Sutra 2.20: drashta drishi matrah suddhah api pratyaya anupashyah
The truth concerning the seer (experiencer) is that there is only the ever-pure act of seeing (experiencing). Yet, there arises a polarisation on account of which a concept (which then becomes the subject or the experiencer) seems to experience (the reaction of the senses to the externalised world – all such externalisation being the result of the polarisation and the consequent apparent movement in the subject). An apparently independent entity called experience therefore becomes the object. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
The Divine Self (seer) observes the world without being affected by it. Translation and interpretation by Nischala Joy Devi
I nearly fell out of my boots and jumped for joy when I discovered the below passage in Nischala Joy Devi’s book on the sutras, The Secret Power of Yoga:
‘At this point you may be wondering, “If life could be simpler if we kept our awareness on the Divine Self, why are we not designed to do that?”‘ (I had been wondering that!) ‘We are designed to make the decision where to direct our awareness.’ (Ah ha!) ‘But most of us choose to keep it focused on the material world, perpetuating grand illusion (Maha Maya) of life. However, it is only an illusion to those who understand that it is an illusion. To the rest, it seems very real.’
Here’s why this resonated with me.
Every now and again, I have what I fondly think of as a minor existential crisis, wherein EVERYTHING seems to matter. The littlest things set me off and my world feels out of balance.
You ever felt like that? I’m guessing you have.
Happily I’m here to tell you it can get better. (Sutra 2.20 is sorta telling you this, too.)
When I feel lost in my head, the first person I turn to is my mentor (yoga teacher), because there’s just something about his perspective that always sets me right. But my mentor is a busy guy, and I’m a busy gal myself, so I don’t often get to just drop everything and pick up the phone (in this era of texting, I’ve kinda forgotten how to talk on the phone anyway). Which leaves me “hanging” for days or weeks before I can sort through my crisis with a trustworthy ear.
This is a very good thing.
By the time I get around to chatting with my mentor, the world in my brain somehow manages to sort itself out, at least to a place I can manage calmly, and talking it through isn’t really necessary any more. Nonetheless, I still seek out the talk (habit) and when I picture the conversation, I imagine the crazy melt down, the emotional release, that is supposed to go with a shoulder to cry on –because that’s how it used to go.
Now, I’m stuck in this awkward place wherein I expect that familiar process of needing an outside guide to help me pull it together, but instead I get a calmer me, who has quietly arrived at a place of resolve without a need to freak out. Slowly and calmly, the tensions slid away on their own as I realized my problems were of my own making and not really problems at all.
All that’s left to talk about is the clarity and ease I feel with the work I have yet to do to continue to move through the challenges and joys of my life.
It’s awkward now to be so calm, but I trust that it won’t always be. Who knew rational thought could feel this steady? Who knew emotions could be without being everything?
Yogis and wise people the world over know.
Choose to see clearly or choose not to. The decision and the process aren’t easy, but ultimately it’s up to you to choose.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.