Yoga Sutras Chapter 3, Vibhuti Pada
Patanjali continues to elaborate on the practices that need to be observed by any spiritual seeker. By this time, it is assumed that the spiritual seeker is able to sync with thoughts and actions, thus experiencing harmony in life.
Observing one’s own thoughts, actions, then doing the yoga asana practice, control of the breath, etc. is followed by gaining concentration on actions. Contemplation of any subject, especially on one’s own mind, thoughts, and reaching the highest goal shall always be uninterrupted.
The previous Chapter 2 closes with Dharana, a perfect understanding of the subject. The seeker can evaluate what is real or unreal at this juncture. Once the mind is convinced of this, the next step is dhyana or meditation. The willpower of the seeker to focus only on one subject as long as he wishes is key. Thoughts have to flow like a stream without any interruption. Patanjali introduces us directly to the quintessential essence of the practice of yoga in this chapter.
Once the mind starts focusing on any subject without interruption, it unfolds by revealing several insights that are important to step into the next higher level.
A person with higher perseverance will be able to reach this level without much practice. Patiently watching the mind, allowing the thoughts to subside, focusing on one subject/object without any interruption results in the sharpening of the mind.
There are three processes involved in this – Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi. The mind will now start getting the capacity to perceive any knowledge in this universe. It is not just about the materialistic objects, rather the absolute knowledge which is the highest stage expected from a seeker.
When we say mind, it is the flow of thoughts. Just like a lake, it is peaceful when there are no thoughts. Throwing a stone creates ripples and they are the thoughts, interruptions that will create imbalance. The nature of the mind is such that, if the seeker wilfully tries to focus on one specific subject, deep impressions will start popping up. With patience and continuous meditation practice, the seeker will replace the old, deep impressions with new ones. The arising and subsiding of latent and dormant impressions in the mind will continue until the seeker gets ekagratha – focusing on oneness. At this stage, the interruption and changes of the mind are no longer possible. The mind will have become more expanded and changed.
The assumption of “I” am the mind is replaced with “I” am with oneness. Siddhi otherwise said the occult powers will start manifesting in the character of the seeker. The seeker will be able to gather jnana – knowledge on the past, present, and the future. He can easily perceive the expressions of all the living beings in this universe. The seeker can reach into other’s thoughts and change them according to the will.
Patanjali says in the later sutras that one cannot achieve anything by knowing more about others. He has to realize his own Self to reach the ultimate goal, the very purpose of human life. One can easily understand past lives and incarnations through yogic practices.
Sage Patanjali continues to elaborate on the achievements, such as making the body invisible, by meditating on one’s own body. The strength of an elephant can be achieved by meditating on strength. One who meditates on the inner light can have a vision and see the subtle beings in the universe. By meditating on the sun gives rise to knowledge of the ethereal and physical worlds. Meditating on the moon gives rise to knowledge of the galaxy and stars. Knowledge of the constellation can be achieved by meditating on the polestar. Understanding the complete functioning of the physical body is possible by meditating on the navel. Cessation of the self can be achieved by meditating on the throat.
All the occult powers (siddhis) gained by the seeker are through constant, dedicated, and continuous practice. The human body is made up of cells with energy, gets stimulated through all these practices. The spine is the most important body part as far as yoga is concerned and it is a path for the energy to travel from the lower back to the brain. Meditating on this path will make the mind steady. Patanjali says one can establish contact with invisible Siddhas by meditating on the light in the head. It is possible to gain the knowledge of Chitta (consciousness) by meditating on the heart. Finding pleasure in the outside world will not help to move forward in the life of a seeker. Meditation alone can help one to gain the experience of the true Self. Intuitive power enhances with these practices of meditation. Power to levitate, gaining the power to enter other’s body, etc. is also achieved through these practices. One has to make sure that these all are not the important powers to be achieved as these can divert one from the goal of attaining the highest state.
The practitioner cannot just ignore the initial stage in yoga called yamas and niyamas. These are primarily to understand own weakness and overcome it through practice. For this purpose, one has to be honest with the Self. Understanding the weakness of the mind and body is the greatest achievement at the beginning of spiritual life. If the practitioner is able to practice with focus, it is possible to understand the mind and its weakness. This is the major difference between any other practice. Yogi is always with his own Self. No imitation or pretending to be like something else. Sage
Patanjali states that overcoming one’s own limitations can take you to Self Realisation, which is the highest state in yoga. It is possible for one to enter another body, but it will be fully dependent on the karma, the bondage, its causes, etc. It will help to understand others, not the Self. Yogi, with his continuous practice can overcome the pancha bhutas, the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, space. He can control the breath, manage life without water, heat, and travel beyond a normal human being can.
Prana is called the vital energy that controls the functioning of the whole body. There are five pranas or vital energies – apaana, udaana, samaana, vyaana, prana. Energy of assimilation of the food, digestive system, breath etc, can be controlled. He starts getting powers of an extraordinary sense of perception, smell, hearing, etc. It becomes possible for him to travel through space with the practice by meditating on the relationship between body and ether. Meditating on lightness helps to make the body lightweight. Physical vigor, overcoming from the bodily limitations & constraints along with the control over physical ailments, the yogi reaches a state where he is perfect physically. He gains physical charm, strength, beauty, fitness, adamantine firmness, strength, complexion. Perception of any object in this universe changes drastically, referring to one-Self, it’s intention. Every thought will be of much clarity with control over the senses, achieved through meditation. Perceiver and what is perceived are related directly.
Clarity on understanding the difference between the mind and the one who perceives knowledge of the object, can clearly make out the changes in the states of mind. The reason for those changes are also known. At this point, mind is a perfect instrument with the Yoga, just like a painting brush in the hands of an artist. Yogi will understand and perceive every object without any flaws, at this stage.
There are greater chances in this path to get digressed from the goal.
There are obstacles to reach the goal. One who breaks free from these obstacles can enjoy real freedom. The whole yogic path as explained above can bring you extraordinary powers.
You must practice non-attachment and no-attraction to all the siddhis (supernatural powers), such as expecting respect from others because of this, or the admiration by others. Cognition of all objects at the same point, and understanding past, present, and future is the knowledge to be known in the human birth.
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