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Book: The Discerning Clear Gaze of Yoga

Chapter: The True Self Puruṣa

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45214


In the third chapter, The True Self Puruṣa, I explore the true Self as the other principal entity to which the discerning and clear gaze (viveka-khyāti) is directed, referring to the Yogasūtra and the Sāṁkhyakārikā. Although explanations of the transcendent true Self are ineffable, they can serve as a bridge to the otherness that is being invoked. Such explanations redirects the inner gaze toward establishing a clear discerning gaze. For that purpose, I draw upon Patañjali’s metaphorical expressions – such as the “seer” and the “owner” – to discuss the concept of the Self as an inactive and aloof witness that is not subject to causality, and is pure consciousness. I will then discuss the concept of purity of awareness and its resemblance to the purity and transparency inherent in buddhi, the intellect, and examine the multiplicity of puruṣas and the tension that exists between the Yogasūtra's and Sāṁkhyakārikā’s definition of true Self. Finally I discuss another “type” of puruṣa - God or deity (Īśvara), reflecting the theistic component of yoga. Puruṣa is detached from the world, while Īśvara is perceived as being pure awareness, a special puruṣa completely free from karmic obscuration that “bends” and “touches” the pure aspect of the yogi’s mind, becoming its sovereign. However, by acting upon yogis that are on their path to liberation, intervening in the world of phenomena the concept of Īśvara ontologically deviates from puruṣa’s characteristics. How then are we to understand Īśvara in the context of yoga and the notion of the true Self as the other principal entity to which the discerning and clear gaze (viveka-khyāti) is directed?

Chapter Contributors

  • Gidi Ifergan ( - gifergen) 'Monash University'