We know that the ultimate “goal” of yoga is to truly know one’s Self, leading to pure knowledge of the soul (purusa), devoid of distraction or hindrance from Nature (Prakrti). As we have been navigating the third chapter in The Yoga Sutras of Patanajali with our monthly discussion group, we are learning about all the “naturally super” powers (vibhutis) that come with the practice of integration (samyama) throughout various spheres of our Nature (Prakrti). The point being, that these “powers”, no matter how esoteric or energetic or “out there” they may seem, are only by-products of the practice of yoga still within the realm of Nature (Prakrti) and not yet within our pure knowledge of Self. In truth, the “powers” can actually become impediments to our continued practice, working in the realm of ego and manipulation unless treated to the same discerning attention and awareness as even our most basic habits and obstacles.
Our next three sutras for discussion make this clear – that though the “powers” bring great intelligence, spiritual knowledge and heightened senses, we must still turn our minds toward practice at every step…the “powers” are not the goal.
The translations of these sutras come from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar – however, any translation may be used for discussion.
III.36 : By samyama (integration), the yogi easily differentiates between intelligence and the soul which is real and true.
III.37 : Through that spiritual perception, the yogi acquires divine faculties of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. He can even generate these divine emanations by his own will.
III.38 : These attainments are impediments to samadhi (enlightenment), although they are powers active in life.
The differentiation between the last layer of consciousness still working in the realm of Nature (Prakrti) and the pure consciousness of the soul (purusa) is the discriminative factor of the mind (sattva-buddhi). Even for a very integrated person, this differentiation is difficult to discern. However, when we come to this understanding, we are able to access divine elements and senses of Self – we become “illuminated”. But, as with everything yoga, can we come to a detached state even from those divine powers, can they be tools and not distractions.
- Continue to contemplate the difference between intelligence of the head and intelligence of the heart. How about intelligence of the soul?
- Are there accomplishments within yoga that you have attached to as a “goal” or “end point” ? Can you acknowledge accomplishment and then let it go?
- What keeps you searching for “something more” within your yoga practice or other aspects of life? What is “satisfaction” to you?
- Have you found “heightened senses” acquired through practice? In what way?