I’ve set myself the goal of learning what can be known, novice as I am, of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
Certain of these terse aphorisms make sense to me, but others I find are too obtuse. Nevertheless, I keep at it. I do this by comparing various commentaries and then teasing out any ideas I understand by writing about them.
I read something today that presented a few of the reasons why the text might be difficult for us to understand.
Chip Hartranft* explains one of the problems thusly:
Most readers have not travelled very far on the path to realisation and therefore can only relate to the Yoga-Sutra as a philosophy instead of as a way of being in the world.
Thus it follows that most of the millions who today practice yoga worldwide are unfamiliar with even the basic concepts of the Yoga-Sutra. Few are aware that… Patanjali’s system predates the development of most hatha yoga by many centuries and offers a radically different program, primarily addressing the meditative approach to insight and liberation.
So, if like me, you have been thwarted by the ‘impassible thicket’ of Patanjali’s jargon, I can say it is worthwhile to keep on keeping on – not the least because of the stubborn durability and wide-ranging influence of a centuries-old text.
*The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali