Sutra 2.28: yoga anga anusthanad ashuddhi kshaye jnana diptih a viveka khyateh
Through practice of the various disciplines that make a person restored to wholeness, all that is impure is destroyed, and the ability to tell what is really real flowers into the light of pure knowing. Translation by Kofi Busia
This awareness shines resplendent with the light of intelligence, when the inner psychic impurities that becloud the vision of truth have been eliminated by the intelligent practice of the “limbs” of yoga. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
You don’t have to know what Kofi Busia means by “restored to wholeness” or “really real” in his translation of sutra 2.28 above to think those states of being sound like pretty good ideas: stuff you could get behind without having to subscribe to any particular practice or vision. I like that it leaves abundant room for personal application. Even if you do know what he means through his translation of the Sanskrit, his language leaves latitude for points of view other than his own. That space is something I can always get behind.
Keeping ourselves open to the reality of varied perspectives, let’s nonetheless look at the context for Busia’s language. What wholeness, what impurities, what reality?
WHOLENESS is used here in the sense of yoga: unity, oneness, becoming aware of oneself as part of the infinite expanse (universe(s)) — ‘part of’ not in the sense of membership or belonging, but literally of the same fabric of the universe, the same flow of particles. Recognizing oneself as of this particle/infinite nature, then leads to, or perhaps blossoms out of, an awareness of the people, and places, and things in the universe that are equally part of the whole and as such, part of you.
IMPURITIES: Sigh. This word carries such stigma for me! I don’t even subscribe to a religion, and I associate it with sin and blame, should and should not, which make me really uneasy. Perhaps because I was raised with the freedom to think as I chose, maybe because I have always been a fiercely independent creature, maybe because ‘should’ and ‘ought’ feel painfully limiting to me without even knowing why… I don’t care for the pure/impure language for the baggage that it so clearly carries for me, but I’ll try to leave that aside, ahem, and remember that ‘impurities’ here are of the mind –thoughts and perspectives that keep you from a clear vision of your true self/Self. They are not ‘bad’ as such, they simply muddy the window. And since the goal described here is to see clearly (viveka), well, the mud kinda gets in the way. Yes, the objective at hand is to clean the glass, but there’s no need to ascribe a value judgment to the mud being there or how long it takes to clear it away. We’ve all got dirt, right?
REALITY is the truth of the universe(s), which I believe we are still seeking.
Not surprisingly, the yogis have an idea for how to help us out of our mud and into the clear. But that will keep for next time.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras 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.