Yoga Sutras 1.21-1.22:
Choosing Your Level of Commitment
YOGA SUTRA 1.21: Those who pursue their practices with intensity of
feeling, vigor, and firm conviction achieve concentration and the
fruits thereof more quickly, compared to those of medium or lesser
(tivra samvega asannah)
TIVRA = rate is fast, speedy
SAMVEGA = momentum, force, vigor, conviction, enthusiasm
ASSANAH = very close, near, speedy
YOGA SUTRA 1.22: For those with intense practices and intense
conviction (1.21), there are three more subdivisions of practice,
those of mild intensity, medium intensity, and intense intensity.
(mridu madhya adhimatra tatah api visheshah
MRIDU = mild, slow
MADHYA = medium, middling
ADHIMATRA = intense, strong
TATAH = from that
API = also
VISHESHAH = differentiation, distinction
INTENSITY AND RATE OF PRACTICE: For those who move forward quickly in
their practices, and do so with intensity, the fruits of the
practices are very close. There are two dimensions here. One is that
of the speed at which one is moving, and the other is the intensity
of effort behind it. There are three levels of each, meaning that
there are nine levels of practice.
CHOOSE ONE OF NINE WAYS TO PRACTICE: There is something very
practical about these nine levels of practice. It is important to be
aware of this. You may feel you have little training or time, and
thus cannot progress. However, it is sometimes like the story of the
race between the tortoise and the hare. While the rabbit is faster,
the tortoise won the race because of a steady persistence. If you
feel you are on the slow track, rather than the fast track, your
gentle, loving persistence can bring great payoffs.
Mild Practice / Mild Conviction
Medium Practice / Mild Conviction
Intense Practice / Mild Conviction
Mild Practice / Medium Conviction
Medium Practice / Medium Conviction
Intense Practice / Medium Conviction
Mild Practice / Intense Conviction
Medium Practice / Intense Conviction
Intense Practice / Intense Conviction
OPTIMUM: For most people reading this table, the Mild and Medium
levels of practice are most important, due to the busy activities and
duties of life.
WITH LOTS OF TIME FOR PRACTICE, BUT WITH LITTLE CONVICTION: It is
very easy to think that the only way to progress is when you have
retired from worldly life, such as a monk in a Himalayan cave may
have done. This is simply not true. Such a person might have a great
deal of time available, and know quite a few practices. However, with
only mild conviction, little progress is made.
WITH LITTLE TIME FOR PRACTICE, BUT LOTS OF CONVICTION: On the other
hand, a person with little time might do only mild practice, but have
a great intensity of conviction. Such a stance is a far superior way
to progress on the path of enlightenment. Having little time is
balanced by conviction at practice time and sincere cultivation of
meditation in action.
THREE MORE DIVISIONS: For those with intense practice and intense
conviction, there are still three further divisions. Recall that in
the last sutra (1.21), it was pointed out that such intensity means
that attainment is near. With this further subdivision, that
attainment also has three levels:
For those with mild intensity, attainment is imminent.
For those with medium intensity, attainment is MORE imminent.
For those with intense intensity, attainment is MOST imminent.
EVERYONE CAN PRACTICE: For most people practicing Yoga meditation,
these divisions help to make it clear that there really are levels of
practice, and that everyone can practice. It is not a case where only
the most ascetic meditators living in caves can attain. Rather,
everyone can progress at his or her own comfortable rate.