1.36 विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती

viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī

viśokā – devoid of sorrow, blissful; vā – or; jyotiṣmatī – brilliant, shining:

Stability of the mind can also be produced by perception that is beyond all sorrow (blissful) and is radiant (shining).

1.36  viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī

Stability of the mind can also be produced by perception that is beyond all the sorrow (blissfulness) and is radiant (shining).

This sūtra may appear to be somewhat abstract and lead people to speculate upon its meaning. To really understand it, we need to remember the characteristics of what we call the three guṇas… three guṇa – the three modes of material nature: sāttva, rajas and tamas. Rajas and tamas guna give rise to pain, suffering, and further ignorance.

Sāttva, on the other hand, is luminous and blissful by nature. So, in this regard, there is a couple of verses in the Bhagavad-gīta:

“O chief of the Bhāratas, when there is an increase in the mode of passion the symptoms of great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire and hankering develop. When there is an increase in the mode of ignorance, O son of Kuru, darkness, inertia, madness, and illusion are manifested.”

And then within the sixteenth śloka in that same fourth chapter, it states that:

“… action done in the mode of passion results in misery, and action performed me mode of ignorance results in foolishness.”

One important focus of yoga practice or a yoga lifestyle, is to become more situated in the mode of goodness or sāttva-guṇa. In sāttva-guṇa, the mind is purified; the mind and intelligence can remain absorbed then in transcendental contemplation, and appear “like a waveless ocean, placid and limitless.” So that description is given by Vyāsa and is actually found in many parts of the Vedas – the mind being like a waveless ocean, placid and limitless. So Vyāsa says, “By the reflective meditation upon the self in its pure form within the core of the heart, there arises the pure knowledge of ‘I am’.” – this experience of my actual existence separate from the body and the mind. This higher perception he says is called viśokā jyotiṣmatī  – that brilliantly shining light, devoid of sorrow.

In hearing that explanation, probably most people that are not schooled in Vedic and traditional yogic thought, probably would not have reached the same conclusion about the meaning of it – unlike Vyāsa in his explanation. So, an important point is that this… what has been spoken of, is not a perception – meaning of that which is perceivable; It’s material objects and things that are perceived by the senses. But rather, this is an experience of the existence of the actual self.

In this early stage of awakening… and this is still a very early stage of self-realization; of enlightenment…in this early stage of true self-realization, the perception that ‘I’…’I’ am spiritual by nature, is of supreme importance. And I’ll again use the Bhagavad-gīta as a reference source to confirm this. We have this most wonderful verse in the sixth chapter – Dhyāna-yoga, in the twentieth śloka, where it states:

“In the stage of perfection called trance or samādhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by the practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and to rejoice in the self.”

This is a probably more detailed and very pointed explanation of this experience that has been pointed to by Patañjali, and once again the reference to samādhi, and even the English translated word here – trance. We are not talking about a mental state, because actual samādhi; actual self-realization, means to become free from the influence of the mind. It is an experience of the actual, eternal, and pure living being, not an experience of the mind.

So, these are different things, and I think that that point is really important for anybody that is very interested in this journey, to come to appreciate and understand. If we do not come to this understanding, then we will be constantly simply trying to arrange the mind, or produce effects or experiences within the mind, and considering those to be transcendental when they are not transcendental at all. And that point, we of course referenced many times in the explanations, or our commentary related to some of the previous sūtras. Thank you very much.