Sutra 3.21: kaya rupa samyama tat grahya shakti tat stambhe chaksuh prakasha asamprayoga antardhanam
By performing samyama on the outer form of the body, invisibility [is attained]. This occurs when perceptibility is obstructed by blocking contact between light and eyes.
Translation by Edwin Bryant
By the practice of the threefold inner discipline on the form and the substantiality of the body, one can comprehend directly the energy that makes it possible to “grasp” it with the eyes and so forth (for the flow of light-waves is the form); and when this energy-function is suspended, the dynamics of perception is made inoperative, the link between the perceiving eye and light is severed as it were – and invisibility occurs.
Translation by Swami Venkatesananda
Sutra 3.22 (not included in some editions): etena shabdadi antardhanam uktam
The same principle explains the disappearance of sound et cetera.
Translation by Kofi Busia
Yoga– “capital Y” yoga– is an experience of something internal and essential. (What we practice everyday is also rightly called yoga, because it is the process of using precise tools to make the experience of Yoga possible.) It is said that you know it when you experience it. I’m wary of this description, but for the sake of exploring this week’s sutras, I’m willing to roll with it.
Now, in knowing Yoga when you experience it, we’re not just talking about when I see the color red, now I know “red,” we’re talking utter and total comprehension. Not only do you know “red” because you see red, you also know why, how, where, when red because you feel red, experience red through more than your visual sense. So, when you know Yoga from experience, Yoga becomes clear in that experience. You gain viveka, clarity.
You can’t see Yoga, but you can know it. What’s left with what you can see? A mystery, which I believe Oscar Wilde put best:
It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
Our essence, our Yoga, is shared. It is universal. Our outer selves fragment this single truth into many interpretations and consequent investigations of the seen (felt, heard, etc) world. And the sensual world can be confusing! As a species, we’re working doggedly to maintain clear communication because understanding each other is key to our survival. That’s part of who we are. Most of us spend a lifetime sorting out the mysteries at the surface expecting to find our essence there. And maybe one day we’ll crack our code and figure out in what way our essence, our Yoga, can be identified in the sensual world. The plethora of strategies that exist for bringing the inner self into harmony with the outer self is a testament to our desire to make Yoga accessible in every moment, not just in meditation.
We begin to do this, I believe, when we trust that we are all the same. Time and again, I have seen people courageously make themselves vulnerable in sharing what feels like a terrifyingly personal experience, only to discover a crowd of others who recognize the same essential experience in themselves. I dare say many of us grow up learning how to hide from each other (although not too effectively) and then spend the rest of our lives seeking a way to step into the light to be seen. Once there, we begin to recognize that everyone else is there, too.
When your essence is clear and unbound, your “outer” becomes “invisible” to others and they see straight through to you, and that you are no different from them.
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.