1.23 – Or, samadhi comes through surrender to Awareness.

ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद्वा ॥२३॥

ishvara pranidhana va

  • Ishvara – Awareness Itself; God; Spirit; Supreme Being
  • pranidhana – surrender; devotion; dedication
  • va – or

We can never “achieve” samadhi through any amount of training, no matter the intensity level. Our training can only help us empty ourselves of ourselves so That which is beyond ourselves can come through.

To surrender means “to let go.” And the thing we need to let go of—if we are to experience unity—is our false sense of identity. In the fire of devotion, we offer our false-self to our true Self.

Patanjali refers to this highest aspect of being as Ishvara. The term Ishvara can be translated as “Supreme Self,” “God,” “Lord,” “Awareness Itself,” etc. The name represents the radiant force that animates all things. That force is not something outside of ourselves. We can’t sway it through personal will or petitions. It’s our own Awareness.

Samadhi comes by grace alone. There’s nothing we can do to attain it. Samadhi—unity consciousness—already is. When we surrender everything we’re not, the fullness of what we are comes rushing in.

In the first line of the next chapter, Patanjali defines the path of kriya yoga as passion/self-discipline (tapas), Self-study (svadhyaya), and surrender to Awareness (Ishvara pranidhana). That threefold path is an expanded version of the twofold way given earlier in this chapter—training and detachment. Passionate self-discipline and Self-study are the yogic training we perform (abhyasa), and surrendering to Awareness serves the same purpose as the higher form of detachment (vairagya) described in 1.16.

In Sutra 1.21, we’re told to have a strong desire for liberation, and in 1.22, to train intensively. In the very next sutra (1.23), we’re told that surrender is a direct path to samadhi.

Patanjali presented the two methods of training and detachment together as a pair so that they may balance and support each other. And for that same reason, he later gives us the powerful approach of kriya yoga.