July Focus: Kaivalya/Freedom



What is freedom? What are we freeing ourselves from? Should freedom go hand in hand with responsibility? Does one enhance or hinder the other?

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra has four chapters, the last one entitled Kaivalya, the teachings on liberation, and the ultimate goal of Raja yoga. From this viewpoint, liberation is the idea of solitude, of separation from the play of the gunas, or the constituent elements of nature. The gunas consist of raja, tamas and sattva, translated as passion, inertia and harmony.

The 34 sutras in the fourth chapter deal with the impressions left by our endless cycles of births and it portrays a yogi who has attained kaivalya as one who has gained independence from all bondages. Pure consciousness settles into its own pure nature.

How do we apply this concept in our daily lives? Sutra 6 in the Kaivalya chapter suggests a method: meditation.

“Only the minds born of meditation
are free from karmic impressions.”

—Kaivalya Pada: Sutra 6.

In summary, we have habitual, ego driven ways of seeing ourselves, and the world, and we need to settle the mind enough to see this clearly. Our pure consciousness underlies all the surface confusion and is a much more reliable guide for our awakening to freedom.