Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Home / Publication Library / Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali / The Essential Nature of Isolation

Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

By William Q. Judge

The Essential Nature of Isolation

1. Perfections of body, or superhuman powers are produced by birth, or by powerful herbs, or by incantations, penances, or meditations.

The sole cause of permanent perfections is meditation performed in incarnations prior to that in which the perfection appears, for perfection by birth, such as the power of birds to fly, is impermanent, as also are those following upon incantations, elixirs and the like. But as meditation reaches within, it affects each incarnation. It must also follow that evil meditation will have the result of begetting perfection in evil.

2. The change of a man into another class of being — such as that of a celestial being — is effected by the transfusion of natures.

This alludes to the possibility — admitted by the Hindus — of a man's being altered into one of the Devas, or celestial beings, through the force of penances and meditation.

3. Certain merits, works, and practices are called "occasional" because they do not produce essential modification of nature; but they are effective for the removal of obstructions in the way of former merit, as in the case of the husbandman who removes impediments in the course of the irrigating stream, which then flows forward.

This is intended to further explain Aphorism 2 by showing, that in any incarnation certain practices [e.g. those previously laid down] will clear away the obscurations of a man's past Karma, upon which that Karma will manifest itself; whereas, if the practices were not pursued, the result of past meditation might be delayed until yet another life.

4. The minds acting in the various bodies which the ascetic voluntarily assumes are the production of his egoism alone.

5. And for the different activities of those various minds, the ascetic's mind is the moving cause.

6. Among the minds differently constituted by reason of birth, herbs, incantations, penances, and meditation, that one alone which is due to meditation is destitute of the basis of mental deposits from works.

The aphorism applies to all classes of men, and not to bodies assumed by the ascetic; and there must always be kept in view the doctrine of the philosophy that each life leaves in the Ego mental deposits which form the basis upon which subsequent vicissitudes follow in other lives.

7. The work of the ascetic is neither pure nor dark, but is peculiar to itself, while that of others is of three kinds.

The three kinds of work alluded to are (1) pure in action and motive; (2) dark, such as that of infernal beings; (3) that of the general run of men, pure-dark. The 4th is that of the ascetic.

8. From these works there results, in every incarnation, a manifestation of only those mental deposits which can come to fructification in the environment provided.

9. Although. the manifestation of mental deposits may be intercepted by unsuitable environments, differing as to class, place, and time, there is an immediate relation between them, because the memory and the train of self-reproductive thought are identical.

This is to remove a doubt caused by Aphorism 8, and is intended to show that memory is not due to mere brain matter, but is possessed by the incarnating ego, which holds all the mental deposits in a latent state, each one becoming manifest whenever the suitable bodily constitution and environment are provided for it.

10. The mental deposits are eternal because of the force of the desire which produced them.

In the Indian edition this reads that the deposits remain because of the "benediction." And as that word is used in a special sense, we do not give it here. All mental deposits result from a desire for enjoyment, whether it be from a wish to avoid in the next life certain pain suffered in this, or from the positive feeling expressed in the desire, "may such and such pleasure always be mine." This is called a "benediction." And the word "eternal" has also a special signification, meaning only that period embraced by a "day of Brahma," which lasts for a thousand ages.

11. As they are collected by cause, effect, substratum, and support, when those are removed, the result is that there is a non-existence of the mental deposits.

This aphorism supplements the preceding one, and intends to show that, although the deposits will remain during "eternity" if left to themselves — being always added to by new experiences and similar desires — yet they may be removed by removing producing causes.

12. That which is past and that which is to come, are not reduced to non-existence, for the relations of the properties differ one from the other.

13. Objects, whether subtile or not, are made up of the three qualities.

The "three qualities" are Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas, or Truth, Activity, and Darkness: Truth corresponding to light and joy; Activity to passion; and Darkness to evil, rest, indifference, sloth, death. All manifested objects are compounded of these three.

14. Unity of things results from unity of modification.

15. Cognition is distinct from the object, for there is diversity of thoughts among observers of one object.

16. An object is cognized or not cognized by the mind accordingly as the mind is or is not tinted or affected by the object.

17. The modifications of the mind are always known to the presiding spirit, because it is not subject to modification.

Hence, through all the changes to which the mind and soul are subject, the spiritual soul, I's'wara, remains unmoved, "the witness and spectator."

18. The mind is not self-illuminative, because it is an instrument of the soul, is colored and modified by experiences and objects, and is cognized by the soul.

19. Concentrated attention to two objects cannot take place simultaneously.

20. If one perception be cognizable by another, then there would be the further necessity for cognition of cognition, and from that a confusion of recollection would take place.

21. When the understanding and the soul are united, then self-knowledge results.

The self-knowledge spoken of here is that interior illumination desired by all mystics, and is not merely a knowledge of self in the ordinary sense.

22. The mind, when united with the soul and fully conversant with knowledge, embraces

universally all objects.

23. The mind, though assuming various forms by reason of innumerable mental deposits, exists for the purpose of the soul's emancipation and operates in co-operation therewith.

24. In him who knows the difference between the nature of soul and mind, the false notion regarding the soul comes to an end.

The mind is merely a tool, instrument, or means, by which the soul acquires experiences and knowledge. In each incarnation the mind is, as it were, new. It is a portion of the apparatus furnished to the soul through innumerable lives for obtaining experience and reaping the fruit of works performed. The notion that the mind is either knower or experiencer is a false one, which is to be removed before emancipation can be reached by soul. It was therefore said that the mind operates or exists for the carrying out of the soul's salvation, and not the soul for the mind's sake. When this is fully understood, the permanency of soul is seen, and all the evils flowing from false ideas begin to disappear.

25. Then the mind becomes deflected toward discrimination and bowed down before Isolation.

26. But in the intervals of meditation other thoughts arise, in consequence of the continuance of old impressions not yet expunged.

27. The means to be adopted for the avoidance and elimination of these are the same as before given for obviating the afflictions.

28. If the ascetic is not desirous of the fruits, even when perfect knowledge has been attained, and is not inactive, the meditation technically called Dharma Megha — cloud of virtue — takes place from his absolutely perfect discriminative knowledge.

The commentator explains that, when the ascetic has reached the point described in Aphorism 25, if he bends his concentration toward the prevention of all other thoughts, and is not desirous of attaining the powers resulting just at his wish, a further state of meditation is reached which is called "cloud of virtue," because it is such as will, as it were, furnish the spiritual rain for the bringing about of the chief end of the soul — entire emancipation. And it contains a warning that, until that chief end is obtained, the desire for fruits is an obstacle.

29. Therefrom results the removal of the afflictions and all works.

30. Then, from infinity of knowledge absolutely free from obscuration and impurity, that which is knowable appears small and easy to grasp.

31. Thereupon, the alternation in the modifications of the qualities, having accomplished the soul's aim — experience and emancipation — comes to an end.

32. It is then perceived that the moments and their order of precedence and succession are the same.

This is a step further than Aphorism 53, Book III, where it is stated that from discrimination of ultimates of time a perception of the very subtle and recondite principles of the universe results. Here, having arrived at Isolation, the ascetic sees beyond even the ultimates, and they, although capable of affecting the man who has not reached this stage, are for the ascetic identical, because he is a master of them. It is extremely difficult to interpret this aphorism; and in the original it reads that "the order is counterpart of the moment." To express it in another way, it may be said that in the species of meditation adverted to in Aphorism 53, Book III, a calculative cognition goes forward in the mind, during which, the contemplator not yet being thoroughly master of these divisions of time, is compelled to observe them as they pass before him.

33. The reabsorption of the qualities which have consummated the aim of the soul or the abiding of the soul united with understanding in its own nature, is Isolation.

This is a general statement of the nature of Isolation, sometimes called Emancipation. The qualities before spoken of, found in all objects and which had hitherto affected and delayed the soul, have ceased to be mistaken by it for realities, and the consequence is that the soul abides in its own nature unaffected by the great "pairs of opposites" — pleasure and pain, good and evil, cold and heat, and so forth.

Yet it must not be deduced that the philosophy results in a negation, or in a coldness, such as our English word "Isolation" would seem to imply. The contrary is the case. Until this state is reached, the soul, continually affected and deflected by objects, senses, suffering, and pleasure, is unable to consciously partake universally of the great life of the universe. To do so, it must stand firmly "in its own nature"; and then it proceeds further — as is admitted by the philosophy — to bring about the aim of all other souls still struggling on the road. But manifestly further aphorisms upon that would be out of place, as well as being such as could not be understood, to say nothing of the uselessness of giving them.


May I's'wara be near and help those who read this book.




Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2020 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.