yoga sutras – eighth exploration: inward gracious felicity


Monach of Love – Rassouli

Sutra I – 47:

“Proficiency in a state devoid of any thought movement results in inward gracious felicity of disposition.”

In our exploration of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we have been following the thread of citta-vrtti-nirodha. This key concept of yoga can be said to be “the state of being in which the ideational choice-making movement of the mind slows down and comes to a stop” – which happens on its own. Now, close to the end of Part One of the Yoga Sutras, this Sutra number 47 speaks of the results of becoming proficient in this state. Continue reading

yoga sutras – seventh exploration: explosion of existential authenticity


Beach Cave Where I Spent Time in Contemplation

Beach Cave Where I Spend Time in Contemplation

When the objects of the mind no longer hold attraction one explodes from the center into existential authenticity. This authenticity is new and fresh moment to moment. It is spontaneous seeing and doing without separation or lag.

One is drawn to the emptiness in the break between thoughts, between breaths. As one remains there longer and longer the emptiness increases. It becomes the only thing that one desires and it holds one’s attention, like a beloved, even in the midst of all other movements. Continue reading

yoga sutras – sixth exploration: steady state of mind

“(The mind in the yogic state of Samapatti) is like a pure crystal which reflects the colors of an object brought into its proximity, but which neither receives not retains any stain on its body such as can be seen when the object is moved away from it. And even while reflecting the colors of an adjacent object, it absorbs no stain and remains wholly uninvolved in the colors it reflects.” Continue reading

the flame of pure seeing

22 July, 2014

unwavering flame I

The flame that burns abhinivesa and completely incinerates that sense of self-importance leaving no residue; then this flame of pure seeing burns without wavering.

[This Sanskrit term abhinivesa is central to the understanding in Yoga of the root cause for all tensions that result in our world of chaos, sorrow and confusion. It is translated as the generally all-pervading sense of self-importance that builds the core of the ego structure and, finally, arises as the fear of not continuing to exist: the fear of death. Yoga Sutra II-9]

flame of seeing

yoga – steady state of mind – sixth exploration

This post is an excerpt of the text on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “The Authentic Yoga” by P.Y. Deshpande, in which he gives an excellent overview from Sutra 4 to Sutra 44. This concise exposition of most of Part I of the Yoga Sutras will require some contemplation on the part of those readers who are not already familiar with the terminology and logic of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, thus it is not a “quick read”, but rather a resource for the earnest student of this path.
Continue reading

Fourth Exploration: Ahimsa – Life Free of Violence

Ahimsa denotes an attitude and a mode of behavior towards all living creatures based on the recognition of the underlying unity of life.” (1)

This says it all: Can I viscerally feel that the person, plant or animal (and even a supposedly inanimate object) in front of me is really part of the One Being which I am?

Here again, I come upon that special symbol “I”. It is so close to me that it is very difficult to observe it and see what its truth is. A direct experience once gave me a wonderful perspective. On my day off, sitting on the porch in Belize where I lived then, I began to hear “I”… “I” … “I” coming from all the plants nearby, and also the stones and other objects, like the vehicles parked in the drive. Every form, whether sentient or inanimate was “speaking” this “I”.

The experience lasted for some minutes (timeless minutes) and created a living connection to all that was in my field of perception. A true “innerstanding” arose in me that corresponded to my experiential insights while using psychotropic substances 30 years earlier: Oneness is not a metaphor but the simple, “ordinary” fact of what is.

The symbol “I” and the thought that it expresses is actually what Existence calls Itself. In my ignorance of this fact, caught in the delusion of being a separate entity, I see this “I” as referring to the ego, but that is a mistaken perception.

Here is the voice of an Indian sage on this topic:

“O mind, what are you searching?

Inside and outside it is one only.

It is the concept that makes you feel inside and outside.

Once the earthen pot bearing the name Nanak is broken, by getting rid of the concept that I am the body, where is inside and outside?

It is “I” only prevailing everywhere.

Like the fragrance in a flower, like an image in a mirror, this sense of “I-am-ness” is felt in the body.

Abide in the sense of “I-am-ness” and you shall be liberated.”

Guru Nanak (2.)

and another modern sage, Ramana, puts it thus:

“…not even uttering the word “I”, one should inquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’?” Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I-I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared.” (3.)

From this experience a gentleness of mind began to develop that now, eleven years later, has replaced my former injured and fearful mind that was prone to violence when threatened. The violence was generally subtle passive-aggressive behavior and other forms of attempting to protect myself, but nonetheless it was violence as understood in the yoga sutras.

Ahimsa is the first of the five yamas of the yoga sutras, which can be understood to be existential imperatives for anyone on the Path of Yoga (see “Third Exploration”).


hims = to strike

himsa = injury or harm

a – himsa = opposite of this, avoidance of violence

As this is the first of the yamas, one of the principal precepts of medical ethics “First, do no harm.” comes to mind. Before I consider any action, I need to be mindful of this precept before all else. Since the discipline of yoga encompasses all levels of human activity (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), this “do no harm” refers to all thought, words and deeds.

So I recognize that thoughts, feelings and physical actions may cause harm and I am therefore called upon to consider the repercussions of what I do, think and feel. Of course I feel that I want to refrain from causing harm so as to live a life of high integrity. The Path of Yoga tells me further that any such actions will create vrttis in my energy field and thus prevent the mind-stuff (citta) from subsiding into resonance with the greater whole.

My deepest inner goal of Unity Consciousness is thus a powerful driving force to adhere to this yama. Greater conscious experience with the dynamic of vrttis arising allows me to monitor my overall frequency, such that I often notice the inception of vrttis of this type. I can then ‘cease and desist’ at their first budding, before they gain momentum and pull me into the whirlpool of emotional turbulence. It is this turbulence, accompanied by blind reactivity born of ignorance that makes violence possible.

(1.) I.K Taimni, The Science of Yoga, p. 210

(2.) quoted by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

(3.) Sri Ramana Maharshi, Self-Inquiry p. 6

Third Exploration — Yamas – Existential Imperatives

An imperative is a command. Existential imperatives (yamas) are commands of Existence Itself. In other words, it is just the way things are. If I acknowledge them and live in accordance with them, then I can move with the movement of Existence rather than be at odds with It.

For me, the power of the yoga sutras is not in edicts, such as: “Do this!” and “Don’t do that!”. It lies in the fact that the sutras merely point out how this mysterious thing called consciousness works; what some of the basic laws are that seem to govern it; and how it is possible to abide by these laws in order to come out of the state of fragmented consciousness. Simply stated, when fragmentation in my consciousness subsides, unity consciousness is revealed as the default of my conscious existence. It is my birthright.

Therefore, the study of these sutras on the existential imperatives that are the “yamas” in the yoga sutra system, is crucial to my living the yoga marga (path of yoga).

The pertinent sutra (II, 30) is:


ahimsa = non-violence, do no harm, recognition of the underlying unity of life

satya = truthfulness

asteya = abstaining from stealing, honesty, refraining from misappropriation

brahmacarya = refraining from waste of vital force and self-indulgence, freedom from attachment to objects of sensual enjoyment

aparigraha = non-possessiveness, non-accumulation, non-attachment to “stuff”

Future explorations will expand on each of these yamas.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

This is a short introduction to tell you a bit about the Yoga Sutras and Patanjali.

“In (the) basic literature of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali stand out as the most authoritative and useful book. In its 196 Sutras the author has condensed the essential philosophy and technique of Yoga in a manner which is a marvel of condensed and systematic exposition.” I.K. Taimni, The Science of Yoga viii

Patanjali, who is thought to have lived in the third and second centuries BCE, wrote the Yoga Sutras as a compilation of teachings that had been passed down over thousands of years.  

“Indian philosophical works employ the sutra method of exposition – terse, close-knit, packed so densely with meaning – that a commentary on each sutra is necessary.

Sutra means ‘thread’. The English word ‘suture’ and its Latin root sutura are linked etymologically with the Sanskrit sutra. The condensed statements are strung together to outline a philosophy. Sutra has a secondary meaning ‘aphorism’. Just as a thread binds together a number of beads in a rosary, in the same way the underlying continuity of idea binds together in outlining the essential aspects of a subject,’ says Mr Taimni (89).” James Hewitt, The Complete Yoga Book, 408

Sanskrit sutras are like a scientific language that places several words together in a certain order like a formula. The actual meaning opens up to the reader according to the deeper contemplation of the whole formula. So each reader receives a unique transmission suitable to his/her ability at the moment. Thus I can read the same sutra a year later and it means something slightly different.

The mind can read a superficial intellect-based English equivalent rather quickly and “skim over the surface” of a sutra, but what a sutra wants to transmit is only “grokked” in meditation on what it points to – like the finger pointing to the moon: the finger is not the moon.

The Yoga Sutras form a definitive understanding of how consciousness works and can be seen as the result of research through deep meditation by generations of sages down through time. I was inspired by them some 22 years ago to embark on the journey of living their wisdom and to reflect on my practical experiences in light of these powerful aphorisms.