1.13 तत्र स्थितौ यत्नो ‘भ्यसः

tatra sthitau yatno ‘bhyāsaḥ

tatra – there, of these; sthitau – steadiness, stability, tranquility; yatno – sustained effort; abhyāsaḥ – practice:

Of these two, the sustained effort to be situated (fixed) in the state of having a controlled and tranquil mind is called practice.


1.14 स तु दिर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्करसेवितो दृढभूमिः

sa tu dīrgha-kāla-nairantarya-satkārāsevito dṛḍha-bhūmiḥ

saḥ – that (practice); tu – and, moreover, said to be; dīrgha – long; kāla – time; nairantarya – continuous, without break; satkāra – earnestness, devotion; asevitaḥ – persevering practice, cultivated; dṛḍha – firm; bhūmiḥ – grounded, rooted, foundation:

When that practice is performed over a long period of time without interruption and with devotion it becomes firmly established.

1.13 tatra sthitau yatno ‘bhyasah

Of these two, the sustained effort to be situated (fixed) in the state of having a controlled and tranquil mind is called practice.

So Patañjali has now stated the two things that are going to be really required to become successful in one’s spiritual endeavor, and he is now addressing the first of these two principles here – this ‘abhyāsaḥ’. So he defines… or rather Vyāsa…the commentary of Vyāsa, defines practice as the effort to control the mind. So Vyāsa really defines this concentration which one should be aiming for… or focus, as the peaceful flow of the mind; when it has become freed from its fluctuating states or vrttis. So, this gives some indication of what it is that we’re aiming for, or should be aiming for, in order to become successful in our practice.

What we’re going to hear as we progress on two kinds of paths towards this… Patañjali is dealing with the first of these here initially. And for anybody that’s made any real attempt to control their mind and to bring it into a focused and peaceful state, they will experience how incredibly difficult that is to actually achieve, and to do that for a prolonged period of time. Even throughout one whole day would seem to be almost like ‘mission impossible’. So, the reality is, that in this process – this first of the two things that we will talk about – it’s almost like a heroic effort is needed or required, to actually mechanically ‘still’ the mind.

But as I stated, there will be other options that are presented, or we will hear about, from Vyasa as we progress. And when I say this… when I think of this… I am often reminded of a verse from the Bhagavad-gīta, where when Arjuna was asked or told, that this was a requirement to succeed in yoga, he stated:

“For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Kṛṣṇa, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.” That is a pretty profound statement… I mean Arjuna was no lightweight; he was an extraordinary personality, with unparalleled focus and highly motivated, and incredibly disciplined; able to tolerate and bear all manner of things, not just for short periods – for many years. And yet when he was challenged to consider this need, if one wants to progress on the spiritual path, he found it to be utterly overwhelming.

So there was a very nice response from Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and He states: “O mighty-armed son of Kuntī, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.” And if you look at the two words that were used in this sloka, they are exactly the same words that were used by Patañjali as being the requirements of abhyāsena. And here it is in the… what’s called the instrumental case, for those who are familiar with Latin or perhaps Greek grammar. We’ve seen this ‘ena’ on the end of it, means ‘with’ practice, ‘with’ determination.

So, I actually quoted this verse which has just been on the screen in the last video, and I did not bring this up, but it’s I think of value to point this out. And it shows a tremendous consistency that we see in the presentation of yogic philosophy, even from different schools or lineages; that there is a tremendous amount of consistency in how these things are presented.

So, in relation to this verse, Vyāsa, in his commentary, he uses the term ‘sadhana’ which refers to one’s regulated daily spiritual practices. He defines this term ‘practice’ here – abhyāsena, as being of effort and energy, or vigor to carry out this effort, and enthusiasm. And these were things that were needed for one to be able to actually create a practice.


1.14  sa tu dīrgha-kāla-nairantarya-satkārāsevito dṛḍha-bhūmiḥ

When that practice is performed over a long period of time without interruption and with devotion it becomes firmly established.

So perhaps you would like to just take quick note of the Sanskrit terms used and their English synonyms here; I don’t think there’s anything that warrants attention at this moment. But for us to succeed in a practice, first thing is that it must be performed without interruption. It’s not that one can sort of engage in some sadhana – some yogic practice; this cultivation of the spiritual path, for a couple of days with great earnestness… or a week… and then decide to take the weekend off, and then just merge back into material existence. And then after a couple of days or a week, to sort of think, “Wow, I need to get serious about this again!” and again to try for a little time, and then again to sort of like, take a break. One cannot take a break whenever one feels like it, or the mind…if it is dictating you know, “It’s time to take a break.” – No. If we want to, and we expect to attain the actual goal of yoga, then to be able to perform this undertaking without interruption, is absolutely a requirement. We should also be prepared for the long haul. It is also really going to take a considerable amount of time to find success, and that will not be measured just in months.

In all likelihood, it will be probably measured in years, or as stated in some of the different yogic texts, even lifetimes to attain success. And so, this all points to the need to become… to be very committed, and to have some appreciation for the very desirable outcome, and the undesirable nature of the life I’ve perhaps been leading up to this point.

So in speaking to this, there’s a verse from the Bhagavad-gīta that states: “And when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal.”

So, some people might find that a little demotivating, and the idea that something might take so long. But I can assure you of the fact that this undertaking is an undertaking of developing a higher… and experiencing an increasingly higher spiritual taste or flavor. As that spiritual taste or flavor increases, then one… one is fortified and one is enthused, and one becomes actually happy to be on this journey, and to be on this path. I would like to point out that… and we will get into this later… it is not necessarily so, that a person must undertake this journey for many lifetimes in order to succeed. That success and the speed at which one will find success, we will speak to a little later, in some of the ślokas.

So this idea of being very devoted to this practice…and of course being devoted will happen spontaneously, as we begin to reap the rewards or benefits from this undertaking… but we have to have this understanding that this is not just some ‘trip’; this is not something that we’re just doing lightly because it catches our attention at the moment. There has to be a very clear understanding that this undertaking is more important than anything else that you could possibly do in this lifetime. The rest of your life, and all the things associated with it, are of a temporary and fleeting nature. They will all pass; they will all be ended; they will all come to an end – even the time that you spend in this body will come to an end.

And so, there is a great need to understand, “Well what’s the alternative?” – to engaging in this spiritual undertaking. And of course, the alternative is what’s called ‘saṁsāra’ – the endless cycle of repeated birth and death, and the unlimited amount of suffering and unhappiness that is associated with that – with material existence. So you know it is… our practice has to be something that we become and grow deeply committed to, which as I stated, is something that we can do when we are experiencing the fruit of this undertaking. But it reminds me of a verse from the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa, where it states… in connection with the need of dedication or devotion to the spiritual undertaking, they use this metaphor: “Every year the plowman plows over his grain field, completely uprooting all weeds. Nonetheless, the seeds lie there and not been completely burned, again come up with plants sown in the field. Even after being plowed under, the weeds come up densely.”

So that’s kind of like the reality of what we are faced with, until such time as we are experiencing the fruit of spiritual enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something that happens all of a sudden with a big flash of electricity or light, and then suddenly you’re self-realized. It is not that it can’t happen that way, but it doesn’t. It is going to be a process of… almost like with a light with a dimmer switch – you click it on, and there’s no light. And then as you turn it, now you see the light beginning to glow, and the radiance of the light beginning to be emitted, and as you turn it more and more, it becomes brighter and brighter. And so, in a very similar manner, the process towards self-realization is going to be an experience very much like this.

There is one professor of the religions of India in the US – Professor Edwin Bryan. And he uses an example that is very common in different Vedic texts – the idea of maintaining like a flower garden. If you want to have a very beautiful flower garden a great deal of work has to be done initially, in turning over the soil and removing all of the grass and preparing everything. And putting in the compost and things that are needed, and then the panting. And then the tending of these plants. But even once they grow up and begin to bloom, there is the need to constantly water and from time to time to weed, in order to maintain this very pleasant picture garden of all these beautiful blooming flowers. And so, in a similar manner, there is going to be a need for constant attention on this path.