both effort and commitment are required

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Part 7

Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 7

Effort & Commitment – Yoga Sutras (1.19 – 1.20)

Yoga Sutras 1.19 and 1.20 describe two kinds or types of aspirants, both of whom can attain the goals of Yoga:

  1. Advanced, born with true insight: These aspirants are those who have made tremendous advancement in previous lives and find Samadhi easy to attain (1.19).
  2. Others: Most of those that aspire to be yogis are of this type, which means following the five types of effort and commitment outlined by Patanjali (1.20).

Beginning with Yoga Sutra (1.19) – bhava pratyayah videha prakriti layanam. Bhava comes from the Sanskrit root bhu to be or become; Pratyayah is content of mind, true perception; Videha means bodiless or incorporeal; Prakriti represents nature, creative cause; Layanam is merged into, becoming one with.

Translated this means: Some who have attained higher levels (videhas) or know un-manifest nature (prakritilayas), are drawn into birth in this world by only a few remaining latent impressions of ignorance.

When such impressions remain, the aspirant retains the possibility (and the cause) of rebirth. These impressions can persist even after being freed from the present body and after becoming integrated with one’s own or the cosmic nature. This type more naturally comes to the states of Samadhi.

This sutra applies to only a few rare people. Most need to follow the second path, which is the five-fold path outlined in the next sutra (1.20).

Yoga Sutra (1.20) – shraddha virya smriti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham. Shraddha means trust, certainty, faith or conviction. Virya is energy, conviction, determination. Smriti equals memory, recollections and mindfulness. Samadhi is deep absorption of meditation, ecstasy and the goal of yoga. Prajna is wisdom and discernment. Purvakah means coming before, preceeding; Itaresham means of (or for) others.

This sutra is commonly translated to mean … Others follow a five-fold systematic path to lay the groundwork by which the higher Samadhi (Asamprajnata Samadhi) is attained. These five principles and practices form a very simple, straightforward guide outlining the personal commitments necessary to properly follow the path of Self-realization. It benefits one to memorize these five, reflecting on them often. This five-point means of orientation works in conjunction with the eight limbs of Yoga – introduced later in Sutra (2.28).

The five attitudes, goals and efforts to cultivate are as follows:

  1. Shraddha: Developing the faith that you are going in the right direction
  2. Virya: Committing the energy to go there
  3. Smriti: Cultivating memory and mindfulness
  4. Samadhi: Seeking the states of samadhi
  5. Prajna: Pursuing the higher wisdom

By cultivating a practice of constant remembrance of these five types of efforts and commitments, the specific practices of each are all understood in a simple step-by-step process. This helps immensely to inspire the aspirant to follow through on performing the actual practices suggested throughout all the Yoga Sutras.

Swami Prabhavananda’s comment on this sutra: “The concentration of the true spiritual aspirant is attained through faith, energy, remembrance, absorption and illumination.”

~Rae Indigo

Coming up next in this series, Part 8 – (Effort & Commitment, cont.), Yoga Sutras 1.21 – 1.22.

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