Omnipotence and Omniscience


We are coming closer and closer to the end of the Third Chapter in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. With that, comes subtler and subtler knowledge and even more amazing “powers” acquired through yoga.

In our last discussion, we finished up the sutras covering the full knowledge of the senses, which leads toward knowledge closely aligned with the soul (purusa). The process of knowing from the gross to the subtle aspects of Prakrti (Nature) are mastered – the sense organs themselves are mastered, then the study of the actual subtle sense in relation to the organ, then the study of the ego in relation to that sense, and then the study of the underlying gunas to each sense, all are understood. Once this process is mastered, we are left acting within the last thin veil between purusa and prakrti – the last layer that lies between our True Self and all that we have now learned is not-Self.

Acting in that final layer is akin to “moving at the speed of the soul”. Because of this mastery over our external self, the mind is no longer hindered by any element of body or distracted consciousness. At this stage, we see clearly the primordial energetic make-up of all things (the three gunas) and can even distinguish between them. This leads to the powers of omnipotence and omniscience as the creative energy of rajas and the inert energy of tamas are both subdued and the balanced, light energy of the soul, sattva, prevails.

I made the observation in discussion that sometimes this “process of knowing” through yoga feels like we are digging ourselves out from underneath a huge pile of rubbish, but at other times it feels as simple as making that tiny scratch in a blacked out window to let the light stream through.

Approaching the end of this chapter also means we are approaching the “final goal” of yoga itself. The entire fourth chapter is meant to describe what that experience of full spiritual freedom, kaivalya, is. But, we do still have a few sutras to go before that happens. The following are the next three sutras we will discuss on Aug 7th. All translations are from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar.

III.51 : By destruction of the seeds of bondage and the renunciation of even these powers, comes eternal emancipation.

III.52 : When approached by celestial beings, there should be neither attachment nor surprise, for undesirable connections can occur again.

III.53 : By samyama (integration) on moment and on the continuous flow of moments, the yogi gains exalted knowledge, free from the limitations of time and space.

Patanjali in the above sutras warns again of the need for full detachment and non-grasping within even our most amazing or powerful experiences. No matter what attachments might come on ANY level of our enlightenment, there is still a danger of falling back into the ego and utilizing the powers for sensual enjoyment and not towards the final aim of complete freedom and pure consciousness. We have to check in and question ourselves constantly about what we are grasping for or hoping to attain through yoga. Are we able to be in the present moment no matter what it provides? What powers of knowledge do we use for good or for mere power over others?

There are only three more sutras in this chapter after these, so we will finish the third chapter with our September meeting. In October we will start from the beginning of the Yoga Sutras with chapter one. I hope you will join us!

Next meeting is August 7th via ZOOM at 11:00am CST – it is free and all who are interested are welcome! SIGN UP HERE!

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Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.