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The Discerning Clear Gaze of Yoga

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Just as rays of light are projected onto a mirror and then reflected outwards by it, so the source of awareness, the true Self, is projected onto the mind to create a reflection of the world of phenomena. However, the mind, which carries within it the sense-of-self as the agent or ego, is mistakenly convinced that it is the source of primary awareness, the true Self. Furthermore, like a dusty and murky mirror, the mind too reflects reality in a distorted manner, its reflections become distorted through habitual tendencies and mental processes. And it is such distortion which produces confusion and suffering. Yoga in action redirects attention to the mind itself and seeks to remove the blemishes on it, just like polishing a mirror. At the culmination of this process, the mind is liberated from mental processes and the causes of affliction, and abides in an empty yet clear state. This is how the clear discerning gaze of yoga can be realised, by being able to distinguish between the source of light, which represents the true Self, and the mirror itself, which represents the mind and sense of self. Such a gaze has the power to liberate one from the misconceptions and emotions that distort the mind.

This study explores the road map of yoga as reflected in the Yogasūtra of Patañjali (third century CE) and the Sāṁkhyakārikā of Iśvarakṛṣṇa (350–450 CE) which leads to the rise of this discerning insight, evading interpretations motivated by naivety on the one hand, and excessive suspicion on the other. Inspired by the psychology of yoga, the author offers a meditation focused on the sense of self and the cultivation of a discerning clear gaze.

Published: Aug 1, 2024