April 12, 2020

Sutra 1.16: Balance Baby

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.16 Tat param purusa khyater gunavaitrsnyam
    • tat = that
    • param = absolute / highest
    • purusha = pure consciousness / universal source
    • khyater = knowledge / discernment
    • guna = attributes (rajas, tamas, sativa)
    • vaitrsnyam = freedom from

I'll be honest . . . . this sutra stumped me. Now I know studying any type of ancient text is not going to be easy. I don't think it's meant to be, and the yoga sutras is definitely no exception. But, I feel like I've been able to grasp a surface level understanding of the sutras that have been presented so far. This one had me digging a bit deeper. Like any ancient texts, what is presented is subject to interpretation, so this is the best interpretation I could come up with for sutra 1.16.

I feel like this sutra is summing up what has been presented in sutras 1.12-1.15. These sutras introduced the concepts of abhyasa (practice/doing) and vairagya (acceptance/being), and stressed the importance of finding the balance between the two. Sutra 1.16 seems to further advocate for taking the path of the middle way of balance through the gunas.

Sutra 1.16 mentions the gunas, but doesn't actually say what they are. Vedic tradition reveals that the gunas are three distinct tones in the hum of the universe that are present in all beings and things, and these tones are the forces that cause all change and movement in life. Sattva is the first tone which is balance and purity filled with light. The second tone is rajas which is movement, dynamic, fiery and outward focused. The last tone of tamas is inertia, contractive, lethargic and inward focused. Rajas and tamas tend to have a constant pulling and pushing effect upon each other with sattva acting as a balance between the two.

So basically, from how I'm interpreting these sutras so far, it's all about balance baby! Abhyasa along with rajas tell us it's important to be active, create movement, focus outward and do our practices. While vairagya along with tamas stress the value of inertia, contraction, inward focus of being and acceptance. The key to freedom and peace is to understand these energies and forces, so we can eventually surpass them and find our way to balance or sattva. 

Your challenge for this week is to do that! Where do you feel lazy these days? How can you create more action there? What areas of life feel too busy and overwhelming? What can you do to bring in a pause or just be still with it for a moment? Your end game is balance, your tools are movement and stillness, your options are endless! Let me know how it goes, what new ideas you've come up with and as alway if there's any way I can support you in this journey, know that I am here. Now, let's go out and balance baby!!     

Sutra 1.16 Absolute knowledge of pure consciousness and freedom is attained 
when the attributes of nature are understood and surpassed.

1 comment:

  1. I have always been driven with a sense of purpose in my life, sometimes led by guilt. Some days can be empty which can be a sense of relief or guilt. Some days can be overwhelming which are both rewarding, and exhausting. Look forward to balance and peace in my day.