Posts Tagged With: Yoga Philosophy

Yoga Philosophy: Yoga Sutra-s I.3

Yoga Sutra I.3

tadā draṣṭu svarūpe avasthānam = then the ability to understand
the object fully and correctly is apparent

  • tadā  – then; point in time
  • draṣṭu – the Seer; the internal observer
  • svarūpe  – essential nature; one’s own form
  • avasthānam – established; state of experience, state of consciousness

Sun EyeSutra I.2 discusses that yoga is the ability to direct the mind in a chosen location for a sustained period of time. When this happens we reach Sutra I.3. At that point, the Seer is established in its own form and there is clarity. Thus, this sutra speaks of:

The 2 results of Yoga

1. Established in the nature of the Seer
2. Now we have clarity with the outside world

This sutra indicates the process of self-understanding, self-acknowledgment, and clarity. The result of yoga is clarity. Accurate perception happens when we are in a state of yoga. Why? Because the influence of the mind is reduced and the Seer is increased. The nature of the Seer, the Eye, is to see clearly.

This is the first time we see the word “Seer” so naturally we must ask, what is the Seer? According to this sutra, the Seer is “That which Sees”. This is akin to what the West would call God, what the Buddhists would call Pure Nothingness, and what others would call Light or Pure Energy. These 3 together make up the Seer; pure Consciousness, the Observer, Self-generating Light. All of these indicate what our true essence actually is.

Therefore, by being able to direct the mind through concentration (Sutra I.2), we are able to reach our true nature, the Seer, and therefore we are able to see everyone and everything from a place of clarity without the usual coloring that we tend to add to our experiences. These subjective colors are added to our experiences because we are not connected to this deeper place inside of us on a daily basis.

Experiential Reflections

Some questions to inquire further on this Sutra:

  • What does clarity mean to me?
  • What are the moments that I have clarity? How do I know?
  • What are the moments that I don’t have clarity? How do I know?
  • What does the Seer mean to me?
  • How do I know when I’m connected to the Seer? What does my life look like at these times?
  • How do I know when I’m not connected to the Seer? What does my life look like at these times?
  • Do I even want to be established in the Nature of the Seer and have clarity with the outside world? What would this mean for my life as a whole? What changes would I have to make? Am I willing to make them?

Sutra I.4 to follow…

Photo By: Ivan Mikhaylov

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Yoga Philosophy: Yoga Sutra-s I.1

Beach FootstepsFor the next several months we will be exploring Book I; Samadhipadah in the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali. This is the definitive text which forms the foundational concepts and practices of Yoga.

Each month we will break down sutra by sutra unraveling the intended threads that have been written in a chronological format leading the reader through the world of yoga.

Each sutra contains a plethora of knowledge within a few words beautifully capturing that which can only be experienced.

We begin the first book (four total) with the first sutra in an attempt to explore and experience…

Yoga Sutra I.1

atha yogānuśāsanam = here begins the authoritative instruction on yoga

Atha = now, auspicious beginning, commitment, readiness
Yoga = the subject matter
Anuśāsanam = experiential teaching, not theoretical

This sutra is known as the pratijna sutra which means it is a vow or a promise sutra.

“Atha”: has many different connotations and it sets the meaning of the entire text:

  • Means an auspicious beginning. A ritual or blessing before beginning. It means let this begin well. “a” is the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. We need an auspicious beginning because it is a path we will be going down for a long time. Because it is a difficult path to endure it sets the tone by starting us off on a positive note.
  • Means “now”. Now indicates the letting go of things in order to start now and do yoga in the present moment. It is asking us to be present, be aware, to be attentive now. Yoga is practicing the experience of the present moment.
  • Means readiness. This sutra is asking us if we are ready for yoga. Yoga is a do-it-yourself approach and one must be ready to endure the various thoughts, emotions and reactions that surface through this practice.
  • Means commitment. This is where the vow comes in. Commitment is necessary because it is not an easy road. You will face your darkness, your shadows. Here, one must trust oneself and forge ahead through the muck of ourselves to get to connect to the Light within. This takes commitment and choice. Often times we  do not commit because doubt creeps in and relinquishes faith in oneself.

“Yoga”: is the subject matter, what we are about to embark on and study.

“Anusasanam”: This is experiential teaching, not theoretical. Because of this, the instruction carries some authority with it. Patanjali, the sage responsible for writing the Yoga Sutra-s recognizes that he is not the source of this knowledge but rather through practice has experienced certain understandings and moved beyond theory. Thus, it becomes important to learn yoga from someone who is experiencing yoga as it implies that the teacher has had these experiences and is now passing it on.

atha yogānuśāsanam is therefore also about the student-teacher relationship = atha (student) yoga (the link) anuśāsanam (teacher). From this relationship the teachings of yoga are passed down in a way that maintains the integrity of yoga as much as possible.

Experiential Reflections

From this direct translation with some commentary, how does one begin then? How does one have an experience? Well, here are some questions for the next few weeks for self-inquiry to guide the process (feel free to whip out a pencil and pad…this can be a doozy!) before we continue to Yoga Sutra I.2:

  • Why is it difficult to explore oneself? Who am I actually? What are my shadows?
  • What does beginning mean? Ending? What is their relationship?
  • What does “now” actually mean? What are the implications here for the future and the past for us when we are present?
  • What does ready mean to me? When have I been ready? When I have not been ready? What am I getting ready for?
  • What does commitment mean to me? Who or what am I committing to? Have I ever been committed to anyone or anything?
  • What are my doubts? Fears?
  • If yoga is the subject matter, what we are studying, then what do I think yoga actually is?

And the final question with a supposed answer – if these are experiential teachings then why the heck am I answering all these questions?? Well, the experience is in the actual process so through processing self we also experience something else…Self (capital used to emphasize who we are beyond the masks we wear). This then gets us in touch with our true teacher, the one that resides within us with a little help from our friends (other yoga teachers) who have been and continue going through this ever evolving process that is spirit moving through human form.

To auspicious beginnings…


  • Reflections on Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali by TKV Desikachar
  • Liberating Isolation: The YogaSutra of Patanjali by Frans Moors
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda
  • Four Chapters on Freedom by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

*These texts will be used for all following posts regarding the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali*

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