Kaivalya Pada: On Liberation
Here Patanjali concludes his treatise with more metaphysics and the presentation of the yogic vision of freedom, kaivalya. This all ties back to the Samadhi Pada and the definition of yoga given in sutras I-2 – I-4 and the Sadhana Pada and sutra II-26 where Patanjali describes the unbroken flow of discriminative awareness (between Self and not-self, or Purusha and Prakriti).
The questions on the nature of mind, creation and the Divine that Patanjali adresses in the Sutras are the same questions that theologians and scientists are exploring here in the 21st century.
Mystic powers arise due to birth, herbs, sacred chanting, austerity, and meditative absorption (samadhi).
We might also call mystic powers ‘altered states of consciousness’. These can arise from past life experience (birth), psychotropic herbs, trance from mystic chanting, self deprivation, and samadhi. This sutra carries over from the previous chapter.
IV.2 jaaty-antara-parinaamah prakriti-aapuuraat
The changes in other births is due to the pouring in of prakriti
A walk through a forest is a great way to experience the pouring in of prakriti into all of the manifest forms, from sun, rain, clouds and sky, to birds, bugs, flowers plants and trees. From the human perspective, the life force pours into us in the form of our genetic history, our cultural history, and the dynamic conditions of the present moment.
IV.3 nimittam aprayojakam prakritiinaam varana-bhedas tu tatah ksetrikavat
The instrumental cause of creation is not the creative cause, but it pierces the covering from creation like a farmer (uses irrigation to grow his crops).
The instrumental cause is prakriti, the fundamental substance of all forms, composed of the three qualities of tamas, rajas and sattva. (see II-18). Purusha, pure intelligence, primordial awareness is the creative cause. But when prakriti manifests as pure sattva, its form is transparent, and the all pervading purusha is self -revealing.
IV.4 nirmaana-cittaany asmitaa-maatraat
Created minds are made from ego only
Asmita is a lovely Sanskrit word which does not have an equivalent in English, so I am using the word ‘ego’ a bit reluctantly as it is a word with layers of confusion attached to it. But it is the closest to pointing to the “I – me – mine” self sense we are all familiar with. Who am I? What is this ‘I’ that is very much embedded in my experience?
As we learn to observe our own mind activity, we realize that we all have multiple minds or voices that have emerged under differing circumstances as our lives unfold. This is especially true in infancy and early childhood when we are growing a stable self sense, but even into adulthood we find the mind to be an amazingly complex entity. Modern psychotherapeutic explorations such as Internal Family Systems and Voice Dialogue are currently being integrated with spiritual disciplines to integrate these multiple ‘minds’ into a coherent whole. The challenge is to recognize that these ‘minds’, although they may pose as “I”, as self, as Purusha, they are actually transient expressions of prakriti.
IV.5 pravrtti-bhede prayojakam cittam ekam anekeshaam
There is one mind among many which is the director of the different activities.
There is truly only one Unique self who transcends and includes the many smaller selves. We can see this as an individual atman or the cosmic Brahman, or from the psycho-therapeutic perspective of an integrated and stable self-sense that organizes all the mind activity and allows us to function in the world
IV.6 tatra dhyaana-jam anaashayam
From these (refers back to IV-1) the one born of meditation is without the storehouse of karma.
Patanjali states that the actual samadhi practice burns away latent tendencies, which is not the case with the other 4. The rewiring of the brain enhances certain patterns and simultaneously inhibits others. It is through this repetitive inhibition of old patterns (see sutra III-9) that the seeds of old karma are burned away.
IV.7 karmaashuklaakrsnam yoginas tri-vidham itareshaam
The karma of a yogi is neither white not black: of everyone else, it is of three types.
Karma comes is two basic forms; good or ‘white’ karma is positive, healing, constructive and leads to punya, good results; and bad or ‘black’ karma, arising from anger, greed and delusion and leading to papa or ‘bad’ results. (See sutra II – 14) The actions of an accomplished yogi no longer create karma, as they have transcended the gunas and live as pure Purusha. For everyone else, there is white, black and grey karma, grey being actions that have both positive and negative attributes.
IV.8 tatas tad-vipaakaanugunanaam evaabhivyaktir vaasanaanaam
From these, (black, white and grey karma), the activation of only those subliminal impressions that are ready for fruition occurs.
Patanjali states that in any given life, only a portion of the old karma or patterning will be brought into awareness. Reincarnation is a given and the fruition of one’s karma can be spread out over the course of many lives. And we often keep generating more! Of course, an intense sadhana will be able to process more karma than a moderate one.
IV.9 jaati-desha-kaala-vyavahitaanaam apy aanantarayam-smrti-samskaarayor eka-ruupatvaat
Because they are of the same form, there is an uninterrupted connection between memory and samskara, even if they are separated by birth, time, or place.
The unresolved latent tendencies will carry over into the next incarnation as samskaras (tendencies) which are a form of memory carrying over from one life to another.
IV.10 taasaam anaaditvam caashiso nityatvaat
Of them (samskaras) are eternal because desire (for life) is eternal
Prakriti, by nature, is imbued with the desire to survive and thus samskaras themselves continue.
IV.11 hetu-phalaashrayaalambanaih sangrhiitatvaad esaam abhave tad-abhaavah
As (samskaras) are sustained by an immediate cause, motive, stored memories of the mind, and a supporting object, they (samskaras) cease when they ( the 4 aspects just mentioned) cease.
In any given life-time, patterns in the mind are sustained by their previous momentum, their desire to continue, memories of previous fruition, and something arising in the immediate moment. Let’s use an easy one like sexual attraction as an example to examine this. Preservation of the species is a fundamental attribute of life, so within the human, there is always this immediate biological cause. The motive of pleasure seeking is always lurking in the background of the mind. Previous experiences also leave psychological and emotional memories of either pleasure and gratification from sex, or conversely, of trauma and suffering as in rape. These memories amplify the charge of energy stored in the mind under ‘sex’. Finally, there are a huge number of possible triggers, especially in the sexually charged modern society, that, in any given moment, can open the ‘sex’ channel and release a flood of energy.
Once we can recognize the sequence and components of the triggering process, we can begin to move our energies into different directions to transform addictive behavior.
IV.12 atiitaanaagatam svaruupato ‘ sty adhva-bhedaad dharmaanaam
The past and future are real as they differ (from the present) only by the time the characteristics (appear).
The metaphysics discussion that begins here and continues for several sutras has to do with the debates circulating around the various philosophical schools of Patanjail’s time, including the Buddhists. What is the nature of reality, what is real, what is imagination: each school developed its own school of logic to express its beliefs and contradict others. Patanjali is writing for the Sankhya/Yoga school and thus differs from Buddhists, Vedantins and others. I do not find them practical or helpful for students, but they do offer insight into this particular moment in time.
Past and future are inherently latent dimensions of the present moment. My body, in this moment, carries the memory of all that has come before, and I can trace this all the way back to the big bang 13.7 billion years ago. Every electron and proton in me emerged into being then. The future also will emerge out of this present moment. The present moment is wholeness, is fullness. Eckhart Tolle writes about the “Power of Now” as his own interpretation of this sutra.
IV.13 et vyakta suukshma gunaatmaanah
They (past, present and future) have the gunas as their essence and are either latent or manifest.
Here Patanjali refers again to the gunas as the three fundamental attributes of all creation, including the past and future as well as the tangible present.
IV.14 parinaamaikatvaad vastu-tattvam
The transformations of the forms (creation, the movements of the gunas) are a single unity
And further, the gunas combine to create all manifestions and transformations but the underlying energy is one, is undivisible. This sutra begins a section where Patanjali esentially debates other schools of philosophy prevalent at the time on the nature of reality and how to articulate this nature. The first question asks how can there be both unity and diversity at the same time. (See also sutras III-9 thru III-13 on parinamas).
IV.15 vastu-saamye citta bhedaat tayor vibhaktah panthaah
Because there are many minds to each experience an object differently, there is a difference in object and mind.
There were/are schools that claim that the world of form exists only in the mind. Now it is easy to argue that a given object can evoke totally different responses in different people experiencing the object. And in imagination, vikalpa, the mind can create an object through its own inner processes. From a neuro-biological perspective, we do create ‘reality’ in our heads through the firing patterns of the five senses connecting to clusters of neurons in the varions processing centers of the brain.
IV.16 na caika-citta-tantrum ced vastu tad-apramaanakam tadaa kim syaat
An object is not dependent upon a single mind. If that were the case, what if that mind does not perceive it?
According to Patanjali, the object perceived is independent of the perceiver. He goes on to say that the apple that I see on the table does not exist because I see it. It has its own independent existence and does not disappear if I do not happen to notice it.
Modern discoveries in quantum physics and interpersonal neurobiology might expand on his vision. We might consider that the observer, although separate from the observed, alters the observed through the act of perception. There is an underlying unbroken relationship amongst all forms.
IV.17 tad-uparaagaapeksitvaac cittasya vastu jnaataajnaatam
An object is either known or not known by the mind, depending upon whether or not it is noticed.
This follows the last sutra. How can an object exist and not be noticed? To answer, Patanjali describes the nature of cognition. If the object does not come into contact with the citta, the mind, it is not recognized. If I do not see, hear, smell, taste or touch it, I do not know it exists.
IV.18 sadaa jnaataash citta vrttayas tat prabhoh purushasyaparinaamitvaat
The changes of the mind are always known to the master, purusha, because of its unchanging nature.
We return again to Purusha versus Prakriti, seer vs seen. Purusha signifies the unchanging, formless, eternal ground of being. The mind, being prakriti changes. Awareness, knowing is the realm of the Seer, Purusha.
IV. 19 na tat svaabhaasam drsyatvaat
Nor is the mind self illuminating, because it can be perceived.
Mind can be observed in its functioning and therefore is of the nature of Prakriti, subject to change, through the transformations of the gunas. It is a vehicle, like a lens, through which the light of awareness focuses.
IV.20 eka-samaye cobhayaanavadhaaranam
There cannot be the discernment of both the seer and the mind at the same time.
The seer sees ‘through’ the mind, but the mind does not see through the seer. To use some crude analogies, the eye sees through a lens, but the lens does not see through the eye. Also the mind sees through the eye, but the eye does not see through the mind. Finally the Seer sees through the mind, but the mind does not see through the seer.
IV. 21 cittantara-drsye buddhi-buddher atiprasangah-smrti-sankarash ca
If the seer notices the mind and the mind notices the seer, you get an infinite regression (like a hall of mirrors). Also memory would become confused for the same reason.
The seer and the mind are not equal, but are often confused. See discussion above. (See also I – 4)
IV. 22 citer apratisankramaayaas tad-aakaraapattau svabuddhi-samvedanam
Although it is unchanging, purusha’s self awareness arises as it’s illumination is reflected by the buddhi and its assumption of various forms.
If Purusha is unchanging, how can it know or recognize anything? This is a key metaphysical question and here we enter a semantic swamp. To quote Lao T’zu facing an analagous situation, ‘The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao’. Words are forms and by nature limited, so any attempt to use words to describe the formless Purusha is bound to fail. But, we all try. The metaphor of light is a common and helpful one: to be en-lightened, to see the light, the Seer, illumination. Vedanta says the Self (Purusha) is self revealing, all else (prakriti) is revealed to the Self”.
IV. 23 drastr-drshyoparaktam cittam sarvaatham
The mind, (citta) affected by both seer (Purusha) and the objects of creation, (Prakriti) knows all.
Mind (citta) is the link between knower and known. Mind ‘sees’ the objects of the world, and is ‘seen’ by Purusha. Purusha is light, citta a lens that focuses the light on the world, but even the lens is illuminated by Purusha.
IV. 24 tad asankhyeya-vaasanaa-citram api paraatham samhatya kaaritvat
That mind, with its countless subconscious impressions, exists for Purusha, as it operates in cooperation with other (instruments).
What we are beginning to understand in neurobiology is that what we call mind is actually a complex organizing process, integrating the various modalities of sensory data, memory, analysis, intuition and more, through neuronal connections between regions of the brain and central and peripheral nervous systems. Patanjali uses this reality to state that mind, citta, does not exist as a center of awareness in and of itself, but as a vehicle through which purusha and the fullness of creation co-manifest.
IV. 25 vishesa-darshina aatma-bhaava-bhaavanaa-vinivrttih
For one who sees the distinction (between mind and Self) reflecting on the nature of the self ceases.
Interestingly, Patanjali uses the Vedantic term atma instead of Purusha here. The self-enquiry question “Who (or what) am I” is a crucial component in the awakening process. Here Patanjali points out that this enquiry ends upon self realization. When “who am I ?” is mind contemplating mind, confusion and doubts arise. When, in the stillness of mind, ever-present unchanging Purusha knows itself as the True Self ( see sutra I-3), all doubts are removed.
IV. 26 tadaa viveka-nimnam kaivalya-praagbhaaram cittam
Then the mind, inclined toward discrimination, pursues full realization.
There is now a subtle shift in goal. The awakening involves a total realization of Wholeness, of Buddha Nature, but life continues and there is a recognition of the need to more deeply wire this into the circuits of the brain. Citta can continue to evolve and transform itself. Some of the transformations involve resolving old traumas and conflict. Some involve entering new realms of social integration. (see sutras II-26, II-28, II-53, II-55 on viveka)
IV. 27 tac-chidresu pratyayaantaraani samskaarebhyah
There can be breaks in the flow of discriminative awareness because of latent tendencies still to be unfolded.
Seeds of karma may still remain latent, as old habits, carried in the culture as well as the individual, are evoked by present circumstances. The practice of deeper realization continues.
IV. 28 haanam esaam kleshavad uktam
The removal of these (latent tendencies) is like the removal of the kleshas.
Patanjali ties us back to sutra I-5, when he descibed the painful mind states as klishta vrttis, and sutra II-2 when kriya yoga is introduced to attenuate the kleshas and bring about samadhi. Patanjali was a therapist as well as a yogi. Remember that ‘removal’ really means transformation/integration of the energies of these tendencies.
IV. 29 prasankhyaane ‘py akusiidasya sarvathaa viveka-khyaater-dharma-meghah samaadhih
For one who has no interest in meditative wisdom (siddhis) because of the most refined discrimination, the samadhi known as cloud of virtue arises.
The siddhis, as challenging to accomplish and mind-boggling in expression as they may be, are still manifestations of prakriti, of not-self. When this is realized through deeper and deeper discrimination, something new emerges in awareness.
IV. 30 tatah kleshaa-karma-nivrttih
From this (dharma megha samadhi) comes the cessation of the afflictions and karma.
Such clarity of awareness dissolves all traumas and does not allow any dysfunctional action.
IV. 31 tadaa sarvaavarana-malaapetasya-jnaananasyaanantyaaj jneyam alpam
From this ( the cessation of trauma and dysfunctional activity) knowlege becomes limitless and that which remains to be known is insignificant.
As the buddhi is not longer tainted by rajas and tamas and sattva shines fully, nothing is left hidden. The seers unbounded reality is known, the details of creation are insignificant in comparison. Notice the subtle bias here. When the fullness of Purusha is known, prakriti now seems insignificant. Contrast with purnamada, purnamidam etc from Vedanta. Purusha is fullness, prakriti is also fullness.
IV. 32 tatah krtaarthaanaam parinaama-krama-parisamaaptir gunaanaam
From that comes the cessation the permutations of the gunas, their goal now accomplished.
In sutra II-18, Patanjali decribes how the gunas exist for both experience and liberation. Here, with liberation, the gunas no longer need to transmute themselves. However, as we have noted, the liberated being can certainly return to the world and the gunas will again transform in experience. However there will be no chance of trauma or dysfunctional action, as rajas and tamas have become totally subservient to sattva.
IV. 33 ksana-pratiyogii parinaamaaparaanta-nirgraahyah kramah
The progression of an object through time is discontinuous. It is perceivable at the last moment of change.
Patanjali the quantum physicist presents a view of space, time, and objective reality.
IV. 34. purushaartha-shunyaanaam gunaanaam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svaruupa-pratisthaa vaa citi-shaktir iti
Liberation is when the gunas, devoid of purpose, return to there original state and the consciousness (Purusha) is situated in its own essential nature.
Patanjali returns to sutra I-3 as the seer rests as itself. The self sense is the Absolute, and not ideas, concepts, or any sort of movement of the gunas. In the Bodhisattva tradition, the soul, the individual jiva living a life in space and time remains in the world as a teacher or living presence of the divine and continues the journey of evolutionary unfolding of divine presence.
Thus end the fourth chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras on Kaivalya/Liberation.