October 10, 2020

Sutra 1.42-1.43: Subtle Perception

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.42 Tatra sabdartha jnana vikalpaih samkirna savitarka samapatti
    1.43 Smrti parisuddhau svarupa sunyevartha matra nirbhasa nirvitara samapatti
    • tatra = in that / there
    • sabda = word / name / sound
    • artha = form / object / image
    • jnana = idea / knowledge / concept
    • vikalpaih = imagining
    • samkirna = mixed / commingled /interspersed
    • savitarka = first stage of samapatti
    • samapatti = clarity

    • smriti = memory / previous impression
    • parisuddhau = purged / well purified
    • svarupa = own form
    • sunye = devoid of / without
    • eva = as it is / as it were
    • artha = form / object / image
    • matra = alone / only
    • nirbhasa = shines / luminous / illuminative
    • nirvitarka = second stage of samapatti
    • samapatti = clarity
Repetition is the mother of all learning, which is why I will say this again (and later again and again and again) . . . . the purpose of yoga is not any pose or posture. The purpose of yoga is to live in samadhi which is being in the now and accepting who and what you are right now. As we've seen before, Patanjali is a list and order guy, so these next few sutras are giving us guideposts of what to look for in order to verify that we are on our way to living in samadhi. However, before samadhi comes samapatti which means clarity. Remember the last sutra (sutra 1.41) which talked about how our work with our yoga practice can lead to a crystal clear mind? This is samapatti. When the mind is clear and free from distraction, THEN we can live from the now (samadhi). 

How do we know that our practice is leading to a clearer mind? Well there are four stages that we go through before reaching that crystal clear state of mind. In order to make our way to samadhi, we must first work through the stages of samapatti. Sutra 1.42 and 1.43 list the first two.

Stage 1 (sutra 1.42) = savitarka samapatti. Here your awareness on an object gravitates around the object of focus, its name and what you know of this object (your previous experience). If I ask you to imagine a flag, chances are the flag you choose to imagine will be based on where you're from, and will involve associations and words of what's on that flag and identification or aversion towards how you feel about what that flag represents. Your meditation includes reasoning and opinions based on your past experiences.

Stage 2 (sutra 1.43) = nirvitarka samapatti. This is a more subtle level of perception where the commentary of the mind about the meaning, thoughts and opinions of the object fade and what is left is simple awareness on just the object itself.

Yoga is a practice of moving towards more and more subtle states of awareness. The savitarka stage (first stage) involving object, name and knowledge helps to hold concentration and focus. With continuing concentration, preconceived ideas and opinions fade to the background allowing the object to shine on its own without any biased opinion and we enter the nirvitarka stage (second stage). So, want to see if we can experience this?

Your challenge for this week is twofold. First, choose a focal point meditation and simply observe commentary that may arise in the mind, and then observe if you are ever able to reach the second stage of samapatti (nirvitarka). Second, notice the thoughts, opinions and memories generated by objects and interactions around you. What emotions are triggered by a picture you see, what opinions do you form about a person you meet for the first time, what memories come up when you eat a certain food, etc. Part of yoga is observing how your mind works as greater awareness aids in the process of working towards more subtle understanding. 

Finally, a bonus part of your challenge for this week (especially if you are Canadian) is . . . . . 
have a Happy Thanksgiving!!     

Sutra 1.42 The first stage of samapatti (savitarka) involves the mind imagining an object 
in a way that the word, form and idea are mixed.
Sutra 1.43 The second stage of samapatti (nirvitarka) occurs when memory is purged 
and the object shines alone as it is devoid of the bias of name and form.

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