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The Teachings of Yoga (Part 17: Gaining Knowledge – Higher Truths)

6 January 2014

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – Chapter 1: (Gaining Knowledge of Higher Truths; Sutras 1.47-1.48)

Yoga Sutra (1.47)nirvichara vaisharadye adhyatma prasadah. Nirvichara means beyond reflection or devoid of subtle thoughts (nir = without, vichara = subtle thoughts); Vaisharadye is experience, skill (with undisturbed flow); Adhyatma is the absolute, superior or spiritual  (regarding the Atman or true Self); Prasadah means clarity, purity or illumination.

Translated this means…As one gains proficiency in the undisturbed flow in nirvichara, a purity and luminosity of the inner instrument of mind is developed. More simply put: If you regularly experience the clearest of the four aforementioned states known as nirvichara samapatti, then you are about to experience a state of absolute clarity.

Commentary: Nirvichara samadhi is not the final goal. Instead it is a moment like taking a deep breath before jumping into an abyss. Traditional commentators say that just a glimpse of the true inner Self instantly shows us, that all the world we thought we knew was only a shadow realm constructed of our own hopes and fears. This experience of true Self-awareness, even if it is fleeting, gives us something more real than all that we previously believed was reality.

It is easy to get trapped into thinking that the goal of yoga practice is to seek out and hold onto this understanding of the deepest Self. But Patanjali and other sages say, “No.” This hard-won treasure, one that is so rare that few experience, must itself be relinquished to something even bigger, because even clinging to the most pure and “luminous” understanding of ourselves still maintains a separation from all others. The Bhagavad Gita says that this “inner shining” or sattva, as true and pure and deep as it seems, still binds us and separates us from the Divine Absolute.

Yoga Sutra (1.48)ritambhara tatra prajna. Ritambhara means filled with higher truth (ritam = truth, bhara = full, pregnant; Tatra is there or then; Prajna means true knowledge, wisdom or insight.

Translation…Then consciousness will be filled with only the truth. Along with the purity and luminosity mentioned in the last sutra (1.47), which came from proficiency in nirvichara, there also comes a wisdom that is filled with the higher truth.

This sutra implies that we are to understand that there are a variety of types of knowledge or wisdom. We must also realize that the wisdom of nirvichara samadhi the not the only valid form.  Vyasa says that insight is gained from three valid sources: scripture, logic, and meditation. Other sages go on to say that the “eager practice” of all three paths of knowledge is needed. But most commentators agree that all types are not of equal value, although the different ways of knowing each have their place.

Next we will continue with yoga sutra 1.49 where Patanjali will emphasize the differences between the insight of deep samadhi and the other ways of knowing or understanding. But he still will not invalidate all the other sources of knowledge. As we progress, moving from place to place, whether in our lives, our minds, or our hearts, the kind of wisdom that will helps us changes with each stage.

*Part 16 may be viewed by clicking on: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 16: Types of Engrossments, cont.)

*For part 15, click on: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 15: Types of Engrossments)

*For part 14, click on: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 14: After the Mind is Stable)

*For part 13, click on: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 13: Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind, cont.) Links to parts 7 through 12 may be found at the bottom of part 13. Links to parts 1 through 6 may be found at the bottom of Page 7

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

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