The Yoga Sutra 1.2

We are told that this is one of the most well known Sutras of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras.  Naturally, so!  It is the definition of Yoga.  And it speaks to everyone at all levels at once (even the most basic level, although the average ab-tightening westerner may have to concentrate a minute or two in order to appreciate the advice to focus on the happenings within their muscles and joints and organs and whatnot to the exclusion of ordinary (inner dialogish) thought patterns).

…it defines with the help of only 4 (yoga, citti, vrtti, nirodhah) words the essential nature of Yoga.  There are certain concepts in every science which are of a basic nature and which must be understood aright if the student is to get a satisfactory grasp of the subject as a whole.  The ideas underlying all the four words in this Sutra are of such a fundamental nature and the student should try to grasp through study and reflection their real meaning.  Of course, the significance of these words will become sufficiently clear only when the book has been studied thoroughly and the various aspects of the subject considered in their relation to one another. (pg 6)

Have you ever wondered what sort of great parties we are missing in our favorite books?  Modern language is so linear, so mismatched to the non-linear meaning it is embodying (reminds me of the disconnect between mice and keyboard and the large number of discreet actions required to accomplish a simply conceived action, check out: What Comes After the Touch Screen).  I once fancifully imagined that when we close a book all the straight threads of text just start massively bunching and knotting up, like a synthetically held-flat string of amino acids (polypeptide) released to fold through a natural progression towards its environmentally stable conformation (hey, that’s kinda like Yoga…):

A problem with books is that they’re misleading.  What I mean is, while a statement on page 126 may be related to the narrative context w/in which it is directly couched, it is definitely related to numerous other contexts w/in the book.  Say on page 621.  The way we read books, as if they were extremely long strings of words we densely fit into packages as chromosomes w/ DNA, limits our ability to understand their massively parallel nature.  But this is only true w/ open, being-read books.  For a closed book has 3-dimensional sentences that eye/light dependent readers are largely ignorant of.  Oh, the semantic dances that must twirl through the closed book’s volume.  I can only suggest that you learn to close the book in your mind so you can get an inner vision + invitation to the book’s great ball.

“…learn to close the book in your mind…”  Good advice when reading the Yoga Sutras.  Just afterward I wrote:

Learn to mentally mind map books while you read them.  Think of my Grandfather’s painting Entre le Trous de la Memoire–the ability to condense an entire narrative into a single unified vision.

Taimni then begins his discussion of the 4 words, starting with Yoga.  Yoga derives from Yuj, meaning ‘to join’.  What is joined through the practice of yoga?

According to the highest conceptions of Hindu philosophy of which the Science of Yoga is an integral part, the human soul or the Jivatma is a facet or partial expression of the Over-Soul or Paramatma, the Divine Reality which is the source or substratum of the manifested Universe.  Although in essence the two are the same and are indivisible, still, the Jivatma has become subjectively separated from Paramatma and is destined, after going through an evolutionary cycle in the manifested Universe, to become united with Him again in consciousness.  This state of unification of the two in consciousness as well as the mental process and discipline through which this union is attained are both called Yoga. (pg 7)

Whew!  It’s no wonder that everyone likes 1.2.  Talk about a hall of mirrors of numinous definitions.  You know, I’m not Hindu, but I can appreciate all this stuff.  I mean, in the end, were talking about a description of a state of affairs and a relationship between two levels, and then we have some cultural words that point to this (with their own cultural subtleties, of course).  A Jungian archetype.  I’d ‘like’ (The ‘Like’ Phenomenon: A Parlance of Our Time) the essential relationship embodied above if I could.  +1!  Of course, Taimni doesn’t get into conceptions not at the summit of Hindu philosophy (why beat around the bush?).  I’ll just add that one can certainly consider (as a skillful means) yoga to involve the yoking of the mind to the body (or the body to the mind, depending on your own personal excess), or again, individual to society [if you go in for all that ‘altruism’ stuff  ;)], or again, conscious mind to unconscious mind (my nod to those western mystics, the depth psychologists), or again, your self to (your) God, et cetera.

Tracing with our minds the continual involution of the bunching and knotting up of meaning, we get to Taimni’s definition of Citta.  ‘Citta’ is derived from the middle of the three (recognized) aspects of Paramatma (Over-Soul, remember?) Sat-Cit-Ananda.

It is this aspect which is at the basis of the form side of the Universe and through which it is created.  The reflection of this aspect in the individual soul which is a microcosm is called Citta.  Citta is thus that instrument or medium through which the Jivatma [Jerome reminder: Human Soul] materializes his individual world, lives and evolves in the world, until he has become perfected and united with the Paramatma. (pg 7)

This all reminds me of some thoughts I had once concerning Schopenhauer’s Will and Representation.  I considered life.  Not life, but mind.  Not mind, but consciousness.  Not consciousness, but beingness.  I considered life.  I thought of terrestrial beingness (fairly speaking, the only kind of life that I’ve probably encountered, and thus the only kind of life some ways of thinking would say that I could draw conclusions about, nevertheless…) in comparison to extraterrestrial beingness.  The best thing I could say about their alikeness was that they were both of the self-same, one & only, physical Universe (manifesting existence).  Our physics endeavors to describe this physical Universe.  We have found it to be amenable to mathematical reasoning.  These disparate beingnesses were of one substance (energy, substratum, architexture).  That much I was willing to go out on a limb and believe, balance on.  A solid three legged-equality: self-being, other-being, some-portion-of-nature.  Anyway, my point isn’t that our experience is alike, experience is a highly complicated organic fusion.  But, like how water and stone stand on the common ground of the periodic table (atoms [protons, neutrons, electrons, et cetera]), so too the paint in the brushstrokes being.  Atoms are atoms.  Electrons are electrons.  They are patterns of something behind them, like how solid and liquid have to do with how sticky are the atomic (molecular, macromolecular, heck, even social groups can flow like liquids) components.

Strengthened by these reflections I am able to flow confidently through Taimni’s subsequent warnings (meaning as asana) not to confuse Citta with the ‘mind’ of modern psychology, limited as that concept is to thought, volition and feeling.  It’s important to have something (however inaccurate it may be) to replace the lacuna left by ‘mind’ in the semantic protein unfolding.  Consider that your only warning from me (and it applies generally to a great deal of level-hopping protein structure conformational changes [and sometimes we want the hole left by the release of a previously held ‘word’ [read: pattern of thought {pg 5, quoted in 1.1}]) and a hidden finger pointing to the secret door between mind and matter.

Taimni goes on to assert that also we should not confuse Citta as some “sort of material medium molded into different forms when mental images of different kinds are produced.”  I also consider this warning to not apply to my conception, above.  But I imagine that many would consider my posture accurately described.  Shall I reveal the subtle differences?  There’s two polarities and a verb in this statement that matter: ‘mental images’ and ‘material medium’ ‘molded’.  First of all, we must consider the ‘material medium’ to not be a noun, but a verb (witness nominalization).  A doing, not a done.  Considered this way, we are admonished not to consider ‘mental images’ (another nominalization) to be mere synchronizations of material movements.  In other words, an epiphenomena.  The essence of the inapplicability of the characterization is that Taimni is arguing against materialists, proponents of the primacy of the reality of reified solidity, the primacy of atomic impenetrability in space-time.  My concept is process denominalized solidity.  IOW, I’m talking about dissolved prima materia.

Now, Taimni states that: “It is fundamentally of the nature of consciousness which is immaterial but affected by matter.”  This of course glosses over the hundreds years of contention over the mechanism of the interaction of the material and non-material (again, a non-issue because of the reified material process) most notably initiated by Descartes (Columbus discovered America, but Leif Erickson came first [I mean the general pattern of thought, who cares whether it was Cabot, Erickson, Columbus, or Socrates]).  When matter is understood as reified energy this warning too makes sense.  But what sort of story am I telling myself about energy that allows me to blithely assert that it “reifies” into solid matter?  I’ll share it (quoted from a 2007 journal):

Consider this: the very “reactibility” of matter/energy, the fact that matter can come “into contact” w/ matter, that energy transfers, that the plenum fills the vacuum–this is the referent layer of consciousness or awareness, rather: the property of matter to come into contact w/ itself has a dense form in/as experience.  IOW, how matter clumps + those clumps collide instead of passing through each other.

But what is another way to look at this “property”?  Can I denominalize it?  Matter is condensed energy–condensed in relation to what (what does it puff into?)?–Time.  Time, then, is the dimension into which energy extends + matter is the dimension into which it condenses.  Two poles of a gradient or field. (I ought to extend those diagrams into the past, too)

energy expands into time and condenses into matter

What we call “matter” is a topology of “energy” in a plateau of ‘time’.  For instance, one could consider a solar system with its planets + asteroids to be a sort of “atom (plateau)” to some other process that existed over a longer span (++measure) of time.  Another solar system wld interact w/ ours w/ its “gravitational field” long before asteroids + planets + suns would start actually [today: “materially”] colliding.

[…skip a few…]

This very same process, transformed, is what goes into molecules, etc..  Molecules go into biochemistry which goes into Awareness/Being.

Each scale: subatomic, atomic, molecular, cellular, [brainwise], “cities”, solar, galactic, supergalactic, etc.; each scale is a transformation of the “logic of” the boundaries of “thing[hood{self<hood>}]”.

IOW, “systems of relation”, that can be “picked up” (by other systems) + not “fall apart” are “things”.  But consider, you cannot “pick up” a pile of sand, yet if you slam into it on your bick it will show coherence.  Astronauts cannot “pick up” the atmosphere, yet shuttles have to approach at the “right” angles or risk being bounced into space.

“Objecthood” is really a process of relation btw two coherent boundaries.  To the degree that one “object” can move through the boundaries of another it is ‘denser”.  (But moving through that boundary may not disrupt the less-dense object’s total coherence.)

That’s all I’ll say about the nesting of energy densities (for now, anyway).  Except to finalize all this with Taimni’s assertion that this reality can be experienced.  I would go on to say it is experience.  Matter’s “reactibility” itself

On to the third word, Vrtti.  Right in time, too.  It comes from Vrt meaning ‘to exist’.  “So Vrtti is a way of existing.”

In considering the ways in which a thing exists we may consider its modifications, states, activities, or its functions. [Jeromeyers: I would say, it’s anatomy and physiology, then invoke the complementarity of structure and function]… Sometimes the word is translated as ‘transformations’.  This does not seem to be justified because in transformation the emphasis is on the change and not on the condition.  The transformations of Citta may be stopped and it may still remain in one particular modification…”

That Citta may remain in a modification without transformation is an important card to tuck in your sleeve for later semantic protein folding master plays.

Finally, the fourth word Nirodhah:

This word is derived from the word Niruddham which means ‘restrained’, ‘controlled’, ‘inhibited’.  All these meanings are applicable in the different stages of Yoga.  Restraint is involved in the initial stages, control in the more advanced stages and inhibition or complete suppression in the last stage.

We are through with this round on the ‘four’, on to encomiums and amplications:

The effectiveness of [Patañjali’s] definition [of Yoga] lies in the fact that it covers all stages of progress through which the Yogi passes and all stages of unfoldment of consciousness which are the result of this progress.  It is equally applicable to the stage of Kriya-Yoga in which he learns the preliminary lessons, to the stages of Dharana and Dhyana in which he brings the mind under his complete control, to the stage of Sabija Samadhi in which he has to suppress the ‘seeds’ of Samprajnata-Samadhi and to the last stage of Nirbija Samadhi in which he inhibits all modifications of Citta and passes beyond the realm of Praktri (= matter, Purusa = consciousness)  into the world of Reality. (pg 9-10)

It reminds of a fantasy I’ve always had about having two (or more, on towards infinity [tip o’ the old Panglossian hat to Leibnizian Monads]) conversations at once.  Imagine holding a phone in your right hand to your right ear, and a phone in your left hand to your left ear, and in a single stream of words, carry on multiple, very distinct conversations at once.  It’s difficult to even contrive such a sudoku of meaning, and anyway, it’s not my purpose to play linguistic-semantic games at the moment.  But I tell you what, if I were ever to write a collection of Sutras, I would try to do this.  It’s like Vanevar’s memex, allowing multiple pathways over the same semantic foundation from various cast-off’s of understanding.

I like the last thing he says:

The full significance of the Sutra can be understood only when the subject of Yoga has been studied thoroughly in all its aspects and so it is useless to say anything further at this stage. (pg 10)

The Yoga Sutras, 1.1-4-34 are the “anything further”s.  Sometimes you can condense information and sometimes it can’t be losslessly compressed any further.  Your stuck with a maximally minimized Godel Number (towards compactness of the represented meaning) and the only way to communicate it is to communicate it in all its (zipped up) details–then the receiver will have to unpack it with their 7zip process, or whatever.  Maybe our essential nature is the 7zip program, or more accurately, the double derivative, the essential nature of our essential nature.  Yoga Sutras, like the pulsing metabolism of a seed, may move us through our asanas and other plateau’d, reified processes (forms, bodies, fixed patterns of behavior, meanings, self-definitions, chakras) towards a new conformation of being.  Or perhaps, back to our un-flattened nature.  Our enfolded polypeptide emergent being.


Yoga – Thing being defined

Citta – Mind

Vrtti – Modifications

Nirodhah – Cessation

Jivatma – human Soul

Paramatma – Over-Soul

Sat-Cit-Ananda – three aspects of Paramatma

Samkhya – Philosophical school, tradition, ryu of Yoga

Vedanta – Hindu (sacred hindu texts)

Purusa – consciousness

Prakrti – matter

5 thoughts on “The Yoga Sutra 1.2

  1. […] 1.2 states what Yoga is, 1.3 states why Yoga is. […]

  2. […] how Taimni gives us a little hint “plural of *gobbledygook*” (which was in 1.4 and 1.2 Sanskrit as well).  If you look at the difference between the singular and the plural, it starts […]

  3. […] try to clarify, but finally, they say what I mean.  I am naturally drawn to certain “modifications of mind“, and although there may seem to be a noun in there, there isn’t.  I express a […]

  4. […] relates to hints I’ve been dropping here and there and everywhere about condensing the expression of knowledge.  I like Uncle […]

  5. […] been saying similar things in my posts (Yoga Sutras 1.2, Yoga Sutras 1.4, Consciousness, and probably elsewhere), but this is all a lot clearer than my […]

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