Yoga Sutra Commentary by Swami Brahmananda Saraswati 11-14
Philosophy and Psychology
Submitted By shook127
Now we are going to discuss smriti, which basically means memory. The sutra says anubhuta vishaya asampramoshah smritih. Anubhuta is the first wor, and anubhuta is translated as experienced. Experience in Sanskrit is called anubhuti, so anubhuta is called experienced, an experience that you have already experienced.
Anu means something that follows or follows upon and bhuta means the element. So anubhuta means that which follows the matter field when consciousness or your personal awareness interacts with the matter field and is the tangible experience. Experience is a result of consciousness interacting with the matter fields, and that is anubhuta.
Vishaya is an object of the experience that you have, so in general, they are the five matter fields, but they can also be another pattern of intelligence. One samskara can even have another samskara as its object of experience. Like the drink that I am consuming is a pattern of intelligence, and the personality that’s trying to enjoy it is also a pattern of intelligence.
So when you interact with an object, an experience is created out of it. If you dissect everything and look into it, you will find just five matter fields interacting with five matter fields but in reality there are just two different patterns of intelligence interacting with each other, not necessarily just five matter fields. .
Asampramoshah means kept inside, not letting go or allowing to escape. That is called smritih, memory.
So it says anubhuta which is of experienced, vishaya which is objects of experience, asampramoshah is not letting go or allowing to stay and that is memory. Memory is not allowing an object which has been experienced to escape. So you are not allowing the objects of your experience to escape from your awareness, and that gives rise to the process you go through when you remember things. For example, we eat chocolates that taste very good, and then the awareness just holds on to that object because the experience was there when you were eating it, and you got it, but all that is left now is the objectiveness of whatever that experience was, and so you start thinking that, “Yeah, I will get that experience again if I repeat that action.” The memory of that experience is actually the memory of the object that you have got an experience through and if it was a memory of an experience you already had it, you don’t have to go and get it again. Because it is the memory of the object though, and it is eluding you, so you strive to recreate the feeling because you cannot let it go.
Even my mind is still trying to contact the people who were nice to me before, and I got a feeling that I cannot communicate with them because what I was thinking was a memory, it was just objectified experience that stayed in my awareness, and I didn’t let it go.
This can be linked to judgments and it can be linked to the whole basic family of samskaras. Smriti is like the mother of all the samskaras. This samskara is related to the air element and it is interesting that it is not space element majority, so it is 52% air element and 48% space element, while the sleep was just the opposite.
There is something very interesting that happens when you look into the Vedic philosophy. When there are groups of five, the last two of a group of five are put in an unconventional way. And in this group of five samskaras, smriti is mentioned the last because it is the source of all the samskaras. That’s why it is mentioned at this last even though it does not belong to the original element of space.
But the first thing that came out of the space was air so air will be the first modification, and it might give rise to a phenomena which can even affect the mother element. The air element can even give rise to other samskaras which can ultimately even question the existence of space and try to destroy everything up to the space. So that’s why this is the last samskara mentioned and now how does it work?
Asampramoshah. Asam means not and pramoshah means letting go, and smriti is memory. Smriti is dominated by the air element and the air element has a relation with the nervous system. When your nervous system is connected to the water or air element, we call sometimes people airhead because know that exposure to the very cold or very airy environment can affect your nervous system. You also see that when you inhale gas you might die because of a brain stroke, not because of a heart stroke because you will get a nervous system failure. So the air element related to nervous system, and memories are held as patterns, dynamic patterns in the field of air and they can become so silent that it will be totally unnoticeable.
Think about when you meditate, what happens? Your breath slows down completely and becomes very, very slow, but in that slow environment, it is still continuing all the vibrations. In this tangible reality, air is a medium that is used to communicate the vibrations.
So in a vacuum or space, you will not be able to listen to anything, and air and anything after the element of air will be able to be heard. With water though, you can listen to sound but maybe not as clearly as you can with air. And you can also listen to the fire element or the earth element, but it won’t be as clear as air. In space though, you cannot listen to any sound so you have to use the light because either you can use the things that are born out of space or you can use something that the space is born out of. One can use the radioactive frequencies to actually communicate with each other, and those are the light aspects of the creation.
Magnetism is related to the radioactivity which is ultimately related to the light. Electricity, magnetism, and gravity, all these force fields, are related to light.
A calcified mind is what gives rise to light. When the field of mind starts to get more calcified, it starts to focus into light.
There are five participating members. There is physical body which is made up of five matters. Then there is pranic body which is the prana, or life force. Then there is manomaya kosha which is the dimension of mind. Then there is the ego and intellect after the mind field and that is the vijnanamaya kosha. The fifth inner membrane is the anandamaya kosha which is the bliss and then there is Shiva and Shakti’s Atma together, and finally there is the Paramatma which is the one reality, the unified field. Each level down, you are talking about a greater dimension which encompasses and gives rise to all the other dimensions.
So earth element, water element, the fire element and air element, they are contained within the space element. But if space can contain at all that, then space is contained in the field of prana, and the prana and light is that interface, and then the dimension of mind contains prana, light and all the five matters that we are talked about.
But the mind can have many more aspects existing in it, for example all of the known existence, whatever will be tangible or sensed will be at the level of mind. So the mind is Self contained inside the ego, inside the dimension of ego and the ego is contained within anandamaya kosha and then the atma is contained by the ultimate, the Paramatma, which is beyond all.
So if you start to look at the beginning of creation, there was the Parmatma, the one unified field. From the unified field came the atma or the individual soul. From the atma came the bliss and out of the bliss was created ego and intellect and out of ego and intellect, mind.
Now the mind has very interesting phenomena to it. The mind is all encompassing so even though it was born out of ego and intellect, it reaches all the way to the soul or atma. So the soul as well as the things that evolve, that came out from mind, meaning light, prana, and the five elements, are within the reach of the mind. The ultimate samskaras, are held in the ego/intellect, or the vijnanamaya kosha and they are reflected on the screen of the mind.
So your mind is basically a screen because it does not have anything of itself. We notice that the samskaras must have something more solid to be embedded on and so they are rooted in the ego, but they are projected or expressed in the mind in form of thoughts, and those then affect your pranic body and that leads to a tangible reality in which we live.
It is the ego which is what has tried to reflect its own image. If nature works in a way that the ego always tries to project, but over time that resolution gets lower over time, then it starts building limits on itself because every time the ego tries to project something, it starts creating more and more boundaries about itself and this gives rise to the patterns of intelligence or samskaras.
Now at the level of unified field, it is a soup that contains everything, but in a very abstract form. Even before that, there is this void that Hath Yoga Pradipika talks about where there is nothing, absolutely nothing, and you cannot conceive what that would be. After that, there is a place which arises that is the chitta we talked about earlier, and the word Shiva-Shakti comes together, and that’s where the soul is at.
Then that first dimension arises, chitta and it is just everywhere. Think about that word, everywhere, in terms of space. It means that you can have worlds and universes within an atom and it will still all be contained within the chitta because space can mean outer space, inner space, or any kind of space, and when chitta pervades space, it permeates through all kinds of space.
The tangible physical body that we have is the last thing that was created in this illusion, and here things got quite rigid with boundaries. And things can even get denser than our physical body on this plane, for example boulders or weights.
So that’s the progression, starting from the unified field. And we can even see this progression in general life. It's funny that how we are projecting exactly what we truly are, no matter which tradition we come from or which country we come from.
If you are planning to create a company, and there was the company’s building trust, but no company’s building. What do you do? You create ideas. Out of ideas would come out a memory. Somehow you are trying to remember something about the greatness of the universe, and somehow you’re getting it in a fragmented form, and it's giving rise to the imagination which is the fire element.
I’m leaving out the nidra because you already are breaking out of the nidra by entertaining thought. That’s why you start with memory. Out of that smriti, you are getting imagination, and you start imagining elaborate plans about making a building, it’s not just a thought anymore. Then you have a lucid structure. And 30 years later there is Apple Incorporation Limited. It even has a headquarters in California, very tangible.
You can even look at the process in reverse and trace back the abstract ideas from the tangible reality. You can see how a dream or vision of how the company was made to function became a reality just by watching how the company had changed over the years and what it did or didn’t do in the tangible reality to ensure that the initial vision stayed alive.
So matter is the point value manifestation of the infinite but when it chooses to manifest at a point, it loses its infiniteness. It carries that as a potential then. And if you choose to re-express that potency, then that point value might still be there, but then it will not be limited to itself and can express the potency as well as the point value at the same time. So what we do in normal life is only half of our true potential. We take the unmanifest infinite and manifest as a point, but then we track ourselves in that point, and we forget that we can re-express that infinite potency.
What happens usually is that we get started from a point and the process which we are to break through those points into infinity requires a great deal of determination, but bringing infinity to a point is very easy in comparison. For a tree to come out of a seed, you will see it’s a longer process, it requires a lot of determination and care and more inner abundance because that’s the only thing that a seed has but a tree already has that expressed abundance, external infinity so it can create a point or even a bunch of points, or seeds, very easily.
So that is what we are talking about. We are all the seeds of God and we can become a tree. We just need to dig ourselves deep down in the earth, drink up water, take up sunlight and grow leaves.
Now the memory that earth is holding is the most superficial copy of memory that we have. Let’s say that I had a file right on the desktop and if I didn’t get it on the desktop, that does not mean that I completely lose the file. If I only know how to find the file on the desktop and nowhere else in my computer, then yes, it is lost. So we just need to have the right way of re expressing the potency.
The feedback mechanism of memory is always reverberating. It touches point A, and goes to point B. So you open your eyes and you see something and that is how your consciousness sees but then what is seen is taken back in. From the senses, it goes to the pranic body and then to the mind. Then from mind, a copy is sent to the ego. At the ego, we have all that memory is stored in a very compact seed form and mind keeps a copy as long as we have a pranic body and we have it available to us.
For example if you see a scene in a movie. You will see that the bad guy is going to get killed, because the previous scene was the bad guy doing all the bad things. So that memory is available to your brain already that the bad guy doing bad things because you saw it in other movies, and now you are seeing the bad guy getting killed, and you start making a correlation because you saw it. Then you brought the other memory from the ego to your mind so that you can have that as a preceding factor, and you took this new thing to strengthen the force of the memory and now you have a correlation that the bad man needs to die, and that is how the feedback mechanism always reverberates.
I think even if you destroy earth, you will just be destroying nothing more than the tangible reality. The biggest problem of that will be that the integrity that you have been able to achieve, the level of consciousness you have been able to achieve, the amount of evolution you have been able to achieve would be stored in a seed form.
If you cut down a tree, there might still be a seed which can grow, but it will take much more time for the tree to grow again. If you were planning to get a fruit from that tree and the tree got destroyed before it could actually even produce seeds or fruits, yes, there will be some cells which have the DNA which contain all the information about the fruit and the flowers and how it should be but then it really has to find the right ground, the right thing, and it has to find a much more perfect method because now you are trying to create a tree from a DNA, and not even from a seed.
So there is a loss in that sense, and that’s why we want to keep living because in this life, so that the continuum of consciousness is maintained somewhat. And thus, whatever work you were doing, whatever integration you had created on this perfect level was bringing you to a peak from where you can easily see the source or can approach it.
But there comes a time where you reach to a level of independence because your mind has liberated enough, and it has made enough correlation, and it has actualized in freedom so if you leave the physical body, it doesn’t matter.
Maharshi left his body, Gurudev left his body, Jesus left his body, and many other saints left their body. But before they left their body. they were completely awakened. They all had achieved at least cosmic consciousness and that is why they don’t even need to come back and have a body if they don’t want to because they have already finished their homework or they have untied the bondage that they needed to. but sometimes they still choose to incarnate and take a point value manifestation because they think that they can create a greater integration around.
So it always varies in a case-by-case situation in that sense. In generalized idea, yes, you can be with a body, and you can be in a state where you’re just having a body; you don’t necessarily really need it to maintain the continuum of your consciousness. Or in some cases, you just leave it because you really don’t need it anymore.
But in some cases, we have to leave the body even though we are not ready to leave, even though we did not take the advantage of this lifetime and then we will be born in another family or in another place, and we will have more samskaras inherited from those families that we are born into, and we will be bringing more karmas from this life because we are always doing karma.
Never think that you are not doing anything. There are only three things that can happen: You can do something to enhance your evolution; you can do something to really speed up your path to the devolution, or you can choose to stay inert. In all those three cases, you are making a choice.
The first choice will be sattvic choice where you made a choice to evolve. The second choice will be rajasic choice where you basically choose to just fool around and just do whatever, and you spend all this energy. Not necessarily it was directly degrading, but you missed that opportunity that could have been used, evolved. The last and third one is tamasic where you go down because you literally chose to do dark things.
So to sum up, smriti, memory is simply a pattern of intelligence holding on to the object of experience in the fabric of your consciousness; and that is a smriti.
And you will find the smriti as a factor in all the samskaras because it is the mother samskara, but it can get more complicated, and it can result into worse. Like you can have an infection, and then it can lead you to wound. Now you have two problems compared to one. First, there was infection. Then infection is still there, and it led to wound.Same thing with smriti, that smriti can lead to another samskara, subsequent samskaras, and create more and more complications.
Again, your senses are also connected to five elements. You have your nose, your eyes relate to fire; your skin relates to something; your ears relate to something, so that all these little things they are related. They have a core family, samskaras, doshas, dhatus, yoga practices. You can all categorize them with the five bhutas, the five elements.
Okay. So now let’s talk about abhyasa vairagyabhyan tat nirodhah. We discussed and pondered in a great detail into the problems that might be there in the path of yoga or into the factors I would use instead of problems that might be inhibiting the state of integration or destroying the integration. And those are the five factors we learn.
How to take care of them is through two simple solutions. First solution is abhyasa; second is vairagya. It says abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah. Abhyasa means persistent practice. We will go in great detail into what abhyasa means in the next sutra. Vairagya means non-attachment or absence of desire or detachment. And tat nirodhah, tat means of death, and nirodhah mean inhabitance. So persistent practice or consistent practice and detachment inhibits the different vrittis.
So continuous practice and detachment is what inhibits the samskaras from destroying your integration or samskaras from happening or the modifications of the physical degradation from happening. So these are the two ways.
In sutra #13, it says tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa. Tatra means of those. Sthitau means for being firmly established or fixed. Yatnah is effort or endeavor, and abhyasah is the practice. I have heard it translated it as abhyasah is the effort for being firmly established in that state which is the state of yoga but I do not completely appreciate this translation and the reason is that yes, abhyasah is an effort for being firmly established in the state of yoga, but to say it better, I will say abhyasah is the state of consistent practice or being firmly established in the consistent practice. So it itself is a state of being and where the continuous efforts are made, consistent efforts are made. Consistent practice means you practice every day and being in that state of consciousness where you are practicing every day continuously, that is what the abhyasah is.
Continuous practice pertains to the practice of yoga, pertains to the techniques of yoga. It basically pertains to the very first principle that atha yogah anushasanam. Continuity of that first principle is abhyasah, and that has to be exercised in all the choices, all the efforts you take.
So what if I do not get to do my yoga practice every day, but I get to do it consistently throughout the week or it is like it is part of my life even though it is not – it’s even for meditation practice, and I will be able to do it every single time but at least it will a continuous part of my life. And that is interesting, too, and that is a good point. It does not mean that every minute you have to be doing your primary series because else, then you can’t live yoga. If that’s what it means, then you are stuck to yoga, you can’t even eat, so how long you are going to do it. That is not going to be yoga and that actually can become an act of disintegration.
So you basically get forced into a way of living where you are trying to create the most or maximum possible integration through your choices. That is the practice of yoga. That is integration in practice or the yoga in practice. Practice basically means it takes efforts or endeavors, and you are being firmly established in that practice of yoga.
But not to take away the grounding aspect of it because I know when I say this, many people think like yeah, then I don’t need to do yoga. Then I can just do whatever and as long as my mind and my intention is at the right place, I’m doing yoga.
You need the integration in all the fields, and a maximum possible integration is a trick. When you have a thousand aspects to your daily life, and you’re trying to keep the maximum integrity, trying to uphold the maximum integrity in all the parts of life that you live, it is a 24x7 job.
So many people, they sing a lot of chanting, songs and things like that, and then they eat whatever trash they need to, and they think that they are doing the yoga. But the results are going to be proportional. Their body is not going to be experiencing yoga. In Patanjali, it brings this very interesting fact. He says that life exists as bunch of fields, and in each individual field, you have power to choose to commit certain type of actions.
You can choose not to act, but even in not acting, you are acting. So that is an action. Let’s say that somebody comes and starts hitting me, I choose not to retaliate. In that, too, I’m doing something; I’m letting the person beat me up. That is a passive way of acting.
So it leaves us with only one choice that you just need to make the best possible use of that choice that you are given because by not using it, you’re also losing, and by abusing it, you’re also losing. So you can only use it in a right way, and you try your best.
Patanjali is not preaching. Patanjali is simply taking observations. It’s almost as if I’m giving somebody advice on diabetes and lifestyle, and if I tell them that if you follow all these factors and depending on how much and how strictly you follow them, you will be getting the results, and that would be reflected into how much integration you have achieved in terms of your pancreas or liver or your sugar. And then however much of that yoga they will practice, that’s how much yoga that is going to be resulting from it, that is how many samskaras that will dissolve.
So that is important. Don’t forget that all the elements, water, fire, earth, space, are all important. So take enough sleep that you need so that you can destroy the samskara of nidra, so that you can charge yourself enough, and do enough physical practice so you can have a good samskara, a free earthy existence, enough vinayasa. Vinayasa does not only mean moving in the mat, but it means enough movement, enough maneuvering in the life, and that will establish the water element and establish enough smriti, and smriti is interesting.
Smriti shruti puranam. It means that by listening to that vibration of magnified field, the memories are brought of our boldness. So practicing meditation or transcending is what is going to help to balance the the space element in you which is the source of all the creation in life.
That’s why meditation becomes most extremely important phenomena for human beings. Some people don’t do it; some people do it, and those who do know the difference. Those who don’t do it, they also know when they start doing it what they were missing out on.
The techniques that we give on the mat are much more like concentrated formula. I almost think about them as health supplements that you take but then you also eat general food because you can’t be only eating supplements. So you will still live the reality throughout when you are doing things, trying to use your body instead of trying to use machines as much as you can, so that your body stays fit.
Then same thing about rest. You need rest throughout the day or you need to take little breaks. You don’t have to make it only once a day. If you need to make it more, make it. So the whole area of life, when you start practicing and you get firmly established in that practice, that state will be the state of abhyasa. So that is abhyasa. Abhyasa is very important because without abhyasa you can’t reach to kaivalya, the final state of absolution.
This sutra is a pretty practical one. It states sah means that; tu means indeed; dirgha kala means long time; nairantaira means with uninterrupted continuance; satkara which means reverence, earnestness; asevitah means pursuit, practice, follow-up, and dridha bhumih means firm ground. It becomes firmly grounded on being continued for long time without interruption and with reverent devotion.
We will translate in a different way, and that is the right way. It creates or brings about the dridha bhumih, the solid ground, in practice for a long time or if pursued for a long time with reverence. So in practice, it is very important that we understand these three things. The practice must be continued for a long time, there should be no interruptions, and the path of yoga should be practiced or lived with spirit of reverence or devotion in a welcoming way.
I have seen some yogis who are very tense about their practice, rigid, and they have not just rigidity, but they have a set of samskaras as if they are doing favor to the creation by practicing the yoga, or they are doing a favor to others.
If you do not have a reverence, then ultimately things will not end up being very fruitful. Like the companies who do not really respect and reward their employees, then sooner or later, they meet a very bad end. Or a family in which the parents do not respect their little kids, then later, the family is broken up.
So it is important to understand the concept of reverence and as soon as your whole life is yoga, then reverence does not mean only the asana practice that we do here; it means having reverence just towards existence, and that will lead you towards more yoga. Just having that reverence, that devoted spirit, that appreciation for everything that is there is important to having that light feeling.
You cannot come from a gloomy dark place because that itself becomes something else. Many people start on the path of yoga, and they are like frogs of the monsoon season, in India they are called. The frogs of the monsoon means that in monsoon season, you find frogs all around because it’s raining, and they get super excited, and everywhere you hear them making sounds tar, tar, tar. But then in summertime, there are only very few found.
Same thing happens with yogis or yoginis because there is so much glamour in the field of yoga, and you can’t escape the glamour because it is part of life and it just brings that life and brings that feeling, but it’s a very different type of glamour. It is not a glamour that a movie star gets. It has a very sattvik quality to itself. Many just get attracted to that, and then that becomes their memory, and that becomes their smriti. Their smriti is no more the Vedas. Their smriti of the operating place becomes that object, that experience that they see in other people and they desire it and never reach to the true sense of yoga.
They still reach somewhere because of these techniques, they still put as much effort as you’re going to put in, but you’re going to get something out of it, and they will miss out at times. So that’s why they don’t fall into practice for a long time; it can take lifetimes. And how can you not be happy even if it takes a few lifetimes. You’re getting such a good deal. You are getting to be the whole creation; you are getting to cancel out the karma that you might have been created out of billions of lifetimes. So please be ready to practice till the end and never give up.
The third thing I need to mention is the continuance, nairantaira, so not taking breaks. Like I’m going to be nonviolent for as long as I feel nonviolent, and I become violent the day I feel like and I kill people or hit them, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m nonviolent again.” It’s not going to work. So try not to produce interruptions in that. Those are the three things, continuous practice, no interruptions, no weird gaps, and a lot of reverence.