vibhuti pada

Vibhuti Pada

Patanjali has completed describing the first five limbs of Astanga yoga, the outer or external practices. Now he refines the three inner practices, dharana, dhyana and samadhi, which he will then combine into a single practice, samyama. This highy refined state of focal attention is then brought to probe deeply into aspects of creation to unfold secrets of the universe and to awaken ‘power’ or siddhis’. These powers are not the end point in yoga, which is liberation, but arise as the result of intense practice (sadhana). To the modern mind some of these powers seem pretty wild, but they probably reflect a culture that enquired deeply into the shamanic realms that the modern world has lost touch with. We are so confined to the physical plane that the esoteric aspects of creation have disappeared form modern culture.

 III – 1  desha-bandhash cittasya dharanaa
Concentration is holding the attention in one place

Here the will power is utilized to hold the attention against the habits of dullness and/or distraction,  (tamas and rajas).  There is the sense of ‘I am intentionally challenging the habits of the mind. A seed, ‘bija’ is given as a place to focus or stabilize the attention such as the breath, a mantra, a visual image etc. Notice that this is a form of abhyasa, practicing to stabilize the mind introduced in I – 11

III – 2 tatra pratyayaika-taanataa dhyaanam
Meditation is sustaining the attention to one place over time.

Meditation is discussed in depth in the Samadhi Pada as well. As in dharana, there is still a sense of  the will overcoming the habitual tendencies to dullness and distraction. The process of orienting to a sensory modality or aspect of the moment is a very natural human activity. A student has to focus on her studies to aquire depth of understanding. A plumber or electrician has to pay close attention to the process of their jobs. All walks of life invite paying attention. Yoga takes the process to a whole other level by paying attention to the whole process of paying attention and refining and nurturing it. This ‘meta level’ makes spiritual practice unique.

III – 3  tad evaartha-maatra-nirbhaasam svaruupa-shuunyam iva samaadhih
Samadhi is the effortless sustaining of attention, such that the self sense dissolves and the object (attended to) alone shines forth.

As the process stabilizes, (because of our old friend Hebb’s Axiom, neurons that fire together wire together) our attention no longer requires effort to overcome habit. The wiring is strong enough the be self sustaining. The process of learning a piece of music on a piano is somewhat analogous. At first there are slips, mistakes and confusion. At some point, the body ‘gets it’ and the music flows. In samadhi, the mind flows.

III – 4  trayam ekatra samyamah
These three together (dharana-dhyana-samadhi) is samyama.

Patanjali includes this to show that in actuality, there is a progression to move into Samadhi. For example, if I am beginning my morning practice, I begin by bringing my attention to the flow of energy or prana in the organism. After a short time there is a settling in of attention and soon absorption in the flow arises and practice continues at this level, no time, no self, just flow. Occasionally the flow is broken and the process begins again.

III – 5  taj-jayaat prajnaalokah
From that (samyama) comes light and wisdom

The state of absorption brings insight, intuitive revelations and a more grounded energy in general. It becomes easier to sustain because the neural pathways of effortless sustained attention are being strengthed. (Hebb’s axiom… neurons that fire together, wire together.) Patanjali has previously touched upon these revelations in I – 20, I – 48-49, and II – 27.

III – 6  tasya bhuumishu viniyogah
(Samyama) is applied on the (various) stages (of Samadhi)

In I – (17-18), and I – (42- 49), Patanjali introduces the developmental stages of samadhi. Here he show the meta level of the yogi, paying deepening attention the layers and levels of posssible attention. Yoga is the unfolding of an elegant spiral of awakening.

III-7  trayam antar-angam puurvebhyah
These three (dharana, dhyana, Samadhi) are internal limbs, compared to the others. (the first five limbs from chapter 2 )

The first five limbs are involved with our relationships with the outer world and the more tangible energies of physiology and emotion. These last limbs are more subtle and emerge for observation when the first five have been harmonized. If my back hurts, if I am nauseous, if I am emotionally distraught, if I am distracted by what is going on around me, these subtle realms will remain unknown.

III – 8  tad api bahir-angam nirbiijasya
Even these (dharana/dhyana/samadhi – samyama) are external to seedless samadhi

Samadhi with support is more ‘outwardly directed’ than samadhi without support. Patanjali recognizes the unfolding of more subtlety until the world of forms is no longer necessary to sustain awareness.

III – 9  vyutthaana-nirodha-samskaarayoy abhibhava-praadurbhaavau nirodha-kshana-cittaanvayo nirodha-parinaamah
Restraint is the disappearing of the outgoing mental tendencies and the appearance of restraining tendencies at the moment between the dissolving of an old image and the arising of a new image.

In sutras III – 9 through III- 15, Patanjali goes into detail about just how the faculties of the mind are harnessed and integrated to create the samyama state. He describes three sequential transformations (parinamas) that the mind undergoes in this process. This is somewhat analogous to the transforming of an ordinary piece of glass into a powerful and flexible lens. When this new lens is used to look at different objects, new insights and revelations about the structure and functioning of the objects emerge that are not normally available.

The transformation known as restraint, nirodha, is both the first and also, in its fully blossomed state, final transformation. First introduced in sutra I-2 as a part of the definition of yoga, restraint is a fundamental property of the nervous system. In neuro-biological terminology, the activity of nerve cells, nerve current and neurotransmitters, known in Sanskrit as samskaras, can operate in two basic ways. First, they can cause other cells to fire (release its signal), and in turn activate more activity. This is an outward directed flow of attention Patanjali calls ‘vyutthaana samskaras. Or neuronal activity can inhibit other cells and neural circuits from firing. These are the nirodha samskaras. This intentional cellular inhibition is the secret needed  in bringing about the level of focus necessary for the siddhis.

The starting point is always the particular state of mind present in the practitioner. A mind state essentially involves a cluster of cells, from differing regions of the brain, firing synchronously. Mindful awareness, relaxed focal attention, (samyama) involves the continuous integrated action of a specific cluster of cells focused in a specific area of enquiry.

When the distracted state, (vikshipta citta) is present, the images arising in the mind appear to be quite random. Anything is liable to pop up. Meditators often call this the ‘monkey mind’ state. With the cultivation of nirodha samskaras, the possibility of restraining this random process becomes a dynamic state known as nirodha parinama, the state of restraining the wandering mind.

In Buddha’s Brain, Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius include a chapter on equanimity (See sutra I-33 and II-42) where they describe the ability to inhibit the habitual response to emotional and psychological activity, but to not inhibit the actual activity. This is a subtle but important distinction between areas of the brain.

“Equanimity is an unusual brain state. It is not based on pre-frontal inhibition of the limbic system. Rather, it involves not reacting to the limbic system. This probably draws on four neural conditions: pre-frontal and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activation for understanding and intention; steadiness of mind, driven initially by ACC oversight but then self-organizing; fast gamma-wave entrainment of large areas of the brain to create the mental experience of great spaciousness; and the parasympathetic activation to dampen limbic/SNS/HPAA feedback loops that would otherwise make the stress response system react to its own reactions in vicious cycles.

III – 10 tasya prashanta-vaahitaa samskaaraat
The (mind’s) undisturbed flow occurs due to samskaras.

Samskaras are neural firing patterns, encoded as tendencies, capacities, or potentialities, that can be developed, engaged, or in a latent state. Here Patanjali is describing the energetic patterns of a deeply focused mind, which have been cultivated by abhyasa, devoted practice over a long period of time (sutra I-13, I-14) and vairagyam (letting go of painful, distracted, dysfunctional mind states). As the tendency to flow in an undisturbed way gets stronger, it becomes easier to actualize in any given moment, and sustain for long periods of time. The neuronal connections enlarge as they are utilized, as as been demonstrated in mri scans of experienced meditators.

III – 11  sarvaathataa ekaagratayoh ksaya udayau cittasya samaadhiparinaamah
The elimination of ‘all pointedness (wandering mind) and the rising of one-pointedness is the transformation to Samadhi

The wandering mind is also a neurobiologically wired tendency. (See “Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius for  an easy to digest discussion on the neuroscience of meditation.) This tendency is inhibited by the nirodha samskaras. Then follows the next transformation, the focal attention of samadhi. In this second parinama, orienting focus is brought to a specific image or process (dharana), sustained there through will (dhyana), and finally sustained effortlessly (samadhi). The neurological pathways of focal attention toward the specific image or seed (bija) gradually become strong enough to hold the attention there effortlessly. A rough analogy here is the ability to hit a major league fastball. The player must be able to drop all distractions and follow the movements of the ball precisely. This happens in a second or so. The yogis want to sustain the flow for longer and longer periods of time

III – 12   tatah punah shaanat uditau tulya pratyayau cittasya ekaagrataaparinamah
One-pointedness arises when the previous image subsiding and the current image arising are the same.

In this third transformation, ekagra parinama, we find the culmination of the neurobiological transformation. The orientating attention has locked onto the seed and remains there. The wiring is strong and stable. However, what is also noticed is that this process is not continuous but quantized. That is, an image of the seed is in the mind field, it fades away, the next image arising is identical. Patanjali here describes the gap or space between mental images which is not usually noticed in a wandering mind. In these gaps the ever present stillness, Purusha is first revealed. With practice, the gaps get longer, and eventually, the orientation turns to the infinite silence and no longer needs the seed to hold it attention.

III – 13    etena bhuutendriyeshu dharma-lakshanaavastha-parinaamaa vyaakhyaataah
By these (referring to III-10 – 12) the transformation of the characteristics, state and condition, of the objects and senses is explained.

Parinama, transformation, refers to the dynamic nature of prakriti. Everything is in constant flux. The Buddhists refer to this as impermanence. As we investigate the nature of prakriti, we find these three categories of change. I have a baseball on my desk. The characteristics are the cover, the stitches, the wound yarn, the core, the qualities that make this a baseball as opposed to a book or a pencil. This baseball exists now. If I am deeply engaged in the true nature of the ball I can imagine the ball in the past or future also. This is the state of the ball. Finally, the condition of this ball is slightly used. A few grass and dirt stains, intact stitches, some white showing through: these indicate the condition right now.

III – 14   shaanta udita avapyadeshya-dharmaanupaati dharmii
The substratum underlies past, present and future

Patanjali comes back to this in IV – 13. Beneath all of the changes is the unity of prakriti, the undivided ground of existence which gives birth to all forms. The dualistic Sankhya philosophers say that prakriti is essentially separate from Purusha but joins with Purusha to give birth to the consciously perceived world. The Vedantins say that prakriti is a subset of Purusha, only the term Brahman is used to indicate the non-dual whole of creation and creator.

III – 15  kramaanyatvam parinaamaanyatve hetuh
The change in sequence is the cause in the change in transformations

Patanjali the physicist introduces the notion of the time line and entropy into creation. In my example of the baseball, if I could see the whole history of the ball, from the growing of the cotton to create the yarn and stitches, the birth of the animal whose hide becomes the cover, etc and the changes in the ball in 100,000 years, I would see a whole continuum of changes and recognize that all changes are ever present at every moment, just not so obvious. The fundamental substance does not change, but the flow of time creates the sense of transformations. Here we might make the imperfect analogy to the protons, electrons and neutrons that underlie the material world. They do not change in and of themselves, just the specific configurations. This is the foundational principle to make sense of the siddhis that follow.

III – 16   parinaama-traya-samyamaad atiitaanaagata-jnaanam
When samyama is performed on the three transformations, knowledge of past and future ensues.

Here begins the discussion of the siddhis or spiritual powers that are the result of intense practice. To the modern mind, some of these powers may invoke more than a bit of scepticism, but we might consider the possibility that the human mind, in higher and more complex states of integration, may have capacities that our modern world has lost. Also, in the early days of yoga, before the left-brain explosion of the rational age, the shamanic realms were much more common. In the writings of Carlos Casteneda about his teacher, Don Juan, many spectacular powers are attributed to advanced shamans.

In III-6, Patanjali applies samyama to the various stages of samadhi introduced in Chapter 1. Now the samyama is directed to the three stages of bringing the mind into a deeply focused state. Parinama means transformation. As seen is the discussion of the previous sutra, the past and future always co-exist in the present. By seeing deeply into the nature of change we can understand the total sequence in time of whatever form we are investigating and a new sense of the wholeness of time unfolds.

III – 17   shabdaartha-pratyayaanaam itaretaraadhyaasaat sankaras tat-pravibhaaga-samyamat sarva-bhuta-ruta-jnanam.
Confusion arises from the superposition of words,  ideas and meaning. By performing samyama on the distinction among them, knowledge of the speech of all creatures arises.

In sutra I – 42, Patanjali first discusses this confusion. Here, samyama on their differences leads to something surprising. Underlying all verbal communication is sound, the vibration of the vocal cords. Humans learn to attach meaning to these sounds through the development of language. But many other animal also use sound to communicate. Birds create an amazing symphony of sounds with their voices. Whales and porpoises use sound to communicate for 100’s of miles under water. Wolves howl, raccoons make eerie noises etc etc. Patanjali states that a yogi can so penetrate into the nature of sound that the meaning of all communication can be understood.  (During my recent trip to Costa Roca in December of 2011, I spent a lot of time with bird masters. These guys had an amazing ability to pick out the different bird calls, identify the bird, and describe the nature of the call. We heard territorial statements, mating calls, warning call, songs of joy and delight.)

III – 18  samskaara-saakshaat-karaannt puurva-jaati-jnaanam
Bringing previous mental impressions into direct perception leads to knowledge of previous births.

As a culture that takes reincarnation for granted, yogis discovered that all past lives leave samskaras or memory traces in the mind field. In a deeply quiet mind, these more subtle impressions can be examined. For the average person, keeping track of this lifetime is complicated enough! The Dalai Lama has said that he clearly remembered his incarnations when very young, but by the age of seven or eight, they had faded away. He had more pressing things to attend to!

III – 19  pratyayasya para-citta-jnaanam
From the ideas of others comes knowledge of their minds.

As one learns to listen at all levels, a yogi can discern layers of subtle nuance in voice, emotion, posture and speech to see the underlying states of another’s mind activity. Dan Siegel describes this in ‘Mindsight’:  “Through facial expressions and tones of voice, gesture and postures – some so fleeting they can be captured only on a slowed-down recording – we come to ‘resonate’ with one another.”

III – 20  na ca tat saalambanam tasyaavishayiibbhuutatvaat
That (knowledge) is not supported by the object (of the other’s mind.)

Although the yogi can see/feel/know directly the mind states of another, the outer objects that lead to those mind states are not seen in this way. As a simple example, I can see you are angry, but I do not necessarily see what has set you off. (Unless that is obvious)

III – 21   kaaya-ruupa-samyamaat tad-grahya-shakti-stambhe caksuh-prakaashaasamprayoge ‘ntardhaanam
Samyama on the subtle form of the body leads to invisibility as the light emanating is blocked from other’s eyes.

This is a stretch to the modern mind, but the suggestion is that a yogi who deeply immersed in the subtle body can diffuse his atomic structure so that light from his ‘body’ does not reflect back to observers. Well known tracker, Tom Brown, spent many years apprenticing with an Apache medicine man named Stalking Wolf, and learned to so blend into the natural world that he became essentially invisible. He single-handedly took on a squad of Navy Seals in a ‘seek and destroy’ competition and managed to ‘eliminate’ all of them without ever being seen.

III – 22   etena shabdadi  antarndhaanam uktam
In the same way, other senses are controlled.

This follows the previous sutra and refers to control over the emanation sound, taste, touch and smell. Note: this sutra is dropped all together by many translators and commentators as it can be said to be previously implied in III-21. In those editions, the following sutra is III-22 and the subsequent numbers follow.

III – 23  sopakramam nirupakramam ca karma tat-samyamaad aparaanta-jnaanam aristebhyo- vaa
Karma (results of our actions) can manifest quickly or slowly. Samyama on karma or omens can reveal the time and circumstances of one’s death.

Experienced yogis live in the timeless but are acutely sensitive to the inter-relatedness of the world of forms. By samyama on the karmic phalas, the momentum of our previous actions, and the suble cues or omens that appear on the subtle planes of consciousness, a yogi can see the time and cause of their impending death.

III – 24   maitry-aadishu balaani
(Samyama) on friendliness and other such virtues brings strength

We met maitri in I-33. Perfection of the mind states that underlie friendliness, kindness, compassion lead to tremendous emotional,  psychological and spiritual strength. The Dalai Lama has said ‘kindness is my religion’, and he is a very strong human being.

III – 25   baleshu hasti-balaadiini
(Samyama) on strength brings the strength of an elephant

Another form of strength is pure physical strength. Patanjali is pointing to the capacity to harness the whole inner energetic world. We have all heard stories of tremendous feats of strength performed suddenly by people under stress. Advanced martial artists have mastered the inner integration to perform astounding feats of strength.

III – 26  pravrttyaaloka-nyaasaat suukshma-vyavahita-viprakrsta-jnaanam
Directing the inner light
brings knowledge of things, subtle, concealed or remote

The inner light of pure sattva not only ‘sees’ the essential nature of all of creation but ‘feels’, from the inside so to speak allowing access to aspects of creation that are not noticed by the average person.

III – 27 bhuvana-jnaanam suurye samyamaat
Samyama on the sun brings knowledge of the
different realms of the universe.

Many ancient cultures describe the universe as having a multiplicity of levels including the ‘earthly realms, as well as those ‘above’ the realm of the human, home to celestials, angels, devas, gods and goddesses, and more, as well as levels ‘below’ the human, the ‘hell’ realms of demons, ghosts, asuras. The Catholic teaching has heaven, hell and purgatory. This and the following two sutras indicate a culture that deeply observed the night sky and saw much more than just the ‘physical objects’.

III – 28  candre tara-vyuuha-jnaanam
Samyama) on the moon brings knowledge of the solar systems.

The moon follows the path of the ecliptic, as do the planets. By seeing the planets move through the sky, astrological relationships emerged.

III – 29  dhruve tad-gati-jnaanam
on the pole star brings knowledge of the movement of the stars

More refinement of astrology. The pole star is relatively stable relative the the other stars.

III – 30  naabhi-cakre kaaya-vyuuha-jnaanam
on the navel center comes knowledge of the organization of the body.

Early physiological understanding led to the development of Ayurvedic medicine.

III – 31 kantha-kuupe ksut-pipaasaa-nivrttih
(Samyama) on the pit of the throat brings the cessation of hunger and thirst.

This could be an inner experience of the thyroid gland, creating a soothing effect on metabolic activity.

III – 32 kuurma-naadyaam sthairyam
(Samyama) on the “tortoise nadi” brings stability.

Described as a slender channel sitting just behind the clavicular notch and related to the throat chakra, the kurma nadi is a place to rest one’s attention to bring about a stable, inner serenity.

III – 33 muurdha-jyotishi siddha-darshanam
(Samyama) on the “light in the skull ” brings a vision of the perfected beings.

See “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander

III – 34 praatibhaad vaa sarvam
Or, by intuition everything becomes known.

Intuition arises directly from the infinite.

III – 35 hrdaye citta-samvit
(Samyama) on the heart brings knowledge of the mind.

The heart is the center of healthy, balanced mental activity. No distractions or confusion arise here. Those come from the brain aspect of mind.

III – 36 sattva-purushayor atyantaasankiirnayoh pratyayaavisheso bhogah paraathatvaat svaartha-samyamaat purusha-jnaanam

The intelligence and the Self are confused (in the average person). Intelligence is dependent upon another. Samyama on that which is independent brings knowledge of Purusha (Self).

Purusha is ‘independent; pure awareness, infinite open spaciousness, etc. Intelligence is subject to change, as it is an aspect of form, prakriti. Samyama here the mind dissolves into ‘awareness’, like salt dissolves into water. It seems to disappear.

III – 37 tatah praatibha-shraavana-vedanaadarshaasvaada-vaartaa-jaayante
From this (see III-36) intuition and the arising of highly refined hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.

BAck to III-34 as well. Intuition and all subtle forms emerge out of Purusha (stillness, emptiness).

III – 38 te samaadhaav upasargaa vyutthaane siddhayah
These ‘siddhis“, or super-normal yogic powers are accomplishments for theoutgoing mind, but obstacles to samadhi.

If it changes, it is not ‘Self’. Siddhis come and go. They are highly refined aspects of mind activity, but can be a source of egoic confusion when the small self claims them.

III – 39 bandha-kaarana-shaithilyaatpracaara-samvedanaac ca cittasya para shariiraaveshah
By loosening the causes of bondage (the kleshas) and by knowledge of the pathways of the mind, the mind can enter the bodies of others.

Edgar Cayce, well know psychic of the 20th century, was famous for being able to diagnose ailments and offer remedies for patients hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.

III – 40 udaana-jayaaj jala panka-kantakaadisv asanga utkraantish ca
With mastery over the udana vayu one attains levitation and the avoidance of water, mud and thorns.

In the next two sutras, Patanjali mentions two of the subtle pranas explored in pranayama practice. The udana vayu governs upward moving energy and is involved with embryological development, the birth instinct, spiritual evolution and the soul leaving the body at death. Here mastery of this leads to levitation. Jesus walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee is mentioned by three of the four evangelists; Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21.

III – 41 samaana-jayaat jvalanam
Mastery over the samana vayu brings radiance.

The samana vayu, in the region of the solar plexus governs digestion, the element fire. With its mastery, a radiance emerges.

III – 42 shrotraakaashayoh sambandha-samyamaad divyam shrotam
Samyama on the organ of hearing and the substratum of sound brings awareness of divine sounds.

Patanjali probably did not foresee the development of radio telescopes, but scientists can now listen to the 14.5 billion year old sounds of creation as well as other extraordinary emanations for the cosmos. Cell Biologist Bruce Lipton describes the inner life of cells as symphonies of sound with each molecule vibrating with its own unique set of frequencies.

III – 43 kaayaakaashayoh sambandha-samyamaal laghu-tuula-samaapattesh caahaasha-gamanam
Samyama on the relationship between the body and akasa and meditation on the lightness of cotton brings the power of moving through space.

Akasa is space. Hanuman, son of the God of Wind, was able to fly. In modern times we have developed jet travel

 III – 44 bahir-akalpitaa vrttir mahaa-videhaa tatah prakaashaavarana-ksayah
(Samyama on) the maha-videha (great out-of-body) state destroys the covering of the light.

Yogis have learned to leave the body while still alive. In modern times there are many descriptions of ‘out of body’ or near death experiences, that include looking down at the world, seeing light, feeling incredible peace. Sri Aurobindo says in his autobiography that he spent much of his imprisonment in the maha-videha state. The recent book ‘Proof of Heaven” by Eban Alexander offers quite amazing descriptions of this state.

III – 45 sthuula svaruupa-suukshmaanvayaarthavattva-samyamaad bhuuta-jayah
Samyama on the gross form, (and their) essential character, subtle nature and purpose, brings mastery over the elements.

The world of form, at the most tangible level, consists of the five primary elements; earth, water, fire, air and akasha or ether. These, according to the Sankhya system, have more subtle substrates underlying their external form. By understanding (through samyama) how the inter-relationships of the more subtle components create the elements, control over them emerges. Chemistry and physics provide a modern example of this process. To the pre-scientific cultures, matter was mysterious. We now understand about atoms and sub -atomic particles and how exchanges of electrons can lead to profound chemical changes in substances. The chemical industry, for better and worse, is continuously creating new substances. Now the yogis are referring to a more subtle and internal process that Dow Chemical, but there are many modern miracles coming from technology.

III – 46 tato ‘nimaadi-praadurbhaavah kaaya-sampat-tad-dharmaanabhighaatash ca
Then, all limitations (of the body) are transcended, mystic powers such as the ability to become minute appear and the body attains perfection.

Probably the possibility of operating at a radically different dimension of reality than our typical 3 dimensional physical/solid world.

III-47  ruupa laavanya –bala-vajra-samhananatvani kaaya-sampat
The perfection of the body consists of beautiful form,  grace, strength, solidity and the brilliance of a diamond.

This is biological coherence at all levels, atomic, cellular, organic and structural.

III – 48  grahana-svaruupaasmitaanvayaarthavattva-samyamad indriya jayah
Samyama on the process of knowing,  on the fundamental form, on the ego, and on the inner qualities and purpose (of the gunas),  brings control over the senses.

As one deepens the stability in the infinite, one sees the coming and going of ‘reality’ at all levels and can contemplate the process of being alive and present without any resistance to whatever is arising.

III–49  tato mano-javitvam vikarna bhaavah pradhaana-jayash ca
From this (mastery over perception) comes instantaneous knowing independent of the senses and mastery over nature.

Restating the same point from a variety of positions, resting in the infinite, as the infinite, one sees nature as just unfolding from the depths of the infinite intelligence.

III- 50  sattva purusha anyataa khyaatimaatrasya sarvabhaava adhishthaatrtvam sarvajnaatrtvam ca
Only one who discriminates between the intelligence and the Seer (Purusha) realizes omniscience and omnipotence.

Another reference yoga as the differentiating between Purusha as Seer and the vehicles, as aspects of the seen – prakriti.

III- 51  tadvairaagyaat api doshabiijaksaye kaivalyam
By renouncing even these powers and destroying the seeds of bondage,  liberation arises

There often remains a subtle attachment to the vehicles, especially when they are highly refined (relative to the average person).

III – 52  sthaanyupanimantrane sangasmayaakaranam punaranishta prasangaat
One should be wary of being tempted by celestial beings as one can fall from grace.

Not sure why celestial beings are scary! Only so if they are seen as ‘other’ and not emergent manifestations of divine wholeness.

III- 53  ksana tatkramayoh samyamaat vivekajam jnaanam
By samyama on the movement of moments known as time one gains the deepest understanding of reality.  (See sutra IV-33)

Time is of prakriti. It can speed up or slow down according to the mind state. Or, when resting in the infinite, time disapears into “Now”.

III – 54  jati lakshana deshaih anyataa anavacchedaat tulyayoh tatah pratipattiih
As a result of this, there is discrimination between two objects normally indistinguishable by class,  characteristics, or position in space.

One is ‘seeing’ at the most subtle level possible, so there is no ‘con-fusion’ anywhere.

III – 55   taarakam sarvavishayam sarvathaavishayam akramam ca iti vivekajam jnaanam
This knowledge born of this awareness of reality is liberating, embracing all forms, across past present and future, in the timeless.

III – 56  sattva purushayoh shuddhi saamye kaivalyam
Perfection is yoga is when the purity of sattva equals the purity of Purusha.



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Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8


Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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