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Yoga Sutras 2.17-2.22: The nature of the Seer and the objects Seen

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Yoga Sutras 2.17-2.22: THE NATURE OF THE SEER AND THE OBJECTS SEEN http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-21225.htm#2.17 (Useful graphics are shown at this link)
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2006
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      Yoga Sutras 2.17-2.22:
      THE NATURE OF THE SEER AND THE OBJECTS SEEN
      http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-21225.htm#2.17
      (Useful graphics are shown at this link)

      YOGA SUTRAS 2.17-2.22:
      The uniting of the seer (the subject, or experiencer) with
      the seen (the object, or that which is experienced) is the
      cause or connection to be avoided.

      The objects (or knowables) are by their nature of: 1) illumination or
      sentience, 2) activity or mutability, or 3) inertia or stasis; they
      consist of the elements and the powers of the senses, and exist for
      the purpose of experiencing the world and for liberation or
      enlightenment. There are four states of the elements (gunas), and
      these are: 1) diversified, specialized, or particularized (vishesha),
      2) undiversified, unspecialized, or unparticularized (avishesha), 3)
      indicator-only, undifferentiated phenomenal, or marked only (linga-
      matra), and 4) without indicator, noumenal, or without mark
      (alingani).

      The Seer is but the force of seeing itself, appearing to see or
      experience that which is presented as a cognitive principle.

      The essence or nature of the knowable objects exists only to serve as
      the objective field for pure consciousness. Although knowable objects
      cease to exist in relation to one who has experienced their
      fundamental, formless true nature, the appearance of the knowable
      objects is not destroyed, for their existence continues to be shared
      by others who are still observing them in their grosser forms.


      YOGA SUTRA 2.17:
      The uniting of the seer (the subject, or experiencer) with the seen
      (the object, or that which is experienced) is the cause or connection
      to be avoided.
      (drashtri drishyayoh samyogah heya hetuh)

      drashtri = of the seer, knower, apprehender
      drishyayoh = of the seen, knowable
      samyogah = union, conjunction
      heya = to be discarded, avoided, prevented
      hetuh = the cause, reason

      THE SEER ENGULFS THE SEEN:
      Connecting the seer with the seen does not mean the physical eyes
      looking at physical objects. It means the pure consciousness (1.3,
      2.20) wrapping itself around the subtlest of the traces in the deep
      unconscious. Those deep impressions (samskaras) are engulfed (1.4) by
      consciousness, and then the forgetting process of avidya (2.5, 2.24)
      becomes even more pronounced. The subtler nature of these seen
      objects is described in the next few sutras, below. (Click here for
      more info on the process of the observer observing the observed.)

      THE KEY IS IN LOOSENING THE ALLIANCE:
      The key here is that, in a moment when the seer is not connected with
      any of those possible seen objects, there is freedom, and that is the
      higher state of consciousness that is being sought (1.3, 4.26).
      However, it comes in stages. Layer after layer, object after object,
      the seer is loosened from its connection to the seen. This is why
      there is progress on the inner journey, and it is a progress that
      comes from revealing and setting aside, so as to uncover the true
      Self at the center.

      SAMSKARAS BECOME MERE MEMORIES:
      In the foundation principles of sutra 1.5, it was described that
      thought patterns are one of five kinds, and that these are either
      klishta or aklishta (colored or uncolored). One of those five kinds
      of thought patterns is that of memory. Here, in this current sutra
      (2.17), the fulfillment of that process is being described, wherein
      the colored thought processes become mere memories that are no longer
      colored by any of the five kleshas (2.3).

      THE FINAL ALLIANCE IS BROKEN:
      The rest of this chapter, and the sutras of Chapter 3 further
      describe the process of breaking the alliances. After fully
      describing the process of how the many alliances are progressively
      loosened, sutras 2.25 and 3.50 (end of the next chapter) describe how
      the final disconnect happens with the renunciation of avidya itself,
      and of the alliance between buddhi and consciousness. This means that
      even the finest instrument of knowing is ultimately set aside from
      consciousness itself.


      YOGA SUTRA 2.18:
      The objects (or knowables) are by their nature of: 1) illumination or
      sentience, 2) activity or mutability, or 3) inertia or stasis; they
      consist of the elements and the powers of the senses, and exist for
      the purpose of experiencing the world and for liberation or
      enlightenment.
      (prakasha kriya sthiti shilam bhuta indriya atmakam bhoga apavarga
      artham drishyam)

      prakasha = illumination, light
      kriya = of activity
      sthiti = steadiness, inertia, stasis
      shilam = having the nature of (illumination, activity, steadiness)
      bhuta = the elements (earth, water, fire, air, space)
      indriya = powers of action and sensation, instruments, mental sense
      organs
      atmakam = consisting of (elements and senses)
      bhoga = experience, enjoyment
      apavarga = liberation, freedom, emancipation
      artham = for the sake of, purpose of, object of
      drishyam = the seen, the knowable

      UNDERSTANDING THE SEER AND THE SEEN:
      It is essential to have some understanding of the nature of the seer
      and of the seen if we are to be able to understand the nature of the
      alliance between them, and how to break that alliance. Describing the
      nature of the seer and the seen is the subject of this and the next
      few sutras. Here, in this sutra, that nature of the seen is briefly
      described as being part of several categories or types. The seen is
      described in sutra 2.20.

      THREE BROAD TYPES OF SEEN OBJECTS:
      Based on the three gunas, or primary constituent elements, objects
      have a tendency towards one or the other of three types. These are
      objects predominantly of prakasha (illumination, light), kriya
      (activity), or stithi (steadiness, inertia, stasis). The four states
      of these elements (2.19), the purpose of these knowable objects
      (2.18), the reason for the seer's alliance with them (2.23), and the
      means of freedom (2.25) are explained in the following sutras of this
      section.

      FIVE ELEMENTS AS OBJECTS OF MEDITATION:
      The seen objects are composed of the five elements (indriyas) of
      earth, water, fire, air, and space (bhutas). The many manifestations
      of these, as well as the five elements as individual entities are
      examined with the razor-sharp discrimination of samyama (3.4-3.6),
      and are set aside with non-attachment (1.16). Mastery over the five
      elements comes through direct examination of their nature (3.45),
      with the fruits being renounced (3.38). This process of examining
      the objects and the elements leads ever closer towards the seer
      resting in its true nature (1.3).

      FIVE INDRIYAS AS OBJECTS OF MEDITATION:
      Along with those many objects and the five elements, there comes the
      five instruments (indriyas) of action (karmendriyas) and sensation
      (jnanendriyas). After first training the senses (2.32, 2.43), these
      ten means of expression and perception are themselves examined as
      objects (3.48). Through samyama (3.4-3.6), the ten senses themselves
      are also set aside with non-attachment (1.16), adding to the movement
      towards the seer resting in its true nature (1.3).

      SEE ALSO the article:
      Indriyas or the Ten Senses
      http://www.swamij.com/indriyas.htm

      BEYOND CONVENTIONAL OBJECTS:
      At some stage of the subtler journey within, we examine not only
      objects and mental impressions in the conventional sense. We also
      explore both the components that build those objects (bhutas of
      earth, water, fire, air, and space), and the senses themselves (ten
      indriyas). Through such subtle practice, awareness moves past all of
      the objects in the conventional sense. It is starting the process of
      observing the observing process, which is of critical importance in
      the journey to realization of the observer itself (1.3).

      SEE ALSO:
      Observer, Observing, and Observed
      http://www.swamij.com/types-stages-meditation.htm#threeaspects


      YOGA SUTRA 2.19:
      There are four states of the elements (gunas), and these are: 1)
      diversified, specialized, or particularized (vishesha), 2)
      undiversified, unspecialized, or unparticularized (avishesha), 3)
      indicator-only, undifferentiated phenomenal, or marked only (linga-
      matra), and 4) without indicator, noumenal, or without mark
      (alingani).
      (vishesha avishesha linga-matra alingani guna parvani)

      vishesha = diversified, specialized, particularized, having
      differences
      avishesha = undiversified, unspecialized, unparticularized, having no
      differences
      linga-matra = undifferentiated, only a mark or trace (linga = mark,
      trace; matra = only)
      alingani = without even a mark or trace, undifferentiated subtle
      matter
      guna-parvani = state of the gunas (guna = of the qualities, gunas of
      prakriti; parvani = state, stage, level)

      ELEMENTS EVOLVE AND INVOLVE IN FOUR STAGES:
      All of the objects and elements mentioned in the last sutra (2.18)
      are constituted of the three primal elements (gunas). As the
      attention of the Yogi goes deeper and deeper into the gunas, they are
      seen to evolve and involve in four stages. Gradually the Yogi fathoms
      each of these very subtle processes. This allows the seer to
      systematically break the connection with the seen, as described in
      sutra 2.17.

      1) Vishesha = diversified, specialized, particularized, having
      differences
      2) Avishesha = undiversified, unspecialized, unparticularized, having
      no differences
      3) Linga-matra = undifferentiated, only a mark or trace (linga =
      mark, trace; matra = only)
      4) Alingani = without even a mark or trace, undifferentiated subtle
      matter

      SUPREME NON-ATTACHMENT:
      Practice and non-attachment have been introduced as two foundations
      of Yoga (1.12-1.16). Supreme non-attachment (paravairagya) was
      described as non-attachment even to the gunas, the subtlest elements,
      constituent principles, or qualities themselves (1.16). These gunas
      are the subject of this current sutra.


      YOGA SUTRA 2.20:
      The Seer is but the force of seeing itself, appearing to see or
      experience that which is presented as a cognitive principle.
      (drashta drishi matrah suddhah api pratyaya anupashyah)

      drashta = the seer
      drishi-matrah = power of seeing (drishi = seeing; matrah = power)
      suddhah = pure
      api = even though, although
      pratyaya = the cause, the feeling, causal or cognitive principle,
      notion, content of mind, presented idea, cognition
      anupashyah = appearing to see

      Understanding the seer and the seen:

      UNDERSTANDING THE SEER AND THE SEEN:
      As was pointed out above (2.18), it is essential to have some
      understanding of the nature of the seer and of the seen if we are to
      be able to understand the nature of the alliance between them, and
      how to break that alliance. Describing the nature of the seer is the
      subject of this current sutra, and of the seen is the subject of the
      next few sutras.

      WHO MAKES THE ALLIANCE?:
      If we are trying to break the alliance between seer and seen (2.17,
      2.12-2.25), then who is the seer who has made that false alliance? It
      is the pure consciousness known as purusha, atman, or Self. It is
      that, which remains (1.3) after the mastery (nirodah, 1.2) of the
      many impressions in the mind field.

      SEE ALSO the article:
      Sankhya Yoga: Prakriti and its Evolutes, Returning to Self-Realization
      http://www.swamij.com/prakriti-purusha-sankhya.htm

      NATURE OF THE OBJECTS OF ALLIANCE:
      If the seer is pure consciousness, then what is the nature of those
      objects (1.4) with which the false alliance has occurred? The nature
      of those objects is described in the next sutra (2.21).


      2.21 The essence or nature of the knowable objects exists only to
      serve as the objective field for pure consciousness.
      (tad-artha eva drishyasya atma)

      tad-artha = the purpose for that, to serve as (tad = that; artha =
      purpose)
      eva = only
      drishyasya = of the seen, knowable
      atma = essence, being, existence

      RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEER AND SEEN:
      While there are countless objects, it is useful to know that all
      objects share one thing in common. They are all witnessed by the
      seer, the Self, or pure consciousness. Thus, the nature of the
      relationship between consciousness and one object is similar to the
      relationship between consciousness and any other object--they both
      share the same observer or seer.

      BREAKING THE ALLIANCE IS SIMILAR:
      If the nature of the alliances is similar, then the means of breaking
      those alliances is also similar. This means that there is a basic
      simplicity in the process of discrimination (2.26-2.29) that leads to
      Self-realization. This doesn't make the process easy, but it sure is
      useful to see the underlying simplicity in the process. Regardless of
      what object is seen by the seer, and regardless of its coloring
      (klishta), the means of seeing clearly through discrimination is
      similar in all cases. Thus, the Yogi keeps doing the same basic
      process of examining, discriminating, and setting aside with non-
      attachment (1.12-1.16). Over and over, through all the levels of
      concentration (1.17), and with each of the kinds of coloring (2.4),
      the same means of razor-like discrimination occurs (3.4-3.6).


      YOGA SUTRA 2.22: Although knowable objects cease to exist in relation
      to one who has experienced their fundamental, formless true nature,
      the appearance of the knowable objects is not destroyed, for their
      existence continues to be shared by others who are still observing
      them in their grosser forms.
      (krita-artham prati nashtam api anashtam tat anya sadharanatvat)

      krita-artham = one whose purpose has been accomplished (krita =
      accomplished; artham = purpose)
      prati = towards, with regard to
      nashtam = ceased, dissolved, finished, destroyed
      api = even, although
      anashtam = has not ceased, not dissolved, not finished, not destroyed
      tat = that
      anya = for others
      sadharanatvat = being common to others, due to commonness

      OBJECTS CEASE TO EXIST:
      As attention moves subtler and subtler through the layers of
      existence, those objects that were there for the benefit of the seer
      (2.21) no longer exist for the seer. A most simple example of this is
      when one's attention turns inward, even for the beginning meditator.
      At first, the external world and its sounds are a distraction. Yet,
      suddenly, when attention actually moves inward, it is as if the
      external world, its objects, and people cease to exist. When
      attention moves inward, down through the levels of manifestation of
      earth, water, fire, air, and space, for example, those levels also
      cease to exist for the seer.

      OBJECTS CONTINUE FOR OTHERS:
      While the objects cease to exist for the Yogi, they continue to exist
      for others. For example, in case of the meditator mentioned above,
      the external world ceases for that person, but continues for others.
      The same is also true for the subtler aspects such as the elements
      and indriyas (2.18).
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