Back to Article Index  

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

     Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the first of several writings that present the Eastern philosophy for Self realization. Historians date the writing of this classic yoga text written by Maharishi Patanjali, back to the 2nd or 3rd century AD. In this text we find one of the first written definitions of yoga as a system for uncovering the source within. Patanjali knew that the self inquiry process was the only way to enlightenment, and so encouraged his students to seriously study the question “Who am I?” He saw the common human experience of pain and suffering, and sought to end it, first within himself, by making the mind and the true Self the object of contemplation.

     Patanjali gained personal insights through self study, clearly perceiving how he created or contributed to his own pain and suffering. He began to see a way out of human suffering, noting that there were human actions that inhibited inherent joy that could be stopped. From this deep understanding he developed, the now notorious, 8 Fold Path. This 8 fold path begins with the simple step of “stop causing the pain”.

     The Yoga Sutras are divided into four distinct chapters. The first chapter was written for the advanced student, and describes the higher states of yoga called Samadhi. In its details about the method for knowing God, it talks about the development of concentration ability necessary for absorption into Spirit. It also gives details of how to separate your identity from your thoughts. 

     Chapter two contains the practical means to attaining Samadhi, the state of total absorption in God consciousness. This chapter is written for the majority of yoga students, and offers practical advice on the nature of the mind and the removal of suffering. It includes a description of Hatha Yoga, social and personal ethical guidelines, and lays out the formula for disciplining the mind: asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and pratyahara (the withdrawal of the senses).

     Chapter three is written for the student who has mastered his physical body and developed the power of concentration. Patanjali discusses the process of Samyama, the continuous stream of mindfulness. He tells the yoga student to focus on the underlying Divine Spirit in order to free the mind of attachments to pleasures and power.

     Chapter four is a summary of his teachings in effort to prepare the student for the final step to spiritual integration. He provides a clarification of the primal forces of nature (the gunas), and further elaborates on how to transcend the limitations of space and time.

In loving service, 
Pamela Joy Swift


 © 1966 - 2008 Spiritual Oasis. All rights reserved.