drsta = seen anushravita = heard visaya = objects vitrshnasya = who has control over desires vasikara = mastery samjna = consciousness vairagyam = aligning with what is
I feel that this isn’t just about asceticism and renouncing things we want, and could also be something we naturally grow into or already are without realising it. Similar to the unconditional love that a parent has for a child that is just giving, doesn’t need anything in return and just flows out without any effort.
abhyasa vairagya abhyam tan nirodah अभ्यासवैराग्याअभ्यां तन्निरोधः
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.12
abhyasa = practice, repetition vairagya = aligning with what is abhyam = together tan = they nirodah = supress, restrain
This could be interpreted in so many ways.
I quite like the idea that it means take repeated action towards what you think you want, but without attachment to the result of the action. While trusting that even if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, it somehow brought you closer to what you ultimately want.
abhava pratyaya alambana tamo vrttir nidra अभावप्रत्ययाअलम्बना तमोवृत्तिर्निद्र
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.10
nidra = sleep
abhava = non-existent pratyaya = impression alambana = based (on) tamo (tamas) = void, inertia, darkness vrttir = thought
I love sleeping people – they look so calm and at peace. The translations I read described this as being about deep, dreamless sleep. It’s interesting that it gets included as a “thought”. I find sleep fascinating – it’s almost as mysterious as infinity and thinking about the edge of the cosmos.
sabda jnana anupati vastu sunyo vikalpah शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.9
vikalpah = imagination
sabda = word, sound jnana = knowledge anupati = arises sunyo = without any vastu = reality
Vikapla seems to be interpreted quite a lot as delusion, manifesting in ways such as the results of misinformation, propaganda and unconscious bias.
But I thought I’d celebrate the wonderfulness of imagination so I drew a sandbox to represent it, thinking how lucky we are to be able to imagine things and the unlimited freedom we have in what we can create there.
viparyayo mithya jnanam a tad rupa pratistham विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूप प्रतिष्ठम्
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.8
viparyayo = misconception mithya = (is) mistaken jnanam = knowledge a tad rupa = not that form pratistham = (of the true) form
I often mistake things for other things and it’s so weird when you actually see what you think is there until you realise what it really is. In this one he is freaked out when he thinks the rope is a snake, but then he finds out that it‘s just a rope and can bring him joy in the form of a swing 💖
This one is naming the 5 kind of thoughts mentioned in the previous sutra. The following sutras will go into more detail about what each one is.
If you want to get out of compelling thoughts, throughout the day (or during meditation) you can notice which one your thoughts fall into.
Today I noticed I was thinking about making a retreat centre in the country side and thinking about where it should be and imagining all these little huts with different colour umbrella shaped roofs like those paper umbrellas that you get in cocktails and actually open and shut (I really love them!).
So this one is mainly imagination but the umbrella part is memory and maybe about longing for a time in childhood when I was so happy playing with those umbrellas.
vrttayah = whirlpools, waves (thoughts) pancatayyah = 5 kinds klistaklistah = suffering and not suffering
Think this one is placing thoughts into 5 states (they will be named in the following sutras) and saying that some of them bring suffering and some of them don’t.
I tried to draw thoughts as a metaphor with how the sea is at different times, sometimes completely calm, sometimes gentle waves, sometimes big waves, sometimes violent and stormy and sometimes a tsunami.
It doesn’t really matter what state the sea is in and won’t affect you too much if you are a bird flying above it or a fish deep down. In the same way if you observe your thoughts or meditate you can stop being reactive, get out of negative thinking and not get carried away by obsessive thoughts.
vrtti = whirlpool, waves sa = similar rupyam = form itaratra = otherwise
When I showed this to my son, he said “That looks like something in Zelda, when you come down from heaven and there is a monster in the middle!”. I thought what he said was apt as this sutra is often interpreted in this way – that being lost or carried away in your thoughts is equivalent to suffering.
Though I like to think that this state is just as valid as enlightenment in the previous sutra, and being like this is OK too 🙂
I tried to draw the way thoughts draw us in like a whirlpool and how they are hard to let go of, like swimming upstream.
Also, if you can move your perspective to look at them from the outside, they aren’t so compelling.