2.19 The states of the three attributes (gunas) change from unmanifest to manifest to subtle to apparent.
The previous verse and this one can be understood as a very concise way of summarizing how nature operates. The unmanifest, is a state of pure potential that cannot be apprehended through the senses. The manifest is the specific information needed for the development of that potential into something in the world not yet available to the senses. The subtle is the kernel charged with specific information needed to bring potentiality into fruition. And the apparent is the actual object that occupies space and has perceivable characteristics such as color, texture, smell and taste. One example could be the notion of a tree, from the pure potential of the concept of the tree (unmanifest), to the complete genetic code of a particular tree (manifest), to one specific seed (subtle) sprouting in the right environment and circumstances conducive to developing into an actual tree (apparent). The involution process of meditation is a progression from the apparent to the subtle to the manifest to the unmanifest, as it was presented in sutra 1.17.
One way of exploring these ideas is by contemplating the process of something you have accomplished or acquired from its fruition to the very beginning of the process when the first idea about it came into your mind. As you contemplate these processes, you may gain insight into the origin of some of your wants and desires – as well as insight into the ways in which you move an idea forward into action. Similarly, contemplating the process of a project or endeavor that was not successful can offer you greater clarity into how some of your beliefs, biases and choices may have influenced the outcome of the project.
You may also explore the meaning of this sutra by reflecting on how life can manifest in apparent ways, as something that can be perceived directly through your senses. Then, you shift your focus to subtle aspects of life that may not be available to the senses yet are part of the experience, but that are available to your intellect and emotion, like all the cellular activities taking place in any living being or activity at the atomic and subatomic levels. You continue by deepening your focus into the manifest aspect of life, as all the intricate interrelations between all aspects of life, like whatever is shared by all beings in a species. For instance, the humanness in all human beings on the planet throughout time. You continue diving deeper by feeling directly the unmanifest aspect of life, its essence pervading all of existence. This life essence cannot be seen, touched or apprehended through the senses in any way. What happens when you examine anything through these lenses of apparent, subtle, manifest and unmanifest? What do you discover?
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
2.19 viśeṣāviśeṣaliṅgamātrāliṅgāni guṇaparvāṇi
विशेषाविशेषलिङ्गमात्रालिङ्गानि गुणपर्वाणि ॥१९॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast: