Old age has a few benefits. We old timers have very little invested in the future as defined, and thus automatically less attachment to this life. One advantage of old age is that one is free to say whatever they truly believe, no matter what past attachments existed that were dictated or colored upon how others would approve favorably or not. A disadvantage of old age, besides the inevitable debility of the physical vessel (body), is the *tendency* toward nihilism, withdrawal from nature, and life-negation in general. That biased tendency can be remedied through yoga by understanding the union of primordial awareness and the true nature of phenomena, which, after all, intelligently shines through all-time and space, as the result of successful yogic practice. That negative tendency is normally increased with the approach of physical death; but it can also serve as the invocation of the primordial teacher extinguishing all fear, Maheshvara. It is also difficult to avoid framing yoga in terms of the temporal past, in terms of current paradigms, conventional frameworks, and the present yuga (world system) -- in limited terms of static frozen form. Again, this difficulty is overcome through the junction/union of boundless space and timeless awareness, mutually coexisting in the freshness of the here and now -- in All Our Relations. That is the motif of authentic yoga that will be presented in the following pages.
In the past, I studied yoga both from the academic and religious viewpoints as well as through concentrated praxis/practice. The former approach had its pros and cons. It provided a “perspective” and intellectual/logical and provisional context on yoga; yet at the same time, it was a self-limited approach, as it tended to color and prejudice my practice because such maps are mere guideposts on the journey, but not the final result. In short, a yogic practitioner must put theory to a test in the cauldron of an active practice, until samadhi is directly experienced free from limitations and conditioning.
This internal conflict between theory and practice continued for many years. Eventually, I realized that the only yogic benefit of theory was to empower a successful practice by pointing the yoga practitioner back to an effective experiential practice. Those with academic, philosopher, or religious bents of mind may differ on this crucial point. Lacking self-confidence as a youth, I most often sought answers, direction, guidance, and authority from the published books, teachers, and external authorities; but eventually I realized that such conformity was inauthentic. I realized the real intent of yoga; i.e., that such feelings of confidence, trust, meaning, guidance, and authority were found within through cutting out the fat, discarding past conditioning, and allowing the light of inner wisdom (prajna/jnana) to direct us. When that opening occurred through practice, then I recognized the presence of that very same authority (latent or activated) within all. Then, I was able to interact in All My Relations in that an increasingly continuous space of mutuality -- of clarity and light.
After studying the Yoga Sutras and practicing yoga for over 45 years, I decided to write my own translation. The first reason for writing this translation was that I found after dedicated practice, certain realizations resulted from praxis that did not fit within the boxlike framework of the standard and common interpretations and translations of the Yoga Sutras. Hence, I thought it worth while to make notes of these alternative possibilities. As these experiences continued, I wrote these down and decided to discuss and share them with others, as well as to free my own mind from institutionalized hegemony, sycophancy, and ideology by having a written record. A pattern was made clear. Yoga was not a matter of conformity and obedience to external rules, externally imposed discipline, external authority, or a patriarchal tradition; rather, yoga concerns itself with an internal process (inner awakening) – of knowing the true nature of our own mind so that we can view an unobstructed reality free from delusion.
Yet another, albeit related, reason for completing this translation was presenting the important role of asana in the overall scheme of yoga. As so-called hatha yoga became more popular in the West, I met many friends, who had taken up yoga as a practice. Unless I was teaching in an ashram, for the most part, when I asked them what it was that they liked or got from yoga, their answers generally were that yoga made then feel good. When I asked further, how that was so, there was generally a lack of articulation or self understanding. Many answered that they were proud of their body, that they were more confident, because they were making progress in the practice, their health improved, or that they looked better. In short, yoga was taken as a system of exercise or health. It was difficult going any further with such self-infatuated conclusions. For the most part if I tried to go further, I would meet resistance, taken as if I knew better and they were somehow stupid. I eventually accepted that certain people took what they called yoga, as an ego-gratification system and as well as sycophancy, and hence closed their minds off to anything that contradicted that.
Although I had hoped that more people would be interested in breaking through the ego, while awakening to amazing gifts and boons that spiritual truths bestow, I have accepted that this can be a long process of awakening for the ordinary human being mired in subject/object dualistic identification. Functional yoga practice is designed to break apart pre-existing negative mental conditioned processes, while at the same time allowing for a more satisfying and infinitely fulfilling life, which is the true nature of the union of clarity and light -- "reality".
Having released my attachment in attempting to change such friends, I occasionally would meet a student or friend, who wanted to know more, who actually was a true seeker, unafraid and unattached to egoic predilection. In that situation, I would recommend the Yoga Sutras in conjunction with yam/niyam, asana, pranayama, dhyana, etc, however the English translations bifurcated greatly on key points regarding nature and consciousness. In general, they missed the deepest revelatory parts and substituted philosophical or religious ideology instead. The reason why asana and pranayama are so vital today is that they bring us into direct subjective and conscious experience of prana (the life force), the unification of cit and sat (consciousness and beingness), or cit-prana/cit-shakti). This direct experience can be adequately explained in a pragmatic context utilizing such a non-dual translation and commentary. In this way the Yoga Sutras come alive commensurate to the degree of aliveness of one's practice.
There are many other reasons why I was motivated to share this translation and commentary. For example, the yams/niyams are most often presented as rules to follow in a mechanical and sycophantic manner, much like Western formulations of acting good, then one goes to heaven; and acting bad, then one goes to hell by conforming to these rules. Although there is an underlying wisdom behind these rules, just the mechanical following of rules tends toward disempowerment and authoritarianism. Our creative potential then becomes squashed. In yoga, ahimsa is the primary yam. It comes alive when the yogin is able to feel prana (the energy of the life force) in body, mind, and speech -- in All Our Relations. Hence ahimsa has broad social and ecological implications, as in honoring life and not harming anyone or habitat. Yam and niyam are not some philosophical concepts, but are practices, which are to be implemented everyday in our current socio-political situations. It is something that grows from inside outward from effective practice. The presentation of yam and niyam must be updated according to time and place with practical examples in practice; albeit the fundamental living principle behind them are timeless.
Simply stated, this translation and commentary of the Yoga Sutras has been offered for the true seeker, who desires to awaken and experience the universal "self" in the timeless transpersonal living ocean of limitless love and light, experientially. Such presentations of the Yoga Sutras had here-to-fore been inaccessible.
WE BE THEE!
Dedicated to all beings in all times. May they all awaken!
Table of Contents: The Yoga Sutras As-It-Is
Foreword to The Yoga Sutras As It Is
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras Made Accessible: An Essay Designed to rescue the Yoga Sutras from excess intellectualization/elaboration
An Ashtanga (Eight Limbed) Yoga Meditation Practice
Beloved Yoga Teacher, Sri Dr. G. K. Pungaliya Essay on Patanjali and Jnaneshwar Sri Pungaliya was an ardent student of yoga, and subsequently became a modern master. Here Sri Pungaliya shares his insight on Samkhya, Patanjali, and Sri Jnaneshwar.
Yogiraj Shyamacharan Lahiri's Translation of the Yoga Sutras A more classic but inspired translation by the Grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya. This is very long download in PDF format.
Yoga Sutra Translation by Chester Messenger A refreshing, little known, and sincere work of a life-long meditator.
Links to over 25 Different Web Based English Translations of the Yoga Sutras. at HRIH.NET. Most of these translations are unoriginal and offer little insight. They are mostly an exercise in grammar, semantics, and epistemology.
A Sanskrit to English Annotated Glossary
Professor Whicher's commentary on Prakrti and Purusa
Countering World-Negation: The World Affirming and Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga by Ian Whicher
Alien Gods: Samkhya Interpretation of Nature (using Brahmacarya as the example)
A Review of S. N. Tandon's. A Re-appraisal of Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras in the Light of the Buddha’s Teaching by Georg Feuerstein
A Review of Ian Whicher's. The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga by Georg Feuerstein
Yoga as seen in the Light of Vipassana by S. N. Goenka
Yoga Sutras FAQ
A Short History of the Yoga Sutras
"Is Yoga a Religion": an astute and concise article by Georg Feuerstein
An article entitled "Is Yoga a Religion", by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Yoga is not a Religion, by Shakti Das
Proceed to Chapter One of the Yoga Sutras: Samadhi Pada
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