The Third Yoga Sutra

Then the Seer (the Self) Abides in Its Own Nature

This sutra seems to complete the idea put forth in the Second Sutra: when the mind is still, not only are we able to see what is, but we are able to experience ourselves as pure awareness.

In a perfectly still, clear mind ignorance vanishes and the individual experiences himself or herself as pure awareness, eternal and unbounded: the Self. My text explains: “It is like a wave that experiences that it is now, and always will be, one with the ocean”.

Somehow I got caught up in the image of that wave. In Western Society we place an enormous emphasis on the individual. And maybe not only Western Society – think about Hokusai’s “The Great Wave”. That iconic image is all about “The Wave” as an individual. I cannot help thinking that the wave, like me, would prefer to be considered uniquely beautiful, fearsome, dangerous, exciting and not necessarily just another few drops of water in the ocean. And yet I know that the flip side of this emphasis on oneself as an individual and uniquely special, can be a sense of isolation or guilt and depression at not living up to how exemplary we feel we should be (am I a big wave? small wave? or not a wave at all?) Finally, we are unlikely to perceive events accurately if all our observations are coming from a place of self-absorption and disconnect with everyone and everything else around us.


After breakfast today, I left Alan working on a crossword puzzle in the living room and went upstairs to practice yoga. My hope was to spend a few moments in stillness before my practice, trying to connect to that sense of greater awareness. As I sat in easy pose, I thought “I like contemplating the yoga sutras, it gives me a certain sense of something greater and bigger then my day-to-day worries”.  Midway into my practice, however, I suddenly found myself thinking about what Alan and I would have for dinner. Apparently stillness of mind is, for now, mostly just an ideal. I could not resist picking up my phone and texting him with the suggestion that we should have pizza for dinner. I heard my text “ping” on his phone downstairs in the living room. How ridiculous!

Today I did not succeed in taming the vrittis.

I try to observe my restless mind with compassion and humor. And so I continue with my yoga and my quest to find moments of stillness in which I may briefly relax my insistence on my own separateness, experience an awareness of the greater connection with all – and perhaps catch a glimpse of the True Self.


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