2.21 Everything that can be experienced exists for the benefit of the Seer.
This group of sutras talks about the complementary relationship between experience and awareness. While sutras 2.18 and 2.19 explain the world of experience, the previous sutra talks about the nature of awareness. This verse and the two verses that follow explore the relationship and interaction between awareness and experiences. All experiences are in the realm of life. Consciousness, the ability to notice the experiences, is in constant interaction with life. In this context, life is anything and everything that can be experienced, seen, felt, touched, tasted and heard. Consciousness, as mentioned in the previous verse, is the power of knowing, the aspect of you that witnesses your actions and your ways of being. It is useful to think of life as doing and awareness as being.
Returning to the analogy of a movie projector, awareness is the light that is projected, and the film is life, what can be experienced. Even if the roll of film were going through the projector, if there were no light, the movie could not be seen. Likewise, without film there would be no story to see. Arguably the ultimate goal in yoga is to abide in pure awareness without ever getting entangled in identification with any experiences. From this viewpoint, as was presented in 2.18, the purpose of each experience is to lead towards liberation from all misidentification. The purpose of every single frame in the roll of film is to pass in front of the light of the projector (awareness) to provide an opportunity for awareness to witness clearly the difference between life, temporary phenomena, and pure awareness, the knowing or presence at the core of all of existence. The complete set of individual frames is dynamic, resulting from past actions and their stored impressions (2.12-2.14). All experiences provide you with feedback for growing in your capacity to distinguish between life and consciousness.
Encounters between sound and silence, movement and stillness, space and objects are the ways that awareness and life come together all the time. Energy is the catalyst facilitating the interactions between life and awareness. You may choose between two distinct options: identifying with your experiences; or releasing all identification and choosing to experience directly the spaciousness, stillness and silence of pure awareness. To what extent can you recognize these two options in your approach to your yoga practice? Can you notice how you choose between these two options in your everyday life? Are there any patterns in your choices? What are the results of your choices? Are there some thoughts and actions more conducive to connecting to your own awareness? Would it be possible for all your experiences to be vehicles for recognizing your own awareness? Is there a way to embody awareness so that your connection to the spaciousness, stillness and silence pervades all your actions?
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:
2.21 tadartha eva dṛśyasyātmā
तदर्थ एव दृश्यस्यात्मा ॥२१॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast: