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Awareness and Omnipresence-Yoga Sutras, Part 2


Patanjali: "Yoga is the restraint of mental activities. Then awareness abides in its essential nature." Awareness disunites with mental activities. Disunion also takes place in deep meditation, the sustained experience of pure awareness. Objectless samadhi-asamprajnata samadhi. Pure awareness aware only of itself; kaivalya-liberation, dharma cloud samadhi; awareness established in its own nature. The kleshas, the gunas, stored karma all eliminated. Infinite wisdom.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

We are continuing this morning with our new series on "Awareness and Omnipresence." Today's presentation draws from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Our first concept is on yoga as a disunion. In general usage the Sanskrit word yoga means union. In Hindu philosophy, the union referred to is that of the individual self with the Supreme also described as atman with Brahman and jiva with Siva. However, the process which the term "yoga" refers to in the Yoga Sutras is one of separating rather than joining. Merriam-Webster's definition of yoga captures this subtlety: (Which is surprising to me, I didn't think they would have.) "Yoga (capitalized): a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation. "Yoga as a philosophy has the name Yoga Darshana. Gurudeva refers to it as classical yoga.

So that's the definition of Yoga Darshana or classical yoga.

Dr. Feuerstein stated this idea as follows:

"According to one definition especially popular among Vedanta and Neo-Vedanta followers, Yoga means 'union'. Although this may be correct as regards certain forms of Yoga, it is definitely inapplicable to Patanjali's Kriya Yoga whose essence consists rather in a 'disunion', namely the disjunction of the purusha (soul) and the world."

He likes to call Patanjali's Yoga, Kriya Yoga because the practices of Kriya Yoga are very essential to it.

The idea of a disunion is, in fact, the first concept presented in the classical yoga teachings of the Yoga Sutras:

"Now, the exposition of yoga. Yoga is the restraint of mental activities. Then awareness abides in its essential nature. At other times awareness takes on the form of the mental activiities."

Verses 1-4:

"Awareness is the soul's ability to sense, see or know and to be conscious of this knowing."

In the Yoga Sutras awareness is known as drashta, drik, cit and citshakti. The state referred to in verse three--"Then awareness abides in its essential nature"--is the result of awareness disuniting with the mental activities and remaining temporarily aware only of itself until thoughts again arise. This is the first way disunion takes place and, of course, is generally for an extremely short period.

Gurudeva stated the goal of disunion using the terms consciousness (for mental activities) and awareness:

"Consciousness and awareness are the same when awareness is totally identified with and attached to that which it is aware of. To separate the two is the artful practice of yoga. (Idea of disunion again.) To separate the two is the artful practice of yoga. A tree has consciousness. Awareness can flow into the tree and become aware of the consciousness of the tree. Awareness and mind are totally equated as a one thing when awareness and consciousness are a one thing to the individual. But when awareness is detached from that which it is aware of, it can flow freely through all five states of mind and all areas of consciousness, such as plants and the Earth itself, elements and various other aspects of matter. Here we find awareness separate from consciousness and consciousness separate from the five states of mind attributed to the human being...(Meaning that plants also have consciousness which is not at all the same as human consciousness.) Consciousness, mind, matter and awareness experience a oneness in being for those who think that they are their physical body, who are convinced that when the body ends, they end and are no more."

And we have my standard example to illustrate the point, which of course, all of you here have heard a number of times:

I hold up a piece of paper and say: "I see the paper." That makes sense, right? I see the paper. If I say: "I am the paper." How many of you would think that? No one. We're trained that we are not physical objects. We perceive them. We see the paper; we smell the incense. We hear the water moving. That's the way we think. But then we say: " I am happy." We are the happiness but we are not the paper. In the terminology of Patanjali's first few verses, happiness is the mental activity that awareness has taken on the form of. The idea is to distinguish ourself from what is mental in the same way we distinguish ourself from what is physical. We don't want to say: "I am happy." We want to say: "I, as awareness, perceive there's an emotion called happiness in there. But, I am the perceiver of happiness. My emotions are currently in a state of being happy. But I am perceiving that. That isn't who I am. Just like I am not the paper."

In classical yoga, a second way in which disunion takes place is in deep meditation which is the idea of a sustained experience of pure awareness. This idea is introduced in verses 17 and 18.

"Samadhi that is accompanied by vitarka, vichara, ananda or asmita is samprajnata. The other, asamprajnata samadhi, follows the former upon the practice of the notion of cessation and has only samskaras as residuum."

That's a lot of terms so we'll go through the terms.

The meaning of these four terms is:

Vitarka: The thought process when concentrating on a gross object. Vichara: The thought process when concentrating on a subtle object.

Ananda: Bliss


Asmita: I-am-ness.

Asamprajnata samadhi, is also called: Objectless samadhi.

Dr. Feuerstein gives this definition of asamprajnata samadhi:

"The technique leading to, and the experience of, the state of unified consciousness beyond all cognitive content. In this superlative condition, subject and object become one. This realization presupposes the temporary deconstruction of the ordinary consciousness. All that is left is a residuum of subconscious tendencies called samskara."

Then of course, Gurudeva's definition is very direct:

[1] Pure awareness aware only of itself.

[2] Superconsciousness: the core of consciousness,

And elucidates:

"Pure awareness aware only of itself is a fairly simple state to attain. But it does take a long time to be able to sustain that state for more than an instant or two. Ask anyone and they will tell you that they can at any moment become aware that they are aware. To remain longer in this state than a fleeting second does take practice. The breath should be well-regulated and the nerve system harmonized and the meditator should have made peace within himself, with family and friends, and be steadfast in this practice before the state of pure awareness can be held for longer periods of time.

"The third way disunion takes place is at the time of moksha, liberation from rebirth."

The last verse in the Yoga Sutras is on this--the ultimate disunion:

"The involution of the gunas, which are now devoid of purpose for the purusha, is what is called kaivalya or the establishment of the power of awareness in its essential nature."

The Sanskrit is something like:

Pratishtha: Establishment.

Power of awareness: Cit Shakti

Essential nature: Swarupa.

So it involves those words.

"The purpose of the gunas (the material world) is two-fold. (In Patanjali's verses the world and the gunas are synonymous. It's just two different ways of referring to the same thing.) The purpose of the gunas (the material world) is two-fold--to provide experience and finally liberation to the purusha. In kaivalya, the world is permanently gone; only purusha exists turned in on itself. As stated at the beginning of Chapter One, when mental activity is restrained, the soul's faculty that witnesses thoughts, naturally turns in on itself. However, this is temporary and only lasts until thoughts again arise. In meditation it is much longer. Whereas in kaivalya, the power of awareness is permanently established in itself. Note that liberation does not involve the experience of Ishvara. It simply involves the purusha's permanent establishment in its essential nature."

Vyasa, the most prominent commentator of the Yoga Sutras, gives this bhashya on this verse:

" Kaivalya or liberation (of Purusha) is the state of permanent cessation of the gunas which work as cause and effect and after having brought about experience and liberation, have no further service to render to Purusha. (Again, that's the dual nature of the world is to provide experience and eventually liberation.) In other words, kaivalya is the state which is reached when the supreme Awareness is established in its own self, i.e. when it is unrelated to or unconcerned with buddhi (the aspect of the mind that is intelligent and discriminatory), and remains all alone for all time."

Though Patanjali offers no description of the state of kaivalya, liberation, he does describe the experiences that lead up to it:

"For one who has no interest even in omniscience, there follows through the vision of discernment the samadhi called dharma cloud. Then all the coverings of imperfections are removed and little remains to be known because of the infinity of the resulting wisdom. Thence follows the discontinuation of both the kleshas and of karma. Thence comes the termination of the sequences in the transformations of the gunas whose purpose is fulfilled."

Experience in liberation.

Hariharananda gives this explanation of dharma cloud samadhi: (He's a more recent commentator.)

"It is known as virtue pouring cloud. (Dharma cloud samadhi.) As a cloud pours rain so this samadhi pours the highest virtue, i.e. success is then attained without effort. That samadhi is the highest achievement through yoga practice and constitutes perpetual discriminative enlightenment."

Yogic disciplines have temporarily suspended the kleshas. The state of dharma mega samadhi eliminates them altogether. It also eliminates any remaining stored karma. Another aspect of the attainment of dharma mega samadhi is infinite wisdom. Then the normal functioning of the mind comes to a natural conclusion. After these experiences comes the state of kaivalya--the establishment of the power of awareness in its essential nature.

Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Every belief creates certain attitudes. Attitudes govern our actions. Our actions can thus be traced to our inmost beliefs about ourself and the world around us.