The Teachings of Yoga (Part 9: Samadhi Attained by Devotion)

13 December 2013

The Teachings of Yoga (Part 9: Samadhi attained by devotion)

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – Chapter 1: (Samadhi attained by devotion; Sutras 1.23-1.24)

Patanjali uses the next few sutras to focus on the concept of Ishvara  in the framework of yoga. Early writings often used Ishvara to mean “master.” A yogesvara was therefore a “master of yoga.” Ishvara is derived from the root is, meaning to rule or to own, and is translated by many modern commentators with terms such as Supreme God, Lord, and Divine (with form). In the Upanishads, the word Īśvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness. Thus,  as opposed to some other religious concepts, God is not a being that sits on a high pedestal or cloud high up in the sky along with the sun, moon, and stars; God is the actual state of Ultimate Reality. But due to the lack of direct experience, God has been personified (given form) and given various names and features by religions throughout the history. When someone expands their individual consciousness to the Universal Consciousness, it is called Self-realization, for the individual self has realized the unity of all diverse things, the very underlying principle, or “Universal Self”, constituting all forms and names. The great sages of the Upanishads avoid the confusions related to various religious conceptions of God and encourage students of yoga to be honest and sincere in their quests for Self-realization.

As Christopher Isherwood aptly noted in “How to Know God,” we can’t imagine or conceptualize the true reality of God, but we are able to understand a personalized God. In yoga, this personalized God is a reflection of the connection that we may find through concentration, meditation and samadhi.

But it is necessary to keep in mind that God as experienced through Isvara is still an object, and the experience of separation between ourselves and the object of our devotion remains intact until in the end, we must release even this devotion if we are to attain asamprajnata (objectless) samadhi. This requires a huge leap of faith, and one that our egos will constantly resist.

On to the sutras…

Yoga Sutra (1.23) – ishvara pranidhana va. Ishvara means creative source, personal God, supreme Guru or teacher; Pranidhana is dedication, devotion (surrendering of fruits of practice); Va means “or”, also.

Translated this may mean…From a process of dedicated devotion and releasing into the creative source from which we originated (Ishvara pranidhana), the arrival at the state of samadhi is near. Or, in other words…The goal (Samadhi) can also be attained via submission to the concept of a Ishvara (personal God).

So, through sincere, dedicated, and devoted practice to the pure consciousness known as Ishvara, God, or Guru, the results of samadhi will come more quickly; this is much like a type of short cut, or a more direct route to the center of consciousness.

Yoga Sutra (1.24) – klesha karma vipaka ashayaih aparamristah purusha-vishesha ishvara. Klesha means colored, painful, afflicted or impure, (the root klish means to cause trouble);  Karma means actions and effects; Vipaka equals the fruits of, or maturing (ripening); Ashayaih means by the vehicles, accumulations, mental deposits in the unconscious; Aparamristah is untouched, unaffected; Purusha-Vishesha a special, distinct consciousness, (purusha = a consciousness; vishesha = special, distinct); Ishvara is a creative source, personal God, supreme Guru or teacher.

Translated this may mean…That creative source (referring to Ishvara) is a particular consciousness (purusha) that is unaffected by colorings or afflictions (kleshas), actions (karmas), or the results of those actions that will happen when latent impressions arise and cause those actions. B.K.S. Iyengar translates this sutra, thusly: God (Ishvara) is the supreme Being, totally free from conflicts, unaffected by actions and untouched by cause and effect.

Stay tuned as this series continues with Yoga Sutra (1.25)…

*Part 8 may be viewed by clicking on: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 8: Effort & Commitment – Cont.)

*Part 7: The Teachings of Yoga (Part 7: Effort & Commitment) – and parts 1 through 6 may be found at the bottom of part 7.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

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