Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali

Theoretically, there is no reason why we should not achieve the state of perfect yoga within the space of a single second— since the Atman is eternally within us and our ignorance of this fact could be instantaneously dispelled. Practically, however, our progress is retarded by our past karmas, our present fears and desires, and the relative strength of our

These two aphorisms deal with Ishwara's attribute of omniscience. If we admit the existence of knowledge—no matter how limited—in man, we must deduce from it the existence of infinite knowledge in God. Further, granted that everybody must have a teacher, Patanjali reasons that the teacher of the first teacher can only have been God, since He alone, being timeless, was

It will be noticed that nearly all distractions listed by Patañjali come under the general heading of tamas. Sloth is the great enemy—the inspirer of cowardice, irresolution, self-pitying grief, and trivial, hair-splitting doubts. Sloth may also be a psychological cause of sickness. It is tempting to relax from our duties, take refuge in ill-health and hide under a nice warm

God has many aspects, and so there are innumerable approaches to him. Patañjali will deal with some of them, later, in detail. This aphorism simply stresses the importance of single-mindedness. When the aspirant has chosen his ideal form of the Godhead and his way of approaching it, he must hold fast to that. Some people are apt to be too

The word used here by Patañjali is prana. Prana actually means energy—the vital energy which we draw into ourselves from the surrounding universe. Since this energy is obtained primarily by breathing, we may translate prana as "breath" in this particular context. First, we must note that Patañjali sees control of the mind as a psychophysical problem.

Because most of us are naturally sceptical, despite our affirmed "beliefs," we need to be reassured that the powers of mind over matter really exist. Despite countless, well documented experiments, carried out under the strictest laboratory conditions, we still smile apologetically when we speak of telepathy, precognition and the phenomena of mediumship. If we have studied the subject at all,

The ancient yogis believed that there was an actual centre of spiritual consciousness, called "the lotus of the heart," situated between the abdomen and the thorax, which could be revealed in deep meditation. They claimed that it had the form of a lotus and that it shone with an inner light. It was said to be "beyond sorrow," since those

By "a dream experience" Patañjali means a dream about a holy personality or a divine symbol. Such dreams can properly be called experiences, because they bring a sense of joy and revelation which remains with us after we have awaked. In the literature of Indian spirituality we fmd many instances of devotees who dreamed that they received a mantram from

One of the most attractive characteristics of Patañjali’s philosophy is its breath of vision, its universality. There is no attempt here to impose any particular cult upon the light of his presence—no matter how dimly it shines through the layers of our ignorance—that we fashion our own pictures and symbols of goodness and project them upon the outside world.

The various objects of concentration here referred to have already been discussed in the commentary upon aphorism 17 of this chapter. The state of yoga (which Patanjali now calls by its technical name, samadhi) may be achieved on each succeeding level of phenomena; we may begin with the outwardness of objects and penetrate toward the utmost inwardness of individuality.