Its not what you do it’s the way that you do it.

मृदु-मध्याधिमात्रत्वात् ततोऽपि विशेषः

mṛdu madhyādhimātratvāt tato’pi viśeṣaḥ


There is distinction (viśeṣaḥ) between practicitioners, some are mild (mṛdu), some middling (madya) and some above measure (adimātra).

Commentators offer varying interpretations of this sutra.

Is the sutra discussing……

  1.  those practitioners who are most ardent in their practice and even amongst these there are varying levels of intensity. This understanding is built on the sandhi between tatah + api which becomes tato’pi – tatah means from that and api as well. If the ‘that’ is in reference to the intensity mentioned in the previous sutra then this interpretation is logical.
  2. the previous three sutras. The mild practitioners are the prakṛti lyanam, the middling the faithful and diligent and the above measure the most intense.
  3. a combination of both: A recognition that within every practice and practitioner there are varying levels of commitment, that at times we will be merged in matter and need that gross practice to still the mind, at times we will embody faith and this will stop the whirling thoughts and at other times we can be entirely focused, free from distraction. And at any given time the level of intensity of intensity will vary too, we could have a mild/mild practice or a intense/mild practice. It is a recognition that to be human is to embrace change, but remain consistent.

Whichever interpretation you favour, I find this sutra reassuring, the important thing is that we practice, that we practice regularly and with as much sincerity as we can. But we are embodied and human and therefore all we can ever do is our best. Some days we will be possessed by a fervent ardour to get on the mat or take our seat and other days we may find it more challenging. Patanjlai is reminding us Samadhi is always there, self realisation is inevitable, it just might take longer if our effort is restrained.







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