The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Chapter One: Samadhi Pada 1: Sutras 1-10

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Sutra I Atha yoganushasanam

From the portal of the Eternal Now (atha) -- freed from the structure of linear time and space -- from the non-ending beginningless ineffable stillness -- the eternal truth -- the Universal Intelligent Source from which all traditions and written laws are mere poor substitutions-- from HERE -- emanates the authentic instruction of the transcendental non-dual method that restores integrity called yoga (the process of joining together and making whole) -- unfettered by temporal limitation and corruption. In Pure Integrity in All Our Relations, yoga is all-ways available here and now (in the sacred present), and as such, it is at once, the arrival, the abiding, and the unborn universal presence which when experienced will is recognized instantaneously as our true spiritual home. We will then truly know when we have arrived home.

Sutra 1. 2 yogash citta-vrtti-nirodah

Yoga occurs when the vacillations modification perturbations machinations whirlings, spins, and agitations (vrtti) of the mind (citta) cease and become still (nirodha)
Yoga is the process of dissolving (nirodha) the machinations of the ordinary thinking processes (vrtti) of the dualistic mind which colors, limits, and distorts the originalness Pure Universal Mind (citta). Yogic processes are designed to annihilate, annul, or dissolve (nirodha) the fractual and limited patterning and conditioning (vrtti) of the perceiver's mind field (citta) so that the unconditioned clarity can shine forth illuminating the darkness and stilling all anxiety and stress.
Here vrtti are defined as the movement of thought patterns, thought processes, mental machinations and/or mental turmoil, agitations, swirlings, revolutions, or spinning's that occur in the ordinary mind field. In short the vrtti are the whirlpool of ordinary thinking processes which create a spin or bias -- which condition and distort the original unobstructed true pure nature of unbiased universal light of consciousness or Infinite Mind (citta). Thus vrtti muddle and obscure the whole. It upholds the fragmentary or corruptive mind which is based on the basic traumatic spiritual rend of separation from our true Self. In yoga it is that bondage or attachment formed to that afflictive state (klesha) which is the cause of our suffering (dukha). When the vrtti cease (nirodha) then the clear light of absolute reality shines forth as our true nature (swarupa).
The word, nirodha, means cessation, dissolution, stillness, or extinguished. Literally it means blockage of some pre-condition. Translators often confuse the word nirodha as being active as in the act of stilling or even worse as the act of controlling, but rather the word, nirodha, is definitely passive i.e., it is stillness not stilling. Of course there is an object that is being transformed from activity to stillness, but it is salient that it is not the mind (citta) that is being stilled or controlled, but rather the machinations (vrtti) which have become attached to it and have been revolving the afflicted mind in circles, In yoga such machinations come to a halt, then the mind is opened The wisdom eye is activated and shines forth inside out and then "Reality" is seen as-it-is in its true nature (swarupa).
Thus it is the vrtti which cause distortion. obstruction, bias, and obscuration of citta (pure consciousness) which eventually cease. When such limited associations, self identifications, or attachments with the thought processes (vrtti) cease (nirodha), then the self resides in its true non-biased abode -- as the True Self or natural unconditioned mind (citta). Nirodha, as cessation is thus passive to an extreme, yet yogic processes (sadhana) themselves are activities (active) as we shall see. They are designed to bring upon this effect (cessation) of the vrtti.

Sutra I. 3 tada drashtuh sva-rupe'vasthanam

So that (tada) the original clear light (drashtuh) of our inherent original true nature as-it-is (swarupa) can shine through. We then strongly and firmly abide (vasthanam) and become consummated in our original true nature (swarupa) of pure consciousness [without being uprooted in false identification, dissipation, dissuasion, distraction, or disease of consciousness by action of the vrttis].
Commentary: It must be pointed out that the term, nirodha, is passive, thus yoga is not the restraint, suppression, nor control of the mind (as is too often mistranslated), but rather it is the elimination, dissolution, or remediation of the vrtti (which restrains and limits the citta). When the vrtti cease, the mind field is silent and liberated, allowing space for a greater intrinsic intelligence to appear -- the innate dormant wisdom that is not misidentified to dawn. This is the realm of sat-chit-ananda. This experience is increasingly experienced through effective yoga practice and naturally calls out to the practitioner who seeks it.
Swarupa, means what-is-as-it-is, residing in its own abode or in its true natural form without modification, distortion, or artificial conditioning. Swa means as-it-is by itself, while rupa means form. Thus swarupa can likewise be defined as being in its own true form as-it-is or natural true "self". In yoga the true form devoid of the modifications (vrtti) is not an existential, indifferent, catatonic, nor neutral state, but rather a profound transpersonal realization and expression of the unconditioned natural mind. The universal mind stuff shines forth out of Source and as such, beingness and existence are unified, One then sees Reality and all things as-it-is in their true form without distortion or spin. There is no externally imposed limitation of a separate, limited, or biased viewpoint, viewer, or seer, because one's eyes have been opened in this transpersonal non-dual profound sense (as a Seer (Rishi) to see Self in all-- in the sacred sphere of All Our Relations.
Drastr in this context then is the seer (the one who sees), but disclosing the principle behind seeing, the process of seeing, the light behind the process because now the seer is resting in its true abode, where vasthanam means simply to abide within -- resting as-it-is without any restlessness. Where the common man's consciousness ordinarily wanders from object to object through the attachment of the vrtti -- through attachment to apparently separate "selves" through processes of limited false identifications or in short through ignorance (avidya), here the seer is not so attached, but rather rests in its true nature or authentic self without delusion. HERE the seer "rests" (vasthanam) in their own inherent true nature (swarupa).

Sutra I. 4 Vrtti-sarupyam itaratra

When we are not "home" or not present (itaratra) -- not abiding in our true self nature (swarupa) -- then consciousness (citta) is colored and modified (vrtti). It assumes the form (sarupa) that is shaped by the modifications of consciousness (vrtti) rather than as unmodified universal citta (consciousness) as it truly is in reality.

Otherwise or at other times (itaratra) when the vrtti operate then our body/mind energetics will be out of synch -- the citta (consciousness) will be distorted, disturbed, agitated and fluctuate as it becomes swept up identifying with objects (sarupa) and we will be out of sorts so to speak. Sa, means with, while rupa means, form. When we are not united, aligned, or connected in our true authentic nature (swa-rupa) through yoga, then disharmony and distortion (vrtti) will appear catching us up in "our fragmented dualistic world" where phenomena appear disconnected (sa-rupa) or disjointed - a separation between creation/creator, mother nature/father sky, earth and heaven, root and crown, existence and consciousness, natural manifest order and divine order, the weave of the universe and the universal source obstruct and restrict our synchronistic joyful participation.
Without previously recognizing our corrupted or perverse condition, and without having taken up any expedient, proficient, or skillful method of remediation or reintegration [such as yoga], we become habitually lost identifying with the modifications and aberrations (vrtti) of the mind as an ingrained way of corruption (as "reality") to a point of unconsciously reinforcing our own imprisonment and illusion at the hellish altar of familiarity. Thus in this way, the dualistic false identification and spiritual self alienation (as existing separate as an ego) thus become our solidified as our "reality".

Sutra I. 5 Vrttayah panchatayah klishtaklishtah

These vrttis (distortions and aberrations of our psychic field of consciousness) are of two types (tayah) i.e., those which are associated or imbued with klesha (emotional defilement producing afflictions), and those which are devoid of such emotional defilement and affliction, being neutral (aklishta). They can be classified and broken down into five (pancha) broad categories (tayyah).

Here Patanjali broadly classifies the vrttis in five broad categories each of which may cause afflictions (kleshas) or be neutral (free of afflictions). We remember from the previous sutras that yoga is the removal of the influences of all vrttis (fragmentary, conditioned, and biased thought patterns) so that reconnection with spirit in All Our Relations is made whole and continuous. The kleshas (defined as emotional defilements and negative afflictions) are generally agreed upon to stem from the primary ignorance (avidya), of which separate sense of self existence or ego delusion (asmita), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesa), and fear of death are also associated. They can be broken down further in many permutations of the above such as in lust, greed, pride, jealousy, hatred, anger, etc., but the major point is that the kleshas are taints which poison and enslave our mind and behavior, thus our liberation is dependent upon its purification (cessation).
Patanjali here does not attempt to delineate which kleshas are caused by which vrtti or conversely which vrtti add to which klesha. Suffice it to say that they are associated in holding together the spiritual malaise of alienation, disconnection and separation. Later we shall see that Patanjali suggests tools as yoga processes/practices (called sadhana) which are designed to remove these fragmentary fluctuations of the mind (vrtti) by practices which remove the kleshas, samskaras, vasana, and negative karma. Again as such, this is a process of purification or cessation (nirodha).

Sutra I. 6 Pramana-viparyaya-vikalpa-nidra-smrtayah

Ordinary life is full of a myriad combination of vrttis (that which distorts the mind field preventing us from seeing clearly); hence Patanjali breaks them up by the five mind-vagaries (vrtti) of:
1) Pramana -- belief systems and "conventional theories" (so called right knowledge) held together by ordinary dualistic perception, deductive reasoning or inference, consensus reality, and the testimony of external authorities (others) is pramana. Pramana (so called accepted or politically correct views) is thus a vrtti (modification of the mind) and hindrance which must be eliminated (nirodha) in order for the process of Yoga to be realized. A proven theory or belief is just that, not the Reality. It may or may not lead us to the Real thing. Especially when people believe strongly in their tradition, religion, ideology, or provincial prejudice, these type of pramanas are very difficult to surrender. HERE Patanjali says pramana has to be surrendered up on the altar of truth.
2) Viparyayah (Mistaken beliefs based on errors of perception, lies, propaganda, dis-information, confusion, ignorance, perversity, false identification. falling into this category is anything that may be proved to be wrong as well as incoherent, schizoid, hypocritical, and/or corruptive thinking)
3) Vikalpa (Fancy, hallucination, day dreaming, imaginary conditioned cognition, conceptionalization, fabricated thought, and in general the monkey mind discursive mentations of the ordinary mind).
4) Nidra (Dullness of mind, inattentiveness, sleep, being in a daze, torpor, or stupor)
5) Smrti (Modifications due to past memories, past legacies, residues, impressions, experiences, nostalgia, grief, trauma, etc.)
Commentary: These five vrttis (fractious modalities) can be either innocent distractions and dissipations possessing no negative karmic effect (aklishta) or they may be part of a seed bearing cycle of negative karma (with klesha) such as the vrttis caused by negative propensities and reactions (the kleshas due to ignorance, i.e., attachment, pride, anger, hatred, fear, greed, jealousy, and similar) depending upon how occluded our mind stream (chitta) has become and whose purification eventually provides the antidote as the field of consciousness expands.

Sutra 7 Pratyakshanumanagamah pramanani

The vrtti called pramana is the result of conclusions or judgments of what is right (and thus what is wrong). It forms the basis of, assumptions, firmly held (stubborn or fixated) belief systems and similar constructs of the mind which are supported and upheld by the glue (proofs) of external authority (agamah), inference and reductionist logical methods or proofs (anumana) governed by the intellect, and by pratyaksha (dualistic perception and ordinary provincial awareness) which may appear true within a limited situation or context, but which if applied elsewhere serves only to bolster bias, prejudice, pride, and/or further confusion and limited dualistic false identification which most often serves to reinforce straight plane left brain thinking, but at the same time extracts us further from the simultaneously arising universal ground of being.

As we are beginning to see, yoga is based on direct yogic experience that emanates from yogic practice (sadhana), not theory. It is this practice (called sadhana or abhyasa) applied wisely which awakens the innate wisdom. In order for that journey to bear fruit, theory, ideology, theology, and even logic must be tempered by yogic experience eventually being surrendered upon the altar of truth -- theory not being truth.
Patanjali is saying very straightforwardly that what we tenaciously defend and grasp onto as "right knowledge" -- what is politically correct; what we believe to be right, true, or good -- is a vrtti, as long as it is supported by outside authority, consensus reality of our trusted peers, reductionist logic, and ordinary mental faculties of dualistic perception. This vrtti like the rest must ceased in order for the yogic practitioner to realize the higher states of samadhi.

Sutra 8 Viparyayo mithya-jnanam a-tad-rupa-pratishtham

False beliefs (viparyayo) are rooted (pratistham) in corruptive and perverse cognition and false knowledge (mithya-jnanam) where contexts become confused (a-tad-rupa-pratistham) -- where one's very perceptual process is mistaken.
Commentary: Here false identifications and mistakes of perception can create wrong conclusions and beliefs solely because they are based on a lack of perception or overall context - seeing things in separate pieces.

Sutra 9 Shabda-jnanaupati vastu-shunyo vikalpah

Knowledge and notions (jnana) dependent upon (anupati) on language, words, or such symbols (shabda) often propel the mind into machinations (vrtti) of imaginative daydreams and fancies -- the contrived products of the conceptualization process (vikalpa). They are empty (shunyo) of real meaning (vastu) by themselves and thus are mere semantic fancy.

Vikalpa are the artificially constructed preferential propensities based on manmade words (which we will see are essentially empty) and thus carry our attention away from realizing true intimate union (yoga) unless they are surrendered in authentic meditation. Vikalpas are mental constructs, ideations, and conceptionally based thinking processes, and no matter how logical they may be, they remain artificial. What is "bad", about artificial one may ask? Patanjali does not say that it is "bad", only that it being a vrtti, it will hold the yogi back from realizing the underlying unconstructed and unconditioned truth which uncovers the profound Reality of the Great Integrity -- of All Our Relations.
In general the ordinary minds get stuck in the severe limited filter of conceptional realities (vikalpa) just as as they do in other vrttis such as fixed beliefs (pramana) or erroneous beliefs based on faulty logic, perception, or misreadings (viparyayo). Vikalpa (misconception) differs from the confusion of Viparyayah in such that it is dependent upon the more complex processes of a series of words (shabda) which are placed in various sequences and patterns that further fragment and corrupt the mind acting as citta-vrtti. Here these patterning of words (shabda) form conceptional processes that distract the mind toward mental objects thus severe limitation (by what a meditator would call the monkey mind -- the "normal" discursive activity of the ordinary mind) occludes the pure mind and stainless mind. This is what meditation practice is designed to destroy in nirvikalpa.

Sutra 10 Abhava-pratyaya-alambana vrttir nidra

The vrtti of drowsiness, stupor, torpor, inattentiveness, and sleep (nidra) is experienced (pratyaya) when the supporting base (alambana) of the content of the mind (pratyaya) is not present (abhava) -- [the overall continuity or integrity in All Our Relations of the intelligent principle of consciousness] is occluded that links the contents of the mind in an overall intelligent integrity (through bhava).

Because of the word structure, this sutra is often interpreted that Patanjali is referring to the experience of deep dreamless sleep. Certainly in deep dreamless sleep the mind is empty and devoid of consciousness and conscious intent (bhava), thought (pratyaya) stops, and so that a particular vrtti that occludes recognition of any object as well as consciousness itself. This is indeed a severe cit-vrtti where consciousness appears to be entirely absent in the individual, but actually what is occurring is that there is a severe dissociation and blockage between the source of consciousness and the individual's ordinary daily consciousness. The individual's mental processes (manas) are entirely at rest. That fact alone is beneficial, for the monkey mind (such as vikalpa) are absent. Here by the absence of the other vrttis, mental objectifications, and false identifications one can approach experiencing pure beingness to a great extent. Here rest and regeneration can be achieved. The yoga scriptures (Shastas) proclaim that deep sleep is very close to samadhi, because the discursive mind is absent (indeed it is nirvikalpa), but for samadhi to occur recognition or consciousness must also be present -- for absolute pure beingness to occur there must be mergence with absolute pure consciousness (as we shall see later on in the Yoga Sutras. However In deep dreamless sleep we are not conscious (abhava) of anything. Here also there are no objects of the mind, so pramana and Viparyayah is absent as well. Only in deep dreamless sleep, is consciousness entirely absent. Obviously any spiritual intent (bhava) is also latent.
Thus this state of dreamless sleep is restful because the discursive monkey mind is no longer chattering, but this is not yoga because it lacks consciousness. So to avoid the common outsider's misinterpretation of samadhi that it is a swoon, a self hypnotic state, or a self induced catatonia, Patanjali makes it clear that yoga is definitely about consciousness, not sleep. Rather yoga is about waking up which he clarifies unmistakably in Chapter 4. Also this example should make it clear that nirvikalpa samadhi is not the goal of yoga because in dreamless sleep there is no vikalpa). Rather the goal is nirbija samadhi which can only be accomplished through the merger of pure consciousness and pure existence where all suffering is dissolved -- In Sat-Chit-Ananda.
However we can take nidra to be not just deep dreamless sleep, but in any situation where the average man has their bhava (spiritual focus) severely distracted, subdued, and distorted. In fact most of mankind are deep asleep to Self, thus yoga becomes the process of awakening us to our true self (in swarupa) -- to our higher creative potential -- awakening the kundalini, latent Buddha nature, or innate potential Christ within, through the elimination (nirodha) of the vrtti. Thus in the integrity which is yoga, nidra can mean any awakened state including drowsiness, dullness of mind, or in a gross form a sluggish and stupor like ignorance. Bhava means spiritual intent, mood, or focus -- the divine passion and presence that twinkles in the eyes of a "turned-on" practitioner. Abhava then is the opposite, where divine passion or sacred mood is absent. As one progresses in yoga, the vrtti dissipate -- the citta is less turbulent, the spiritual passion increasingly becomes focused, and thus a greater inward clarity, calm, peace, and strength abides. Here, nidra becomes less dominant, and indeed in many realized souls ordinary sleep also ceases. In deep dreamless sleep with consciousness, yogic sleep is possible (yoga nidra). The sadhak (practitioner) increasingly becomes more awakened and attuned to divine presence -- beyond even the most subtle continuously without a break between night and day, but rather the integrity of the night and day is affirmed. Divine bhava awakens us to Self. This is called waking up from the sleep of ignorance (avidya) or mukti. Abiding increasingly "HERE" in All Our Relations -- devoid of inner psychic disturbances, tensions, conflict, or stress one will need less sleep to regenerate -- there is less to recover from.