4.27 – There may be interruptions in that movement toward absolute freedom due to the activation of latent psychic impressions which cause distracting thoughts and emotions to arise.

तच्छिद्रेषु प्रत्ययान्तराणि संस्कारेभ्यः ॥२७॥

tachchhidresu pratyaya antarani samskarebhyah

  • tat – that
  • chhidreshu – having holes; gaps; interruptions
  • pratyaya-antarani – distracting thoughts or mental contents
  • samskarebhyah – psychic impressions; forming the mind; conditionings

4.28 – These latent psychic tendencies can be dissolved in the same way as the painful barriers.

हानमेषां क्लेशवदुक्तम् ॥२८॥

hanam esam kleshavat uktam

  • hanam – to be avoided; to be rejected; to be subtracted, eliminated, dissolved
  • esam – of these
  • kleshavat – like the kleshas (painful barriers)
  • uktam – spoken; indicated; explained

Commentary on Sutras 4.27 and 4.28:

An interruption in progress is a common occurrence in devoted spiritual seekers. We work and work to take out all of the obstacles which stand in the way of our realization, then a sudden breakthrough occurs. Higher states of consciousness unfold effortlessly and spontaneously. The current of divine grace reveals insight after insight. Until we may even believe we’ve reached the end and are fully enlightened.

And then something buried deep inside us becomes dislodged, some ancient suppressed pool of emotional content. And our smooth-running vehicle gets stuck in that mud.

That can be a painful experience. We may even begin to have doubts, question our faith, and wonder if all our insights were real.

In 4.28, Patanjali tells us to fall back on our training and dig ourselves out of the hole. The way, he says, is the same as it always was.

We work to dissolve the latent impressions using the same method we used to remove the kleshas (the painful barriers to samadhi). And we were taught to eliminate the kleshas through the practice of kriya yoga—tapas (self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-reflection), and Ishvara pranidhana (surrender to Awareness). And, by extension, our continued adherence to the 8-limbed path.