Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.
III:1 Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.
III:2 When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).
III:3 By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.
Today, sutras 4-7:
III:4 These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.
Concentration, meditation and samadhi ultimately bind together as a unit called samyama—they operate simultaneously.
Samyama means ‘restrained’, but what is being restrained? What is being restrained are the senses and the mind.
In our chart of The Eight Limbs of Yoga, you will notice that Step 5, pratyahara, is the withdrawal of the senses from the objects of sense. This is a major turning-point in the practice of yoga. Not only are the senses withdrawn from their objects, but the attention and prana, both of which are features of the mind, are withdrawn along with the senses, causing both the senses and the mind to be held in check, restrained from moving outward.
As pratyahara develops, the sense faculties (your inherent ability, or power, to know, to perceive) disengage from the physical sense organs, placing the practitioner in the position of being able to perceive directly. The practitioner of yoga does not make this happen, it is the natural result of having achieved an adequate degree of development of pranayama and pratyahara. For a practitioner of the path of surrender, all of this occurs spontaneously.
Kripalu equates samyama with samadhi when he says . . .
“The trio of dharana, dhyana and samadhi is called samyama…When samyama is fully achieved, it is called sabija samadhi, wherein the mind, which is the seed of desire, yet remains.”
III:5 Victorious in winning that [samyama and sabija samadhi], one sees with the wisdom of divine sight.
The story of the Bhagavad Gita is a narration of a conversation between Krishna (God) and Arjuna (You). The narrator is Samjaya (‘victorious’). Samjaya is minister to a blind king to whom he describes what is taking place from afar by means of Divine Sight.
III:6 This progresses by degrees.
This sutra is saying that samyama develops and advances by degrees, or stages. Yoga itself progresses by degrees, with one thing leading to the next. No limb, step or stage, is all-or-nothing. There are transitions and overlaps. This sutra is reminding us that this is also the case with samyama. It has three principle stages—concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and samadhi—which develop by degrees until samyama is fully achieved and sabija samadhi is attained.
III:7 These three—dharana, dhyana and samadhi—are inner limbs and surpass the previous [five] limbs.
The previous five limbs—yama, niyama and the three limbs of sun-moon union, asana, pranayama and pratyahara—are yoga kindergarten in comparison to samyama and sabija samadhi.
Swami Kripalu says . . .
“With the help of the gross kundalini, one is able to attain sabija samadhi. The subtle kundalini is the form of shakti or prana through which nirbija samadhi (the higher state of samadhi in which the mind dissolves, or becomes non-mind) is realized. Those who know yoga propitiate Lord Shiva in the gross kundalini form, and Shakti in the subtle kundalini form. It is because of this that their conjoined forms are known as ardhanarishvara (half-male-half-female-God).”
The suggestion has been made that we are not yet finished with the subject of samadhi. There is a higher samadhi known as nirbija. We will take this up next week.
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