Welcome to my interpretation of the great Indian sage Rishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Patanjali lived in the second century BCE and was a master of Shaivism, a school of philosophical thought which worship the transcendental Reality as Shiva, the God of the Yogis. Yoga has been in practice in India for millennia as a spiritual endeavor to control the mind and senses, as a discipline comprising of different approaches to Self-realization. Patanjali’s greatest contribution to Yoga in this regard was to compile and systematize existing knowledge and provide Yoga with a solid and integrated philosophy. This became Patanjali’s magnum opus, the Yoga Sutras which are 196 succinct aphorisms divided into 4 chapters revealing an eight limb process to the path of Self-realization. Patanjali’s system came to be regarded as one of the six classical schools of Hinduism (the other five being Purva Mimansa founded by Rishi Jaimini, Vaisheshika founded by Rishi Kananda, Nyaya founded by Rishi Gautama, Sankhya founded by Rishi Kapila and Vedanta founded by Rishi Vyasa).
It is often said that the Yoga Sutras is the text for renunciants while the Bhagavad Gita is the text for householders. I disagree with this statement, especially for the 21st century seeker. One does not need to give up the world in order to become realized, in fact the ultimate test is to be fully in the world but not of it. The only things one needs to give up are, as per the Buddha’s teaching, the three great poisons: greed, anger and ignorance. I see greed as being ingratitude for what one has (however much or little that is), anger as false belief of loss of control and ignorance as the wrong perception of the world and of forgetting our true nature as the Self within as the Pure Light of Consciousness.
As you will see, one definition of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras, is Yoga is skill in action. So how to effectively be in the world but not of it is further indicated by the other great text the Bhagavad Gita: act we must but we must not be attached to the fruits of our actions, so this principle combined with skill in action, equates to being fully in the world but not of it. This is actually the path of mastery of both self and the world and being at peace with both. As I say to my students: Do what you need to do, enjoy in a good way and get out! Or as classically pointed out: Hari OM Tat Sat meaning Hurry Home and That’s That!!!