The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – 196 Sutras

Samadhi Pada

1.1– Now, an explanation of yoga.

1.2 – Yoga is when the fluctuations in the field of consciousness are still.

Alternate translation:

Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations in the field of consciousness.

1.3 – Then the seer (knowingly) abides in its own essential nature.

1.4 – Otherwise, the seer identifies with the fluctuations in consciousness.

1.5 – There are five types of fluctuations in consciousness. These are either obstructing or non-obstructing.

1.6 – The five types of fluctuations in consciousness are: 1) accurate knowing, 2) illusions, 3) delusions, 4) deep sleep, and 5) memory.

1.7 – Accurate knowing can come from clear perception, inference, or from wise sources.

1.8 – Illusions are distorted perceptions with no solid foundation in reality.

1.9 – Delusions are mental concepts devoid of truth.

1.10 – Deep sleep is a movement in consciousness which sustains the mental state of nothingness.

1.11 – Memories are the retention of previous experiences.

1.12 – Training and detachment still the fluctuations in consciousness.

1.13 – Training is the effort made to stabilize that tranquil state.

1.14 – Training becomes firmly rooted when it is practiced over a long period of time, without disruption, and with reverent devotion.

1.15 – One who has mastered conscious detachment does not thirst after the objects of the senses, whether previously experienced or described by others.

1.16 – The highest detachment arises from the recognition of one’s true Self. In that state, one does not even cling to the fundamental forces of nature.

1.17 – Lower states of samadhi can be accompanied by objects such as gross or subtle thoughts, bliss states, and a sense of individual existence.

1.18 – In the other (higher samadhi), which comes after practicing the first, all mental content has ceased. Only latent psychic impressions remain.

1.19 – Whether absorbed in that which transcends the body, or with the primordial field of nature, one will once again become involved with the contents of consciousness (due to the activation of latent psychic impressions).

1.20 – The other (higher samadhi) is preceded by faith, energy, memories of previous samadhi experiences, and intuitive insight.

1.21 – For those with intense desire for the freedom of Awareness, samadhi is near.

1.22 – The closeness of that samadhi also depends on whether one’s training is mild, moderate, or intensive.

1.23 – Or, samadhi comes through surrender to Awareness.

1.24 – Awareness is the pure Self, untouched by any afflictions, actions, the effects of actions, or their imprints.

1.25 – Awareness is the source of limitless knowledge.

1.26 – Not bound by time, Awareness is the teacher of the ancient ones.

1.27 – The expression of Awareness is OM.

1.28 – Through contemplative repetition of OM, its purpose becomes clear.

1.29 – Through contemplation of OM, all obstructions to the inward flow of consciousness are removed.

1.30 – The obstacles or distractions which disturb the field of consciousness are: illness, mental dullness, doubt, negligence, laziness, excessive indulgence in sensual pleasure, philosophical confusion, failure to progress to higher states, and inability to stabilize higher states.

1.31 – Those disturbances are accompanied by suffering, depression, anxiety, and uneven breathing.

1.32 – The disturbances can be neutralized by meditating on a single principle of reality.

1.33 – The field of consciousness becomes tranquil by cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward joy, compassion toward suffering, happiness toward virtue, and dispassion toward vice.

1.34 – Tranquility is also established by the practice of pranayama.

1.35 – Or by focusing the mind on subtle rising sensory perceptions.

1.36 – Or by meditation on the luminous field beyond all sorrow.

1.37 – Or by contemplating a mind which is free from all attachments.

1.38 – Or by sustained awareness of the states of dreaming and deep sleep.

1.39 – Or by meditation on anything one desires.

1.40 – Through such training, one’s power of concentration extends from the smallest particle to that which is of the greatest magnitude.

1.41 – When the ripples in consciousness become weak and powerless, consciousness becomes like a transparent crystal that is perfectly colored by whatever object it’s on. That state of absorption may be on the experiencer, the process of experiencing, or that which is experienced.

1.42 – A lower form of samadhi, accompanied by reason and gross thought, may be mixed with imagined words, meanings, and knowledge about an object.

1.43 – In samadhi beyond gross thought and reasoning, the filter of memory is cleansed, the mind is empty of all qualities, and the object of meditation alone shines forth.

1.44 – In the same way, samadhi with or without subtle objects is explained.

1.45 – The subtle states of objects extend to that which is without form.

1.46 – These four preliminary forms of samadhi require the support of an object.

1.47 – In the undisturbed flow of samadhi without the support of even subtle objects, the true Self is clearly perceived.

1.48 – In that samadhi, one has direct insights which are filled with truth.

1.49 – The higher knowledge gained from those insights differs from that acquired through inference or the testimony of others in that it contains a special purpose.

1.50 – The positive psychic impressions arising from that samadhi prevent the formation of other psychic impressions.

1.51 – When all of the positive impressions have also become still, one abides in seedless samadhi.

Sadhana Pada

2.1 – Self-discipline, self-reflection, and surrender to Awareness is the way of kriya yoga.

2.2 – The purpose of kriya yoga practice is to weaken the painful barriers to samadhi.

2.3 – The five painful barriers to samadhi are: 1) lack of Self-knowledge, 2) a mistaken self-identity, 3) attachment, 4) aversion, and 5) the desire to live (as the false-self).

2.4 – Lack of Self-knowledge gives rise to all other painful barriers. And those can be dormant, weak, hidden, or fully active.

2.5 – Lack of Self-knowledge causes one to confuse the impermanent with the permanent, the impure with the pure, that which brings suffering with that which brings happiness, and the false-self with the Self.

2.6 – The false-self is formed by mistaking the instrument of seeing with the power that sees.

2.7 – Dwelling on past pleasure creates attachments.

2.8 – Dwelling on past pain creates aversions.

2.9 – The deep-rooted will to survive as the false-self persists even among the wise.

2.10 – Those painful barriers which are in a subtle state should be dissolved back into their source.

2.11 – The practice of higher meditation brings an end to the the fluctuations caused by the painful barriers.

2.12 – The painful barriers are the root cause of the accumulation of karma, and the effects of that accumulated karma may be experienced in this or other life-times.

2.13 – As long as the root cause of karma exists, it will continue to influence the conditions of birth, life-span, and life-experiences.

2.14 – Virtuous karma results in pleasurable life-conditions, non-virtuous karma results in painful life-conditions.

2.15 – The discerning see that all experience can result in suffering. This is because of the pains caused by the activation of latent psychic impressions and the constant changes brought about by the primal forces of nature.

2.16 – Future suffering is avoidable.

2.17 – The cause of the avoidable suffering is being identified with that which is seen rather than with That which sees.

2.18 – The characteristics of the primal forces of nature—luminosity, activity, and inertia—express through the elements and the senses to form all which is seen. The seen exists for the purpose of experience and liberation.

2.19 – The primal forces of nature encompass all states, from the gross to the subtle, from the manifest to the unmanifest.

2.20 – The seer is nothing but seeing, it remains pure even while witnessing thoughts or objects.

2.21 – That which is seen exists for the seer.

2.22 -The seen ceases to exist (as a separate, objective reality) for one whose purpose has been accomplished (the liberated soul). It continues on as the common experience of others.

2.23 – The seer identifies with the seen and (mistakenly) takes that to be its power and essence.

2.24 – The veiling of Self-knowledge causes that mistaken identification.

2.25 – When that veil of Self-knowledge is removed, the false identity dissolves, and the seer alone remains.

2.26 – The continuous flow of intuitive knowledge is the way of freedom.

2.27 – On that way to freedom, intuitive knowledge unfolds in seven stages.

2.28 – Through the practice of the eight limbs of yoga, all impurities are dissolved. The fire of wisdom then lights the way to clear intuitive knowledge.

2.29 – The eight limbs of yoga practice are: avoiding destructive behaviors (yamas), engaging in life-enhancing behaviors (niyamas), a steady and comfortable meditation posture (asana), balancing and freeing the vital energies (pranayama), internalization of awareness (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and unity-consciousness (samadhi).

2.30 – The five restraints (yamas) are: non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, right use of life-energies, and non-attachment.

2.31 – The five restraints are universal. They are a great vow which applies to all stages of life, times, places and circumstances.

2.32 – The five observances (niyamas) are: purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-reflection, and surrender to Awareness.

2.33 – When disturbed by destructive thoughts and emotions, contemplate and cultivate their opposites.

2.34 – Destructive thoughts and actions such as harmfulness, etc., result in endless suffering and ignorance. This is true whether we carry out those actions, cause them to be carried out by others, or approve of them when done by others. Those destructive thoughts and actions may be preceded by greed, anger, or confusion, and they may be mild, moderate, or extreme. For this reason, the opposite qualities should be contemplated and cultivated.

2.35 – All hostility is renounced in the presence of one established in harmlessness.

2.36 – When established in truthfulness, the intended effects of one’s actions come to pass.

2.37 – All forms of prosperity come to one established in non-stealing.

2.38 – When established in the right use of vital energies, one obtains strength and vitality.

2.39 – Insight into the nature of one’s existence comes to one established in nonattachment.

2.40 – Through cleanliness of one’s body comes the avoidance of death and disease.

2.41 – The purifying force of nature brings cheerfulness, focused intent, mastery of the senses, and the capacity for Self-realization.

2.42 – From contentment, one attains the highest happiness.

2.43 – Self-discipline destroys impurities and brings perfect mastery of the body and senses.

2.44– Self-reflection and study of sacred texts brings conscious communion with one’s desired form of Awareness.

2.45 – Surrender to Awareness brings perfect unity with it.

2.46 – The posture for meditation practice should be steady and comfortable.

2.47 – Posture becomes steady and comfortable by letting go of all tensions and merging one’s consciousness with the infinite.

2.48 – Poised in the infinite, one is freed from all duality.

2.49 – Once a steady and comfortable posture has been achieved, one can slow and suspend the movements of breath through the practice of pranayama.

2.50 – Pranayama consists of inhalation, exhalation, and the pauses between. These movements become lengthened and refined through the observation of location, duration, and number.

2.51 – A fourth stage of pranayama transcends the inbreath and the outbreath.

2.52 – That pranayama unveils the light.

2.53 – And the mind develops the capacity for concentration.

2.54 – By turning attention within (pratyahara), consciousness ceases to come in contact with the objects of the senses. It then mirrors one’s essential nature.

2.55 – From the practice of pratyahara comes supreme mastery of the senses.

Vibhuti Pada

3.1 – Concentration is fixing one’s flow of consciousness on a chosen point of focus.

3.2 – Meditation is an unbroken flow of consciousness toward the chosen point of focus.

3.3 – When that point of focus becomes devoid of form, and only its essence shines forth, that is samadhi.

Alternate translation:

When the field of consciousness becomes devoid of form, and the essence of the point of focus alone shines forth, that is samadhi.

3.4 – When concentration, meditation, and samadhi function as one, that is samyama.

3.5 – Through the mastery of samyama, wisdom dawns.

3.6 – The application of samyama occurs in stages.

3.7 – Concentration, meditation, and samadhi are more internal practices than the previous five limbs of yoga.

3.8 – But even these three limbs are external compared to higher, formless samadhi.

3.9 – The transformation into complete stillness arises when the restless psychic impressions in consciousness are overcome by the peaceful impressions created in samadhi.

3.10 – Those peaceful impressions create a tranquil, inward current.

3.11 – That transformation into deep absorption occurs as the inner-current draws consciousness out of a scattered state and into a concentrated one.

3.12 – As consciousness becomes concentrated, all the rising and falling contents within it begin to flow in the same direction.

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.

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

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

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

3.17 – Words, meanings, and concepts overlay each other, creating confusion. Samyama on the distinctions between these reveals the meaning of the sounds uttered by all beings.

3.18 – Through direct perception of subtle psychic impressions, one acquires knowledge of previous incarnations.

3.19 – By samyama on another’s ideas, one gains knowledge of their state of consciousness.

3.20 – But the supporting content of the other’s state of consciousness remains out of reach.

3.21 – Through samyama on the physical body, one can suspend its power to be seen by severing its reflection of light to another’s eyes. In this way, one becomes invisible.

3.22 – This also explains the power to become inaudible, or imperceptible to the other senses.

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

3.24 – By samyama on those qualities beginning with friendliness (i.e. compassion, happiness, and even-mindedness) one is filled with the spiritual strength of those virtues.

3.25 – By samyama on the strength of an elephant or other embodiments of power, one acquires those strengths.

3.26 – Through samyama on the perception of inner light, one gains insight into the subtle, hidden, and remote.

3.27 – Samyama on the sun brings knowledge of the worlds.

3.28 – Samyama on the moon brings knowledge of the arrangement of the stars.

3.29 – Samyama on the pole star brings knowledge of the movement of the stars.

3.30 – Samyama on the navel chakra brings knowledge of the structure and systems of the body.

3.31 – By samyama on the pit of the throat, hunger and thirst are overcome.

3.32 – Samyama on kurma nadi (either located below the throat or at the base of the spine – see commentary) brings steadiness.

3.33 – By samyama on the light at the crown chakra, one perceives what the masters perceive.

3.34 – Or, through a flash of intuitive insight, all is revealed.

3.35 – Samyama on the heart center brings full knowledge of the field of consciousness.

3.36 – Ordinary experience (under the influence of avidya/spiritual ignorance) is caused by confusing that which exists for a separate purpose with That which exists for its own purpose. Pure Self-knowledge is revealed through samyama on the distinction between the illuminating force of nature and the source of that force.

3.37 – From that highest knowledge arises illumined perceptions of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.

3.38 – Externalizing those psychic powers can create obstacles to samadhi.

3.39 – By relaxing the causes of bondage and feeling their way through the subtle pathways of consciousness, the yogi can enter another’s body.

3.40 – Through mastery of the ascending current of energy, the yogi can rise above the restricting physical influences of water, mud, thorns, etc.

3.41 – Through mastery of the balancing current of energy, one becomes radiant.

3.42 – Samyama on the fusion of sound and space brings divine hearing.

3.43 – Through samyama on the fusion of the physical body and space, along with the perfect identification with the lightness of cotton, one can travel freely through space.

3.44 – By samyama on the one true Reality beyond all external fluctuations in consciousness, one enters the great disembodied state, and the veil which covers the spiritual light is removed.

3.45 – One gains mastery over the five elements by samyama on the nature of their subtle states, gross states, connection, and purpose.

3.46 – From that mastery of the elements various abilities appear such as the power to become as small as an atom, the perfection of the body, and freedom from normal physical limitations.

3.47 – As the body becomes perfected it develops grace, beauty, strength, and diamond-like hardness.

3.48 – One gains mastery over the senses through samyama on their powers of perception, intrinsic natures, the way one comes to identify with them, and their connections and purposes.

3.49 – Through mastery of the senses comes speed of mind, trans-sensory perception, and control over the subtle field of nature.

3.50 – When one perceives the difference between Pure Awareness and the subtlest aspect of the intellect, one becomes all-knowing and gains supremacy over all states of existence.

3.51 – Through nonattachment to even those highest powers, the seeds of error are destroyed, and Pure Awareness is realized.

3.52 – The yogi should avoid any feelings of pride if invited to join the celestial assemblage or risk falling back into undesirable states.

3.53 – By samyama on the moment-to-moment unfoldment of time, higher intuitive knowledge is born.

3.54 – Through that samyama on the moment-to-moment unfoldment of time, one can discern the differences in types, appearances, and locations of what is otherwise indistinguishable.

3.55 – That intuitive-born knowledge carries one beyond all objective reality, and every worldly concern, into Timeless Awareness.

3.56 – Absolute freedom is experienced when the higher intellect becomes as pure as Awareness Itself.

Kaivalya Pada

4.1 – One may be born with mystical abilities or acquire them through the use of herbs, mantras, disciplined spiritual training, or samadhi.

4.2 – The overflowing of Mother Nature’s creative energy brings transformation into a new state of being.

4.3 – One does not cause or initiate that natural flow of creative energy. In the same way a farmer removes obstructions to the proper flow of water to their land, one simply removes the obstacles which block its path.

4.4 – Conscious expressions of Awareness form independent self-identities.

4.5 – One Awareness initiates the diverse actions of the many.

4.6 – Only those actions born of meditation produce no accumulation of karma.

4.7 – The actions of an awakened yogi produce no light or dark karma. The actions of others produce three types.

4.8 – Those three types of karma create strong psychic tendencies which, in time, produce corresponding effects.

4.9 – Memories and latent psychic impressions form together. There is an unbroken link between them even when they are separated by birth, time, or location.

4.10 – Those imprints in consciousness and the desires which form them have no beginning or end.

4.11 – Those desires and imprints disappear when the underlying cause-and-effect cycle holding them together is eliminated.

4.12 – The nature of past and future existence is due to the diverse pathways those desires and imprints form.

4.13 – The primary forces of nature flow through those pathways in consciousness into subtle or fully manifest form.

4.14 – The material reality of an object is due to the unique transformative interactions (between the primary forces of nature).

4.15 – The same object is perceived differently because of the different pathways of consciousness of those perceiving it.

4.16 – An object is not dependent upon the consciousness of the one perceiving it. Otherwise, what would become of the object when it wasn’t being perceived?

4.17 – The pathways in consciousness, created by desires and conditionings, determine whether or not one perceives an object.

4.18 – Changes in consciousness are always known to the superior, changeless Self.

4.19 – Consciousness is not self-luminous, it is observed (by Awareness).

4.20 – Because of this, consciousness cannot reflect both Awareness and external objects at the same time.

4.21 – If the contents of one’s consciousness could be observed by another, there would be endless perceptions of perceptions, and memories would be confused.

4.22 – Awareness is changeless. It comes to know Its own intelligence through the forms appearing within it.

4.23 – Consciousness, colored by both the seer and that which is seen, can take on any form.

4.24 – Even when consciousness is colored by countless psychic tendencies, its actions are always connected to, dependent on, and in service of Awareness.

4.25 – When one perceives the difference between states of consciousness and Changeless Awareness, the construction of the false-self comes to an end.

4.26 – Then consciousness, flowing with intuitive knowledge, moves in the direction of absolute freedom.

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.

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

4.29 – One who is no longer interested in even gathering the fruits of meditation, who always abides in intuitive knowledge, becomes absorbed in the cloud of virtue.

4.30 – That highest samadhi dissolves all painful barriers and karmic conditionings.

4.31 – Then, all the veils of impurity are pulled back, infinite knowledge is revealed, and little remains to be known.

4.32 – In this ultimate revelation, the purpose of the primal forces of nature is fulfilled. This brings an end to their sequential transformations.

4.33 – That flow of sequential transformations has specific, correlative moments in time. From the perspective of the end-point of that changing flow, one comprehends this.

4.34 – When the purposes of the primal forces of nature have been fulfilled, they are returned to their original, balanced state. The free soul then abides in their own essence, the Power of Awareness.