Meditation with Saraswati and Chitra ~ Sunday 1/29/12
Saraswati Andrea Lee and Chitra Jessica Sunshine
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ
Sponsered by The Yoga Life Society
Patanjali Yoga Sutra 4.18 - The modifications of the mind-stuff are always known to the changeless Purusha, who is its lord.
Tonight we are jumping ahead a little bit in the yoga sutras to book four. The final chapter is a summation of all that is been previously discussed in the sutras lived a particular emphasis on evolution, subconscious impressions, and Purusha. The Purusha is what we will be focusing on this evening.
The Purusha can be best understood as the divine Self which abides in all beings. We may also be familiar with it as the spirit or the soul. The most important elements of the Purisha is that it is unchanging, eternal and pure. As we will see in the next Sutra, it is also our ability to witness, which provides it with its other name "The Seer".
Sutra 4.18 reads, "The modifications of the mind-stuff are always known to the changeless Purusha, who is its lord." The mind stuff can be boiled down to our thoughts whether they be conscious, subconscious, superconscious, unconscious, etc. The term modifications just indicates that these thoughts are constantly changing. In book one sutra two, we learn that the object of yoga is to still the modifications or fluctuations of the mind-stuff, so that we may see clearly into our eternal divine self. In sutra 4.18 it becomes clear that in order to have mental modifications that are changeable, we need something permanent to contrast it with. This is the Purusha.
This sutra is here to prove to us maybe for the final time in this text is that if we agree that our thoughts change and we can experience them changing, then there must be some part of us that is doing the seeing, that is doing the witnessing. I think Rev. Carrera says it best in his commentary on this sutra: "We are aware that we are thinking-- that our mind is entertaining thoughts. How do we know? If every aspect of who we are were engaged in the thought process, there would be no one to witness it. There has to be some aspect or element that is not thinking, that is not involved in the thought process, but simply witnessing it all."
It is the Purusha that holds all the divinity, the glory, the joy, the peace, the contentment that we search for externally. This is why in meditation there is a strong emphasis to quiet the mind-stuff, and dispel ignorance so that we may eventually merge with the Purusha.
We are now going to do a short exercise which will help us have a better understanding of the. Purusha. This is an activity that was introduced to us during our yoga teacher training here at Starseed, and I found it very telling. We'll see what it does for you guys. I will hand out a sheet of paper that says who am I? We want everyone to write down as many or as few answers to that question about yourselves. No right answers or wrong answers, just whatever you would put if a stranger where to ask you, who are you?
Once you've put down several answers, review them, and begin to circle those that actually answer the question what do I do? one way to determine this is to look at each answer and ask yourself if I was not XYZ would I cease to be who I am. Any of the answers that are changeable typically will belong in the what do I do category. For instance I put that I am a yoga teacher, I am a daughter, I am a preschool teacher, I am compassionate...for me I would probably put the first three into the what do I do category. In my experience most of the answers I put under who I am were actually what I did. I conflated what was impermanent with what was permanent, the Prakriti with the Purusha.
The meditation we will do tonight builds off of the activity we did earlier. It's sometimes called the who am I meditation. After relaxing the body I will ask a series of questions to help give us a glimpse into the depth of the Purusha. Meditative inquiry is not about answering questions correctly. It is allowing the brain become focused on the riddles of life. Sometimes an answer will come to you quickly, but as in most things in meditation we let that go as well. Like a Zen koan, you may try to wrap your head around it and end up with nowhere to go. This is as important a place as any. After the questions there will be a short period for silent meditation of your choice, perhaps following your breath or repeating a mantra.