Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

By William Q. Judge

Means of Concentration

1. The practical part of Concentration is, Mortification, Muttering, and Resignation to the Supreme Soul.

What is here meant by "mortification" is the practice laid down in other books, such as the Dharma S'astra, which includes penances and fastings; "muttering" is the semi-audible repetition of formulae also laid down, preceded by the mystic name of the Supreme Being given in Aphorism 27, Book I; "resignation to the Supreme Soul," is the consigning to the Divine, or the Supreme Soul, all one's works, without interest in their results.

2. This practical part of concentration is for the purpose of establishing meditation and eliminating afflictions.

3. The afflictions which arise in the disciple are Ignorance, Egoism, Desire, Aversion, and a tenacious wish for existence upon the earth.

4. Ignorance is the field of origin of the others named, whether they be dormant, extenuated, intercepted, or simple.

5. Ignorance is the notion that the non-eternal, the impure, the evil, and that which is not soul are, severally, eternal, pure, good, and soul.

6. Egoism is the identifying of the power that sees with the power of seeing.

I.e. it is the confounding of the soul, which really sees, with the tool it uses to enable it to see, viz. the mind, or — to a still greater degree of error — with those organs of sense which are in turn the tools of the mind; as, for instance, when an uncultured person thinks that it is his eye which sees, when in fact it is his mind that uses the eye as a tool for seeing.

7. Desire is the dwelling upon pleasure.

8. Aversion is the dwelling upon pain.

9. The tenacious wish for existence upon earth is inherent in all sentient beings, and continues through all incarnations, because it has self-reproductive power. It is felt as well by the wise as the unwise.

There is in the spirit a natural tendency, throughout a Manvantara, to manifestation on the material plane, on and through which only, the spiritual monads can attain their development; and this tendency, acting through the physical basis common to all sentient beings, is extremely powerful and continues through all incarnations, helping to cause them, in fact, and re-producing itself in each incarnation.

10. The foregoing five afflictions, when subtile, are to be evaded by the production of an antagonistic mental state.

11. When these afflictions modify the mind by pressing themselves upon the attention, they are to be got rid of by meditation.

12. Such afflictions are the root of, and produce, results in both physical and mental actions or works, and they, being our merits or demerits, have their fruitage either in the visible state or in that which is unseen.

13. While that root of merit and demerit exists, there is a fructification during each succeeding life upon earth in rank, years, pleasure, or pain.

14. Happiness or suffering results, as the fruit of merit and demerit, accordingly as the cause is virtue or vice.

15. But to that man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, all mundane things are alike vexatious, since the modifications of the mind due to the natural qualities are adverse to the attainment of the highest condition; because, until that is reached, the occupation of any form of body is a hindrance, and anxiety and impressions of various kinds ceaselessly continue.

16. That which is to be shunned by the disciple is pain not yet come.

The past cannot be changed or amended; that which belongs to the experiences of the present cannot, and should not, be shunned; but alike to be shunned are disturbing anticipations or fears of the future, and every act or impulse that may cause present or future pain to ourselves or others.

17. From the fact that the soul is conjoined in the body with the organ of thought, and thus with the whole of nature, lack of discrimination follows, producing misconceptions of duties and responsibilities. This misconception leads to wrongful acts, which will inevitably bring about pain in the future.

A. The Universe, including the visible and the invisible, the essential nature of which is compounded of purity, action, and rest, and which consists of the elements and the organs of action, exists for the sake of the soul's experience and emancipation.

19. The divisions of the qualities are the diverse, the non-diverse, those which may be resolved once but no farther, and the irresolvable.

The "diverse " are such as the gross elements and the organs of sense; the "non-diverse," the subtile elements and the mind; the "once resolvable," the intellect, which can be resolved into undifferentiated matter but no farther; and the "irresolvable," indiscrete matter.

20. The soul is the Perceiver; is assuredly vision itself pure and simple; unmodified; and looks directly upon ideas.

21. For the sake of the soul alone, the Universe exists.

The commentator adds: "Nature in energizing does not do so with a view to any purpose of her own, but with the design, as it were, expressed in the words 'let me bring about the soul's experience.'"

22. Although the Universe in its objective state has ceased to be, in respect to that man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, it has not ceased in respect to all others, because it is common to others besides him.

23. The conjuncture of the soul with the organ of thought, and thus with nature, is the cause of its apprehension of the actual condition of the nature of the Universe and of the soul itself.

24. The cause of this conjuncture is what is to be quitted, and that cause is ignorance.

25. The quitting consists in the ceasing of the conjuncture, upon which ignorance disappears, and this is the Isolation of the soul.

That which is meant in this and in the preceding two aphorisms is that the conjuncture of soul and body, through repeated reincarnations, is due to its absence of discriminative knowledge of the nature of the soul and its environment, and when this discriminative knowledge has been attained, the conjuncture, which was due to the absence of discrimination, ceases of its own accord.

26. The means of quitting the state of bondage to matter is perfect discriminative knowledge, continuously maintained.

The import of this — among other things — is that the man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation maintains his consciousness, alike while in the body, at the moment of quitting it, and when he has passed into higher spheres; and likewise when returning continues it unbroken while quitting higher spheres, when re-entering his body, and in resuming action on the material plane.

27. This perfect discriminative knowledge possessed by the man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, is of seven kinds, up to the limit of meditation.

28. Until this perfect discriminative knowledge is attained, there results from those practices which are conducive to concentration, an illumination more or less brilliant which is effective for the removal of impurity.

29. The practices which are conducive to concentration are eight in number: Forbearance, Religious Observances, Postures, Suppression of the breath, Restraint, Attention, Contemplation, and Meditation.

30. Forbearance consists in not killing, veracity, not stealing, continence, and not coveting.

31. These, without respect to rank, place, time, or compact, are the universal great duties.

32. Religious Observances are purification of both mind and body, contentment, austerity, inaudible mutterings, and persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul.

33. In order to exclude from the mind questionable things, the mental calling up of those things that are opposite is efficacious for their removal.

34. Questionable things, whether done, caused to be done, or approved of; whether resulting from covetousness, anger, or delusion; whether slight, or of intermediate character, or beyond measure; are productive of very many fruits in the shape of pain and ignorance; hence, the "calling up of those things that are opposite" is in every way advisable.

35. When harmlessness and kindness are fully developed in the Yogi [he who has attained to cultivated enlightenment of the soul], there is a complete absence of enmity, both in men and animals, among all that are near to him.

36. When veracity is complete, the Yogi becomes the focus for the Karma resulting from all works good or bad.

37. When abstinence from theft, in mind and act, is complete in the Yogi, he has the power to obtain all material wealth.

38. When continence is complete, there is a gain of strength, in body and mind.

It is not meant here that a student practising continence solely, and neglecting the other practices enjoined, will gain strength. All parts of the system must be pursued concurrently, on the mental, moral, and physical planes.

39. When covetousness is eliminated, there comes to the Yogi a knowledge of everything relating to, or which has taken place in, former states of existence.

"Covetousness" here applies not only to coveting any object, but also to the desire for enjoyable conditions of mundane existence, or even for mundane existence itself.

40. From purification of the mind and body there arises in the Yogi a thorough discernment of the cause and nature of the body, whereupon he loses that regard which others have for the bodily form; and he also ceases to feel the desire of, or necessity for, association with his fellow-beings that is common among other men.

41. From purification of the mind and body also ensure to the Yogi a complete predominance of the quality of goodness, complacency, intentness, subjugation of the senses, and fitness for contemplation and comprehension of the soul as distinct from nature.

42. From contentment in its perfection the Yogi acquires superlative felicity.

43. When austerity is thoroughly practised by the Yogi, the result thereof is a perfecting and heightening of the bodily senses by the removal of impurity.

44. Through inaudible muttering there is a meeting with one's favorite Deity.

By properly uttered invocations — here referred to in the significant phrase "inaudible mutterings," the higher powers in nature, ordinarily unseen by man, are caused to reveal themselves to the sight of the Yogi; and inasmuch as all the powers in nature cannot be evoked at once, the mind must be directed to some particular force, or power in nature — hence the use of the term "with one's favorite Deity."

45. Perfection in meditation comes from persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul.

46. A posture assumed by a Yogi must be steady and pleasant.

For the clearing up of the mind of the student it is to be observed that the "postures" laid down in various systems of "Yoga" are not absolutely essential to the successful pursuit of the practice of concentration and attainment of its ultimate fruits. All such "postures," as prescribed by Hindu writers, are based upon an accurate knowledge of the physiological effects produced by them, but at the present day they are only possible for Hindus, who from their earliest years are accustomed to assuming them.

47. When command over the postures has been thoroughly attained, the effort to assume them is easy; and when the mind has become thoroughly identified with the boundlessness of space, the posture becomes steady and pleasant.

48. When this condition has been attained, the Yogi feels no assaults from the pairs of opposites.

By "pairs of opposites" reference is made to the conjoined classification, all through the Hindu philosophical and metaphysical systems, of the opposed qualities, conditions, and states of being, which are eternal sources of pleasure or pain in mundane existence, such as cold and heat, hunger and satiety, day and night, poverty and riches, liberty and despotism.

49. Also, when this condition has been attained, there should succeed regulation of the breath, in exhalation, inhalation, and retention.

50. This regulation of the breath, which is in exhalation, inhalation, and retention, is further restricted by conditions of time, place, and number, each of which may be long or short.

51. There is a special variety of breath regulation which has reference to both that described in the last preceding aphorism and the inner sphere of breathing.

Aphorisms 49, 50, 51 allude to regulation of the breath as a portion of the physical exercises referred to in the note upon Aphorism 46, acquaintance with the rules and prescriptions for which, on the part of the student, is inferred by Patanjali. Aphorism 50 refers merely to the regulation of the several periods, degrees of force; and number of alternating recurrences of the three divisions of breathing — exhalation, inhalation, and retention of the breath. But Aphorism 51 alludes to another regulation of the breath, which is its governance by the mind so as to control its direction to and consequent influence upon certain centers of nerve perception within the human body for the production of physiological, followed by psychic effects.

52. By means of this regulation of the breath, the obscuration of the mind resulting from the influence of the body is removed.

53. And thus the mind becomes prepared for acts of attention.

54. Restraint is the accommodation of the senses to the nature of the mind, with an absence on the part of the senses of their sensibility to direct impression from objects.

55. Therefrom results a complete subjugation of the senses.




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