A Sutra a Day: I-51 – Looking Closely

Jul 11, 2012 | Philosophy, Wisdom, XSutras, Yoga practices, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | 0 comments

Flower still water
I’ve been thinking about the way we take for granted the things and people at close hand. I said ‘we’ because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does this.
For example, today I was writing to a friend who is in Sydney and I wanted to give him a word picture of the view from my desk. I realised (1) I hadn’t looked at the extraordinary landscape immediately in front of me for some time, and, (2) when I do look, I don’t look closely.
My husband and I tease each other about the fact that we really don’t notice when one or another has had a haircut or trim. Daniel says that when he shaved off the beard he sported for a year, no one saw the change, or, people have thought he lost or gained weight.
For that matter, what about the slow incremental weight gain that starts in middle age and spreads in senior years. When it’s time to buy a new pair of pants, we just go up a size.
These examples imply living with a certain lack of awareness, a quality that can be counteracted by attention fostered in the various practices of yoga: asanas, pranayama, dharana.
But there is awareness beyond connection with objects, ideas or symbols, which is called by some ‘pure awareness’. In this stage of yogic evolution, all impressions, the thinking faculty, and sense of ego are “extinguished without trace and become universal”.* The aspirant then attains a state of bliss.
While I’m still at the point of learning to pay very good attention in my asana practice, B.K.S. Iyengar gives me hope:

“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”  
tasyapi nirodhe sarvanirodhannirbijah samadhih

The mind reaches a state when it has no impressions of any sort. It is open, clear, simply transparent.**
*Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, B.K.S. Iyengar.
**Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar.


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