3.23 – Karmic unfoldment can be fast or slow. By samyama on that progression, or on omens, one acquires knowledge of one’s death.

सोपक्रमं निरुपक्रमं च कर्म तत्संयमातपरान्तज्ञानम् अरिष्टेभ्यो वा ॥२२॥

sopakramam nirupakramam cha karma tat samyama aparanta jnanam aristebhyah va

  • upakramam – steady advance; forceful approach; beginning; commencement
  • sopakramam – with a steady advance (fast unfoldment)
  • nirupakramam – without a steady advance (slow unfoldment)
  • cha – and; also; both
  • karma – actions; work; deeds; the fruits of actions
  • tat – that
  • samyama – the perfect integration of consciousness; the uniting of dharana, dhyana, and samadhi
  • aparanta – death; the end-point
  • jnanam – knowledge; awareness
  • aristebhyah – by omens; signs of approaching death
  • va – or

In Sutra 3.18, Patanjali showed us we could use samyama on subtle psychic impressions (samskaras) to acquire knowledge of the past and previous incarnations. In the same way, we can use the practice (again, of concentration, meditation, and samadhi) to gain insight into the time of our departure from this world.

There is no written hour of our demise that the gods have predetermined. We all have the power to transform our karma. But by closely examining our conditioned habits and tendencies, we can see how they could unfold if we leave them unchecked and continue down the same path.

For example, a weak immune system may be part of our karmic makeup. If we couple that with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and two packs of cigarettes a day, we won’t remain on the planet for long. However, by recognizing the state of our health and improving our lifestyle, we can modify our karma and extend our time here, giving ourselves more time to fulfill our true purposes.

The mention of omens may seem superstitious. But Awareness constantly communicates with us and can reveal information in mysterious ways. That can occur through dreams, encounters with animals, or a book we pick up randomly from a shelf. While we want to avoid becoming preoccupied with reading into the meaning of these signs, we should remain open to higher guidance in whatever form it presents itself.