The Elevated State

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.

III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Having victoriously won that (samyama), one sees with the light of wisdom.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous five limbs.

The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija (without-seed).

The Elevated State
III:9  Due to the cessation of the mind in nirbija, an impression of cessation is produced in the mind-stuff which overpowers other impressions, and the elevated state (vyutthana) ensues immediately following.

An Elevated State follows nirbija and lasts for as long as prana remains stable. Swami Kripalu uses the term stable, or stabilization, which I rather like, especially when discussing the Elevated State, which could not come about if the prana were not stable beyond emerging from nirbija.

During ordinary consciousness, prana and the mind, though they are different, are inexorably connected and follow each other around—a busy mind makes for busy prana, busy prana makes for a busy mind. However, in the Elevated State, prana remains stable even though the mind is functional.

At the point of emerging from nirbija, the breath and the mind resume their normal activities but the prana remains stable. This stability of prana is not lost even though the body begins to move again, and the mind, while functional, continues to maintain an undisturbed state in which there is no intent, no aim or purpose, no goals, no desires or ambitions.

What is this state like? It is not ecstasy, but a softly blissful state that is not incompatible with everyday affairs. One feels as light as air and is calm, even-tempered, and dispassionate. There is perfect equanimity, even in a difficult situation. This is our natural state.

Once one has experienced something, it is easier to experience it again because it is familiar—it has left an impression in the mind-stuff. This is true in ordinary life, and it is especially true of samadhi in general and nirbija in particular. 

Because of the powerfulness of the impression left in the mind-stuff by nirbija, one finds it easier to enter into nirbija again, for this most powerful impression overrides other, weaker impressions that would otherwise challenge it. Also, because of the profound nature of nirbija and the cessation of the mind, the overriding nature of the impression this leaves is instrumental in the diminishing and ultimate eradication of undesirable impressions that reek havoc with our lives and interfere with attaining samadhi and our ultimate purpose for living: union with God.

When the Elevated State finally gives way to the ordinary state of consciousness of everyday life, one can’t help being a little disappointed. On the other hand, one remains elated and inspired at having reached Absolute God and fulfillment. This is why we have been going through all of this yoga business in the first place—eight steps, many years and questionable conditions—and why we will persist to the end: complete and final liberation.

Now, I know you are all waiting to hear about all those powers—after all, this chapter is called Vibhuti, Powers—but I’m going to leave you hanging for one more week.

Durga Ma

Vibhuti — Supremacy and Powers

In the next few entries, we will take a brief look into Royal Union (Raja Yoga), which is what Sun-Moon Union (Hatha Yoga) leads to. The function of Hatha Yoga is to bring about sufficient clearing of the body to make it fit for Raja Yoga. The function of Raja Yoga is to clear the mind.

It may come as a surprise to some of you that Patanjali has placed the last three of the Eight-Limbs of Union (Ashtanga Yoga) in an entirely different chapter. Why do you suppose this is?

Consider the title of this third chapter.

This chapter is called Vibhuti, Superhuman Powers. I think we can safely assume by this that the last three of the eight limbs, or steps, of yoga are special in and of themselves, and manifest (develop) over time as a result of reaching the stage of sadhana that we call Raja Yoga.

III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

You can think of concentration as getting your attention to concentrate on something, or as the Life Energy (prana) becoming concentrated in one place in the body. It works either way—where the attention goes, the energy flows, and vise versa.

In this first sutra, we have the word chitta showing up right of the bat. Now you know why I went through those last three issues on “The Mind and How It Works,” where you learned that chitta, or mind-stuff, the ‘substance’ of the individual mind, consists of consciousness and energy. You might think of chitta as having coalesced ‘somewhere’ in the mind of God, as having become concentrated around You with your own view-point, and is now busy collecting all sorts of data at the beck and call of the senses and dancing around with all that stuff…collecting and collecting and thinking and remembering and trying to figure things out. So, even your own mind is “a binding of mind-stuff to one place.” Your own mind is made up ofa concentration of consciousness and energy—chitta—in one place.”

Consciousness and energy are not the same thing, but as mind-stuff, chitta, they are a team. When you try to concentrate on something, you attempt to establish a flow of consciousness, or attention, to that one thing, one object, one place, and the energy automatically goes with it: “Where the attention goes, the energy flows.” You’ve heard me say that a million times. Now you know why. But what has all this to do with Royal Union (Raja Yoga)?

In Sun-Moon Union (Hatha Yoga), union was of prana and apana, the up-trending warming energy in the body with the down-trending cooling energy in the body. The purpose of Sun-Moon was to prepare the body for Royal Union (Raja Yoga). Sun-Moon Union occurred at the base of the spine at the first chakra. This rattled the snoozing evolutionary force, Kundalini, into waking up so She could do what She was there to do in the first place: start moving up the central channel (sushumna nadi) so She could get you what you have been chasing after for so long, for so many lifetimes. So long in fact, that you’ve probably forgotten what it was: Home.

Home is God, God in the Absolute sense. Absolute God, absolute freedom and timeless bliss. Royal Union (Raja Yoga) is the union of you and God.

Now, someone will probably say something like this: “But we’re already in union with God, so what on earth are you talking about?” I’m talking about this as a shift of your sense of Reality as a result of having directly experienced this, not as something you know about from a book or a blog or a guru. You may already know about this, but it isn’t truly Real for any of us as long as we’re identified with our bodies and our minds. It isn’t truly Real for us as an idea that we believe to be true.

A direct experience only takes an instant and may only last an instant, but it is significant. This instant is but a knock on the door, but it will leave you with a mental impression of it, a memory, that you’ll never forget. As direct experience of Truth continues to crop up, you will begin to see through the door, and ultimately you will walk through the door and meet God face to face.

One has entered Raja Yoga when Kundalini moves house from the base of the spine (muladhara chakra) to the center between the eyebrows (ajna chakra). Like all moves, this can be quite a job and take some time—it’s a transitional process aided by Hatha Yoga until the job is done. This first sutra is about this move, this transition.

Once Kundalini is settled in, we get settled in. This is the subject of sutra number two, coming up next week.

Durga Ma

Shaktipat Intensive, September 15-16
Meditation Teacher Training & Certification
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The Mind and How It Works – Part 3, Mental Activity and Inactivity

Mental Activity and Inactivity

Ripples, Waves and Whirlpools (Vrittis) 

The waves of thought in the mind-stuff are called vrittis (literally, “whirlpools”). Ripples, waves and whirlpools arise in the mind-stuff due to external stimuli constantly being ingested by means of the senses and the thought processes associated with them. We cannot see what is behind all of this, we only see the objects presented by the senses. It is like not being able to see the bottom of a perfectly clear lake because its surface is covered with ripples, waves and whirlpools, and why it is said that this must cease in order to catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface—the clear, pristine Truth.

Various Forms of Vrittis

The ripples, waves and whirlpools of the mind-stuff manifest as scattering, lethargic, gathering, one-pointed and concentrated. The scattering form is activity that tends toward pleasure or pain. The lethargic form tends toward ignorance of Reality. The gathering form functions when the mind-stuff is drawing itself inward to become concentrated, and the one-pointed form when it is concentrated. The concentrated form of mind-stuff leads to samadhi.


There is no English word synonymous with samadhi. Technically, samadhi is a uniform state of mind, or equilibrium. However, once having achieved it, this definition seems cold and dry. 

Through meditation, with the advent of advanced stages of samadhi, the knower, the process of knowing, and the object of knowledge, merge and disappear into the Absolute. Though the individual that you are remains forever what it is, there is no sense of self, no viewpoint, no sense of experiencing, no mind (as we know it). All desires are obliterated in this ocean of rolling bliss. It is through this samadhi that we acquire the desireless state naturally. (What could be left to desire?) Ultimately, as a result of this samadhi, we go home to ever new joy, the end of all sorrows, and final liberation—the Ultimate Fulfillment.


At its highest, yoga is the cessation of the ripples, waves and whirlpools in the mind-stuff. In the following sutra, yoga is found to be synonymous with samadhi:

yogas chitta vritti nirodhah — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, I:2

Yoga is (yogas) the cessation (nirodhah) of the activities (vritti)
of the mind-stuff (chitta).

The word “yoga” means union. Yoga is both union and the means of attaining union. Yoga is sun-moon union (hatha yoga) until it becomes royal union (raja yoga), union with the Ultimate, Absolute God. The attainment of this highest union through the equanimity of a uniform state of mind is the ultimate fulfillment. Once having reached it, one never deviates from the means of attaining it: yoga.


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These three issues on The Mind and How It Works, is in the service of setting you up for the next roll of Ancient Mystical Writings on the subject of Raja Yoga (royal union). See you then.

Durga Ma

Shaktipat Intensive, September 15-16
Meditation Teacher Training & Certification
Online Meditation Courses

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