Notwithstanding the apparent simplicity of the sloka 1.17 it has a fundamental value in scope of Patanjali’s concept of Yoga and in understanding the principles of spiritual advance in general. As for its application significance, this line probably comes as the second most important after the one defining Yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodhah.
In fact, in this line Patanjali points out the fact of contiguity of the spiritual dimension and the processes happening within it (I hope to talk about Samprajna as comprehension, the act of consciousness expansion, in one of the following articles) with cognitive processes (vitarka and vichara), emotional (ananda) and existential (asmita) experiences.
Such contiguity as it is was not obvious to many mystic systems (for more details see the section on correlation between psychological and spiritual aspects in my book on psychological practices), just like the hierarchy set by Patanjali is not obvious as well. Even today many of those searching tend to confuse emotional feelings with spiritual ones, or on the contrary – to deny the significance of intellectual and emotional experience. So that it goes without saying that when appeared 2 thousand years ago, this idea was more than vigorous and innovative.
The line 1.17 also entails the fundamental principle of Yoga psychological techniques – the influence on one’s emotional state asserted through aware comprehension, and this will also come as the topic of our next articles.