If you carefully study the whole textbook of Patanjali, entitled „Yogasutra”, you will notice that the classical collection of teachings on pursuing the path is divided into four parts or series of teachings. It turns out that all traditions and spiritual schools, starting with Egypt and ending with India, divided the entirety of their teachings and practices into four series. When you realise that the beginning is at the beginning and the end is at the end, the classification of stages appearing on the path will reveal itself to you. Together there exist four quarters of the spiral which leads one higher, into the depths, towards Light, Love, Wisdom and Truth.
Four Circles, chapters or stages are presented also by Zen Masters, as well as in the Mystery School founded by Jesus: 12 of His closest disciples constituted the most Internal Circle, 72 further disciples formed its Higher Circle, 500 disciples were his Advanced Circle, and all the remaining disciples, and there were thousands of them, were within the Circle of Learning. Four stages included in Patanjali’s Yogasutras have the following names:
- Samadhi-padah, i. e. the Path of Concentration in the Light; The Circle of Learning;
- Kriya-padah, i. e. the Path of Internal Action, Ritual;
- Vibuthi-padah, i. e. the Path of Miraculous Power, the Higher Circle;
- Kaivalya-padah, i. e. the Path of Ultimate Liberation.
Critical words such as samadhi, kriya, vibuthi abd kaivalya are the leading themes and at the same time the means (method) and the end of practising within each particular class of yoga.
Can you begin the journey already with the third or second class? If you are a person who is properly prepared, who possesses all the traits of a disciple and who has completed a particular class, then, undoubtedly, there are no contraindications. Yet, I would like to present these vehicles in detail, starting from the very beginning and, even if you discover that you are far ahead of the first class: you will still see the whole Path.
I believe that vast analogies between diverse spiritual traditions will to a large degree facilitate opening one’s mind and understanding that all people pursue the same Path: the Eternal Way of Divine Wisdom, Love and Righteousness. Ideals such as Purity, Devotion, Justice, Truth, Love, Wisdom, Bliss, all these attributes are Devatas, radiant celestial embodiments, God’s Angels whose consciousness we essentially attain when we reach this level of self-development. Harmony with nature, Pure Conscience are probably the first angels that a Pilgrim will encounter on his way.
Samadhi is Yoga of the First Initiation Circle. You may recognise that the first quarter of the circle constitutes a method of practising that is called SAMADHI YOGA. Numerous Spiritual Teachers go as far as to identify yoga with samadhi and they even use these terms interchangeably. Concentration (samadhi) is a certain form of unity, unification (yoga), one may understand it so.
The four initial verses of „Yogasutras” basically introduce one into the entirety of teachings and into the essence of what the School of Mystery has been dealing with ever since teaching and practices were begun. Maybe It will be appropriate to quote these verses now in a readable version, adapted to the English alphabet, in order to create the so-called foundation. This is the text in Sanskrit in the English transcription:
- ATHA YOGANUSH ASNAM
- YOGASH CHITTA VṚTTI NIRODDHAH
- TADA DRASHTUH SVARUPE VASTHANAM
- VṚTTI SVARUPYAM ITARATRA
The simplest translation of these phrases is contained in the following words:
- teaching yoga begins with initiation.
- Yoga means stopping (restraining) all consciousness-related phenomena (activities, creations).
- when phenomena relating to consciousness become restrained (subject to control), then the Witness (Drashta, Spectator, one who perceives directly, by means of intuition) maintains his own nature.
- In a different case, i. e. when he does not appear in his own shape, Drashta (Witness, Spectator, the Self) possesses the nature which is identical to consciousness-related phenomena (activities, creations).
Unambiguous, or uniform translation of these Sanskrit words is not possible, as this is a very rich and meaningful language. It creates a world of exploration and metaphors for a mystic. Essentially, words can convey only a distant idea of The World of Spirit, and even the World of Psyche. The abundance of meanings and contents which are hidden in simple verses allows people who represent different stages of Knowledge (Veda, Gnosis) to explore the profundity of the Path. Therefore, it is a mystical text which requires description, clarification, insight and deep intellectual capacity. In this lesson, though, we intend to deal with only four verses.
The word ATHA means „I” in the sense of initiating, introducing, the onset of something new. We are introduced into something we are not familiar with. A proper word used by Teachers here is Dikshan, which contains five reputable meanings: initiation (establishment), introduction, acceptance, blessing and transmission. By analogy, Sufis use the Persian word Bayat, which means initiation, introduction, swearing an oath, joining in.
The entire Patanjali’s work is a collection of aphorisms and sayings for those who teach yoga and who learnt it by means of transmission, i. e. they were taught. Anushasana is interpreted as a transmission of knowledge, teaching, precisely in the same sense as sermons are preached. Fundamentally, what Jesus or Krishna did, was teaching. This is an assumption of the proper attitude so that the vibration transmitted can flow to us.
Patanjali’s „Yogasutras” contain exactly clues on how to teach and what to teach to yoga disciples and the main topics of lectures (sermons). You may explore it as a textbook for those who teach yoga, i. e. for a competent person: Acharya – Teacher. Mental short cuts, a lot of contents compressed in few words and in apparently unrelated verses result from the fact that Patanjali addressed his work to people who were familiar with the entire path of yoga, and who learnt it both by way of transmission and from their own experience. And only such people are competent enough to interpret it!
As my Guru teaches, the essence of the word ATHA is creation of the mood which is proper for the transmission of initiation. Introduction of such a sublime and uplifting atmosphere is the key here. Only then a true transmission of yoga: all the paths of teachings and practices, is possible.
Internally, at the level of the vibration of a sound archetype, which flows with the words of an ancient language, what is externally understood as teaching is a basis of the name (vibration, sound), where asana means literally „sitting” and nam is a root syllable which means „word, sound, vibration”, as well as „name”. The root „anush” indicates revelation, inflitration, connection. The NAM syllable, when it is used in the right way, is a purifying and developing vibration which intensifies the function of the so-called Third Eye inside our head.
ASANA, i. e. „sitting” is the literal work that you do during yoga activities or at any other authentic school of spiritual development. A proper way to do this preliminary work is to sit with one’s legs crossed (sukhasana) or in a kneeling position (vajrasana). The spine should remain in a vertical position, so, simply speaking, we should be sitting upright. This is not written anywhere, but it may be concluded from the transmission. Guru sits with his legs crossed, or kneeling, or in a similar position. It is ideal when you sit in a position identical to that of your Master and Teacher. When we observe the religions of the East, including Christianity, we notice that everybody practises either in a kneeling position or with their legs crossed. On some other occasion I intend to discuss health-related and spiritual benefits resulting from this position.
Nam indicates that teaching originates from word, from sound and from name. Jesus also mentions that „My word, the one that I said to You, purified You”. Spoken word that is listened to is a very essential part of the studies, that’s why we continue organising Laya Yoga or Sufi seminars and workshops, or other workshops for particular branches of the Himavanti Confraternity Brotherhood.
Anush indicaes that there is something in the sitting position as well as in the spoken word that penetrates us, something that reveals itself to us. Therefore, this is basically a method which enriches us. We attain enlightenment by entering new realms of comprehension, understanding and feeling, and, last but not least, we embark on a new way of living, the space of normal spiritual life.
The entirety, i. e. YOGANUSHASANAM informs us and announces to us the Reconcilliation with the Word that Reveals Itself, and, on the other hand, it announces the Unification of the Sound, Sitting and Understanding. One aspect of Yoga, that which refers to subjugation, as some authors explain, appears when you are thinking about a few hours of sitting during a lecture or a practice. Even sitting is considered by some spiritual schools to be the essence. Needless to mention zen or sufi, which offer exactly this very method at the very beginning. The first Christians used to sit in a kneeling position (there were no benches or kneelers in those times) during their mystical masses. This is the way to discover the complete Mystery of Himavant.
Tonnes of commentaries have been written so far on the significance of Reconcilliation (Communion, Unification), on the significance of Revelation, on the significance of Sitting, and, certainly, on the Name (Word, Sound, Vibration). These short lessons do not suffice to repeat everything that was discussed in Vedaic, Buddhist, or Christian works devoted to those topics.
Vital teachings concerning quietening the mind and tranquility are included in the second verse. This verse is translated in the form of a definition of the yoga process: „stopping the thinking mind”. That which is perceived and realised (CHITTA), is brought under control (i. e. made quiet). All VṚTTI (pronounce: vritti), i. e. phenomena or activities which appear in the realm of consciousness (are realised), or are perceived, become restrained. Yoga is defined here as restraining or calming down all the confusion and choaos that attracts our attention, i.e. which appears in all aspects of our psyche, our lower soul, or our subconsciousness.
NIRODDHA is a state where nothing „is born”, nothing is created. Restraining should be interpreted here as „non-emergence”. The consciousness begins to attain the state of BEING, pure Existence. CHITTA is the same consciousness, uncontaminated attention, the state of BEING HERE AND NOW. The observer (Drashta) observes and is the state of observing, he is an observing being that is not conditioned by the fleeting phenomena of this transient world. Yoga is peacefulness among the mundane changes and transformations.
Attaining one’s own, innate Original Nature is the third topic of our introduction to Yoga. The Observer’s Consciousness, the Faithful Witness (Drashtra) attains his original, innate shape which is called SVARUPA. Becoming Oneself or attaining the Real Self are considered to be principal topics here.
AVASTHANAM suggests immobilisation, ascertaining or establishing, something that is eternal- (AVA)- lasting-(STHA). It is a state in which one remains, in which one resides. You must understand that this is a state of restraining, i. e. clearing up all confusion, chaos, the state where all phenomena cease to exist. Interpreters treat this excerpt as an indicator: „Enter the state of timeless, cosmic silence”, or „Submerge yourself in the Ocean of Eternal Silence”. One may say: Simply Be. Let’s practise Being Here and Now.
SVARUPA – literally Self’s Shape or Self’s Form, is a vessel in which the Witness (Drashta), or Observer, The One who Perceives, begins to dwell. This is analogous to the mystical concept of the House of the Father who is near, which was created in Christian gnosis. One is to enter this house in order to pray or meditate there. Go into your chamber and lock the door! Locked door means that nothing from the external world is allowed to permeate the house indoors.
The discovery of the Real Self usually begins when one asks oneself: „WHO AM I?” (Ko Ham?). Who is asking here? The very consciousness of the Witness, the One Who IS, who asks. Who does he ask? If thoughts bring answers in the form of thoughts, then you are not yourself, this is not your true shape. If more bliss and silence flow to you, then the One who Asks and the One who is Asked, are One. You blend with your True Nature of the Light of Consciousness. This is the correct answer.
DRASHTA, i. e. the the Spectator, the SELF, in a different case, i. e. when they not appear in their own shape, they indentify themselves with various transitory phenomena. Then you experience yourself as a phenomenon and you experience changing circumstances as yourself. It is a state of submerging oneself in a fantasy, in an illusion. This is also a part of the yoga process. The spectator goes through everything and experiences everything by assuming the nature of what he experiences, i. e. he becomes it. Then you are your own pain or your own pleasure. This is full confirmation and experience of life, with everything that it brings. This is the message of the fourth verse.
The third and the fourth verse already bring two separate directions of self-perfection:
- separating oneself from the phenomena relating to consciousness and residing within one’s depths. Being above the world and its vicissitudes.
- fully conscious submerging in all the phenomena of life and full experience of what it brings (VṚTTI SVARUPYAM). Generally, two paths of yoga are mentioned here: the so-called right and left paths. Essentially, thanks to practising, they both lead to the same destination.
CHITTA – consciousness flows as a stream of thoughts, emotions and instincts shaped by the matter, the substance (VṚTTI) of the material world of phenomena (including the psychic one). Drashta – the Self, the Spectator is first a small self – one limited by time, space and own conditioning, and later it turns into a Grand True I – in its own shape. But the unawareness of all limitations must vanish, and then the realisation of one’s innate potential immediately liberates the Witness from restraints which his true, inborn nature imposed on him.
The Spectator is initiated into the crucial element of Exploring Nature on a subtle plane of Pure Consciousness. Here’s the introduction if basic truths that are contaied in these mere four verses:
- ATHA YOGANUSH ASNAM
- YOGAŚ CITTA VṚTTI NIRODDHAH
- TADA DRASHTUH SVARUPE VASTHANAM
- VṚTTI SVARUPYAM ITARATRA
Strangely enough, these verses, by way of analogy, are sort of an introduction, or a clue for male and female disciples who intend to prepare themselves for the practice in four subsequent grand Circles of Yoga Teaching, which respectively provide a quadruple vehicle of preparation for the great spiritual journey along the divine, sunny path of spiritual initiations. Practising each of the four subsequent verses is truly a good preparation for the entire path of spiritual and religious mysticism, which yoga is in its essence:
Chatur Maha-yoga (Four initiation Circles of the Grand Yoga of Lord Shiva):
These are the grand circles of the Vedaic Laya Yoga representing the Himavanti transmission line!
Acharya Lalit’ Mohan G.K.