Yoga Sutra Study – 4.15

Vastusamye cittabhedat tayoh vibhaktah panthah

“Due to the variance in the quality of mind-content, each person may view the same object differently, according to his own way of thinking.”

Chapter 4 - BlindMenElephant

Long time ago, there were a group of blind men. They wanted to learn what an elephant is like, so they found an elephant and touched it. Each blind man touched a certain part of the elephant’s body, so each of them had a different conclusion on what the elephant looked like. This is the well-known story of “Blind Men and an Elephant”. Each blind man perceived the elephant differently but the elephant is the same one. Actually the elephant exists no matter the blind men touched it or not; just like the gravity is always there before and after Newton discovered it.

In real life, our mind perceives objects differently because we have different family background, educational level, life experiences, and so on. For example, looking at the celebrity of an expensive skin care product: consumer A may find her skin shiny and beautiful because A needs a product to improve the quality of skin and is already prepared to spend on this product which is ranked No.1 among similar products; consumer B may find the celebrity’s skin quality just so so, because B already has good skin and there is no need for her to spend too much money on this. The skin product is the same one, but it is different in individual consumer’s point of view.

Due to unripe intelligence and differences in the development of consciousness, each individual’s perception of objects is usually colored by intellect, desire, ego, and/or other factors. However, the objects’ essence does not change. When a yoga practitioner reaches perfection in his sadhana, supreme knowledge will flow in continuously, and he will no longer be bounded by intellect, desire, or ego. By then, he will remain as a witness of all happenings in life, without getting attached.

As intellect, desire and ego stop us from realizing the essence of objects, we want to eliminate their effect in daily life. Practicing samyama on objects is a quick way to become attuned to the essential reality within all objects.