A Sutra a Day: III-35 – Sneaking Up on the Perceiver

Nov 13, 2012 | Dhyana, Philosophy, Wisdom, XSutras, xTmp, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | 0 comments

We Westerners, having grabbed hold of yoga at the end of the 1800’s, have been in a slow process of moulding it into a size and shape to suit us. We tell ourselves that yoga is big enough to handle being refashioned, but, at the same time, there are plenty of discussions around regarding whether we are doing a good thing, or not.
In recent times the process of modifying this ancient system has quickened, and almost all of us are a part of it. Imagine what Patanjali would think of my attempts to map his philosophy onto the writing I do about my everyday life on Mitchells Island. What would he think of on-line classes, designer yoga gear or fast-track yoga teacher training.
One thing that’s very clear in Patanjali’s Sutra aphorisms is that yoga is an inside job. The practices are in the main introspective. While we can go a long way towards being nicer people – more sensitive, conscious and aware – it’s still not the gist of yoga.
As long as one’s mind is under the influence of external stimuli, it is still a mechanical instrument. As T.K.V. Desikachar says in his commentary on The Sutra, ‘However good the eye, if the glass is clouded, the object is blurred.’
We need to get to the point where we can look into the mechanics of the mind, so that, Desikachar says, ‘our minds gradually rise to a level when they can be disconnected from the external objectives. In this silent moment the understanding of the very source of perception is apparent.’
This must then be the orientation of our yoga practices, as Self-Realisation is the prize, and not slimmer, trimmer bodies or even extraordinarily good health.
Sattvapurusayoratyantasankirnayoh pratyayavisesobhogah pararthatvatsvarthasamyamatpurusajnanam
The mind, which is subject to change, and the Perceiver, which is not, are in proximity but are of distinct and different characters. When the mind is directed externally and acts mechanically towards objects there is either pleasure or pain. However when, at the appropriate time, an individual begins enquiry into the very nature of the link between the Perceiver and perception the mind is dsiconnected from external objects and there arises the understanding of the Perceiver itself.*
*Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar.

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