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 1.40-1.51: 
After Stabilizing the Mind
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.Mind becomes like a transparent crystal: Once the mind is reasonably stabilized and clear (1.33-1.39), the deeper process of Yoga can begin. The mind eventually becomes like a transparent crystal (1.41), and is a purified tool for the subtler explorations of the gross and subtle levels. Such a mind can explore the whole range of objects, even the smallest or largest (1.40).

Four levels of meditation on an object: There are only four levels of meditation on an object. These are systematically experienced, all the way to the level of unmanifest matter (1.45)

  1. With gross thoughts, savitarka samapattih (1.42)
  2. Without gross thoughts, nirvitarka samapattih (1.43)
  3. With subtle thoughts, savichara samapattih (1.44)
  4. Without subtle thoughts, nirvichara samapattih (1.44)

Fruits of the meditations: From these meditations on gross and subtle objects come purity and inner luminosity (1.47), higher wisdom (1.48), reducing of the impressions that drive karma (1.50), and the experience of objectless samadhi (1.51)

Accompanying practices: Along with these practices are the whole range of meditation practices in Chapters 2-4, including minimizing gross colorings (2.1-2.9), dealing with subtle thoughts (2.10-2.11), the eight rungs of Yoga (2.26-2.29), and the subtler explorations through samyama (3.4-3.6).

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1.40 When, through such practices (as previously described in 1.33-1.39), the mind develops the power of becoming stable on the smallest size object as well as on the largest, then the mind truly comes under control.
(parma-anu parama-mahattva antah asya vashikarah)

  • parma-anu= from the minutest (parma = most; anu = minutest, smallest) 
  • parama-mahattva = ultimate magnitude (parama = ultimate, maximum; mahattva = infinity, largeness magnitude)
  • antah = end, extending to
  • asya = of this, of his or hers; who has  
  • vashikarah = mastery, power 

Mind under control becomes a tool: When the mind is under control (vashikara), then that mind can be used as an instrument to explore the subtler components of the mind field, including the samskaras themselves, which are the deep impressions driving karma (actions). This control, this ability to focus on the smallest or largest is not the goal in itself. It is not a matter that some power has come that inherently means you have attained some final goal. Rather, it is clear evidence of having trained the instrument of mind. Then that mind is used as a tool, in ways unimaginable previously.

Vyasa: "Entering into the subtle it attains the position of steadiness upon the smallest of the small, down to an atom. Entering into the large, the position of mental steadiness reaches up to the largest of the large. His great power consists in not being turned back by any check while running along both these lines. The mind of the Yogi, full of this power, does not again stand in need of the mental embellishment due to habitual practice."

VIDEO: Meditation on the small and the large:

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1.41 When the modifications of mind have become weakened, the mind becomes like a transparent crystal, and thus can easily take on the qualities of whatever object observed, whether that object be the observer, the means of observing, or an object observed, in a process of engrossment called samapattih.
(kshinna-vritti abhijatasya iva maneh grahitri grahana grahyeshu tat-stha tat-anjanata samapattih)

  • kshinna-vritti = with modifications of mind weakened (kshinna = weakened; vritti = modifications of mind)
  • abhijatasya = transparent, purified
  • iva = like
  • maneh = of a crystal
  • grahitri = the knower, apprehender, observer
  • grahana = process of knowing or apprehending, instrument of knowing
  • grahyeshu = the knowable, knowledge, apprehended objects
  • tat-stha = remaining in it, being stable on them, on which it stays or rests
  • tat-anjanata = taking on the coloring of that, coalescing with, appearing to take the shape of the object 
  • samapattih = engrossment, coincidence, complete absorption, transmute into likeness, total balance

What is samapattih or engrossment?: Four categories of meditation were mentioned in sutra 1.17 (savitarka, savichara, sananda, and sasmita). When the mind becomes concentrated and the extraneous thought patterns begin to subside (as a result of the persistent practice of one-pointed meditation), the mind can then be not only concentrated, but also more thoroughly engrossed in the object of meditation. It is a sort of inner expansion of attention on the object of meditation, and that engrossment is called samapattih.

A mind like a crystal is a tool: Just like the last sutra, this too is a sign of a trained mind. When the mind is like a crystal, it has no coloring of its own. It means that when you place your attention on some inner object, such as a samskara or deep habit pattern, your mind field is able to fill with awareness of that object. Having the mind be like a crystal is not the end unto itself, but allows the mind to become a still subtler tool.

Mind becomes clear, like a transparent crystal,
so that whatever is witnessed is seen clearly, as it is.
In this way the deep impressions or samskaras
that drive karma can been encountered, purified,
and transcended, allowing pure consciousness,
purusha, to rest in its true nature (1.3).

 

When you put the focus of the crystal like mind on an object, then there comes the insight, the awareness of its true nature as being just another manifestation of prakriti (primal matter). This opens the door to true non-attachment (1.15-1.16) to that object, as the coloring (klishta, 1.5, 2.3) falls away. Having the mind as clear as crystal makes the mind a tool for the subtler process (3.4-3.6) that removes the barriers or obstacles clouding the true Self, which then stands alone in its true nature (1.4).

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1.42 One type of such an engrossment (samapattih) is one in which there is a mixture of three things, a word or name going with the object, the meaning or identity of that object, and the knowledge associated with that object; this engrossment is known as savitarka samapattih (associated with gross objects).
(tatra shabda artha jnana vikalpah sankirna savitarka samapattih)

  • tatra = there, among these, in that
  • shabda = sound, word
  • artha = meaning
  • jnana = knowledge, idea
  • vikalpah = with options
  • sankirna = mixed with, commingled, interspersed
  • savitarka = accompanied with gross thoughts (sa = with; vitarka = gross thoughts)
  • samapattih = engrossment, coincidence, complete absorption, transmute into likeness

Engrossment with gross objects:  The first of four levels of that engrossment (1.41) is savitarka samapattih, meaning that vitarkas, or gross thoughts, still exist while the engrossment increases. Once the mind is stabilized and clear enough to witness like it is a crystal (1.41), the mind becomes fully engrossed (samapattih) in the object of meditation. Savitarka samapattih is the first of four types of engrossment on an object.

Non-attachment: Along the way, each of the gross objects is encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

All meditations on an object are 1 of 4 types: There are only four types (1.46) of meditation on a gross object regardless of what system or school of meditation one follows. These are: 

  1. With gross thoughts, savitarka samapattih (1.42)
  2. Without gross thoughts, nirvitarka samapattih (1.43)
  3. With subtle thoughts, savichara samapattih (1.44)
  4. Without subtle thoughts, nirvichara samapattih (1.44)
Relating to gross objects  

Savitarka Samapattih (1.42)

Four categories of meditation were mentioned above (Savitarka, Savichara, Sananda, and Sasmita). When the mind becomes concentrated and the extraneous thought patterns begin to subside (as a result of the persistent practice of one-pointed meditation), the mind can then be not only concentrated, but also more thoroughly engrossed in the object of meditation. It is a sort of inner expansion of attention on the object of meditation, and that engrossment is called Samapattih. The first level of that engrossment is Savitarka Samapattih, meaning that Vitarkas, or gross thoughts, still exist while the engrossment increases. 
 

Nirvitarka Samapattih (1.43)

Nirvitarka is concentration on a gross object in which there are no longer any extraneous gross level activities in the mind because of the memory having been purified. Notice that with Savitarka, there was not only meditation on the object, but also there were the other thought streams in the mind, though these were not distracting due to vairagya (non-attachment). Here, in Nirvitarka, these thought patterns have subsided. 

Relating to subtle objects  

Savichara Samapattih (1.44)

Beyond both Savitarka and Nirvitarka is Savichara. With Savichara, the gross thoughts (Vitarkas) have subsided, but there are still subtle thought patterns, which are called Vichara. Savitarka Samapattih and Savichara Samapattih are similar processes, though one is on gross thoughts, while the other relates to subtle thoughts. 
 

Nirvichara Samapattih (1.44)

Nirvichara is concentration in which there are no longer any extraneous gross or subtle activities in the mind This purity of mind comes through the processes of meditation and non-attachment. In Nirvichara Samapattih, the engrossed mind completely takes on the coloring of the subtle object of meditation, much like a pure crystal will take on the coloring of whatever color it is near. With increasing mastery of Nirvichara, the eternal Self begins to shine for the aspirant. 
 

These four types of meditation on an object extend all the way to the direct experience of unmanifest matter, or prakriti (1.45). Thus, as one progresses in meditation, not only are individual objects witnessed and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), but entire levels of meditation on objects are transcended.

Discerning Parts of an Object: After one has the initial ability to allow the otherwise noisy, chattering conscious mind to become quiet, there comes a time for discriminating between the three different aspects of how a mental object is constructed. These three are:

1) the Word or Name that represents the object,
2) the specific Object being observed, and
3) the Knowledge or Nature of that category of object.

Gradually, the meditator comes to see that all of our attractions, aversions and fears, as well as our conceptions, perceptions and opinions are all mental constructs. This process of discrimination gets ever subtler, until the final discernment between the subtlest aspect of mental process and pure consciousness or Purusha (Yoga Sutra 3.56).

Keeping in mind the three "parts" of an object described above, note that:
 

1) Each of the three objects below would be referred to by the name or word "apple."

2) Each specific "apple" is different from the other two.

3) However, each of them has an essence or nature of "apple-ness" that is in each.

1) Each of the three objects below would be referred to by the name or word "apple."

2) Presuming that these three are stages of the same "apple" there is, nonetheless a difference.

3) Yet, the subtle "apple-ness" essence is existent in each.

     

     

One of the ways of describing the systematic process of Yoga meditation is that of systematically discerning the difference between names or words, the specific object referred to by those names or words, and uncovering the underlying essence. In this way we gradually examine the ever subtler aspects of our own being and discover that none of our false identities is actually who we are. Even the next subtler level is, itself, eventually discovered to be just one more level or layer of false identity. In the example of apples, this is like first discovering the essence of apple-ness in meditation, and subsequently discovering that even apple-ness is just a manifestation of something subtler, such as of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. Eventually we discover that "who I am" is pure Consciousness itself, or Purusha. The true Self stands alone, as is described in sutras 1.2-1.3. The final discernment relates to setting aside even the finest aspect of our entire mental process, which is sattvic buddhi (Yoga Sutra 3.56).

In commenting on this sutra, the sage Vyasa uses the cow to make the point of discriminating between word, object, and essential knowledge. So, here is the example of cows, which is just like the apples above or the cars further below. This principle is so extremely important to understand that all of these visual examples are provided here. Note that each of these is called "cow" even though the objects referred to are different. Yet, in each is the essence or nature of "cow-ness." Like the apples and the cars, we seek to know cow-ness so that it too can be transcended.

        


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1.43 When the memory or storehouse of modifications of mind is purified, then the mind appears to be devoid of its own nature and only the object on which it is contemplating appears to shine forward; this type of engrossment is known as nirvitarka samapattih.
(smriti pari-shuddhau svarupa-shunya iva artha-matra nirbhasa nirvitarka)

  • smriti = of memory
  • pari-shuddhau = upon purification (pari = upon; shuddhau = purification)
  • svarupa-shunya = devoid of its own nature (shunya = devoid; svarupa = its own nature)
  • iva = as it were
  • artha-matra = only the object (artha = object; matra = only)
  • nirbhasa = illuminative, shining brightly 
  • nirvitarka = without a gross thought (nir = without; vitarka = gross thought)

When the extraneous gross thoughts fall away: Nirvitarka is concentration on a gross object in which there are no longer any extraneous gross level activities in the mind because of the memory having been purified. This is the second of four types of engrossment on a gross object. Notice that with savitarka, there was not only meditation on the object, but also there were the other streams of gross thoughts in the mind (1.42), though these were not distracting due to vairagya (non-attachment). Here, in nirvitarka, these thought patterns have subsided.

Non-attachment: Along the way, each of the gross objects is encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

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1.44 In the same way that these engrossments operate with gross objects in savitarka samapattih, the engrossment with subtle objects also operates, and is known as savichara and nirvichara samapattih.
(etaya eva savichara nirvichara cha sukshma-vishaya vyakhyata)

  • etaya = by this
  • eva = also
  • savichara = accompanied by subtle thoughts (sa = with; vichara = subtle thoughts)
  • nirvichara = devoid of subtle thoughts (nir = without; vichara = subtle thoughts)
  • cha = and 
  • sukshma-vishaya = having subtle for their objects (sukshma = subtle; vishaya = objects)
  • vyakhyata = are explained, described, defined

Engrossment with subtle thoughts: This is the third of the four types of engrossment on an object. All of the gross thoughts have been set aside, or transcended. The object of meditation is subtle thought patterns, and these are accompanied by streams of other subtle impressions.

When the subtle streams fall away: With this fourth of the four meditations on an object, even the subtle streams of extraneous thought patterns have been set aside, while the engrossment on the subtle object of meditation becomes complete.

Subtlest matter and objectless concentration: These subtle meditations extend all the way to the subtlest matter, or prakriti (1.45), and finally to objectless meditation and samadhi (1.51).

Non-attachment: Along the way, each of the subtle objects is encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

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1.45 Having such subtle objects extends all the way up to unmanifest prakriti.
(sukshma vishayatvam cha alinga paryavasanam)

  • sukshma = subtle
  • vishayatvam = of having as objects
  • cha = and
  • alinga = without a mark or trace, unmanifest prakriti (subtlest matter)
  • paryavasanam = extending up to, ending at

Subtle objects extend to the unmanifest: These four types of engrossment or samapattih extend all the way from the gross level, through the subtle levels, all the way to the unmanifest substratum of subtle matter, or prakriti. After that comes meditation that is objectless (1.51).

Non-attachment: Along the way, each of the gross and subtle objects is encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

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1.46 These four varieties of engrossment are the only kinds of concentrations (samadhi) which are objective, and have a seed of an object.
(tah eva sabijah samadhih)

  • tah = these, those, they
  • eva = only 
  • sabijah = with seed, seeded
  • samadhih = deep absorption of meditation, entasy

All meditations on an object are 1 of 4 types: There are only four types of meditation on a gross object regardless of what system or school of meditation one follows. These are: 

  1. With gross thoughts, savitarka samapattih (1.42)
  2. Without gross thoughts, nirvitarka samapattih (1.43)
  3. With subtle thoughts, savichara samapattih (1.44)
  4. Without subtle thoughts, nirvichara samapattih (1.44)

These four types of meditation on an object extend all the way to the direct experience of unmanifest matter, or prakriti (1.45). Thus, as one progresses in meditation, not only are individual objects witnessed and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), but entire levels of meditation on objects are transcended.

Non-attachment: Along the way, each of the gross and subtle objects is encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

Objectless samadhi: Then comes the deep absorption that is objectless, which is called nirbija samadhi, or seedless samadhi (1.51).

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1.47 As one gains proficiency in the undisturbed flow in nirvichara, a purity and luminosity of the inner instrument of mind is developed.
(nirvichara vaisharadye adhyatma prasadah)

  • nirvichara = devoid of subtle thoughts (nir = without; vichara = subtle thoughts)
  • vaisharadye = with undisturbed flow, 
  • adhyatma = spiritual, regarding the atman or true Self
  • prasadah = purity, luminosity, illumination, clearness

Higher purity and luminosity comes: When the modifications of the mind are weakened, the mind is purified and takes on a crystal like quality, as was already explained (1.41). However, this current sutra is explaining that after there is mastery of the nirvichara (subtle) engrossment (1.44), there comes an even greater level of purity and luminosity.

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1.48 The experiential knowledge that is gained in that state is one of essential wisdom and is filled with truth.
(ritambhara tatra prajna)

  • ritambhara = filled with higher truth, essence, supreme cognition
  • tatra = there
  • prajna = knowledge, wisdom, insight

Higher knowledge: There are many insights that come along the way, but each of those falls short. Recall that one of the five efforts and commitments is seeking the higher knowledge of prajna (1.20). Along with the purity and luminosity mentioned in the last sutra (1.47), which came from proficiency in nirvichara, or subtle meditation (1.44), there also comes a wisdom that is filled with the higher truth.

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1.49 That knowledge is different from the knowledge that is commingled with testimony or through inference, because it relates directly to the specifics of the object, rather than to those words or other concepts.
(shruta anumana prajnabhyam anya-vishaya vishesha-arthatvat)

  • shruta = testimony, heard, learned, from tradition
  • anumana = inference, reasoning, deduction
  • prajnabhyam = from those kinds of knowledge
  • anya-vishaya = having different objects (anya = different; vishaya = objects, fields, realms, domains)
  • vishesha-arthatvat = relating to particular objects, purpose, or significance  

Knowledge is usually commingled: Most knowledge is commingled with words or other concepts, and thus the knowledge of the object is not really pure knowledge. This is the nature of most of our experiences. With Yoga, we are wanting to see clearly (1.2), to see the true nature of things, so that we might become free from the false identities of the mind field (1.4).

Unencumbered knowledge: Here, in this sutra, it is being explained that by virtue of the ability to do this high level of meditation, we are able to experience knowledge in its true form, unencumbered with those extraneous words and concepts. By seeing the objects more clearly, we are even better able to see them for what they are, as objects clouding our true Self (1.3).

Non-attachment: All of these elements of unencumbered knowledge is also encountered, examined, understood, and set aside with non-attachment (1.15), as it is seen to be not-self (1.4, 2.5). By removing these obstacles, the aspirant is ever closer to the realization of the true Self (1.3).

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1.50 This type of knowledge that is filled with truth creates latent impressions in the mind-field, and those new impressions tend to reduce the formation of other less useful forms of habitual latent impressions.
(tajjah samskarah anya samskara paribandhi)

  • tajjah = arising or producing from that
  • samskarah = deep impressions, residual imprints, activating imprints
  • anya = of other
  • samskara = deep impressions, residual imprints, activating imprints
  • paribandhi = impeding, obstructing, reducing, opposing, inhibiting

Samadhi leaves an imprint in the mind field: Like other experiences, samadhi, or deep absorption leaves its impressions in the mind field. Like other impressions, these impressions also cause their subsequent effects.

These counteract other impressions: The effect of these imprints from samadhi (1.44) and the higher knowledge (1.48, 1.49) is that of counterbalancing, impeding, reducing, or preventing the formation of other deep impressions.

Freedom from karma: What is being described here is a major part of the mechanism used in the process of freedom from karma (2.12-2.25). The mind is stabilized (1.33-1.39), gross colorings are attenuated (2.1-2.9), and the subtler thoughts are dealt with directly through meditation (2.10-2.11). Now, the impressions left by samadhi itself are seen to be a major antidote to the deep impressions (1.4) that normally block our view of the true Self (1.3).

See also the article:
Karma and the Sources of Actions, Speech and Thoughts

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1.51 When even these latent impressions from truth filled knowledge recede along with the other impressions, then there is objectless concentration.
(tasya api nirodhe sarva nirodhat nirbijah samadhih)

  • tasya = of that
  • api = too 
  • nirodhe = receding, mastery, coordination, control, regulation, setting aside of
  • sarva = of all
  • nirodhat = through nirodhah (nirodhah = control, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, understanding, stilling, quieting, setting aside of)
  • nirbijah = without a seed, seedless (nir = without; bijah = seed)
  • samadhih = deep absorption of meditation, entasy

Even the effects of samadhi recede: On the path of Self-realization, you systematically find attention moving past all of the levels of your being. This word recede (as a translation of nirodah, 1.2) describes what the experience is like: 

  • When you succeed in meditation to go inward, leaving aside the external environment, it is as if the world recedes from you, though it is your attention that has come inward. 
  • When you move past your body, going inward, it seems as if body awareness recedes. 
  • The same thing happens with breath, with which you give a great deal of emphasis until ready to go past that; then it seems that the breath recedes. 
  • When you encounter the chattering, noisy, distracting conscious mind, it eventually seems that this too recedes. 
  • When you encounter the many layers and levels of the unconscious, they too gradually seem to recede. 

They only appear to recede: All along, none of these are actually receding, but that is the way it is experienced. Thus, before moving into the higher experience of objectless, or formless samadhi, even those blissful residues from the lower states of samadhi seem to recede, as attention moves still further inward, leaving them behind as well.

Objectless samadhi comes: While even these latent impressions from truth filled knowledge (1.50) recede along with the other impressions, then there is objectless concentration (1.18), which was described as the state following the four stage of meditation on an object (1.17).

Supreme non-attachment: Along the way, one systematically experiences the stages of vairagya (non-attachment), and how that process goes ever further inward (1.15), all the way to the supreme non-attachment (1.16).

 

The next sutra is 2.1 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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