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Patanjali: Practice to Achieve Samadhi

Bodhinatha continues with his commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. We learn to control the mind through practice, detachment, the achievement of steadiness. Progress toward samadhi depends upon interest, priority and the amount of time we put into practice. The Sadhana Marga is a path of intense effort, spiritual discipline and consistent inner transformation. It is the grace of Ishvara, that, through devotion and the ability to receive blessings, transforms you. "It is the God and Gods in form that help us to find the formless God.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Verses 1.12-1.23 Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 5

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Good morning.

Continuing on with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

The last verse (I.12) we read was: "The restraint of these activities is achieved through practice and detachment."

These activities refers to our thoughts, mental activities or chitta vritti. We can learn to control the mind is what it's saying through practice and detachment. Two different items there. So we're going to look at practice first.

"Practice is the exertion to achieve steadiness in the state of restraint." (Verse I.13)

So it's defining what we're trying to do here. The point of yoga is to sit with a controlled mind without losing control. Steadiness. You want to achieve steadiness. So we manage to control the mind hold it in a controlled state. So, practice is the exertion to achieve that. Practice is the effort to achieve that.

"This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated properly and uninterruptedly for a long time." (Verse I.14)

This one is stating that we will be successful if we do the practice correctly and consistently for long periods of time. And of course, that's what Gurudeva teaches us time and time again, you know, that we need to practice. We need to jump on to the Sadhana Marga and be regular in our practice.

I wrote something about that a few years which I ran into this morning. So I thought I'd share that:

"Many years ago we were visited by Dr. Seshagiri Rao, editor of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism, who in discussing this project with the editorial staff of Hinduism Today Magazine, made the insightful comment that: 'Hinduism not only informs but also transforms.'"

A nice phrase he created there. In other words, we're not trying to just acquire knowledge; not trying to just become informed,. We're trying also to utilize that knowledge to change ourselves or transform. Two step process.

"Gurudeva himself often described Saiva Siddhanta as 'The path of personal spiritual transformation.'"

So, Gurudeva used the same word, transformation.

"What causes this transformation to take place? Does it come when we pilgrimage to a sacred place, such as Chidambaram, once?"

That would be good, huh?

"Does listening to one lecture of a swami cause it to occur? Neither of these, of course, are sufficient. Transformation comes from an individual performing spiritual disciplines regularly. This practice is called sadhana and one following it is on the Sadhana Marga. A term used by Paramayoga Sivayogaswami to name his prescription for seekers of truth. A path of intense effort, spiritual discipline, and consistent inner transformation as opposed to theoretical and intellectual learning. As Sivayogaswami would often say: 'It's not in books you fool.'"

Next verse (I.21):

"For those who have keen interest, samadhi is near."

In other words, it has to be important. This doesn't work as the sixth out of seven priorities in our life. First we have to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then we do that, then, oh there's one more after that. But it's probably physical exercise.

Has to be top priority. So, "For those who have keen interest, samadhi is near."

"Whether one's practice is mild, medium or intense also makes a difference." (Verse I.22)

In other words, we need the interest, we need the priority, but the amount of time we put into our practice also is a variable. The more time we're able to put in then the more progress we'll make toward samadhi.

Then he makes an interesting statement: "Or samadhi is attained through devotion to Ishvara." (Verse I.23)

So, as we'll point out when we get to it, but it's so funny I'll mention it now. This statement drives the western translators crazy because there's no God in the way yoga is taught in the West. So, if you have devotion to God, then you do well in yoga. Doesn't sell well in Kapa'a. So, as we'll see when we get to that point, you know, probably in the next talk, they come up with very creative ways of translating Ishvara.

So, this verse means that effort and dedication can be supplemented by the blessings or grace we receive due to our intense devotion to God. That's our way of looking at it. In other words, devotion to God, it's not just the devotion to God, is that the devotion to God opens you to receiving God's blessings, God's grace. And it's the grace that transforms you. Or the blessings that transform you. So, two step process. Though the more devotion you have the more open you are to grace so the more blessings you're able to receive which in this case can help you to move toward samadhi.

This is what we call a mixing of Theism and Monism. And Gurudeva's very good at that. So I came across one statement about it recently. There's a number of instances, maybe about ten altogether, I think, in the Master Course Trilogy. This is the one I came across recently:

"To attain even the permission to perform yoga one must have the grace of Lord Ganesha and the grace of Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan is the God of the kundalini, of the advanced yogic practices. Unfoldment all happens within the kundalini and the chakras within our subtle bodies. Once a profound relationship is developed with Lord Murugan, then with the guru's permission and guidance, true yoga may commence. Otherwise, no matter how long one sits in meditation, no matter how hard one tries, it is just sitting, it is just trying. There is no fire there, so shakti, no power, no change. It is the Gods who control the fire and at this stage help the devotee immensely bringing him closer and closer to the supreme God, Siva. Quite often the yogi in his deep internalized state may see in vision the feet or form of God Siva before he begins to blend into the mind of God Siva, called Satchidananda. It is God and Gods in form that help us to find the formless God."

So, that's a nice one, huh?

Okay, well that's a good place to stop because it takes up an equally long second topic on Ishvara. So we can stay tuned and next time we'll find out about Ishvara.

So, have a wonderful phase.