Excerpts from Gurudev’s commentary on Patanjali Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are life’s threads, each one rich with knowledge and techniques to guide the mind and help bring one’s very being into full expression.

First, the mind wants proof, pramaana, for everything. Have you noticed this? You may be in Switzerland. The proof is that you can see the Swiss Alps. This is pratyaksha, and means that which is obvious or can be experienced. Anumaana is another kind of proof. It means something that is not so obvious, but which can be guessed. Then there is aagamana, the scriptures. They are believed because they are written. The mind works this way. You are constantly looking for proof of something.

Yoga is when you drop this. Only then can you abide in the Self. Retreating from the activity of the mind wanting proof releases you from it, and brings you back to the Self. Your senses may fool you. You could be taken to Austria, see snowy mountains and think you are in Switzerland. But the feeling of “I am and I exist” is beyond proof. Abiding in the Self does not need proof. Anything that can be proven can be disproven, but truth is beyond proof or disproof. You can neither prove God, nor can you disprove Him. Proof is connected with logic, and logic is limited. It is the same with enlightenment and love.

Love cannot be proven or disproven. Behavior is not proof of love. Click To Tweet

Actors and actresses may act the emotion of love, but they need not feel real love. The proof is one of the main things you are stuck within this world.

Much of the time you impose your views, ideas and feelings on others and think this is how things are. This second activity of mind is viparyaya. You may have an inferiority complex, and therefore consider someone’s behavior to be arrogant. Actually, they are not arrogant or disrespectful. It is because you do not respect yourself that you think others do not respect you. Proof is of no importance when viparyaya dominates, and logic fails. Correct information appears briefly, but only incorrect information sticks in the mind.

The mind’s third modulation is vikalpa. It is a sort of hallucination. There may be some thought, but it is not true. However, something hovers in the mind. It could be a pleasurable fantasy or a baseless fear. Perhaps you are sixty years old and fantasize about what it would be like to be sixteen again. Or, you may be apprehensive you will have an accident and die tomorrow. Both are vikalpa. Sleep, nidra, is the fourth activity. The fifth and final modulation is smriti, remembering past experiences. When you are awake, are you in any of these modulations? If so, that is not meditation. That is not Yoga.

How do you contend with the overpowering nature of these activities of mind? It is through abhyasa and vairagya, practice and detachment. An effort is needed to relieve you of the five modulations, to bring the mind to the present moment. This effort is abhyasa. You can start by being determined that you are not going to be interested in any proof or knowledge. If the mind asks for proof or knowledge, just observe it and relax. Let things be the way they are. If the mind is on some fantasy, know it is happening. By knowing you are fantasizing it drops off, freeing you. This moment is so new, so fresh and so total. This moment, again and again and again, is abhyasa.