The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali

Chapter 4 - On Freedom

The extraordinary accomplishments are inherent in one’s birth, or are achieved through the use of herbs, the recitation of mantras or through austere disciplines.

The transformation of one thing into another comes about as a result of the abundant flow of the primordial substance of the material world.

The underlying cause of these transformations has no aim or motive, but causes obstacles to be removed just as a farmer removes obstacles in the way of the water that irrigates his fields.

The construct of individual consciousness comes from the underlying universal principle of sense of self as a discrete entity.

Even though individual consciousnesses may appear to be independent, that individuality and independence originates in the underlying universal sense of the discrete self.

Those consciousnesses that are born of meditative absorption are without latent impulses.

The actions of the yogin have neither positive nor negative consequence, whereas those of others are threefold: positive, negative and of mixed consequence.

The consequences of the latent impulses that these three kinds of action leave behind will come to fruition when conditions are favorable.

Even though the consequence of a latent impulse may be separated from the creation of the memory that caused it by class of existence, place or time, latent impulse and memory are of the same nature. Thus there is a direct cause and effect relationship between the two.

These latent impulses are without beginning because the universal will to manifest is eternal.

As latent impulses are held together by cause, effect, foundation and dependence, with the negation of these, the impulses themselves shall disappear.

Past and future exist in the changing qualities of form.

These changing qualities of form are either manifest or subtle and are of the underling essential qualities of material existence.

The perceived reality of an object comes from the consistency of transformation of the underlying qualities of nature.

Given that many consciousnesses will observe the same object, consciousness and object are each of a different order.

The existence of a given object is not dependent on being observed by any single consciousness. An unobserved object would be unquantifiable. What might this supposed object be?

An object is known or not according to the coloration of consciousness that it calls forth.

The fluctuations of consciousness are always known by their sovereign, the true self, because of its changelessness.

Consciousness cannot be self-aware because it is, itself, a material object.

The stuff of consciousness cannot be aware of itself and another object simultaneously.

If, within a single being, there were another consciousness to be aware of the first, this would suppose an endless succession of consciousnesses which would cause confusion of memory.

The true self’s awareness is unchanging. Consciousness only becomes self-aware when it approximates the form of the true self.

When consciousness is colored by both the observer and the observed, then it can know all things.

Although consciousness is speckled with countless latent impulses, because it can only work in conjunction with another, the true self, it exists for the sake of the supreme good.

For one who sees the distinction between consciousness and true self, the misconception that consciousness is self comes to an end.

Then the discerning consciousness is drawn towards absolute emancipation.

During this progression, new distracting notions may arise as a result of latent impulses.

These may be stilled by the same techniques described for dealing with the inherent causes of affliction.

One who remains disinterested even in this exalted state as a result of discerning insight achieves the form of enstasy known as the “Cloud of Virtue”.

Then all causes of affliction and all consequences of action cease.

Then all impure impediments to wisdom cease. Because of the infinite scope of this wisdom there is very little still to be known.

Then the underlying qualities of the material universe cease their progressive and evolving transformations because their purpose has been fulfilled.

The fundamental unit of time and the individual transformations in sequence of progression of the underlying qualities share a dependent existence. When that progression is ended both can be seen for what they are.

Now devoid of purpose, the underlying qualities of nature flow back to their source and awareness becomes firmly established in the power of its own purity in a state of absolute emancipation.

(Excerpt from "Practicing Freedom: The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali" by Witold Fitz-Simon, $14.95, available now from or from the store.)