Mar 6, 2017

Sutra 1.40. Another Post About Miracles

Many people are looking for kitschy miracles

but turn their blind eye to the major one

The sutra 1.40 been quoted out of context gave rise to numerous twisted fantasies that I intend to dispel.

This sutra completes the passage on scattered mind (chitta vikshepa) restoration and stabilization methods, and reads as follows

परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः ॥ ४०॥
1.40 paramāṇu paramamahattvānto'sya vaśīkāraḥ 

In order to explain what I mean I shall instead of giving the line detailed interpretation first start with quoting the translation variants available:
1.40. Thereafter, a yogi’s mastery stretches from the smallest atom to the biggest objects.
1.40. His mastery extends right to the ultimate atom and to the ultimate magnitude
1.40. For one whose thought is tranquil, mastery extends from the most minute particle to the vast expanse.
1.40. Mastery of tranquility extends from the most minute particle to the largest, the form of the entire cosmos.
1.40. In time, the heart can hold the smallest thing, and the uncontainable.

As we can see, the interpreters tend to translate this line in somewhat pompous way implying a yogi acquires a kind of super-power and masters siddhis. And this interpretation has classical groundwork to rely on. Indeed, by his starting the given recital with paramâñu (“the smallest objects”) parama-mahat (“the largest objects”) Patanjali definitely alludes to the list of 8 Mahasiddhis. And his earliest commentators were totally aware of the issue that modern searchers of Eastern miracles would refuse to admit: these siddhis to be of cognitive nature. Thus they were already Vyasa followed by Bhojaraja who were interpreting this line in the context of chitta’, or manas’, capability to “penetrate within” “thin” or “coarse” objects. 

॥1.40॥ sūkṣme niviśamānasya paramāṇvantaṃ sthitipadaṃ labhata iti। sthūle niviśamānasya paramamahattvāntaṃ sthitipadaṃ cittasya।
By focusing on fine objects (the Yogi) attains the state of chitta steadiness up to the level of the minutest atoms. By focusing on coarse objects (the Yogi) attains the state of chitta steadiness up to the level of the largest objects. 

The key word here is “chitta” that undergoes transformations.
The commentary of Bhojaraja runs as follows:

॥1.40॥ na kvacittaparamāṇuparyante sūkṣme viṣaye'sya manaḥ pratihanyata ityarthaḥ। evaṃ sthūlamākāśādiparamamahatparyantaṃ bhāvayato na kvaciccetasaḥ pratighāta utpadyate sarvatra svātantryaṃ bhavatītyarthaḥ। evamebhirupāyaiḥ saṃskṛtasya cetasaḥ kīdṛgrūpaṃ bhavatītyāha.
None of “fine”, none of minutest objects can withstand his mind (manas! i.e. intellectual process – A.S.’ note). Likewise none of “coarse”, even the largest, same as sky, cannot stand against (his mind)…

Thus even the most ancient commentators referred to the idea of this sutra’s being not about the “growth” or “reduction” of physical body that we find in naïve interpretations of parlour mysticism adherents, yet the ability of the one who has attained mind integrity to speculate on most different objects, to “penetrate” (niviś) into them with his chitta or manas.
And we can indeed observe the human mind “supremacy” over the “most minute objects” in the field of nucleus fission, DNA sequence deciphering and transformation, quantum computers etc. As well as over the “big” ones – space flights, development of black holes theory “with a point of a pen” and conceptualization of the Universe’ first minutes. It is the improvement of cognitive intelligence that makes the objective of human being’ true evolvement, while his spiritual maturity lies in inexhaustible craving for knowledge. And there isn’t any other miracle in the world greater than Mind, but many people don’t notice this. Or never use it.

Of course not all of us are directly engaged in big science. But being a part of the mankind, every person can be involved in panhuman development by improving oneself, by having the desire to stay at the cutting edge of science and technology, by dealing with the most recent discoveries and fostering the same. Let me remind here that svadhyaya, or self-education, is one of Yoga’ basic niyamas.

A parlour belief in primitive miracles is a far cry from both genuine Yoga and common sense. Searching for spirituality from “babus” of little education, stories about objects “materialization”, “cleaning chakras” with help of singing bowls and other things of the kind is just an aimless pursuit. These things seem to be trifles, but what they have behind them are global involutive processes occurring intensively in the world of today. They are drop of education average level against traditionalism that is walking tall again, with some people even returning to religious description methods. Still I believe that the voice of Reason and person’s inner need for development shall manage to overcome.

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