Remember those elements from sutra 4.13 that all have a spark, a drive to exist? What happens to the spark when those elements interact? Is a new spark created along with the new form that comes into being? Or does the same spark drive –and connect– all material reality?
Sutra 4.14 dives into this question by first reassuring us that indeed there is a material world –it’s not all just in our heads, as was believed by some schools of yoga that were around when Patanjali was compiling the Yoga Sutras. Here’s what Patanjali has to say:
Sutra 4.14: The things [of the world] are objectively real, due to the uniformity of [the gunas that underpin] all change. Translation by Edwin Bryant
What does that mean? Bryant clarifies in his commentary:
“Although there may be unified material energy behind all reality in the form of the three gunas of prakrti, individual items of reality emerge when these gunas and their products interact with each other various ways, that is when the sattvic, tamasic, and rajas proportions of prakrti are re-aligned.” (Bryant, p. 429.)
What this means is that there is one drive with three qualities (balance, inertia, activity) that show up in different proportions in the the elements of nature. When these elements combine, new proportions of the qualities exist in the form that arises. It is in these unique combinations of qualities that all forms can be different, have material reality, and still have a single unified drive (spark, source, whatever you want to call it).
An even simpler way for me to think about is that there are laws of nature (including those we haven’t identified) that all elements, molecules, compounds, objects, and creatures operate under. They are unified through the laws of nature –nothing and no one is exempt– but they are all different and unique in their material form.
We are all different and unique in the same way. Which doesn’t mean we’re the same, but that what makes A different from B is the same as what makes B different from C and so on. In that “same difference-ness,” we should embrace and accept each other with and because of our differences.
Like cat people and dog people. They’re all people with a fondness for pets that enrich their lives, but some people find the bond with cats fulfilling and some that with dogs. Does that mean cat people can’t relate to dog people?! Not at all! We’re all just people.
Sometimes, relating through our differences can be hard or even take outside support to figure out how. Do it anyway. It’s worth it.
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.