During the last meeting of the Yoga Sutra discussion group we navigated the reason for the relationship between purusa (the seer, pure consciousness) and Prakrti (the seen, Nature). This relationship is the foundation for the practice of yoga itself. “Life” is the conjunction of our individual, unchanging, and transcendent consciousness traveling with and through the ever-changing and always disrupting Nature. Our pure consciousness gets disturbed, sullied, and covered by all the experiences and attachments that we collect over our lifetime or lifetimes, so our minds become fluctuating and distracted. The practice of yoga is here to diminish those fluctuations and help us remember who we truly are, but in each moment it is our choice to travel the road toward our true nature or stay caught in the cycle of sensory drama.
This is where the development of wisdom and discernment comes in. Avidya is the ignorance or the forgetting of our true self and is the ultimate obstacle we encounter in life. Because Nature is appealing and overcomes the senses, we easily are fooled that who we “think” we are or who we have built through our own minds and possessions is the truth. The eight limbs of yoga teach us to look at all the aspects of our own Nature to begin to piece apart what is actually transitory and what is that pure unchanging consciousness.
The next sutras we will discuss on Sunday, Sept 27th at 11:00am are in the second chapter, numbers 24-29. These highlight this main obstacle of AVIDYA and remind us that developing wisdom and knowledge is where the eight limbs of yoga are to take us.
Yoga Sutra II.24 : Lack of spiritual understanding (avidya) is the cause of the false identification of the seer with the seen.
Yoga Sutra II.25 : The destruction of ignorance through right knowledge breaks the link binding the seer to the seen. This is kaivalya, emancipation.
Yoga Sutra II.26 : The ceaseless flow of discriminative knowledge in thought, word and deed destroys ignorance, the source of pain.
Yoga Sutra II.27 : Through this unbroken flow of discriminative awareness, one gains perfect knowledge which has seven spheres.
Yoga Sutra II.28 : By dedicated practice of the various aspects of yoga impurities are destroyed; the crown of wisdom radiates in glory.
Yoga Sutra II.29 : Moral injunctions, fixed observances, posture, regulation of breath, internalization of the senses towards their source, concentration, meditation, and absorption of consciousness in the self, are the eight constituents of yoga.
Though “yoga” is often translated as “union”, within these sutras we see that in order to ultimately “unite” with our true Self, we must first discern what we are NOT. And we also see here a reminder of the needed qualities of “practice” (abhyasa) stated in the well-known Yoga Sutra I.14 – “Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the foundation for restraining the fluctuations (of consciousness)”.
I hope to see you on September 27th for our next Yoga Sutra Discussion! All are welcome, free to participate, and each meeting stands alone in case you have yet to join.