3.13 Consequently, awareness attunes to changes in the senses and in the natural world. These changes manifest as variations of properties (dharma), characteristics (lakshana) and states (avastha) and include changes in one’s own being.
Your capacity to maintain your single-focused attention enables you to direct your awareness so that you can notice the changing nature of all phenomena, including the external world as well as the changes in your own body, mind, and emotions. Patañjali and the traditional commentators indicate that something that exists manifests with specific properties (dharma). Those properties are different for a horse, a cow, and a dog. Although they are all animals, their properties make them different from one another in height, weight, appearance, strength, and speed. Each one of those animals will display its own set of specific characteristics (lakshana). For instance, a calf’s characteristics are different from another calf of the same age born to a different mother and different from those of a calf belonging to a different breed. The state or condition (avasthana) will change over time. At some point a dog may be young and another time it will be old; similarly it can be happy, unhappy, clean or dirty, healthy or unhealthy. Everything that exists, including you and your internal world, manifests along those three dimensions: properties, characteristics, and condition.
The canonical example offered by Vyasa is clay. Clay has some properties. When you shape it into a bowl its characteristics will change. If you made several bowls from the same clay but you choose to keep some unfired, others bisque fired, and others glazed fired, their characteristics will change. These varying characteristics will influence the state of each bowl. As time goes by, you will notice that they will age differently, so even when they are all old, their characteristics will be different. Paying attention to those three dimensions enables you to notice changes.
You are a unique manifestation of the properties of a human being, with specific characteristics that change over time. Your state or condition also changes. Focusing your awareness on these changes makes it possible for you to notice all in you that is in constant change as well as the vantage point from where you are observing. Being aware of what changes reveals if there is anything in you that is not subject to change.
Can you notice the changes in the characteristics of your physical body over time?
Can you tell that your ideas and thoughts have changed?
(For instance, is what you consider important now the same as what was important to you five or ten years ago?)
Are you aware of how your emotions change as well as why?
Are the stories you tell yourself the same as they were some years ago? Among all these changes is there anything that has remained the same?
For instance, if you celebrate your birthday every year, is there anything that remains the same despite the physical changes your body is undergoing?
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:
3.13 etena bhūtendriyeṣu dharmalakṣaṇāvasthā pariṇāmā vyākhyātāḥ
एतेन भूतेन्द्रियेषु धर्मलक्षणावस्था परिणामा व्याख्याताः ॥१३॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast: