions, whether they are performed with sequence (sopakramam) or without sequence (nirupakramam), one gains knowledge or awareness of the end or result of those actions."

Through Samyama on the nature of actions, practitioners can gain insight into the consequences or outcomes that will result from those actions, whether they are performed sequentially or not.

Google Gemini:
"Actions with a beginning, causing specific results in this lifetime. Actions without a beginning, accumulated over countless lifetimes and affecting our current state."

By practicing focused meditation on both past and present karma, one gains knowledge of the end (death) or is protected from misfortunes.

Through Samyama and understanding our karma (both its past and present impact), we can gain insights into various aspects of our lives, including:

  1. Knowing the time of death
  2. Protection from misfortunes

Through Samyama one can predict the future or control outcomes.

ME:
When attaining Samyama while meditating on karma, knowledge of the future like time of death is revealed. Many such sages knew the time of their death including Buddha.

24. Samyama: radiance in personality

Satchidananda:
"By samyama on friendliness and other such qualities, the power to transmit them is obtained."

(p 405) no commentary

ChatGPT4:
"By samyama on friendliness and other such qualities, the power to transmit them is obtained."

This sutra suggests that through the practice of Samyama (the combined practice of concentration, meditation, and absorption) on qualities like friendliness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, practitioners can develop the ability to transmit or radiate these qualities to others.

One harnesses the power to radiate or share these qualities with others, positively influencing their mental states and fostering a sense of connection, harmony, and well-being. Practitioners can develop the ability to embody these qualities more fully and extend their influence to others, creating a ripple effect of positivity and goodwill in the world.

Google Gemini:
"The power to transmit friendliness, compassion, joy, and equanimity is obtained"

By deeply cultivating these qualities within oneself through samyama, one gains the ability to influence and inspire others to develop them too.

Inner transformation through meditation can have a ripple effect, positively impacting the world around us. By cultivating positive qualities within ourselves, we can create a more harmonious and compassionate environment.

Through samyama, we deepen our understanding and embodiment of these qualities, making them more radiant and authentic. This can naturally inspire others who come into contact with us.

At a deeper level, we are all connected, and by cultivating positive qualities within ourselves, we contribute to the collective good.

ME:
With Samyama (having mastered Yama and Niyama), one no longer rebels against a world he never made. He becomes friendlier and radiates position vibrations. This causes a ripple effect to people around him.


Ending Thoughts

Co-Creator of Reality
This is a yoga book but not so much asana and pranayama. The main focus of this book is the mind and its tethered relationship with 'reality'. As I read and re-read, and summarized and meditated, chapter after chapter of this duality - Consciousness and the illusion of Reality, there was something morphing inside me. I began to feel more that reality as we experience it is fluid and malleable. It's not objective and it can be shaped and sculpted. Who sculpts it? Consciousness! It's our thinking, our intention aided by our yoga practice that make this fluid reality, a manifestation. I see just how much power I wield as a co-creator of reality. This is not just an understanding of the concept but a profound internalization of the underlying concept that reality, as it takes shape, is entirely my own doing - therefore I can undo it, replace it or fine-tune it. This is emppowering. It's one thing to know, another thing to understand, and a higher level to actually internalize. What's next after this? Experience! In a deep meditative absorption, Consciousness can transcend the body, transcend the material world and all its trappings, and experience its eternal and timeless nature. I'm not there yet.

An Easier Read
This book is a much easier read, more 'grounded', and more relevant, but equally as compelling as the Autobiography of a Yogi and Yoga Yajnavalkya. The esoteric mysticism of Hatha Yoga Pradipika is not here. The incomprehensible hyper-literacy of Autobiography of a Yogi is absent here - just plain understandable English with compelling analogies to ground the matter.

Language A.I.s
What I found extremely helpful is to let the Language A.I.s explain the sutras in plain English like asking it to explain in plain English + examples, "...by the firmly convinced practice of the complete cessation of the mental modifications, the impressions only remain."? Since I get output from the 4 language AIs (ChatGPT4, Google Bard, Microsoft Bing and Opera Orca), I get a more comprehensive understanding of the sutras, more than if I relied on the author alone. A.I.s' commentaries are actually more concise, clearer, more accurate and to the point - and this is after comparing the author's commentaries and A.I.'s commentaries. Combining the output of the A.I.s, the author's commentary and my insight, I get a deeper understanding of the sutra. Sometimes, a single sutra of just a few words become a full day's workshop.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider



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Iligan City: Passing Through Traveling

Iligan City: Passing Through

(Aug 12/19, 2023) Going to Davao from Siquijor, I had to pass through Iligan. Aside from being there twice in the past to visit Ma. Christina Falls and Tinago Falls, I haven't really explored the city. Maybe staying a day would be good...more »»

More on Lazi:

Lazi Local Info
  1. Resorts - Lazi has some beach/dive resorts on its west coast - Gabayan Riviera, Lazi Beach Club, Bahura Dive Resort. However, the popular area for tourist resorts are in San Juan
  2. Transport - Lazi is the junction where the jeeps begin their clockwise route (Lazi-San Juan-Siquijor Port) or the counter clockwise route (Lazi-Maria-Larena Port). Because the jeeps are rare with about 2 to 3 trips/day only in the morning, it's practical to just have a motorcycle here in Siquijor. With its affordability (a brand new Rusi motorbike is as low as P45k), people just buy motorcycles...especially those who live up in the mountains.
  3. The Boulevard - Lazi's main draw is its seaside cobblestone promenade. When the sun goes down, people gather here for eats, drinks, open-air, harbor view and the sunset
  4. Lazi Port - Kho Shipping, the shipping line operating from Lazi Port, has stopped its service to Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Cebu. Passengers can go to Siquijor Port or Larena Port for boat services out of Siquijor Island

More on Siquijor Island:

Siquijor Island Local Info

Jeeps - there are only 2 routes for jeeps within Siquijor Island - and they are rare. Most people have their own motorcycle transport.

  1. Siquijor Port to Lazi - last trip leaves at 3pm from station near market
  2. Lazi to Siquijor Port - jeeps depart from the Lazi Port area. 5 jeeps, the last trip at 12:30 pm. Lazi to San Juan, P50.
  3. Larena Port to Lazi - jeeps are unpredictable. As of this writing, there is only 1 jeep plying the Larena-Lazi route. This jeep leaves Larena for Lazi at 9:50am. After that, no more jeep. You'll have to take a tricycle to Siquijor Pob for jeeps going to Lazi
  4. Lazi to Larena Port - 6am (daily) and 9 am (M-Th)

Food - these were suggested by a local to me

  1. Lechon manok & liempo - roasted pork belly and chicken at Joel's in Siquijor Poblacion. I've tried this myself...yummy, even if the chicken was no longer hot
  2. Bibingka - sweetened rice cake by Fidy's Bibingka (P30) in Sawang, Maria. I've come back for this and I buy for other people as well as 'pasalubong' - they love this
  3. Siopao - at the Rosita store near Thrifty (P25) in Siquijor Poblacion
  4. Peanut butter - by Rene. Just ask around in Siquijor Poblacion. It's popular
  5. Torta - sweet cakish bread at the Thrifty story in Siquijor Poblacion
Siquijor Island Map
Siquijor
Siquijor - Dumaguete Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Montenegro Lines - at Siquijor Port, P234.00/pax, P169/bicycle, 7:30am/10:00am/2:00pm/4:30pm

  2. Montenegro Lines, Siquijor to Dumaguete

  3. Aleson Shipping - at Siquijor Port, 6 am and 6 pm daily, 1:30 pm M-Sat, Regular P200.00/pax, Aircon P250.00/pax

  4. Aleson Shipping, Dumaguete to Siquijor

  5. Ocean Jet - 40 mins,at Siquijor Port, 0919.066.5964, www.oceanjet.net, marketing@ocenajet.net, 6:00am/6:00pm, P350/pax (tourist/open air), P580/pax (business class)

    Ocean Jet


Siquijor - Tagbilaran - Cebu City Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)

En route to Cebu City, the ferries usually make a stop-over to Tagbilaran (Bohol) to pick-up more passengers or unload.

  1. Ocean Jet - 8:20 am, at Siquijor Port
    To Tagbilaran: P800/tourist & open air, 2 hours (arrive 10:20 am), P1200/business class
    To Cebu (Pier 1): P1600/tourist & open air, 4 hours (arrive 12:40 am), P2400/business class
  2. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, no Senior Citizen discount for online ticket purchase
    To Tagbilaran: T-Th-Sun, 3 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 10 pm, P475/standard (Tourist, PHP 750)
    To Cebu: T-Th-Sun, 10 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 5 am, PHP 605/standard (Senior P484), Tourist, PHP 770
  3. Apekoptravel - at Larena Port to Tagbilaran: 1:00 pm, xxx hours, P750
    Reserve through call or text: Cleare - 0938 283 4760 | Grace - 0936 534 6564 | Jessel - 0961 759 6711, Pay via G-Cash: +63-917-880-1464, Email: momovillageadventure@gmail.com, Facebook messenger: Apekoptravel. Enter your birthday and nationality to get discounts: 0 to 3 years old free, 4 to 9 years old will have 20% discount, 10 years old and above full price, Filipino Senior Citizens will also have 20% discount


Siquijor - Plaridel Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, T-Th-Sun, 2:00 am, 5 hours, PHP?


Siquijor - Cebu (Liloan) - Cebu City BUS Trip (as of Jan 2023)

There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (these dates keep changing). P420 for bus, P275 for ferry to Liloan. Larena Port around 5 am, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port (Sundays at 3 pm) for Liloan, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City (South Bus Terminal) 10 pm.

Sugbo Urban is the cheapest and most convenient way because it goes around the island (clockwise) along the circumferential road, passing through - Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Siquijor...and back to Larena where it takes the ferry at 1 pm. This saves you the hassle and high transport cost of a tricycle. Besides, it's a long trip from the other side of the island to be taking by tricycle.


Sugbo Urban

Sugbo Urban

Suggested Destinations After Siquijor Island

These are the nearest popular destinations from Siquijor by boat

  1. Bohol - Bohol is an island northeast Siquijor. Tourist attractions are Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Monkey, Loboc River Cruise, Beaches of Panglao, whale sharks (recent offering), freediving (recent offering)
  2. Cebu - Cebu City is the usual gateway into the Visayas. But in Cebu Island itself, there are many offerings - Whale Sharks of Oslob, sardine run at Moalboal,Thresher Shark of Malapascua
  3. Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.
  4. Dumaguete - Dumaguete is a small charming progressive coastal town in Negros Oriental. Cafe and restaurants line the famous Boulevard Boardwalk. Tourist attractions include Japanese Shrine, Casaroro Falls, snorkeling along the southern coastline (Dauin, Masaplod Norte, etc), Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
  5. Plaridel (Misamis Occidental, Mindanao) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.

Blogs

Siquijor Blogs
Siquijor Island
  1. Goodbye Siquijor April 18, 2024
  2. January Chronicles: Bandilaan Meditation January 2024
  3. My January Yoga Practice: A Journal January 31, 2024
  4. Jan 2024: Squid, Balangawan, Margarita Pizza January 2024
  5. December Chronicles: Yuletide Season December 30, 2023
  6. December Snapshots: Bolo Bolo Dip, Christmas Lunch, Tuba Denizens, Friends Forever, Men Working, Cow / Crow December 1-30, 2023
  7. Eggplant Bulad Pizza December 20, 2023
  8. Canghaling Cave November 14, 2023
  9. Kings and Queens November 13, 2023
  10. Barangay Vote-Buying October 22, 2023
  11. Real Estate Mapping October 1, 2023
  12. Learning Cebuano: Oct October 1-31, 2023
  13. Oct Food Hack: Pizza, Kinilaw, Coconut Bread, Fish Okuy, Carrot Omelette,Lemon-Grass Tea October 2023
  14. Sep Snapshots: Fisherman, Granny, Pedicure, Big Fish, Garbage September 1-30, 2023
  15. Sep Food Hack: Fish Tinola, Ratatouille, Chayote Omelette, Flat Bread September 2023
  16. Together Forever Sep 11, 2023
  17. The Cigarette Talk Sep 1, 2023
  18. Siquijor Star Meditation Center Aug 31, 2023
  19. The Lost Dogs of Siquijor Aug 27, 2023
  20. Moving to a Bungalow! Aug 22, 2023
  21. Aug Chronicles: CDO produce August 31, 2023
  22. Aug Snapshots: Pan de Sal, Palpitate, Taho, Tuna, Pineapple August 1-31, 2023
  23. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  24. July Chronicles July 31, 2023
  25. July Snapshots July 1-31, 2023
  26. Learning Cebuano: July July 1-31, 2023
  27. June Chronicles June 31, 2023
  28. June Snapshots June 1-31, 2023
  29. Learning Cebuano: June June 1-31, 2023
  30. May Chronicles May 31, 2023
  31. May Snapshots May 1-31, 2023
  32. Learning Cebuano May 1-31, 2023
  33. In Search of a Cool Climate May 25, 2023
  34. The 64 km Bike Ride May 16, 2023
  35. Lazi Fiesta May 15, 2023
  36. The Boulevard Opening May 5, 2023
  37. April Snapshots April 1-30, 2023
  38. Learning Cebuano...Again! April 1-30, 2023
  39. Kris Visits Siquijor Mar 17 - Apr 15, 2023
  40. Exploring Siquijor with Marky Mar 25 - Apr 11, 2023
  41. Siquijor Healing Festival April 5-8, 2023
  42. The Talk at United Church of Christ April 2, 2023
  43. Mar Snapshots Mar 1-31, 2023
  44. Vigil for the Ghost Ship of Siquijor March 31, 2023
  45. Judging an Essay on Gender Equality Mar 29, 2023
  46. The Thief, the Shaman, the Elves and the Police Mar 20, 2023
  47. Finally Acquiring the Motorbike Mar 18, 2023
  48. Bitcoin Blunder Mar 15, 2023
  49. Maria's Unsung Beaches Mar 11, 2023
  50. Lagaan Falls Mar 9, 2023
  51. Tibhong Spring Water Source Mar 8, 2023
  52. Bolo-Bolo Natural Spring Mar 2, 2023
  53. Reasons to Get a Wife March 1, 2023
  54. Feb Snapshots Feb 28, 2023
  55. Camagung-Ong Natural Spring Feb 28, 2023
  56. Heeeere's Johnnie! Feb 26, 2023
  57. Manifesting a Motorbike from Thin Air? Feb 18, 2023
  58. The 'Bad Guy' of Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  59. Amazement from Drivers License Renewal in Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  60. Locong Falls Feb 9, 2023
  61. Inguinal Hernia? Goodbye ABS! Feb 4, 2023
  62. Jan Snapshots January 31, 2023
  63. In Search of Tubod Cold Spring Jan 27, 2023
  64. 1:4:2:3 Nadi Shodana Jan 26, 2023
  65. Lazi's Boulevard Jan 22, 2023
  66. Lazi: A Monthly Stay Jan 21, 2023
  67. 7 Days in Maria, Siquijor Jan 14-21, 2023
  68. Capilay Spring Jan 17, 2023
  69. Siquijor: In Search of Resonance Jan 9-14, 2023
  70. Riding Around Siquijor's 86km Coastal Road Apr 3, 2012
  71. Exploring the Cantabon Cave of Siquijor Feb 23, 2012
  72. Jovee and Missy's Excellent Adventure Nov 6-7, 2010
  73. Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010
  74. Island Tour of Siquijor Apr 22, 2010
  75. Kram's Siquijor Wedding Apr 21, 2010

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