The following entry consists of excerpts from the introductory pages of the book, Wisdom & Knowledge, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell, chapter two, sutras 1-28, © Copyright 2001, Durga Ma, Beverly Hills, California 90211.
The Purpose of Spiritual Practice
The purpose of spiritual practice (sadhana) is to end pain and suffering and establish eternal happiness and fulfillment. The progress of each individual toward this end is the greatest service to others and to the earth.
Spiritual Practice and Knowledge
Chapter two of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is titled Sadhana, spiritual practice. This chapter addresses the subject of knowledge and the means of attaining it.
Knowledge is stored information until direct knowledge of Truth is attained. Once this has been attained, knowledge becomes wisdom, Self-realization, enlightenment. What you do to make your way from knowledge to wisdom is sadhana, your spiritual practices.
Sacred texts such as these can be read many times and never get old. As you pursue your own sadhana, you will find that these writings serve many purposes at every new level of attainment—instruction, inspiration, guidance, and validation. However many times you read them, they continue to reveal new secrets and give the necessary guidance at every point in your spiritual journey. Read them today for what you need today; read them a year from now and they will speak to you in a new way, addressing your current phase of growth.
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As we plow our way through the various translations of sacred writings left us by ancient masters, it is often discouraging rather than uplifting. “What does this have to do with my own life? I can’t just drop everything and head for the nearest cave. I can’t suddenly become desireless and not attached to the people and things I care about. It’s too much!” Yet we trust, or assume, that these people knew what they were talking about. So where does that leave us?
The sacred writings of ancient India were written in what I like to think of as ‘final form.’ That is, they were written in a manner that illustrated the teaching as it would eventually be experienced if one were to persist with sadhana to that point. But most do not persist to this point, and the deeper meanings get lost over time for latter day readers.
The language of Sanskrit was used in such a way as to provide numerous levels of understanding according to where a person was in the process of sadhana. Sutras, such as the Yoga Sutras, were also cues to remind the student or disciple of the more detailed teachings associated with each sutra as taught by the spiritual master. The more esoteric teachings were passed on to qualified disciples. What we are left with is a skeletal version that can only be understood with experience and a spiritual master who has more experience than we do and has attained the power to impart knowledge and wisdom to others.
By the time we get to read these texts, they have been transferred from one language to another, from one culture to another, from a different time to our own time, through one mind to another mind (and another, and another). For example, one sutra may be translated as “And the covering of light over wisdom is destroyed,” while another translation might read, “And the covering over the light of wisdom is destroyed.” Depending on one’s own orientation and personal path, they both work.
In the translation process, the orientation of the translator is bound to influence the interpretation. You may say, and rightly so, Here’s another one! The translations of these great works that I have been able to find have come to us through scholars and people practicing sadhana based on the use of the will (pravritti marga). My own orientation is surrender sadhana (nivritti marga), so there will be some difference in how I understand what is being said. Because the former is prevalent, perhaps [this book]… will offer a different perspective, new options, and a means of making them useful in your own spiritual journey.
March 15, 2001
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Wisdom & Knowledge, is available through electronic download at http://www.durgama.com/books.html under the heading, Ancient Mystical Writings. The Contents of this book are as follows:
The Five Causes of Unhappiness
Outsmarting the Causes of Unhappiness
What It Is
The Roots of Karma
The Fruits of the Roots
Pulling Up the Roots
The See-er and the Seen
The Root of the Five Causes of Unhappiness
Nature of the Seen
The Nature of the See-er
The Purpose of the Seen
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Attaining Wisdom and Happiness
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© 2001 Durga Ma, Beverly Hills, California 90211. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including the use of information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from Durga Ma.