A Sutra a Day: IV-21 – Mind-stuff Watching Itself

Feb 4, 2013 | Wisdom, XSutras, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | 0 comments

Buddha and galah
Okay I’ve run out of steam. I can’t think of a single anecdote from my life that will illustrate the Sutra of the day. I can’t even think of anything in my experience that will even obliquely describe today’s Sutra.
However, Chip Hartranft will save the day with this great explanation of the distinction between awareness and consciousness, which has been the theme of Chapter IV with its Sutra being all about freedom. Hartranft says consciousness cannot illuminate itself, any more than a television picture can watch itself…

…even though it is capable of displaying a vast array of distinctive programs and settings, each offering a compelling pseudo-reality. Once the volume is turned down and the screen darkened, however, the illusion evaporates. One remembers that it was just a show appearing on a machine. Seeing our reflection in the screen, we sense ourself sitting there, breathing, watching, thinking.*

If one can wake up out of the illusory experience to the knowledge of pure awareness, one stands apart from all experience and discovers nobody is watching.
There is just watching itself.

Cittantaradrsye buddhibuddheratiprasangah smrtisankarasca

If consciousness were perceived by itself instead of by awareness, the chain of such perceptions would regress infinitely, imploding memory.*
*The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, translation and commentary by Chip Hartranft.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent posts

The Archives