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





Yoga Sutras 4.22-4.26: 
Buddhi, Discrimination,
and Liberation
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.The nature of discrimination: The finest aspect of mind and individuality is like the reflection in a mirror. It is there, yet not there; you can see it, but you cannot grasp it. Discrimination has been introduced as the means of Self-realization (2.26-2.29, 3.4-3.6), and in earlier sutras has been applied to gross and subtle levels of reality and mind.

The finest discrimination: Here, in this section, the highest, or final stage of that discrimination is described. It is the discrimination between the finest aspect of mind and individuality, and pure consciousness (4.26).

See also the article:
Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind


4.22 When the unchanging consciousness appears to take on the shape of that finest aspect of mind-field (4.18), then the experience of one's own cognition process is possible. 
(chitteh apratisamkramayah tad akara apattau sva buddhi samvedanam)

  • chitteh = of the mind, of the consciousness of the mind-field
  • apratisamkramayah = unchanging, not moving
  • tad = that
  • akara = form
  • apattau = assumed, transformed into, reflection
  • sva = own
  • buddhi = knowing, knower
  • samvedanam = knows, identifies, experience

Like the reflection on a mirror: Think of the reflection on a mirror. There appears to be something there but try as you will, you cannot physically grasp the objects that appear in the mirror. They are there, yet are not there. However, by virtue of that reflection you are able to know, to experience. It is somewhat like that with consciousness, or purusha. It provides the light or life force so that the subtlest aspect of mind-stuff can operate, yet like with the mirror, it cannot itself be grasped and is unchanging. It is as if the consciousness, though unchanged, wraps itself around the subtle object called mind, and, in turn, all of the objects of the mind. This has been described in the beginning of the Yoga Sutras as the essential obstacle to be transcended, or disidentified with. (1.4).

The tool must be set aside: By realizing the extremely subtle nature of how the consciousness allows the mind-field to be active, it is evident that to know the absolute, unchanging Truth or Reality, one must let go of even this finest instrument. Through that letting go, the experience of the unchanging, eternal consciousness is there, standing alone, and this is the experience of Self-realization. It is the meaning of resting in one's True nature that is introduced in the beginning of the Yoga Sutras (1.3).


4.23 Therefore, the mind field, which is colored by both seer and seen, has the potential to perceive any and all objects.
(drastri drisya uparaktam chittam sarva artham)

  • drastri = seer
  • drisya = seen
  • uparaktam = colored
  • chittam = of the mind, of the consciousness of the mind-field
  • sarva = any, all
  • artham = objects

Seer can perceive anything: By virtue of the fact that both the seer and the objects seen reflect in the same field of mind (4.22), the seer then has the potential capacity to perceive any and all of the possible objects.

It is all set aside: However, understanding how the whole process of mind works, including the way the seer sees the seen (2.17), and the nature of the colorings of kleshas (1.5, 2.3), all of these objects are set aside in a spirit of non-attachment (1.15, 1.16) so that there can be liberation (4.25, 4.26).


4.24 That mind field, though filled with countless impressions, exists for the benefit of another witnessing consciousness, as the mind field is operating only in combination with those impressions.
(tad asankheya vasanabhih chittam api parartham samhatya karitvat)

  • tad = that
  • asankheya = countless
  • vasanabhih = latent potencies, potentials, subliminal imprints, impressions
  • chittam = of the mind, of the consciousness of the mind-field
  • api = though, also
  • parartham = for another
  • samhatya = in combination with
  • karitvat = action

Like electricity and a computer: Consciousness and a computer system work somewhat similarly. A computer system has many different parts, but each one of them has electricity flowing through it to varying degrees. There is information presented visually through the monitor, and this comes from electricity. There is sound coming out the speakers and this is also coming from electricity. When we ask what is at the heart of the computer, we answer that it is the microchip, even though many of us do not know what a microchip looks like. But there is something subtler than the microchip, and that is the electricity that is allowing the microchip to operate.

Similarly, this sutra is pointing out that however subtle we go in our exploration of the depths of the mind, that mind itself gets its life force from pure consciousness, like the electricity and the computer. This pure consciousness is the Reality that we want to experience, unalloyed even by the subtlest aspect of mental process. (No metaphor is perfect, so it is important to note that while the computer operates for the external user, it is the other way around with consciousness. The mind field operates for the benefit of the consciousness.)


4.25 For one who has experienced this distinction between seer and this subtlest mind, the false identities and even the curiosity about the nature of one's own self come to an end.
(vishesa darshinah atma bhava bhavana vinivrittih)

  • vishesa = distinction
  • darshinah = of one who sees
  • atma = Self
  • bhava = in the nature of, in relation to
  • bhavana = projection, feeling, reflection
  • vinivrittih = complete cessation

The questions evaporate in understanding: All of the questions of life eventually boil down to only a few, such as: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? After the yogi has explored the many currents and cross currents of the gross and subtle mind, there comes the realization of the separateness from all of these levels and pure consciousness. It is then, that all of these questions cease. It is not a case that they are analytically answered in logical words. Rather, the questions are resolved; they simply evaporate in understanding.


4.26 Then the mind is inclined towards the highest discrimination, and gravitates towards absolute liberation between seer and seen.
(tada viveka nimnam kaivalya pragbharam chittam)

  • tada = then
  • viveka = discrimination, discernment
  • nimnam = incline towards
  • kaivalya = liberation, independence from
  • pragbharam = gravitate towards
  • chittam = of the mind, of the consciousness of the mind-field

The final inclination: When even the subtlest questions of life subside (4.25), there is only one direction left to go, and that is towards the realization of the absolute reality that is beyond. This is not a case of a lethargic mind having no question about the meaning of life; such a mind has not even entered the path of Self-realization. Rather, it comes from having questioned, explored, searched, and longed, through the gross, subtle, and causal levels, until finally, the point of the final discrimination (2.26-2.29) stands in front of the seeker.


The next sutra is 4.27 

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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.