Sutra 3.15: krama anyatvam parinamah anyatve hetu
The reason for the difference in the way a thing or event is, is the difference in these stages. Translation by Kofi Busia
The change in sequence [of characteristics] is the cause of the change in transformations [of objects]. Translation by Edwin Bryant
Surely, it is because of the existence of such a clear distinction of character of substances and of the order in the sequence of the changes, that there is predictability of the transformation. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Have you ever wondered about the moment when the milk goes bad? Doesn’t it seem like it’s all good until all of a sudden one day it’s not? Yeah, that would be pretty nifty if it worked like that. Like an expiration date, like an on/off switch.
Not surprisingly, though, it doesn’t work like that. That milk’s process of decay commences the moment it leaves the cow! (Let’s leave aside the modern fact of pasteurization (an important process!) for this example.) Now, if the milk has begun to decay (or “go bad”) from the start, is it ever safe for us to drink? Of course it is! We can assume that the milk is fine to consume in each moment that the level of bacteria is too low for detection –not so high that our bodies can’t deal with them without causing discomfort or illness. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. Yes, the milk is still going through its process of decay every moment it sits in our fridge, but happily all that change is below our notice.
At bacteria scale, the job of consuming the milk is huge. It takes a long time. But the bacteria are happily aware of each of the moments towards total consumption.
At people scale, the process of milk decay moves kinda slowly. And we are not aware of anything happening to the milk at all until the process is so far along that we can smell it.
Time is relative. Change is relative. But it’s always there.*
I think it’s brilliant that each moment of the world –be it demonstrated in milk or you or growing grass– is distinctively different from the last. One single infinitesimally small moment is below our detection, but thousands of them strung up next to one another –like our concept of time– become the change we can see.
The way most of us practice yoga probably moves along very much like this too. You practice, and practice, and practice, nothing seeming very different from one day to the next, until all of a sudden, it is! And then you move on to the next stage of your practice until the next shift. But the changes are always happening, one tiny, infinitesimal moment at a 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.