Patanjali: The great Indian sage and teacher of the Ageless Wisdom

Patanjali: The great Indian Sage and teacher of the Ageless Wisdom

Patanjali: The great Indian sage and teacher of the Ageless Wisdom

Patanjali was the next great well-known teacher in the Indian transmission of the Ageless Wisdom after the Buddha and Krishna.

The actual dates for Patanjali’s life are not clear. Estimates range from between 200 BC to 400 AD, though most evidence favours the earlier date, placing him roughly two hundred years after the Buddha. Patanjali’s teachings take elements of both the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and Krishna’s path to knowing God in the Bhagavad Gita, combining them with other indigenous Indian traditions of contemplation and mental disciplines.

In many ways, Patanjali’s teachings can be seen as the completion and integration of diverse streams of the Ageless Wisdom in religion, philosophy and mind science, passed down in India over millennia into a brief and powerful synthesis.

That synthesis is Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras, consisting of just 196 very short aphorisms, many no more than five or six words long in the original Sanskrit. The aphorisms are called sutras – meaning ‘thread’ in Sanskrit – because each of them is a strand providing the wherewithal for us to reconnect to our Divine nature and true state of being (note also the root of the word religion in Latin is religare, ‘to tie again’; the Sanskrit word yoga in turn is derived from yuj – meaning ’to tie or bind together’).

Sutras are meant to be transformative, to bring awareness to our ways of living, so that we can change them when they are failing us. Sutras are written to address the whole of us, the entire lived experience that we hold in our body, and they ask us to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the universe.

The goal of the Yoga-sutras is no less than entire transformation of ourselves, to reconnect to our true Divine essence. How do we do that? This is announced at the outset, in the second sutra: ‘yoga is the ceasing of the twistings of our minds and our perceptions.’ We do not see true Divinity because we misapprehend ourselves and the world; our minds and our perceptions are ‘twisted’. When they are ‘twisted’ no longer, realisation of our true nature dawns, and we see all clearly as it is.

But how are our minds and perceptions ‘twisted’? This is explained in the fourth aphorism: ‘twisting arises from identification with activities in the world’. Our minds are constantly identifying ourselves with what we do and how we act on the world and how the world acts on us; everything is personalised as a matter to us. But this is a complete illusion manufactured by the mind’s constant needing to grasp at externals to validate itself and our separate existence, when in fact the reality is our constant and inviolable interconnection with each other and all of the universe.

But how do we stop this constant grasping by the mind and personalising of our experiences? This is the practical path of yoga, one very similar to that described by the Buddha in the Eightfold Path and by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and summarised in aphorism fifty-two: ‘commitment, refinement, action, and surrender are the ways to yoga' (i.e. reconnecting to our true nature).

With commitment, we refine how we live in life, the choices we make, so that we gradually disentangle ourselves from grasping at what the world offers and identifying ourselves with its rewards; we live fully in the world with commitment, but are no longer owned by the world and its attractions. This is the Yoga of Renunciation described by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. No longer owned, we still act in the world, but we do so without investment, with no expectation of gain for ourselves or our kind, but for the further evolution of all. This is the Yoga of Action described by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Finally, we fully surrender our will to that of God; we realise we are vessels for the expression of His Plan for the unceasing evolution of all, the continual expansion of the universe through His light.

Our small and limited personal sense of self and its craving dissolves and we are born into a realisation of our true Divine Self; yoga has been achieved.

What Patanjali has given us is nothing less than the way of true religion: the path of our reconnection to God. Patanjali gave these teachings at a time when society had lost its sense of connection to the Divine, a time very much like our own.

The true teachers of the Ageless Wisdom, such as Hermes, Krishna, Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha, Pythagoras and Yeshua, have all adapted to the conditions of their era so that they could deliver what was needed then and for the future evolution of humanity, without straying from the true absolute message of the Ageless Wisdom, which is utterly timeless. We can trace the thread of these teachings from the beginning until now.

Listen to this short audio about the teachings of Pythagoras and Patanjali that presents an understanding of Spirit and Soul, and unfolds a dedicated way of living that develops the Kingly Body we all have within – a way of living in connection with our Soul. This is the Way of the Livingness.

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Where man meets Soul

It could be said that the birth of The Way of The Livingness began 2,500 years ago with Pythagoras and the ensuing Pythagoreans. However the principles of purpose and dedication towards responsibility, towards love, towards developing the Kingly or Divine body have not changed.

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