II.22 कृतार्थं प्रति नष्टमप्यनष्टं तदन्यसाधारणत्वात्

kṛtārtham prati naṣṭam apyanaṣṭam tad anya-sādhāraṇatvāt
kṛta-artham prati naṣṭam api anaṣṭam tat anya-sādhāraṇatvāt

“The common view of things is lost yet not-lost: lost to [the one whose] aim is accomplished, not-lost to others who [still] share the common view.”

Our ordinary understanding is largely influenced by the views of those around us. People tend to hold ideas in common, in a tribal way. Developmental psychologists at the University of California-Berkeley recently conducted a study to examine how certainty is created. They found that “people’s beliefs are more likely to be reinforced by the positive or negative reactions they receive in response to an opinion, task or interaction, than by logic, reasoning and scientific data.” (Reported 9/4/2018 at sciencedaily.com.)

In other words, there is a kind of group think that overrides direct perception, that reinforces a scrim of constructs–then that is what we believe. Patañjali here uses the word sādhāraṇatvāt, “commonality,” to describe this phenomenon.

The subject of yoga is perception. We practice yoga to see more clearly, to know more fully, to stand apart in the truth of awareness (see I.3). And at some point, we may find ourselves separated from the assumptions we have lived by, alienated from the values of our surrounding culture. In a sense, we “lose” the common view.

Naṣṭam api anaṣṭam means “lost yet not lost.” It is an intriguing phrase. It leads me to reflect on how yoga practice challenges me to rely on the witness within me. In sūtra I.7, Patañjali lists three kinds of valid knowledge–pratyakṣa, anumāna, āgama–direct perception, inference, reliable testimony. Direct perception is considered the greatest of these. But how often do I look to others for verification, affirmation, or permission? There is benefit to getting confirmation of a perception. And there is joy in sharing experience. Yet more and more, I think this yoga path asks me to be ready to stand alone, to speak for myself alone. To be lost, in a way. Lost, but found in myself.

yā niśā sarvabhūtānāṁ
tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni
sā niśā paśyato muneḥ

That which is the night of all beings,
in that, the yogi (saṁyamī) is awake.
That in which all beings are awake,
that is the night of the wise one who sees.
–Bhagavad Gītā, II.69


“Man normally establishes a relationship of usage with the world in which he lives, whether physical or psychological. It is from this relationship that the observed comes into existence. It needs to be remembered that such a relationship can never be established with something that is living, for the living is in a state of flux and therefore not static. Usage is possible only with something that is static or stationary. So in order to have that relationship the living has to be transformed into an image.” — Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, commentary on II.22

“It is clear to Patañjali that the world is real, not imagined, as some of his contemporaries believed. Even though its appearance changes for the enlightened, the rest of us continue to see it the way we always have–until we too have undertaken yoga to cut through avidyā, or the fundamental inability to see things as they are (II.4).” — Chip Hartranft, The Yoga-Sūtra of Patañjali, p. 28

• What has the practice of āsana and prāṇāyāma taught you about your
perceptions? For example, is there a shift in your perspective before and after
practice? How does your emotional state affect what you see?
• How does the opinion of others influence you?
• Are you flexible in your views? Ready to see the state of flux of the living things around you?
• Has yoga strengthened you in the ability to stand alone?


past passive participle in compound

done, accomplished (from kṛ, “to do”)


masculine noun, 2nd case singular

aim, object, purpose



with regard to


feminine adjective, 1st case singular

lost (from naś, “to be lost”)





masculine noun in compound

not lost (from a-, “not,” + naś, “to be lost”)


neuter pronoun, 1st case singular

it, that


pronoun in compound



neuter noun, 5th case singular, “due to”

commonality; here: the common view (from sa-, “with,” + ā-, prefix that gives emphasis, + dhṛ, “to hold,” + –tva, suffix that makes abstract noun)

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