तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानमः ॥ ३॥
tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānamaḥ
“Then the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent.” -Desikachar
In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, Uncle Rico frequently says, “Back in ’84…” As in, “Back in ’84, I could throw a football over them mountains.” “Back in ’84, we could have gone to State.” He says this phrase so often that we the audience laugh and groan, and we recognize in him an exaggeration of what we see people around us doing: romanticizing a time or place in their lives. As people, we get attached to stuff and people and places and events and institutions and times in our lives. In our heads, we live in that moment and measure all subsequent people, places, things, or experiences by that one thing.
In Uncle Rico’s case, his attachment is high school. What he’s really saying is, “Back in ’84, I was somebody. And if we had gone to State, I’d be somebody now.”
We can commonly see what other people’s ’84 is, but we’re usually blind to our own. We’re blind to what we’re attached to because we cannot see it clearly.
In yoga sutra 1.2, Desikachar says, “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.” What Desikachar intends here is not an attachment like ’84. I think it’s something bigger: like God, or the breath, or even nonattachment.
Yoga sutra 1.3 follows this with, “Then the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent.” This “object” that Desikachar refers to might be something outside of ourselves, and it might be our own true nature. Other translations online of this text include more psychological language: “Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.” In this translation, the object is the self.
It’s at this point that I want to go to the library and check out ten different translations on the sutras again. The words chosen in translation make such a difference – consider the connotations surrounding the word “self-realization” versus “object.” One is loaded with background, the other not.
Desikachar’s translation seems so different from the free online translations that I’m finding—and yet Desikachar’s translation is cohesive, whereas the other ones that I’m finding are not cohesive. For instance, with sutras 1.2-1.3, Desikachar uses the concept of the object to tie the two sutras together (1), while the swamij website doesn’t connect the two ideas at all (2).
Unfortunately for the commentaries (but fortunately for me!), I’m on vacation in California right now with my husband’s family and the Pitt library is a long way away. Eventually, though, I’d like to compare this thought flow in other translations of the sutras.
What I do understand this sutra to be saying is this: when we focus our mind on something – like God – we see our lives more clearly. We see that not going to state in ’84 didn’t ruin our lives because our lives are so much bigger than football. We see what we’re attached to, and we’re able to see it clearly, without the romanticizing of the object. We can even see that we might be a bit bizarre in trusting and talking to a God we cannot see—and recognize the immense amount of faith and choice we do have in regards to God. Then we recognize the gift of that faith, and that it doesn’t come from within—that all faith is a gift from God.
(1) Desikachar’s sutras 1.2-1.3: “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions. Then the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent.”
(2) On the swamij website, sutras 1.2-1.3: “Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field. Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.”