Meditation – Patanjali says “whatever works”

In B. K. S. Iyengar‘s Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he interprets the 39th sutra in the first book (1.39) as “Or, by meditating on any desired object conducive to steadiness of consciousness.” As Iyengar explains, this sutra seems simple, but is actually more powerful.

This sutra – 1.39 – is the last of the seven methods, showing how open and approachable Patanjali’s teachings are. It says to me that no single approach is the only approach. Each approach is valid in its own right.

The seven methods towards self-realization and their corresponding limb of yoga are:

  • 1.33 – cultivating appropriate attitudes – yama, niyama, asana – behavior, character
  • 1.34 – breath control – pranayama – breath
  • 1.35 – absorption in object – pratyahara – senses of perception, mind
  • 1.36 – contemplation of inner light – dharana – mind
  • 1.37 – contemplation of sages – dharana – Ego, “I” consciousness
  • 1.38 – recollection of dreams and sleep – dharana – consciousness
  • 1.39 – meditation on any desired object – dhyana – soul

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