True knowledge and the Soul through Samyama
I.49 sruta anumana prajnabhyam anyavisaya visesarthatvat This truth-bearing knowledge and wisdom is distinct from and beyond the knowledge gleaned from books, testimony, or inference.
I think the concept that truth-bearing knowledge does not come from books is a difficult one in the culture we live in. From as early as I can remember I knew that I would go to University, complete a degree, and get a good paying job. We all know how important it is to do well in school and attend a good University (especially a University with a famous name like Harvard, or Yale!). But the fact of the matter is this is a deluded vision of success. Education nourishes our mind and ego. Pablo Picasso is credited with a beautiful quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” I think the same is true in terms of wisdom. Intuition is educated out of us, replaced by ‘intelligence’ which only serves to further delude us. We need to start breaking down everything we’ve learned to be true and reignite our intuition to discriminate the real from the unreal.
III.17 sabda artha pratyayanam itaretaradhyasat sankarah tatpravibhaga samyamat sarvabhuta rutajnanam Words, objects and ideas are superimposed, creating confusion; by samyama, one gains knowledge of the language of all beings.
When I say the word flower what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me it’s a great big bouquet of gerbera daisies, my favorite flowers. For another it may have been a field full of sunflowers, or a single red rose, or any other of an infinite list of possibilities. The point is, a single word can and will have a different meaning for each individual based on past impressions, cultural influences, and language. The thoughts and ideas of a person will superimpose with their words, potentially masking their intended meaning. But through samyama, the sadhaka can distinguish the true meaning behind the words of all beings.
IV.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.
In contrast to III.17, this sutra addresses the varying ways in which people view the same object. Following the previous example, say I showed three different people a single red rose. The first person looks at the rose and sees the brilliant red color, the beautiful turn of each petal, and the striking contrast of the green stem. The second person looks at the rose and sees the painfully sharp points of the thorns. The third person looks at the rose and sees that the petals are starting to wilt as the flower has been cut and is no longer alive. Each of these people sees the rose differently as their consciousness is affected by the compilation of their experiences and the qualities of nature. Even within a single individual, perceptions will change as consciousness evolves. The challenge remains to recognize that ‘an object exists independent of its cognizance by any one consciousness’ (IV.16).
III.36 sattva purusayoh atyantasamkirnayoh pratyaya avisesah bhogah pararthatvat svarthasamyamat purusajnanam By samyama, the yogi easily differentiates between the intelligence and the soul which is real and true.
The intelligence referred to in this sutra is not that of the mind, it is the truth-bearing knowledge discussed in I.49 above. Patanjali tells us here that even that truth-bearing knowledge is separate from the unblemished light of the soul. The soul is pure and cannot be altered. True intelligence, however, is still affected by the experiences of the sadhaka and by the influences of nature. As each person in the previous example saw the rose differently, truth will be perceived differently when viewed through intelligence. Truth cannot be spoken. When a person tries to speak the truth their words have already been tainted by their perception. Truth can only be ‘felt’ by the unchallengeable soul.
IV.5 pavrtti bhede prayojakam cittam ekam anekesam Consciousness is one, but it branches into many different types of activities and innumerable thought-waves.
As intelligence is affected by the experiences of the sadhaka, so is the consciousness. In fact, they are one in the same. Consciousness is at the mercy of the mind and the influences of nature. Within the mixture of sattva, rajas, and tamas the consciousness can direct thoughts in infinite directions. As such, it can cause fluctuations of the mind by creating conflict, doubt, confusion, and desires. With the tools of yoga consciousness can gradually be channelled in the right direction. As the fluctuations of the mind settle, nature begins to work for the consciousness, purifying it. Eventually, intelligence and consciousness will realize they are one and duality will come to an end.
IV.6 tatra dhyanajam anasayam Of these activities of consciousness of perfected beings, only those which proceed from meditation are free from latent impressions and influences.
Patanjali tells us here that the only way to remove the influences affecting our intelligence and consciousness is through meditation. The mind will be present in us until death, and as such will be able to influence our consciousness. In chapter 6, verse 6, of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that the mind is the friend of those who have control over it, and the mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it. Meditation is the means of gaining control of the mind. Krishna continues in verse 20 telling Arjuna that the mind disciplined by the practice of meditation becomes steady, one becomes content in the Self by beholding Him with purified intellect.
True knowledge and the Soul through Samyama