Rev. Jaganath, Integral Yoga Minister and Raja Yoga master teacher, has spent a lifetime delving into the deepest layers of meaning in Patanjali’s words within the Yoga Sutras. In Patanjali’s Words, his latest work-in-progress, Rev. Jaganath explores the Sutras word by word. In this new Integral Yoga Magazine series, we’ll focus on how he unpacks the word: nirodaḥ—an essential component of Patanjali’s definition of Yoga that we find in sutra 1.2. Part 1 of our series looks at how nirodaḥ is cultivated and becomes a way of life. Part 1 of our series looks at how nirodaḥ is cultivated.
We will go into this all-important word in some depth since having a clear grasp of the vital nature of nirodha is essential to a proper understanding of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the process, we will be referring to sutras that span all four sections of the Yoga Sutras. Although nirodha is usually interpreted as the cessation of thought, we will find that this definition limits the real and practical intent of the word. The clearing of all mental activity is the means, not the end. The goal is the cessation not of thought activity, but of the misperception of body/mind as Self, Seer, Spirit, pure infinite, eternal, consciousness.
Nirodha: How it is Cultivated
In sutras 1.12 – 1.16, we find the ground for the development of nirodha: practice and nonattachment. Practice is defined as regular, repeated efforts to break free from misperception of the mind as Self/Seer. For practice to bring benefits, it needs to be carefully nurtured for a long time, engaged in faithfully, with inner reflection, and fervor.
Nirodha’s sweetest fruits arise when practice is paired with nonattachment, self-mastery and freedom from craving. Nonattachment naturally arises when the love of the attainment of liberation from ignorance and the suffering it brings becomes stronger than the desire for sense satisfaction and self-centered thoughts of status and acknowledgment. Craving for objects seen, heard, or described in sacred tradition, pale in comparison to inner discoveries made by the yogi. Sense pleasures can still be enjoyed, but they cease to be the center of life.
Can you imagine a life without fear, envy, anger, or hatred, a life permanently rooted in joy and unconditional lovingkindness? Spiritually mature yogis don’t have to imagine it. They live it.
Nirodha : A State, A Process, A Way of Life
In its final manifestation, nirodha is a state in which the mind has become utterly steady, clear, one-pointed, and free from selfish attachment. It is the state of mind that brings about Yoga: union, harmony, and integration of all aspects of the individual and of the individual with nature. It is kaivalya — liberation from suffering brought by ignorance.
As a process, nirodha is multi-leveled and multifaceted. For most seekers, it usually begins with a contemplative practice, such as meditation or prayer. These practices alone bring great benefit, but to attain the ultimate goal of Self-realization or spiritual liberation, a comprehensive approach is needed. As evidence of this, you will see that the path recommended for the cultivation of nirodha spans the entire text of the [Yoga Sutras of Patanjali].
For the sincere seeker, the development of nirodha is not just about getting better at meditation. Nirodha is also a turning point in life. It is adopting a fresh, vibrant way of life that is grounded in timeless wisdom while adapting to today’s needs.
This turning point, to be authentic, is preceded by clear, honest self-examination, and a reassessment of goals and priorities. This deep introspection could follow a time of stress or challenge, or by an experience or experiences of great upliftment of mind and heart. Usually it is only great suffering or great joy that provokes the kind of fundamental changes we have to accomplish to truly grow in Spirit.
The main question boils down to this: Who owns your heart: the world with its emphasis on material success, status, and acknowledgement, or the experience of the Highest Truth, Spirit — what we call God?
About the Author:
Reverend Jaganath Carrera is and Integral Yoga Minister and the founder/spiritual head of Yoga Life Society. He is a direct disciple of world renowned Yoga master and leader in the interfaith movement, Sri Swami Satchidananda—the founder and spiritual guide of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville and Integral Yoga International. Rev. Jaganath has taught at universities, prisons, Yoga centers, and interfaith programs both in the USA and abroad. He was a principal instructor of both Hatha and Raja Yoga for the Integral Yoga Teacher Training Certification Programs for over twenty years and co-wrote the training manual used for that course. He established the Integral Yoga Ministry and developed the highly regarded Integral Yoga Meditation and Raja Yoga Teacher Training Certification programs. He served for eight years as chief administrator of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville and founded the Integral Yoga Institute of New Brunswick, NJ. He is also a spiritual advisor and visiting lecturer on Hinduism for the One Spirit Seminary in New York City. Reverend Jaganath is the author of Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, published by Integral Yoga Publications. His latest book Patanjali’s Words is a work-in-progress.