May 23, 2020

Sutra 1.23: White Flag

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.23 Ishvara pranidhanad va
    • ishvara = divine / pure consciousness / supreme being / universal intelligence / God / pure essence / universal good
    • pranidhana = devotion / dedication / surrender
    • va = or

Choice was the subject of the last few sutras, and the next few involve a different choice you can make to take in YOUR journey to samadhi. Sutras 1.21 and 1.22 gave journeyers the idea that they could choose how sincere and intense their practices are and this can affect how quickly they make it to "the goal." Sutra 1.23 contains the key word "va" which means "or" indicating that there is another choice or path you can choose in this journey. While the past choices involved the use of will to maintain and keep up practices, the choice in sutra 1.23 is to surrender will and let go completely to something more than your own individual self. 

This sutra starts the discussion and introduction of Ishvara which will continue into the next sutras. It doesn't matter what your beliefs or religious background is, Ishvara is going to be a concept or idea that is difficult to put into words. Ishvara could be seen as associated with the divine, universal intelligence, god, allah, yahweh, light. It's the idea that you are guided and supported by something more than you, and something that has a greater knowledge of the universal workings and patterns of the world we live in. This sutra tells us that another way to samadhi is through surrendering and giving up our will and our (perceived) control to this thing that is, and knows more than us. This path sometimes sounds easier, but given our human nature (and ego), giving up control is not something we tend to gravitate towards naturally.

Next week, we'll talk more about Ishvara, so this week I invite you to contemplate on your willingness, ability or even desire to surrender. To get you started, here is an exercise that can help you think about this.

  • First, think about something or someone that is currently a bit of a challenge in your life (I'm guessing that should be fairly easy during this time of Covid19!) Think about yourself in this situation completely defeated without any control. Notice what you feel and how it feels in your body, heart and mind.
  • Next, think about this same situation, but this time imagine yourself trying to fight it with everything you have and asserting control to try to solve or make the situation better. Again, notice what you feel in your body, mind and heart.
  • Finally, with this same situation in mind, think about this situation as simply part of your path. You don't understand it, might not like it, but you trust that it is meant to be what it is and is meant to unfold in this exact way. Notice what you feel in your body, mind and heart with this same idea that this is what you are meant to be feeling now! 
Happy contemplation, feel free to share what you've learned and have a wonderful week of possibly practicing surrender! 

Sutra 1.23 Or (samadhi is reached) by devotion to the divine.

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