Yoga Sutra 1:24: Isvara is a from of consciousness unaffected by actions that cause suffering and the by products of suffering.
Defining the Sutra:
In the next few verses, Patanjali describes the characteristics of Isvara, supreme consciousness. We are all apart of consciousness. Science tells us that nothing in existence can be destroyed, it just changes form. We all have the same building blocks or atoms but they come together in different combinations for different effects. Your dog, your house, and your body are all made up of atoms but all appear different to the mind. Unlike us,this form of consciousness, Isvara, is not affected by actions or karma and the by products of actions.
Modern Day Applications:
Isvara is identified as something we can focus on for enlightenment. The cause of our suffering is our identification with emotions, thought and form. We do not have the ability to distinguish between consciousness i.e. the real us and what we are seeing and feeling. So if we can connect to a form of consciousness that is not identified with thought and form,we can use that to let go of our suffering.
Why It is Important:
An identification with something greater than us often helps us to realize that we are not the center of the universe and there is so much more in play than our problems, emotions and life circumstances. We start to put our problems in perspective and they don’t seem as big. When something is small in our lives, it is easier to let go of it.
Focusing on something that is greater than ourselves puts us directly in touch with something that is in a place that we want to be. If you want to be a successful business man, do you hang out with other successful businessman or failed business man? If you want to be a positive person, do you hang out with other positive people or negative people? If you want to learn Ashtanga Yoga, do you go to a Bikram class or an Ashtanga class? If Isvara is consciousness that is already free from suffering, having a connection with Isvara puts us closer to that state.
Meditating on how we are a part of greater consciousness is also a reminder that what we are so much bigger than our transitory earthly suffering. The video below is a glimpse into the vastness of the universe and supreme consciousness and how we are a part of it too.