Book 1, Sutra 2:Patanjali Yoga Sutra
“YOGA IS MIND WITHOUT FLUCTUATION.”
Patanjali doesn’t waste any time and jumps right into the heart of the matter with his definition of Yoga, itself. As I warned earlier, the beginning and the end of his Yoga Sutras are for the most advanced students and so are naturally the most condensed and the most profound. The simplicity, though, is a double edged sword. If it is not translated correctly, the most profound and concise statement of spiritual truth becomes nothing but vague and confusing. On top of that, a mis-translated concise but profound sutra opens Patanjali up to attack from many other practitioners as fierce debate ensues over the accuracy of the statement. This sutra is case in point. There are many, many different attempts to translate this sutra that makes it seem as if Patanjali defines yoga as a still or vacant mind. To many critics, Patanjali would be wrong if he were stating this because a still or vacant mind is short of the highest state described by so many other texts. The Buddha warned not to think that a still mind is the highest achievement and many Hindu texts do the same. If it were the highest achievement then someone hit over the head with an iron bar in just the right way may experience the highest state of enlightenment, if only for a half an hour or so. No, it is clear to many commentators on this sutra that a still mind can simply be a very dull or inactive one and that’s nothing to commend as the highest achievement.
In the Bhagavad Gita we learn that “yoga,” for Krishna, means a type of UNION, or merging of the mind with God, or, stated another way, a merging of the mind with the eternal infinite. And this sense of yoga is captured in the translation that I derived for this sutra and is stated above. Patanjali, here, is stating that yoga can be described as a mind that is permanently fixed or established in a state that is impervious to fluctuations based on events or experiences. Yoga is a mind that is grounded, unchanging and SO, eternal. This is the essential definition that Patanjali will build on in the following sutras.
But don’t think that this sutra covers it all. It just sets a good base that Patanjali can build on. The important thing to remember is that yoga creates some type of consciousness that is forever fixed and so, at peace. We may continue to go here and go there and do this and do that but if we have a yogic mind then it doesn’t go and do in the way that our body might. It stays grounded, fixed, established. Established in what, you may ask? Let’s see if Patanjali can answer that at some point.