It can be argued that Chapter One in the Yoga Sutra is about the state of being, unencumbered by our ways of being. The chapter begins by reminding students that preparation and readiness are necessary to embark on the path of yoga. Yoga is regulating the habitual tendencies and patterns that manifest in body, breath, mind and emotion. When these patterns or ways of being are mastered, one’s awareness rests in its own nature instead of becoming identified with the fluctuations of the body-mind-heart system. The ways of being can be helpful or unhelpful and may manifest as correct perception (in the form of direct experience, inference and testimony), incorrect perception, imagination, sleep and memory. To master the fluctuations in the system, a twofold strategy is called for: practice tempered by freedom from attachment.
Practice is cultivated with sincerity, for a long period of time without interruptions. Freedom from attachment is a calm attitude completely unaffected by either external or internal stimuli. Freedom from attachment sets aside beliefs, and it is further deepened by recognizing pure awareness. Complete intuitive understanding unfolds gradually through inquiry, reflection, inner peace and the sense of being. Eventually only the impressions left by past experiences remain. Even subtle identification will eventually be released.
Some people are innate yogis while others progress supported by trust and confidence, vitality, memory, unwavering focus and insight. Commitment and intensity of application vary. An additional, direct path for mastering the ways of being is to realize Supreme Being, a wholehearted and unconditional acceptance of life. Supreme being is unaffected by afflictions, actions or effects, it is the unsurpassed seed of omniscience that is unconditioned by time. Supreme being, the unequaled teacher can be realized through chanting OM, then awareness turns inward and all disturbances are removed. The obstacles and disturbances along the way can be overcome by cultivating one-pointedness and by removing biases and judgment through friendliness, compassion, inspiration and equanimity. One-pointed evenness can be directed to breathing processes, subtle sensations, the inner light, freedom from desire, insight from dreams or anything uplifting. Inner silence deepens as awareness focuses on higher levels of subtlety until there is only the unmediated experience of the focal object. Then, it is possible to experience with great clarity the primordial essence of existence and the rhythm of cosmic wisdom. Impressions of utmost clarity develop and prevent other subconscious impressions from generating internal activity.
I hope you have been enjoying your exploration of the yoga sutras and that the questions in each article have been useful when you try to apply the yoga sutras in your daily life.
As usual, if you may want to explore what it feels like to chant the sutras in chapter one: