Through much of the Yoga Sutras, yogis learn to still the mind. A busy clouded mind, we learn, gets between us and our true Self. But can our minds ever understand reality? It seems, they can. A yoga mind (as I’m calling it) is not colored by misperception. Rather, it can reflect truth once it understands who it is.
Though variegated by innumerable tendencies, the mind acts not for itself but for another, for the mind is of compound substance. (sutra 4.24)
A Yoga Mind Knows There is More
Sutra 4.24 reveals who we are. We are not our minds, true. But that doesn’t mean we should obliterate our minds. It means we need to use them to connect to the source that created the mind in the first place. To do that, we need to let go of our small self. Once we realize our minds exist to serve a greater purpose or power, we can clearly understand what that power wants for us.
Our lives our gifts, but we were not created simply to seek our own happiness and fulfill our own desires. We are part of Purusha—the higher power. If you think of yourself as participating in all that is rather than being an isolated part of creation, you understand with a yoga mind.
If you come from any kind of religious background, this idea that you are here to serve a greater purpose probably sounds familiar. While yoga is not a religion, it is a spiritual practice. Central to most spiritual practices is this sense of something greater that remains hidden when we live only for ourselves.
A Yoga Mind Reflects its Source but Knows it is Not That Source
While we use our minds to understand who we are and how we are connected to the divine, at some point our minds cease to be important.
For one who sees the distinction, there is no further confusing of the mind with the self. (sutra 2.25)
Westerners sometimes mistake yogis for people who think they are God. In fact, a yoga mind is clear on the distinction between itself and Atman. Atman is the higher Self.
The goal of yoga is Self-realization. We become Self-realized when we recognize that we are not the self. The only difference is a capital letter “s.” We are part of creation, not our isolated desire-centered egos.
Simple, isn’t it?
Of course, yoga—becoming one with all that is—is not simple. That’s why it comprises so many practices and can take a lifetime to master.
What happens when we are clear on the distinction between our minds and the mind of God?
Then the awareness begins to discriminate, and gravitates towards liberation. (sutra 4.26)
This is a wonderful verse. It does not say the mind arrives and the practice is over. It says the mind gravitates toward liberation. Yoga is an ongoing journey and never-ending practice!