Summary of Chapter Four of the Yoga Sutra
The yogic process is a continual journey consisting of removing inefficiencies, restrictions and restraints impeding the optimal flow of awareness through all life processes. In the previous chapters, Patañjali presented yogic paths towards integration (samadhi), transformational yoga practice (sadhana), and the results of the highest yogic practices (vibhuti). This chapter explores the fundamental aspects of nature, awareness, and the manifestation and effects of different kinds of impressions. Chapter Four also explains perception, objects, notions of time, and individual awareness and its purpose. Eradicating misperception delivers lasting freedom from afflictions and integrated harmony with the ongoing flow of life as we fulfill our purpose – to be of service in creating connections with others.
Chapter Four of the Yoga Sutra begins by listing different approaches to cultivating extraordinary powers, a continuation of the major theme in Chapter Three. Subsequently, Patañjali explains the nature of existence and the mutability of nature where primordial energy manifests according to its potential, especially when obstacles to its organic development are removed. The individual sense of self results from its identification with changing phenomena. Through meditation, the impressions of those activities are neutralized so that they stop generating tendencies (vasanas) and potentialities (karma). Those tendencies and potentialities, although they may have been collected at different times and places, will emerge when the conditions are ripe for their fruition. Patañjali continues by formulating a model of mental perception, where the objects perceived are real, not imaginary. The whole process of perception is animated by pure awareness. Eventually, individual awareness releases its ways of being and turns from focusing on the world of experiences to reflecting pure awareness without distortion. With this extraordinary clarity, and without any further distractions, all afflictions and impressions cease. Having released all the binds to temporary experiences and to causality, the deepest degree of integrated harmony emerges as complete absorption in serving the ongoing flow of life. Thus, the qualities of nature, having fulfilled their purpose, can merge into consciousness.
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can chant the all the sutras in Chapter 4:
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