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For me there is little use is books that preach a belief or try to tell me what to think. Patanjali in a very open minded, accepting and inclusive way gives us keys to get a grip on what we are already experiencing. Many of the later commentaries on this book put forward various cultural and religious dogmas , but the original is amazingly skilful in avoiding any such references. There is a visionary universality that is pure genius in the text. I think its openness is what makes it so relevant to yoga practitioners of every background and so useful to people of every culture and philosophical background.
The following is my own translation, based not on scholarship, but on my own day to day experience living with a daily practice. I try to keep it real, remembering that the words are trying to describe experiences that can no more be understood through words than the taste of a beautiful meal can be understood by reading a menu.
…Please read below for the translation
First we come to our mats with our minds- yoga is supposed to be good for you – it seems like something we would like, by doing it our minds feel clearer. After class we feel refreshed, we can focus on our work more, make better decisions. This clear logical thinking is our first level of experience in yoga. The sun seems brighter, the streets pretty, we find we can focus on one object- like a flower and find a peaceful inner fullness. This is Vitarka.
Next as we continue we start to ask ” what does this all mean??” we are glad we feel better , but start to notice all the suffering all around us, we have become more sensitive to the energy of other people. When others are sad we feel it. We begin to come out of our shells. We start to see beneath the surface of things. We get a feeling of “energy ” from people , places, music, art, situations. We begin to understand that all is not what it may seem to be. We begin to deeply “groove” on good vibrations from other people , animals, nature etc. This is Vichaara.
As we continue practicing we develop a deep reservoir of peace and joy. Even if we are going through difficult experiences that lightness becomes available to us. I personally have found it deeply connected to having a sense of humor about things we might have in the past taken with utmost seriousness. This is Aananda.
As we go deeper – first into the mind – than intuition – than emotional aspects- a feeling of oneness arises. What before seemed outside of you , now seems to be part of you. There is a deep connection to nature and other people. Other peoples weaknesses that might have offended you in the past seem just like a reflection of your own struggle. A realization that you are a vital part of the cosmic order comes over you . This is Asmitaa.
Self realization can be achieved while still living a normal day to day life in this world with family, friends, work etc. We can use the objects in our life as focus for our meditation and as the subject of our practice. This meditation ( realization) within the wheel of samsara ( normal life) is called Samprajnata Samadhi.
The form it takes ( Rupa) can be known by these signs that come with it ( Anugamat) Which are again
Mind clarity- Intuition clarity- Joy taking- Connectedness to the whole-