The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali
Chapter 2 - On Practice
Self-discipline, self-study and devotion to the ideal of the supreme self make up the path of Kriya Yoga (or Yoga of Action).
Kriya Yoga has the dual purpose of cultivating enstasy and of attenuating the inherent causes of affliction.
These five causes of affliction are misapprehension of one’s true nature, the sense of one’s self as a discrete individual, attachment, aversion and the drive for self-preservation.
Misapprehension of one’s true nature is the underlying cause of the other causes of affliction. These can be dormant, restricted, blocked or fully active.
Misapprehension of one’s true nature is the seeing of the eternal, the pure, the joyful and the true self in that which is impermanent, impure, sorrowful and not the true self.
The sense of one’s self as a discrete individual is the identification of the ability to observe with the observer itself.
Attachment follows on from pleasure.
Aversion follows on from pain.
The drive for self-preservation develops of its own accord and is deeply rooted in even the wisest person.
These causes of affliction are to be overcome in their subtle form by following them inwardly back to their source through the stages of enstasy.
The fluctuations of these causes must be restricted by meditative absorption.
Action and consequence leave a residue of latent impulses in deep memory. The inherent causes of affliction are the root cause of action, consequence and these latent impulses. They may be experienced in this birth or in lives to come.
Just as this root exists, so shall its fruits: birth, life and experience.
Birth, life and experience result in delight or distress according to their cause, be it noble or base.
To the observer all is sorrow, be it from the anguish of change, the sorrow caused by latent impulses in deep memory or the conflict that arises from fluctuations of the underlying qualities of nature.
Future sorrow is that which must be overcome.
The confusion of observer with observed is the cause of that which must be overcome.
That which the observer sees, namely the material world, has the qualities of luminousness, activity and inertia. It is made tangible in the elements and the senses. It has the purpose of both enjoyment and emancipation.
The underlying qualities of the universe have four levels: the distinct, the indistinct, the differentiated and the undifferentiated.
Although the observer is, in truth, pure awareness, it sees itself as being the contents of consciousness.
The observed exists only for the sake of the observer.
Although the observed has ceased to exist for one whose purpose has been fulfilled, nevertheless, it has not ceased for others for whom it is a common experience.
It is in the bringing together of the owner and the owned that the essential nature of each is known.
The cause of this juxtaposition is misapprehension of one’s true nature.
When this misapprehension disappears, the juxtaposition disappears. This cessation is pure, emancipated awareness.
The way to achieve this cessation is uninterrupted discriminating discernment between the observer and the observed.
For one who has achieved this emancipated awareness, wisdom at this last stage is sevenfold.
By performance of the limbs of yoga and with the dwindling of impurities, wisdom radiates up to the level of discriminating discernment.
The eight limbs of yoga are restraint, observance, posture, restraint of life-force, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditative absorption and enstasy.
The restraints are non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-greed.
These are universal and apply regardless of birth, place, time or circumstance and are the great vow of yoga.
Purity, contentment, austere discipline, self-study and devotion to the ideal of the supreme self are the observances.
In order to repel unwholesome thoughts, the yogin should cultivate their opposites.
These unwholesome thoughts, such as harming and the like, whether engaged in oneself, caused to be committed or approved of in others, whether arising from greed, anger or infatuation, whether modest, medium or excessive, endlessly bear fruit in misapprehension of one’s true nature and in sorrow. Thus the cultivation of their opposites.
Enmity is abandoned in the presence of one who is grounded in non-harming.
Action and consequence are rooted in truth for one who is grounded in truthfulness.
All abundance appears for one grounded in non-stealing.
Vitality is acquired by one grounded in continence.
Knowledge of the subtle causes of one’s birth becomes available to one grounded in non-greed.
With purity comes detachment from the body and disinterest in contact with others.
With purity also comes serenity, gladness, single-pointed focus, mastery of the senses and the capacity for self-awareness.
Contentment brings the greatest joy.
Impurities dwindle with austere discipline. The body and the senses become refined.
Self-study establishes contact with one’s chosen deity.
Devotion to the ideal of the supreme self brings the perfection of enstasy.
The posture of meditation should be steady and comfortable.
It should be effortlessly relaxed and infinitely expansive.
Then the yogin will be undisturbed by the buffeting of opposing forces.
With this comes control of the flow of inhalation and exhalation, or restraint of the life-force.
Inhalation, exhalation and the pauses between can be conditioned according to area of focus, duration and number of repetitions to prolong and refine the breath.
The fourth aspect of breath transcends the pauses between inhalation and exhalation.
That which obscures inner light disappears.
The mind becomes fit for concentration.
Withdrawal of the senses is when the sense organs separate themselves from their objects and instead imitate the form of consciousness.
From this, the sense organs are subjugated.
(Excerpt from "Practicing Freedom: The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali" by Witold Fitz-Simon, $14.95, available now from amazon.com or from the store.)