Setting aside the subtler experiences: There are numerous subtle realm experiences that come to the yogi after the finer tool called samyama (3.4-3.6) becomes available. Each of these, in their own way, is experienced so as to uncover the truth (1.3) behind the false identities (1.4).
The suggestion is to set aside (1.2) as not-self all of the levels of our being and all the levels of discovery, seeing through the avidya or ignorance (2.5) by a process of discrimination (2.26-2.29) and non-attachment (1.15).
Powers or impediments: While some people see the coming of these experiences as powers (siddhis, psychic, or occult abilities) to be sought for furtherance of the ego identity, the true yogi sees these as nothing but the subtler clouds of attraction that are impediments to the realization of the Self. They are encountered, experienced, understood, and set aside (1.2, 3.38).
Reading these sutras on experiences: When reading these sutras, it is important to not feel that you must attain all of these experiences to progress on the path to Self-realization. Remember, these experiences and practices are done with the tool of samadhi, once that skill level is attained.
Seek the highest: There is a myth circulating that to experience the truth you must first be completely, 100% purified, and that is simply not true. First seek the direct experience of the top of the spiritual mountain, and then learn to purify the subtler aspects.
The later housecleaning: Surely there is stabilizing and purifying needed to attain that direct experience, but the final house cleaning is pursued after that realization. For some comfort in this, note that sutra 4.27-4.28 gives instructions on dealing with breaches in enlightenment. It means that one is not expected to have completed the process of purifying karma before realization of the highest, and that is good news for aspirants.
The name associated with an object, the object itself implied by that
name, and the conceptual existence of the object, all three usually
interpenetrate or commingle with one another. By samyama on the
distinction between these three, the meaning of the sounds made by all
beings becomes available.
Three kinds of table: The sutra speaks of three things: 1) the name associated with an object, 2) the object itself implied by that name, and 3) the conceptual existence of the object. To understand this, think of a table, and you will see that there are these three parts:
The three parts of table converge: However, in day-to-day usage, all three of these converge into one, unified experience, of table, in this example. However, the yogi wants to go far beyond the world of appearances. In the practice of this sutra, the samyama (3.4-3.6) is directed towards distinguishing these three. From that samyama, greater, subtler insight is attained.
Sound vibration is subtle reality: Many meditative traditions and spiritual traditions speak of the fundamental vibrations of the subtle and causal planes of reality as being sound vibrations, word, or mantra. Here, in this sutra, the instruction is that by discriminating between these three parts, the subtle sound is revealed, and through that revelation, the meaning of the sound is attained.
Mantra: One very practical example of the relationship between name, object, and conceptual existence is that of mantra. With mantra, one starts with the word or phrase itself, allowing the others to gradually become revealed. One might have a definition of sorts, but the real meaning comes in direct experience. Then comes the clarity of the distinction, as the subtler spiritual significance of the mantra stands alone. A most significant use of mantra was explained earlier in relation to OM Mantra. (1.23-1.29)
Through the direct perception of the latent impressions (samskaras) comes
the knowledge of previous incarnations.
Samskaras lead to karma: The samskaras originally led to our karma, and because of this the yogi wants to examine and eventually eliminate those samskaras. (See the article on Karma and the Sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts)
Past life regression can create further bondage: To a typical person seeking past life regression, there is a seeking out of a replay in the inner field of mind, so as to increase knowledge about ourselves. This is the coming through into the conscious state of the inner process from the subtle mind. It can have the effect of increasing ego and ignorance, as it leads one to think that these past memories are part of our self-definition. In effect, bondage of ignorance is increasing, not decreasing.
Samyama on the samskaras brings freedom: However, to the yogi doing samyama (3.4-3.6) on these deeper samskaras themselves (deep impressions), there comes increasing clarity about the way the samskaras have clouded the self-identity and obscured Self-realization. Thus, these past identities are not reinforced, but are attenuated (2.4) and set aside. They are not seen as self-identities, but as incorrectly perceived false identities. This leads to lesser bondage and greater freedom. (See also the article on Karma and the sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts)
By samyama on the notions or presented ideas comes knowledge of another's
Ideas are presented onto our own mind field: We, as inner observer, are actually watching the inner screen of our own mind field. Whether we are talking about the thought process of another person, or the data brought in through the eyes, ears, or other senses, that information is imprinted on our own field of mind, somewhat like a movie is projected on a screen. Then, we, as the inner observer, experience the presentation on that screen. Here's a brief outline of this process:
Observing what's on the screen: If we observe the inner screen in visual terms, we come to know the nature of the form, shape, and color of the objects on the screen, and from that we can intuit the nature of the actual object itself. The same is true for hearing. The important concept is that there is an intermediary, in that the data is imported, it is presented on the screen, and then we experience. That mental screen is the key concept.
Intuiting the thought impressions: If you observe the mental information on the screen, you not only get information about the data on the screen, but also intuit the nature of the source of that mental data, which is the mind of the other person. In this way, you come to know the general state of the conscious mind of the other person. However, you do not gain insight about the subliminal, deeper impressions or samskaras that were the driving force behind those conscious thoughts (as explained in the next sutra, 3.20).
Training our mind; not manipulating others: The point here is not to manipulate other people through some sort of mind control. The value is in seeing the way that your own mind is affected by the presented thoughts from others, along with the insights about the other mind from which they are being projected. From that we can deal with our own mental conditioning in response to that which might otherwise control our own actions, speech, and thoughts.
We can then gain freedom from our conditioning: If we can do that observation, we can gain insight about, and freedom from our own mental conditioning that is normally unconscious. This is yet one more aspect of the uncoloring (aklishta) of our own deep impressions, which has been mentioned throughout the Yoga Sutras (1.5, 2.1-2.9). It is our reaction that is the mental process to be purified. Recall that four attitudes were suggested in sutra 1.33 in relation to other people. These were based on the conditioning of our own mind, not changing the other people. Here, in Chapter 3 a subtler aspect of our mental processing is being described. It leads to increasing freedom from attachments and aversions (1.12-1.16).
But the underlying support of that knowledge (of the other persons mind, in
remains unperceived or out of reach.
The yogi is not viewing the other's deep impressions: The last sutra (3.19) described how the yogi can become aware of another person's mind, by the method of focusing on the effect (or imprint) of that other person's thought on the yogi's own mind. Here, in sutra 3.20, it is being acknowledged that the observing yogi also does not have access to the deeper source from which that thought process arose. Here is the same brief outline of the process that was in 3.20:
In other words, by samyama on the presented ideas or notions (#2), there comes knowledge about the nature of the mind of which the are a part. The deeper level of samskaras, which are the source of that more surface knowledge, (#1) is not available in this process of observation. Once again, the important part for our own sadhana (practice) is in dealing with the coloring of our own reactions to the mental process we experience.
When samyama is done on the form of one's own physical body, the
illumination or visual characteristic of the body is suspended, and is
thus invisible to other people.
See-ability is a characteristic associated with the body: One way to hold this principle is to recall that objects are composed of five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. While the subject of this sutra is not directly the chakras, the element of fire operates from the manipura (3rd) chakra. So also does the jnanendriya of seeing relate to fire and that chakra. By reflecting on this for a while, you will come to see that there is a relationship between the element of fire, which builds the body (both subtle and gross), and the sense of seeing. Thus, we come to see that the physical body contains a characteristic that can be called see-ability.
Withdrawing see-ability: Through samyama (3.4-3.6) on that form (which contains the see-ability), that characteristic can be neutralized or withdrawn. In effect, this makes the body invisible to other persons. There is a sort of logic twist that is needed in understanding this. That is, the yogi is not adding the quality of invisibility; rather he is withdrawing the quality of see-ability. Thus, once again, we see the consistency of Yoga in encountering, examining, and setting aside qualities (1.2, 3.38), so as to experience that which is subtler. Gradually, this process, in its many forms, brings ever greater stability in being disconnected from false identities (1.4), and dwelling in our true nature.
In the same way as described in relation to sight (3.21), one is able to
suspend the ability of the body to be heard, touched, tasted, or smelled.
The ability to be perceived is inherent in the object: In the same way that see-ability is an inherent characteristic of the body, as described in the last sutra, so too are hear-ability, touch-ability, taste-ability, and smell-ability inherent characteristics.
Those inherent characteristics can be suspended: Thus, these can also be suspended through samyama on the body in the context of those characteristics.
Karma is of two kinds, either fast or slow to manifest; by samyama on
these karmas comes foreknowledge of the time of death.
Like boiling a pot of water: Imagine that you put a pot of cold water on a stove to heat, and that you had complete information about all of the present conditions. You knew the exact volume of the water, exact temperature, barometric pressure, thickness of the pot, heat conductivity of the pot, and the exact amount of heat coming from the stove. Presuming you had precise information, you could calculate the exact moment that the water would come to a boil, and the exact moment that the last drop of water would evaporate into the air. The key to doing this is that you had accurate and complete information about the present state of all the factors, the here and now of the situation.
Knowing the state of karmas predicts the outcome: Similar to the pot of water example, if you know the precise situation of the samskaras, the deep impressions that drive your karmas (actions), then future information comes. In the case of water, it has to do with boiling. In the case of knowing the here and now of the samskaras and karmas, what comes is the precise timing of the coming of the departure called death.
Samyama on an attitude brings strength: By samyama (3.4-3.6) on the feeling of friendliness in relation to another person who is friendly comes great strength in relation to having an attitude of friendliness.
A finer fulfillment of the four attitudes: In sutra 1.33, it was suggested that four attitudes be cultivated to stabilize the mind. While that is done on a gross level directly with other people, and in personal reflections, the deeper experience of these practices comes with the ability to perform samyama (3.4-3.6) on these:
Samyama on other attitudes: Any of the virtuous attitudes that the yogi wants to cultivate can be done through deep meditation, by directly focusing on that attitude through samyama (3.4-3.6). This is one of the reasons that it is said that meditation is ultimately the highest form of therapy and self-transformation. It gives one the ability to go directly to the core of the problem and the solution.
What about the fruits?: Think of all the benefits that might come from having perfected friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and acceptance. Many, many fruits would come. Recall the many fruits that were enumerated in sutras 2.35-2.45 in relation to living the Yamas and Niyamas. When these fruits start to come, they might be very alluring, and could easily pull one from the path of Self-realization. This is the reason that non-attachment is an essential companion throughout the journey and is one of the two foundation principles of Yoga (1.12-1.16).
By samyama on the strength of elephants comes a similar strength.
Samyama on any form of strength: The elephant is an extremely strong animal and is native to the many of the areas where sages have roamed for thousands of years. Thus, the elephant is naturally seen as a symbol of strength. By samyama (3.4-3.6) on the form of strength in the elephant, that form of strength comes. By samayama on the strength of other animals, the sky, the oceans, or other objects, a similar strength comes. Remember that we are talking about a very deep form of attention, not merely reflecting on, and trying to pretend to have that strength. Samyama means concentration, meditation, and samadhi, all three, on that object of strength.
By directing the flash of inner light of higher sensory activity,
knowledge of subtle objects, those hidden from view, and those very
distant can be attained.
Sensation was used to stabilize the mind: The practice of pursuing subtler sensory experience was started with sutra 1.35, for the purposes of stabilizing the mind. In the sutras of that section, the aspirant would focus on one or the other of several objects (1.33-1.39), or whatever was found to be pleasing (1.39).
Inner light was also used to stabilize the mind: Pursuing the inner light was also one of the methods suggested to stabilize the mind in the earlier sutras (1.36). Thus, both the sensory awareness and light have had some foundation preparation prior to the coming of these subtler practices in this current sutra. As is the case throughout Yoga, the process is of starting with the gross or outer, and going ever subtler and inner.
The inner light dawned: Later, after having learned to practice the eight rungs of Yoga (2.26-2.29) for the purpose of attaining the skill of samyama (3.4-3.6), the inner light fully dawned (3.5) through that practice of samyama.
Now that inner light is directed: Now, in this sutra (3.26) it is being explained that this awakened inner light resulting from samyama, is itself directed towards any subtle object, even those which are normally hidden or are very distant.
The tool is now complete: In this way, the deeper exploration of the whole of the subtleties can be explored. We now have completed the tool development process (3.4-3.6). In the forthcoming several sutras some of those subtle objects are enumerated. Once again, it is a process of encountering, experiencing, and renouncing even these subtler experiences.
By samyama on the inner sun, knowledge of the many subtle realms can be
Finding the sun: The inner sun is to be found only in meditation. It is accessible through the sushumna channel, the thin milky white stream of energy that courses through the center of the chakras. Through meditation on centers such as the heart (anahata chakra) or the space between the eyebrows (ajna chakra), the sun will eventually be revealed. To clear the clouded mind so as to be able to find this sun is one of the key reasons for all of the various practices of Yoga.
The realms and non-attachment: The realms, regions, or universes are vast, and for one seeking Self-realization these are encountered and set aside through higher non-attachment (1.15-1.16) and grace. The commentary on this sutra by the sage Vyasa describes seven such worlds (Many of the better translations include the commentary by Vyasa).
Gross, subtle, causal realms: For descriptions of the levels of the gross, the subtle realms, the causal beyond, and also the higher consciousness, see these articles elsewhere on the website:
By samyama on the moon, knowledge of the arrangement of the inner stars
can be known.
Moon is a reflection of the sun: One who is not experiencing the self-illuminating inner sun may experience the inner moon, which is but a reflection. Through samyama (3.4-3.6) on that reflection, knowledge of inner stars is revealed. Eventually that will lead back to the pursuit and attainment of the sun. As with the sun, this inner moon can only be found in meditation. The stars are encountered, experienced, and set aside through non-attachment (1.15-1.16) and grace.
By samyama on the pole-star, knowledge of the movement of those stars can
The stars move around a center: When the inner stars, points of light are known, their movement can be experienced by focusing samyama (3.4-3.6) on the central star, the pole-star. The stars are seen to be the subtle counterpart of the gross, and are encountered, experienced, and are also set aside through non-attachment (1.15-1.16) and grace.
By samyama on the navel center, knowledge of the arrangement of the
systems of the body can be known.
The center of the body's energy system: The thousands of energy systems operate through this center, and thus samyama (3.4-3.6) on that center reveals the nature of those systems. These too are encountered, experienced, and are also set aside through non-attachment (1.15-1.16) and grace.
By samyama on the pit of the throat, hunger and thirst leave.
Cessation of thirst and hunger: Once again, an effect is attained by samyama (3.4-3.6) on the related object. Samyama on the throat relates to, and causes the cessation of thirst and hunger. Any sense of attainment related to this is also experienced and set aside through non-attachment (1.15-1.16).
By samyama on the tortoise channel, below the throat, steadiness is
Attaining steadiness: By samyama on this energy channel (nadi), there comes steadiness of a tortoise. Recall that a preliminary level of steadiness of meditation posture is attained by focusing on the infinite (2.47).
By samyama on the coronal light of the head, visions of the siddhas, the
masters can come.
Visions of the masters: Visions of the perfected ones comes by following the inner coronal light of the crown of the head, whether encountered at the crown or through the ajna chakra, the eyebrow center.
Or, through the intuitive light of higher knowledge, anything might become
Higher intuition may come: Recall that at this point samyama (3.4-3.6) is regularly within reach. At this stage, intuitive knowledge comes much more easily.
By practicing samyama on the heart, knowledge of the mind is attained.
Knowledge of the heart: By samyama on that knowledge of the heart, the field of mind called chitta becomes known. The process of observing the functions of mind begins at an early stage of stabilizing and clearing the mind, but here it is become far more refined.
The having of experiences comes from a presented idea only when there is a commingling of the subtlest aspect of mind (sattva) and pure
consciousness (purusha), which are really quite different. Samyama on the
pure consciousness, which is distinct from the subtlest aspect of mind,
reveals knowledge of that pure consciousness.
To have an experience, there has to be a partnership: First, think of two different aspects of being: pure consciousness and the subtlest aspect of mind. If the pure consciousness (purusha) were to stand alone (3.56), that would be the enlightened state being sought by Yoga (1.3). The pure consciousness would simply rest in its own pure being. However, for there to be experiences, whether pain or pleasure, that pure consciousness has to make an alliance, or commingle with the mind so as to have such experiences. If there were no mind, then there would be no experience. This is a subtle aspect of the process of avidya or ignorance, where there is a clouding of the underlying discrimination (2.3-2.6)
Then a presented idea can be experienced: With the coming of that alliance or commingling of pure consciousness and subtlest mind, any idea or impression presented, whether from the basement of the mind or the senses, can be experienced. Without that alliance between consciousness and subtlest mind there would be no experience. Either the mind would not operate due to the lack of consciousness (like a bulb without electricity), or consciousness would rest in its enlightened state (like electricity without a bulb).
The two are usually entangled: The pure consciousness and the subtlest mind are usually quite entangled or enmeshed. This is actually the reason we do not experience Self-realization (1.4). Once that most subtle entanglement happens, then layer upon layer of further entanglement occurs, until we find ourselves lost in the external world, trying to reverse the process, so as to find the Truth we intuitively know we have lost.
Reversing the entanglement: Here, in this sutra, is being introduced the extremely subtle samyama (3.4-3.6) that will break this finest, earliest stage of enmeshment between the pure consciousness and mind (in the broadest sense of mind). It is built on all of the earlier practices of stabilizing the mind, and purifying the many levels. Now, at this level, the final barrier is being crossed. It happens by the subtlest tool being focused on through samyama. Namely, purusha, or pure consciousness itself becomes the object of meditation and samyama. (see the article Prakriti and Its Evolutes: Returning to Self-Realization)
Can we do this from the beginning?: We might like to do this practice from the very beginning of our practices, but very, very few have the clarity of mind for such a practice. Theoretically, it is possible, but most will do better by systematically purifying the many levels of mind so that this can be be done. Recall that subtle discrimination was the very reason for the eight rungs of Yoga (2.26-2.29).
Buddhi as a tool and an obstacle: Recall the principle of buddhi being the aspect of mind that knows, decides, judges, and discriminates. From the level of the external world, trying to move inward, buddhi is an extremely useful and essential tool. However, if we are eternally pure beings that are one with the whole of the universe, then who carved up that universe in the first place? It was this same buddhi, only the finest level, called sattvic buddhi (note the word sattva above in the Sanskrit).
From the light of the higher knowledge of that pure consciousness or
purusha (3.36) arises higher, transcendental, or divine hearing, touch,
vision, taste, and smell.
Using the gross and subtle senses as tools: The further inward one goes on the journey, the greater are the tools for inquiry, as well as increasing distractions. The senses (indriyas) operate not only at the gross level, but also at these very subtle levels. Attention is trained in the external world so as to learn of the false identities and set them aside with non-attachment. When that attention becomes very subtle, the same process is repeated at those levels, revealing the false identities and setting those aside as well.
------- 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
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.