1) Advanced: The first is those who have made tremendous advancement in previous lives and find samadhi easy to attain (1.19). 2) Others: Most people are of the second type, which means following five types of effort and commitment (1.20).
Five core attitudes and goals: The five efforts to cultivate (1.20) are:
Choose your level of practice: In sutras 1.21 and 1.22 (below), nine levels of practice and commitment are described, along with three further divisions for those doing intense practice. From those, you choose one of nine levels of practice and commitment for yourself. Everybody can progress and can have direct experience, and it is very useful to be aware where you are in your practices; great freedom can come from that awareness. (1.21-1.22)
Some who have attained higher levels (videhas) or know unmanifest nature (prakritilayas),
are drawn into birth in this world by their remaining latent impressions
of ignorance, and more naturally come to these states of samadhi.
The videhas are the disembodied ones who have attained higher levels, and the prakritiyas are those who have merged into prakriti, which is the subtlest material essence of the universe. While this may be a somewhat advanced state, merging into prakriti is a detour, so to speak. Pure consciousness is not experienced, but only the unmanifest prakriti. Merging into prakriti is not the goal of Yoga.
Recall that this sutra is following through on sutras 1.17-1.18, which outline the four levels of samadhi on an object, and objectless samadhi. This sutra is describing one of two general types of approach to these samadhis.
This sutra applies to few people. Most need to follow the second path, which is in the sutra just below. In other words, if one does not come into this world as a videha or prakritilaya yogi, then the five-fold path outlined in the next sutra (1.20) is the one to follow.
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Others follow a five-fold systematic path of 1) faithful certainty in the
path, 2) directing energy towards the practices, 3) repeated memory of the
path and the process of stilling the mind, 4) training in deep
concentration, and 5) the pursuit of real knowledge, by which the higher
samadhi (asamprajnata samadhi) is attained.
Simple, straightforward outline: The five principles and practices in this sutra form a very simple, straightforward outline of the personal commitments needed to follow the path of Self-realization. It is very useful to memorize these five, and to reflect on them often. This five-point orientation works in conjunction with the eight rungs of Yoga introduced in Sutra 2.28.
Constant remembrance: By cultivating a constant remembrance of these five forms of efforts and commitments, the specific practices are all understood in this simple context. This helps a great deal to inspire one to follow through on doing the actual practices suggested throughout the Yoga Sutras.
Those who pursue their practices with intensity of feeling, vigor, and
firm conviction achieve concentration and the fruits thereof more quickly,
compared to those of medium or lesser intensity.
Intensity and rate of practice: For those who move forward quickly in their practices, and do so with intensity, the fruits of the practices are very close. There are two dimensions here. One is that of the speed at which one is moving, and the other is the intensity of effort behind it. There are three levels of each, meaning that there are nine levels of practice.
Choose one of nine ways to practice: There is something very practical about these nine levels of practice. It is important to be aware of this. You may feel you have little training or time, and thus cannot progress. However, it is sometimes like the story of the race between the tortoise and the hare. While the rabbit is faster, the tortoise won the race because of a steady persistence. If you feel you are on the slow track, rather than the fast track, your gentle, loving persistence can bring great payoffs.
Here is a table that outlines these nine types of practice:
Optimum: For most people reading this table, the Mild and Medium levels of practice are most important, due to the busy activities and duties of life.
With lots of time for Practice, but little Conviction: It is very easy to think that the only way to progress is when you have retired from worldly life, such as a monk in a Himalayan cave may have done. This is simply not true. Such a person might have a great deal of time available, and know quite a few practices. However, with only mild conviction, little progress is made.
With little time for Practice, but lots of Conviction: On the other hand, a person with little time might do only mild practice, but have a great intensity of conviction. Such a stance is a far superior way to progress on the path of enlightenment. Having little time is balanced by conviction at practice time and sincere cultivation of meditation in action.
For those with intense practices and intense conviction (1.21), there are
three more subdivisions of practice, those of mild intensity, medium
intensity, and intense intensity.
Three more divisions: For those with intense practice and intense conviction (box #9 above), there are still three further divisions. Recall that in the last sutra (1.21), it was pointed out that such intensity means that attainment is near. With this further subdivision, that attainment also has three levels:
Everyone can practice: For most people practicing Yoga meditation, these divisions help to make it clear that there really are levels of practice, and that everyone can practice. It is not a case where only the most ascetic meditators living in caves can attain. Rather, everyone can progress at his or her own comfortable rate.
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presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of
the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and
beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of
our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the
intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the