1.20 Sowing Seeds
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 20 | COMMENTARY
śradda̅vi̅ryasmr̥itisama̅dhiprajña̅pu̅rvaka itareṣa̅m ||1.20||
Others attain Asamprajnatah Samadhi by having Faith, Courage, Memory and Self-awareness.
The previous sutra mentioned the involuntary meditation that is achieved due to past merits. It is a rare few people who can slip into Samadhi without any effort, the rest of the Sadhakas have to practice the techniques imparted by their Guru to achieve Meditation. The sequence of the sutras is a marketing genius. He first tells what is experienced in Meditation which causes the disciple to aspire to experience the same. Automatically the question arises – How can I achieve it? What should a person do to achieve Samadhi? In this sutra, Maharishi Patanjali answers the question.
The first quality needed is Shraddha – Faith. The most important quality is mentioned first. A disciple must have faith in the Master/Guru and the knowledge imparted by Him. Otherwise, the potency of the technique is destroyed by the seed of the doubt. In the later sutras, Maharishi Patanjali mentions Doubt as one of the obstacles on the path of Yoga wherein he mentions 3 kinds of doubts:
1. Doubt on Self – the disciple does not consider himself worthy of the knowledge received and keeps on doubting whether any success will be achieved by him or not.
2. Doubt on the Master – the disciple doubts the Guru or may even wonder if he is the correct person to be a Guru. In the current age where there have been so many incidents of people exploiting the faith of people for their personal pleasures and goals, a lot of people are revulsed by the idea of a spiritual Guru.
3. Doubt on the Technique - Other problem is the availability of information – one can find out information about different saints easily and the different techniques they are offering, and if the faith is not strong, or in case of a wandering mind, some people embark on a journey of a spiritual window shopping – they go to different places, and try to see what is being offered without taking anything with humility and gratitude. I do not imply that one should not explore, but after exploring, one should settle on the experience which was transformative and practice it with reverence for a long time.
Hence Shraddha is required first and foremost. It is not blind faith – it is faith that develops after getting a glimpse of the truth. Devotion is a primary component, for devotion begets Grace which can remove insurmountable obstacles before they even come.
The second quality is Courage. I have encountered many people who, at the first sign of trouble, question their Sadhana. They start believing that if they are on this path, no difficult situation should arise in their lives. . They might be on this path just to escape the real world then. Some people get sick and they start complaining – How can we get sick? We do Yoga every day. What is it that I am doing wrong? And it goes on. The nature of the body is to decay – there are going to be sick days, but if you are doing your Sadhana, you will recover quickly, and there won’t be any long-term effect of the sickness. Similarly, the nature of the mind is to wander: it will be exhausted some days without reason but these days will be very few and you will have the tools to recharge. Do not make Sadhana an excuse to escape. All types of situations are going to come – the Sadhana changes how you respond to these situations. It builds endurance and patience, and helps overcome misery and grief before it makes any lasting impression. After some degree of success is achieved, a Sadhak may even be able to witness his emotions like an observer. But if courage is not present, and one starts complaining after stubbing a toe, then it is not extremely difficult to gain the fruit of the Sadhana and experience stillness of Samadhi.
The third quality is memory. If Samadhi is experienced once, it is possible to use the memory of that experience to slip into Samadhi again. It is one of the easiest ways of going into meditation. Here it may also mean using the memory/knowledge of Samprajnatah Samadhi to move into Asamprajnatah Samadhi.
The last quality is putting effort in gaining some amount of self-awareness. The senses are always turned outwards. The body itself is a complex structure that is performing complex processes in thousands each second. The mind cooks up thousands of thoughts in a day out of which we are aware of a few hundred. There are so many emotions that affect our decisions, personality and attitude and we fail to observe them. Hence, one must put some effort in subduing the senses and turning them inwards and sitting still. This will help to train the mind to explore its own depths. It will help to reduce the formation of new impressions and remove old ones and prepare the mind for meditation.