Patanjali: you optimist! or when learning the sutras, start with chapter 2

Patanjali was an optimist! That is how he would open the Yoga Sutras with a chapter on Samadhi (eternal peace with non-disturbance or enlightenment). Did he really think that things were going to get better and people were to go forward into a time when focused, one-pointed concentration was easily accessible?

Consider some of the sutras from chapter one
"When there is non-thirst for even the gunas  (psychological tendencies) due to realization of the Purusha, that is supreme non-attachment"


"When all impressions are wiped out there is nirbija or seedless samadhi"

The book starts with the end in mind. Chaper one outlines where we are going, chapter two caters to someone like me. I need to start on "The Practice", or, how do I get there? map please! And so here we are at Sadhana Pada, the portion on practice, more like it.

The first sutra of chapter two- (sanskrit text from here)
Here is my recorded rendition:

video
  1. Accepting pain as help for purification - Tapas: burn, create heat, self-discipline
  2. Study of spiritual books
  3. Surrender to the Supreme being
  4. That is yoga practice
Reading various commentaries I learn that Patanjali talks about yoga being practice and detachment in chapter one, but that is an advanced practice.

I am not at the point of non-attachment, I get furious sometimes when things don't go my way or when someone criticizes me, I am human, very much so, and so the commentators say that chapter two exposes an easier way in which we accept all the pains that come our way, for example when I get upset about things not going my way, and use it as purification, as a means to self discipline as an opportunity to observe it and not react, as a chance to clean an old reactivity pattern.

Then studying spiritual books and surrendering to the Divine.  Although perhaps not the easiest thing, I have began to feel more comfortable with surrendering and praying, trusting and asking God.

As early as yesterday I was very upset about a family matter the details of which are not important, but the miracle in the situation was that I was able to say, in front of another (HB) (a test of humility), a prayer that I came up with.  So I asked God for guidance, for direction, and for his will to be done.

So I can work with these.  How about you?

For a list of resources and background on the yoga sutra study series, see here.
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2 comments:

  1. I like how steps 1 through 3 above are all "doable". I find even when I dont meditate or "practice" that I still feel good by reading texts that I think are spiritual (whether its the Bible, the pali canon, the tao te ching, or whatever).

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  2. James, yes, very good point, I feel the same way, reading spiritual texts inspires me as well

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