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Dear Jenni: YSP 1:45

Subtlety of the object is limitless, except that it must manifest itself.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:45 – Bouanchaud translation

Except that the mind cannot comprehend the very source of perception within us, its objects can be unlimited.

Desikachar translation

Egads, there’s late and there’s LATE and considering that the next installment of this column is due tomorrow, I’m thinking it’s now or never for my ramblings on YSP 1:45.

And here it is …. (drum roll please)… I haven’t got a danged clue what it means.

The fact is all this mind stuff is just a bit beyond me. I’m more or less lost at the “source of perception’ bit. The mind cannot see itself? Is that the point they’re getting at here? I’m thinking that it really doesn’t help that the two sentences above are allegedly translations of the same piece of Sanskrit.

I know all this stuff is dealing with subtle realms – so subtle that mere mortals can’t fathom it. I’m finding this very frustrating, Jenni. It also makes me feel like a bit of an idiot because technically, I’m a native English speaker. I’m supposed to understand the meaning of sentences written in grammatically correct English. And yes, dammit, that’s Ego talking.

Okay, let’s tear this sutra apart word by freaking syllable… Subtle means elusive, difficult to detect or grasp by the mind and analyze. The word manifest (as a verb) means, among other things, to reveal its presence or make an appearance. Except: exclude. Must: a necessary or essential thing – in short, a requirement.

I think we’re firmly back in the realm of “the mind can’t see itself”. Do you ever get the idea that Bouanchaud is reluctant to use clear language? I get all the words. I just don’t get what they mean when they’re all stuck together in that order.

Sigh… I dread my advanced training session coming up in August. We’re tackling Chapter 1 of the Sutras and it’s sutras like this that make me want to jab pencils into my eyeballs. I fear that seven days of non-stop beating what few neurons I have left against the brick wall of Chapter 1 should be sufficient to render me completely and absolutely simple.

I’ll try to get the next column written in a timelier manner. I think the key is trying to develop some sort of rational and lucid commentary on stuff that is so evidently outside my realm of comprehension. Hang in there, Jenni. Chapter 2 is just around the bend. We’re six weeks away from more familiar realms.

Jenni published her comments a week ago and here they are.

Thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

2 responses »

  1. this… reminds me of multiple recursion. after delving into a book called “GEB” – Godel, Escher and Bach, i gather it might be in somewhat a similar vein… a mind can’t truly perceive itself, because it is through the process of this perception that the mind arises. erm, that probably made even less sense…

  2. I’ll take all the help I can get !!!

    Thanks for singing out there, Michael.



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