Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Yoga Sutras 1.19-1.22: 
Efforts and Commitment
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.Two kinds of aspirants: Two kinds of aspirants are described in sutras 1.19 and 1.20, both of whom can attain the goals of Yoga: 

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: 

  1. Shraddha: Developing the faith that you are going in the right direction
  2. Virya: Committing the energy to go there
  3. Smriti: Cultivating memory and mindfulness
  4. Samadhi: Seeking the states of samadhi
  5. Prajna: Pursuing the higher wisdom

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)

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1.19 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.
(bhava pratyayah videha prakriti layanam)

  • bhava = objective existence, becoming 
  • pratyayah = cause, cognitive principle, content of mind, cognition
  • videha = bodiless, disembodied
  • prakriti = creative cause, subtlest material cause, nature
  • layanam = dissolved, merged into

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.

See also this article for info about prakriti:
Prakriti and Its Evolutes: Returning to Self-Realization

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1.20 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.
(shraddha virya smriti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham)

  • shraddha = unconditional faith, trust, confidence, belief, certainty
  • virya = energy, strength of will
  • smriti = memory, intentful remembrance, mindfulness
  • samadhi = deep absorption of meditation, entasy
  • prajna = wisdom, discernment, super cognitive
  • purvakah = preceding, coming before, prerequisite
  • itaresham = of other people

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.

Shraddha is a faith that you are moving in the right direction. It is not a blind faith in some organization, institution, or teacher. Rather, it is an inner feeling of certainty that you are moving in the right direction. You may not know exactly how your journey is unfolding, but have an inner intuition of walking steadily towards the goal of life. The "faith" of Yoga is not one of "blind faith" as is the case with some, if not most religions. Oral tradition of Yoga suggests that the aspirant not merely "believe" in anything. Rather, it is suggested that one test the ideas in one's own inner laboratory, with the "faith" of Yoga thus being based on direct experience. If one has practiced breath awareness and diaphragmatic breathing and finds that it leads to a calm, quiet mind, that direct experience is the foundation of the "faith" that continuing such breathing will, in the future, lead to similar experience of calm and quiet.

Virya is the positive energy of ego that is the support for the faith of going in the right direction. This energy of virya puts the power behind your sense of knowing what to do. When you are strongly acting on what you know to be your correct path, that is virya. When you feel weak or uncertain, and are taking little action, that is from lack of virya. Virya is that conviction that says, "I can do it! I will do it! I have to do it!"

Smriti is cultivating a constant mindfulness of treading the path, and of remembering the steps along the way. This memory is not a negative mental obsession, but rather, a gentle, though persistent awareness of the goal of life, of faith in your journey, and of your decision to commit your energy to the process. Smriti is also the practice of mindfulness of inner process, both witnessing at meditation time and during daily life. (See the article on Witnessing)

Samadhi is intently pursued through the various stages of samadhi already described (1.17-1.18). It means committing to systematically moving through the levels or stages of samadhi, and to using these skills of attention as the tools to discriminate (2.26-2.29) the various forms of ignorance (2.5), and remembering that this is a process of systematically moving through the ever finer levels of our being (3.6).

Prajna is the higher wisdom that comes from discrimination, and this wisdom is assiduously sought through the process of introspection (2.26-2.29), utilizing the razor-sharp tool of samadhi (3.4-3.6). Numerous levels of wisdom are experienced through the practices in Chapters 2 and 3, all of which are set aside with non-attachment (3.38). (See also the Prajna section of the Om Mantra Article, and the Prajna section of the Levels and Dimensions of Consciousness Article.)

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.

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1.21 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.
(tivra samvega asannah) 

  • tivra = rate is fast, speedy
  • samvega = momentum, force, vigor, conviction, enthusiasm
  • asannah = very close, near, speedy

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: 

  Mild 
Practice
Medium
Practice
Intense
Practice
Mild
Conviction
1
Mild
Practice
Mild
Conviction
2
Medium
Practice
Mild
Conviction
3
Intense
Practice
Mild
Conviction
Medium
Conviction
4
Mild
Practice
Medium
Conviction
5
Medium
Practice
Medium
Conviction
6
Intense
Practice
Medium
Conviction
Intense
Conviction
7
Mild
Practice
Intense
Conviction
8
Medium
Practice
Intense
Conviction
9
Intense
Practice
Intense
Conviction

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.

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1.22 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. 
(mridu madhya adhimatra tatah api visheshah

  • mridu = mild, slow
  • madhya = medium, middling
  • adhimatra = intense, strong
  • tatah = from that 
  • api = also
  • visheshah = differentiation, distinction

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: 

  • For those with mild intensity, attainment is imminent. 
  • For those with medium intensity, attainment is more imminent. 
  • For those with intense intensity, attainment is most imminent. 

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. 

 

The next sutra is 1.23 

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This site is devoted to 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 Absolute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
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Swami Jnaneshvara