3.13 – That process of the concentration of consciousness also explains the transformations in the qualities, characteristics, and states of the elements and the senses.

एतेन भूतेन्द्रियेषु धर्मलक्षणावस्था परिणामा व्याख्याताः ॥१३॥

etena bhuta indriyasau dharma laksana avastha parinamah vyakhyatah

  • etena – by this
  • bhuta – elements; being; existing
  • indriyasau – of the senses; sense organs; power of the senses
  • dharma – nature; attribute; essential quality
  • laksana – characteristic; mark; sign; trait
  • avastha – condition; state
  • parinamah – consequence; fruit; result; effect; transformation
  • vyakhyatah – explains; tells

3.14 – The subtle, unmanifest field of nature contains latent, rising, and indescribable properties.

शानोदिताव्यपदेश्यधर्मानुपाती धर्मी ॥१४॥

shanta udita avyapadeshya dharma anupati dharmi

  • shanta – falling; abating; subsiding; peaceful; tranquil
  • udita – rising; being produced
  • avyapadeshya – indefinable; indescribable
  • dharma – nature; attribute; essential quality
  • anupati – depending on; following
  • dharmi – that which contains the characteristics; the substance which contains the properties of; another name for prakriti (the subtle, unmanifest field of nature)

3.15 – Alterations in the sequencing of a form’s subtle characteristics causes different transformations.

क्रमान्यत्वं परिणामान्यतेवे हेतुः ॥१५॥

krama anyatvam parinamah anyatve hetu

  • krama – sequence; order; succession of events; sequence of time; gradual progression; unfoldment
  • anyatvam – alterations; changes; differences; other
  • parinamah – consequence; fruit; result; effect; transformation
  • anyatve – of the changes; of the differences
  • hetu – cause

3.16 – Samyama on the three transformations (of qualities, characteristics, and states) reveals knowledge of the past and future.

परिणामत्रयसंयमाततीतानागतज्ञानम् ॥१६॥

parinimah traya samyama atita anagata jnana

  • parinimah – consequence; fruit; result; effect; transformation
  • traya – three parts
  • samyama – the perfect integration of consciousness; the uniting of dharana, dhyana, and samadhi
  • atita – past
  • anagata – future; not yet arrived
  • jnana – knowledge; awareness

Commentary on Sutras 3.13—3.16:

As we become more familiar with the practice of samyama, we begin to notice the subtle intricacies involved in transitioning from a scattered, restless consciousness to one of concentrated stillness. That may sound complex, but it’s really just becoming aware of the finer and finer layers of our consciousness (the koshas).

For example, if we’re using a chakra as our object of meditation, we may first become aware of the muscular tensions surrounding the area. Our focus will come and go for a while, then stabilize. (Remember the analogy of the drips of water versus the steady stream of oil.) As that occurs, dullness, thickness, and contraction give way to lightness, openness, and expansion.

We become aware of much more refined sensations only accessible once we peel back the denser layers. Continuing with the practice, we notice warmth, blissful tingling sensations, and flows of energy. It’s like the delicate petals of a lotus unfolding, revealing a depth and richness we weren’t conscious of before.

There’s a substratum of fine cosmic particles beneath all we see. Those vibrating particles build on each other to create the world of form. And the form we’re most concerned with in our yoga practice is our body/mind/personality complex. We want to see how all the various contents within our field of consciousness are constructed.

Contemplative meditation on the dynamic interplay occurring below the surface of our perceptions allows us to create changes at those subtle levels. It allows us to alter what’s happening there before it grows and becomes problematic.

For example, minor frustration or irritation can build into negative thought loops, which create anger that erupts in harmful action. And that harmful action will then create problematic impressions in our consciousness, reinforcing the behavior.

In normal states of consciousness, this all seems beyond our control. We’re helpless against a full-blown windstorm of rage. But if we could learn to catch it when it was just an irritating breeze, we could alter the flow of energy and transform the direction of our lives.

What’s being described here is the sequential unfolding of karma. It’s the activation of the residual impressions within our consciousness formed by our past actions. The practice of samyama gives us insight into our past when those impressions were formed. And it shows us the potential trajectory of our karma—how those impressions may shape our future.

Samyama helps us cultivate the refined awareness we need to evolve toward spiritual realization. It shows us that we’re not even the subtlest aspects of our nature. We are the Awareness behind even the most refined characteristics we can experience.

The recognition of Awareness Itself is our primary focus. However, samyama practice gives us a peek behind the cosmic curtain. Just as our bodies and minds consist of finer particles, so does the rest of the manifest world. By samyama on various objects of meditation, we gain insight into their hidden properties, and even develop the ability to alter them.