Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 13
Stabilizing/Clearing the Mind, cont. – (Yoga Sutras 1.36-1.39)
Overview: The previous two sutras (1.34 & 1.35 – see pt. 12) were the 1st and 2nd of five specific “concentrations” that Patanjali recommended for stabilizing the mind. And we were reminded to become aware of the actual sensing itself, not merely the objects. This applies also to the next three sutras (1.36 – 38) and to the next (1.39) which is not specified and allows for the practitioner to concentrate on whatever object or principle they may choose.
On to the sutras … Yoga Sutra (1.36) – vishoka va jyotishmati. Vishoka is a state free of pain and suffering; Va is or (referencing the other concentration practices); Jyotishmati means the supreme or inner light, divine light.
Translated: Or, concentration on a pain free inner state that remains lucid and bright, this also brings stability and tranquility. In other words. Tranquility may also be attained by fixing the mind on the Inner (Divine) Light, which is beyond pain, suffering and sorrow.
A simple way to practice this sutra is to visualize a glowing luminosity in the heart center and focus on that. This center is not a reference to the physical heart but the heart center (chakra) in the center of the chest. Hold your concentration there, allowing any thoughts, images, impressions or memories that arise in the mind field to pass like clouds in the sky. Maintain an attitude of indifference; this way you’ll remain unaffected, undisturbed and undistracted.
Yoga Sutra (1.37) – vita raga vishayam va chittam. Vita means without, free from. Raga is attachment, desires. Vishayam means things (the objects of the senses). Va is or (referencing the other concentration practices). Chittam is mind-field, “stuff” of the mind.
Translated to mean… Or, by contemplating having a mind that is free from desires, the mind also gets stabilized and tranquil. In this sutra, Patanjali asks us to believe that at our very core there is an unchanging center of goodness and light and we should contemplate that.
Yoga Sutra (1.38) – svapna nidra jnana alambanam va. Svapna is dream (state of dreaming, not the content). Nidra means sleep, deep sleep. Jnana is knowledge, experience based on observation. Alambanam is resting on or support for concentration. Va is or (referencing the other concentration practices).
Translated this means: Or, by focusing on the nature of the consciousness stream in the dream state or the nature of the state of dreamless sleep, the mind also becomes stabilized and tranquil. Said another way: Or, the mind achieves tranquility by concentrating on the experience of a dream or deep sleep.
This sutra simply reminds us of yet another option for our focus of concentration/meditation.
Yoga Sutra (1.39) – yatha abhimata dhyanat va. Yatha means as, according to. Abhimata is one’s own predisposition, choice, desire, attraction. Dhyanat means by meditating. Va is or (referencing the other concentration practices).
This is translated as: Or, by contemplating or concentrating on whatever object or principle the practitioner may like, or towards which one has a predisposition, the mind becomes stable and tranquil. Here the objects chosen are not as important as the intention!
Remember, in the basic message that Patanjali gives in this sutra, it matters little what we choose as the focus of our practice. The intention of the practice is the crucial element. The principle of one-pointedness can be applied to any of the objects chosen, and they may have some benefit. But, the meditator would do well to learn to choose more refined objects to stabilize the mind for meditation, this will accelerate the process.
Coming up next, Part 14: After the Mind is Stable.