April 25, 2020

Sutra 1.18: Mind the Gap

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.18 Virama pratyayabhyasa purvah samskaraseso'nyah
    • virama = cease / pause
    • pratyaya = consciousness / mental activity
    • abhyasa = practice
    • purvah = previous / coming before
    • samskara = impressions from past actions
    • seso = that which remains
    • anyah = the other (samadhi)

"Mind the gap" is an expression found in subway stations around the world. Sutra 1.18 makes me think of this expression. Like the last sutra, this sutra describes how to get to samadhi which is the ultimate goal of yoga, but there are different types or levels of samadhi. Sutra 1.17 talks about samprajnata samadhi (absolute knowing) and describes the process to get there as starting by focusing the mind on one tangible object. Sutra 1.18 talks about asamprajnata samadhi which is the level that comes after samprajnata.

Whereas the absolute knowing of samadhi in the last sutra comes from focusing on an object, the absolute knowing of samadhi in sutra 1.18 comes from space, a pause, no focus on an object, in fact no focus on anything. It's in this space or gap that we have access to absolute knowing and clarity about ourselves. This state of quiet goes deeper and allows impressions of our character, our past and our habitual patterns that we can't normally see come to the surface in order to help us heal and clear them away. This state of mind does not come from learning or from reading about it or from thinking that we know it, however. This state only comes through experience. 

So, remember last week for the last sutra we talked about being in flow? Continue to try to do that! Become fully absorbed in what you are doing or concentrating on. Let it become your one and only focus. Eventually this focus on one thing will become a focus on no-thing. It may not last long, but you'll now have the experience of it. Gradually these gaps and spaces will become more and will last longer, and as yoga tells us these spaces of nothing is what contains everything! Mind the gap friends!!    

Sutra 1.18 The constant practice of pausing mental activity through previous 
techniques results in another samadhi (asamprajnata) where no object 
is focused on and only subconscious impressions remain.

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