4.23 When free of identification and reactivity, individual awareness can reflect everything, Consciousness (the seer) and the objects/experiences (the seen), with complete neutrality and all-inclusiveness.
This sutra describes the natural state of individual awareness. This is the state presented as the state of yoga in aphorism 1.3. It is also the state described in sutra 1.41 as samapatti, when the mind and heart are completely open and clear, like a pure crystal reflecting whatever is near without any distortion. This is the state of harmonious integration between individual awareness and the world of experience. Rather than a state of becoming inert, this is a state of joyful participation in the world to enhance the flow of aliveness everywhere. Notice that anything you identify with will potentially become something to explain, justify, perpetuate, or defend.
For instance, if you choose to alter your diet, you probably have good reasons to make that decision. This new choice may generate a label to use to identify yourself as a raw foodist, vegan, fruitarian, vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, paleo, omnivore. As a result, you may come to see differing options as something that competes with, undermines or challenges your perspective. These can lead you to invest time and energy in ensuring that your choice is the best for your life experiment. Noticing this process and your previous views on diet may indicate how your beliefs and ways of thinking and identification have changed over time. It will also show you how those beliefs may have influenced your thoughts, intentions, choices, actions, and interactions. They may even have caused you to become more judgmental of your own actions and of other people’s choices and lifestyles. Notice also that as your preferences and choices change, you internally find ways to create a coherent narrative about you and your life experiment. Holding on to your own identifications requires lots of energy and effort. In addition to reactivity, your investment in your opinions creates an obstacle to opening your heart and mind.
Is there a relationship between your reactivity and your identification with a set of ideas and beliefs?
Is it possible that your reactivity originates in your deeply held opinions?
Are your opinions contributing to open or to close your mind and heart?
To what extent is your heart open?
Is your mind clear and still like the surface of a lake without any ripples?
Are you neutral and inclusive or partial and limiting?
Which of these two attitudes is more conducive to enhancing your aliveness?
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:
4.23 draṣṭṛdṛśyoparaktaṃ cittaṃ sarvārtham
द्रष्टृदृश्योपरक्तं चित्तं सर्वार्थम् ॥२३॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast:
This is an excerpt from the book Unravel the thread: Applying the ancient wisdom of yoga to live a happy life