Yoga Sutra 1.17 something physical as the mind’s object of meditation
It is cognitive because accompanied with verbal associations (vitarka), with subtle associations (vicāra), with joy (ānanda), and the form of I-am-ness (asmitā)
The first (with vitarka) is an experience of something physical as the mind’s object of meditation. It is with subtle associations (vicāra) when the object of meditation is subtle. Joy means delight. I-am-ness is the feeling of being an individual self.
It was explained under the second sūtra that inhibition is not the definition of cognitive samādhi. When the mental process has been inhibited by the two means described, namely practice and detachment, how is the resulting samādhi to be described? It is cognitive, because accompanied with verbal associations, with subtle associations, with joy, and the form of I-am-ness. The word accompanied goes with each of them, so it means that it is accompanied with experience of the physical, with experience of the subtle, with experience of joy, and accompanied with the form of I-am. The word form in this last has the implication of ‘alone’, so that it means that the three previously mentioned qualities, of physical experience and so on, have ceased. The samādhi accompanied with verbal associations is experience of something physical as the object of the mind’s meditation. This experience is a confused meditation, the mind being transformed into the first form of meditation where it is mixed up with the physical. In the experience of the subtle, it relates to something subtle. Still more subtle is the third experience which is characterized by joy. ‘I-am’ is the bare thought of individual self-hood, when he is in samādhi on ‘I-am’ as his own nature. He will give an example (under I.36): Having discovered the self which is subtle as an atom, he should be conscious of I-am alone.
(Opponent) But he is going to put I-am-ness (asmitā) among the taints when he says: The single selfhood, as it were, of the powers of seer and seeing is I-am-ness (II.6). How should samādhi be associated with a taint like I-am?
(Answer) It is a reasonable point, but there is no reason why the samādhi should not be in the form of I-am, because this is meditation on its most refined cause, with everything else gone. Though there may be Ignorance in the object of meditation as I-am, this is not Ignorance in the yogin’s thought. For example, telepathy does not involve taking on the Ignorance of the thought of the other party. One reading the thought of another mind does not himself become ignorant from some defect of Ignorance in the thought of the other mind on which he is meditating.
Again, taint (kleśa) is something invariably characterized by illusion (viparyaya), as in the ideas ‘I go’ or ‘I am thin’. Not so the yogin’s mind, because rajas and tamas have been subdued in it.
Of these, the first samādhi – with verbal associations, sa-vitarka – is associated with all four. The second – with subtle associations, sa-vicāra – is without the verbal associations of the first. The third- with associations of joy, sa-ānanda – is without the subtle associations of the second. The fourth, being pure I-am, is without the association of joy. All these samādhi-s rest on an object.
In this sequence of four, an earlier one is associated with the qualities of all the later ones, and a later one is without the qualities of any earlier one. The purpose of the sūtra, then, is to define samādhi-s in terms of being associated with members of this set of four qualities. This is the normal way of defining a thing, by the special qualities which go with it, as ‘cow’ is defined as having a dewlap, etc.
Lest from the expression I-am it might be supposed that among these samādhi-s there is one without an object, he says, All these rest on an object.
It might be thought that I-am is something without any idea in it. But it is not so, for the established meaning of the expression I-am is ego (ahaṅkāra). And so he will say later, I-am is a feeling.
Now what is the means to ultra-cognitive samādhi, and what is its nature?
Ultra-cognitive samādhi was defined in the words Yoga is inhibition of the mental processes. Having defined it, then what is the means to it, what is the discipline by which it can be approached? and what is its nature, what is it in itself, what sort of state is it? To show how its nature is connected to the particular discipline for it, the sūtra now says: