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Yoga Sutra 3.17

A little look at the third Yoga Sutra


There is a natural confusion of words, meanings, and your own conceptual experience that arises when you superimpose one upon the other. But with perfect focus on distinguishing between the three, you may learn the language of all beings.

This saṁyama, that is a profound understanding of it all – applies to communication and the structure of language.  In short, words matter.   

Words are used to refer to objects in the world. The word is not the actual object. The word ‘apple’ is not something that has a colour, smell or taste that can be eaten. The word is an agreed sign pointing to a class of objects. As you are reading the word apple, you may immediately think of a specific type of apple. It could be the type of apple in grandma’s apple pie, or it could be those apples that make your favourite cider or whatever.  Thus, the word apple triggers a recall for the concept in your mind associated with it. That concept is different from the actual object and from the word. The concept is likely influenced by your own life experiences.

However, concepts may become an obstacle to apprehending something fully.  Systematic enquiry requires identifying and separating each concept from each other to gain an in-depth understanding.


Damian Cadman-Jones is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga™













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