Patanjali Yoga Sutra — विशेषदर्शिन आत्मभाव-भावनानिवृत्तिः ॥4.25॥
Viśeṣadarśina ātmabhāva bhāvanānivṛttiḥ॥
Sādhaka’s yogasādhana gifts him a unique power of perception and enables him to identify the true difference between eternal ātman and citta of limited capabilities.
Patañjali opines, so long avidyā (ignorance) exists, one might perceive the citta itself as eternal, as it shines with borrowed luminosity from self-luminous, undying Puruṣa. But as against this, the moment he realizes the truth, discrimination dawns on him and he stops regarding the citta as the supreme puruṣa. A piece of iron full of rust fails to be attracted by the magnet. Mind full of vāsanas would fail to identify the puruṣa in its true nature.
Bhagavān describes yogi’s state of mind thus:
सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि।
ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शनः॥६.२९॥
sarvabhūtasthamātmānaṁ sarvabhūtāni cātmani.
īkṣate yogayuktātmā sarvatra samadarśanaḥ ॥Gītā 6.29॥
Yogi engaged in sādhana gets constancy of saintly antardṛṣṭi (inner vision) of seeing everyone with evenness and sees the ātman alone in every being and every being in ātman.
kaṭhopaniṣad very vividly describes how a sādhaka realizes superiority of different aspects finally culminating into Cosmic ātman:
इन्द्रियेभ्यः परा ह्यर्था अर्थेभ्यश्च परं मनः|
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्बुद्धेरात्मा महान्परः॥
महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात् Pउरुषः परः|
पुरुषान्न परं किञ्चित् सा काष्टा सा परा गतिः॥ कठ उपनिषद् ॥१.३.१०-११॥
indriyebhyaḥ parā hyarthā arthebhyaśca paraṃ manaḥ|
manasastu parā buddhirbuddherātmā mahānparaḥ॥
mahataḥ paramavyaktamavyaktāt Puruṣaḥ paraḥ|
puruṣānna paraṃ kiñcit sā kāṣṭā sā parā gatiḥ॥ kaṭha Upaniṣad ॥1.3. 10–11॥
Superior to the senses are objects; superior to the objects is the mind; superior to the mind is intellect; superior to the intellect is the Great ātman (hiraṇyagarbha or mahat); superior to Mahat is Unmanifest (Avyakta or īśvara); superior to Unmanifest is Cosmic Self or Puruṣa nirguṇa brahman. Puruṣa is the ultimate. That is the end of sādhaka’s spiritual quest.
A true seeker can achieve the Supreme by ardent, steadfast sādhana. But with all such inherent powers, we have forgotten our true nature. We are conditioned to believe that we are weak, we are limited, we are sinners, we are mortals, and whatnot.
In a zoo, a strong elephant was tied at his with a chain. A visitor asks the mahout — ‘The chain used is very weak and with a powerful pull, the elephant can easily break the chain. Is it not dangerous for the people around here?’
Mahout smiled and answered — ‘No my friend, He cannot. He will not do that. Because he is conditioned to believe that he is tied with a chain. He is conditioned to accept that he is in our captivity and escape is next to impossible.
Visitor — ‘How is that?’
Mahout — ‘We brought this elephant when he was very small and we used the same chain to tie him. As he was very small, this very chain was enough to tie him and keep him truly in our confinement. He grew over the years and we continued to use the same chain. Though he is strong enough to break the chain now, he would not do that because, over the years, he is conditioned to accept that he is in our captivity with this chain’. He whispered with a smile — ‘Don’t tell this secret to the elephant!’
That is the danger of conditioning!!