Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

Home 

 

 

 

Yoga Sutras 4.7-4.8: 
Actions and Karma
(Previous Next Main)

Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.The previous sutras (4.4-4.6) explained the emergence of mind and the foundation for its mastery. Here, in the sutras of this section, are described the nature of actions and karma. 

Three kinds of actions: All actions are one of three kinds: white (good, useful), black (bad, not useful), and mixed (shades of gray). The white, black, or mixed actions each bring consequences and deep impressions in the basement of the mind field. They later arise and cause further actions in alignment with those impressions.

Breaking the cycle: The significance of understanding these three colorings and the cycling process is in the next section (4.9-4.12), which talks about the subtler aspects of the process, and how to break the chain of cycling and recycling. 

        top

4.7 The actions of yogis are neither white nor black, while they are threefold for others.
(karma ashukla akrisnam yoginah trividham itaresam)

  • karma = actions stemming from the deep impressions of samskaras
  • ashukla = not white
  • akrisnam = nor black
  • yoginah = of a yogi
  • trividham = threefold
  • itaresam = of the others

Three kinds of actions: All actions are one of three kinds: white (good, useful), black (bad, not useful), and mixed (shades of gray). All of us have an instinctive sense of what is white, black, or mixed. The discrimination between these three comes from the aspect of mind called buddhi.

The colored actions leave deep impressions: This is the important part of these two sutras in this section. The white, black, or mixed actions each bring consequences and deep impressions in the basement of the mind field. They later arise and cause further actions in alignment with those impressions.

For advanced yogis, actions are not colored: If the advanced yogi has mastered all levels of the inner process (1.2) then he or she is completely resting in awareness of the true nature of the Self (1.3), and is not identified with the other thought patterns (1.4). Then these three colorings of white, black, or mixed do not apply. This can be difficult to understand without glimpses of direct experience.

For others: This ability to avoid coloring is most likely not the condition of those who are reading this, so the other case is what is important. It means that actions are white (good, useful), black (bad, not useful), or mixed (shades of gray) for the majority of aspirants. In the next sutra, it is explained that the fruits from those actions are stored with corresponding colorings. Thus, when they eventually play out, they will be colored as black, white, or mixed.

Learning a new habit: While most aspirants have the habit of black, white, or mixed actions leading to consequences, a new habit can gradually be formed. Recall that one of the two foundation principles is vairagya, or non-attachment (1.12-1.16). As non-attachment gradually comes through the many practices, this habit of coloring with consequences lessens. Gradually, there are fewer consequences or colorings (kleshas, 1.5, 2.1-2.9), which come from actions.

Breaking the cycle: Descriptions of breaking the cycle will be continued in the next section (4.9-4.12).

        top

4.8 Those threefold actions result in latent impressions (vasanas) that will later arise to fruition only corresponding to those impressions.
(tatah tad vipaka anugunanam eva abhivyaktih vasananam)

  • tatah = from that, thence
  • tad = that, their
  • vipaka = fruition
  • anugunanam = following, corresponding to, accordingly
  • eva = only
  • abhivyaktih = manifest
  • vasananam = latent potencies, potentials, subliminal imprints

Impressions match the actions: Whether actions are white, black, or mixed, the resulting deep impressions (vasana) will also be of a similar nature. They too will be white, black, or mixed.

  • White: Actions that are white (good, useful) result in deep impressions that are also white (good, useful). 
  • Black: Actions that are black (bad, not useful) result in deep impressions that are also black (bad, not useful). 
  • Mixed: Actions that are mixed (shades of gray) result in deep impressions that are also mixed (shades of gray).

When those deep impressions once again arise to the surface, driving further actions, speech, and thoughts, those too will have similar leanings. They can be altered through sadhana (spiritual practices) and deciding to follow different courses of actions.

 

The next sutra is 4.9 

Home   Top 


 

 

-------

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
Yoga Nidra CD
Swami Jnaneshvara