I’ve been working on a translation of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Ran into a point I thought worth expanding on.
First, let’s review Samkhya. This is a dualistic philosophy from the Vedas that enumerates the parts of our experience: the elements, the senses, and so forth.
At its basis, all arises from purusha and prakriti, consciousness (Self) and nature.
This is the essential experience of Self Realization (Cosmic Consciousness). The Self within wakes up to itself and experiences a separate world outside of itself. This is Dwaita, dualism.
To wake up, it’s important to recognize this distinction of Self and world. Not as a mental concept, but in deep, direct experience. As Yoga Sutra verse 3:35 tells us, we enjoy experiences without distinguishing between the content and the experiencer. Our senses are grasping the qualities of the objects around us, overshadowing who we are.
The noise of the mind and emotions adds to that binding influence of the senses. Together, this acts like a veil over who we are. Like the song of a bird drowned out by all the traffic.
The key in Yoga is samadhi, transcendence. By settling outside the field of content, we’re left with only the experiencer, the Self, purusha, consciousness. With repeated experience of pure consciousness, it becomes familiar and distinct from our world experience. in time, we carry that inner wakefulness out into daily activity. Some value is with us all the time. We may even develop a witness, a detached observer.
This sets the stage for the Self to recognize itself, to wake up, to become Self Realized.
Trouble is, the intellect creates our sense of personal ego. In discriminating what is self and what is other, what is mother and what is self, what is foot and what is floor, we learn to function in the world.
This makes the intellect intimate to our day-to-day experience. Tied to the ego, we confuse it with who we are. While mind is busy processing the senses, intellect is riding along-side, categorizing what’s valuable to notice, what’s good and bad, right or wrong, and so forth. All of this by comparison to the past, to similar prior experiences.
Clearly, mistakes of the intellect can have a big impact. Mistaking who we are is a whopper. But do we have experiences of something different? Again, this is the role of transcending. It has to be experienced. A concept of Self is just an idea in the mind. Study alone won’t do it.
When we settle the mind in meditation, the Self rises into experience and deeper recognition. Then the intellect can recognize the difference between the content and what is having the experiences. And the experiencer can recognize it’s observing what is doing the distinguishing. It’s different from the intellect.
That helps set the stage for awakening.
After the shift, the intellect associates with being rather than mind and becomes resolute. It becomes much more reliable and clear. Then it has a key role in the Unity shift, in recognizing the world is the Self as well. But that’s another story…