In direct continuation of the article we will now contemplate the deeper meaning of the last three limbs of yoga – dharana, dhyana, and samadhi, or what Patanjali called ‘internal yoga’. We should not forget that the Yoga Sutras are, above all, a book of spiritual guidance. Recently discovered commentaries on the sutras by Adi Shankara focus on its philosophical aspects, such as asserting they are proof that purusha is singular and not plural, and that prakriti is not the cause of the material universe. But the Yoga Sutras are not really a philosophical work. They are predominantly founded on the concepts of Samkhya philosophy, and as such, they do not really seek to challenge them. It would have been much more beneficial to humanity if Shankara had instead tried to solve the puzzle of how, practically speaking, we could attain samadhi based on Patanjali’s writings.
After an adept has established the foundation of the five lower stages of yoga, he can begin his meditative practice and the direct work with consciousness. In the following analysis of these latter three stages, we will offer several translations and interpretations of dharana, dhyana, and samadhi in order to explore the subject from different complimentary angles. Because Patanjali did not write his aphorisms in proper sentences, their meanings are rather fluid, and we have to use intuition and imagination to try to unravel his real intention. One of the main sources which can aid us are the commentaries of the legendary ancient sage Vyasa, who is also commonly accepted to be the author of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata For instance, Shankara’s interpretations primarily refer directly to Vyasa’s commentaries and translations.*. As Vyasa is regarded as the main authority on the Yoga Sutras, his commentaries are included and used as a sound basis for our analysis.
III. 1 desa bandhas cittasya dharana
Literally translated, this means:
Desa (place, subject); bandhas (binding to, holding, fixing); cittasya (relative mind; dharana (concentration).
And can be summarized as:
Concentration is the binding of consciousness to a single spot. —Feuerstein
Fixing consciousness to one point or region is concentration. —Iyengar
Dharana is binding the mind to one place. It is binding the mind, a purely mental process, to the navel circle, to the heart lotus, the light in the head, the tip of the nose, the tip of the tongue – and other such locations – and to external objects.
Dharana is the same as ‘samatha’ in Buddhism. It points to the immovable concentration of the mind upon a chosen object. That object can be external, such as the flame of a candle, or internal, such as mantras, the breath, chakras, or images of a deity. Some commentators say that, unlike hatha yoga, the Yoga Sutras employed only internal forms of concentration. This makes sense because a mental object is closer to the observer, and hence can more easily induce a kind of meditative state. The purpose of dharana is to stop the wandering mind and develop one-pointedness. In our teaching, the practical outcome of dharana has been defined as the solidification of the observer and the initial attempts to build the foundations of attention.
III. 2 tatra pratyaya-ekatanata dhyanam
This can be literally translated as:
Tatra (from there); pratyaya (consciousness, cognition, base, going toward); ekatanata (‘eka’ means one, and ‘tanata’ means flow, uninterrupted, or extension); dhyanam (meditation).
And can be summarized to mean:
A steady, continuous flow of attention towards the same point or region is meditation. —Iyengar
Meditation is the one-pointedness of the mind on one image. —Bryant
Uninterrupted stream of the content of consciousness is meditation. —Satyananda
Meditation is the continuity of the idea of the meditative-object in that place – a stream of similar ideas untouched by any other idea.
While the meaning of dharana is quite straightforward, to decode what Patanjali means by dhyana is more challenging. For instance, some have interpreted it to mean devotion or contemplation of the divine, an idea which emerged out of the possibility that the internal object of concentration can be a deity, such as Ishvara or Vishnu. However, this is clearly a misinterpretation of Patanjali’s original intention. God cannot be an object. Another very common translation of the verse is “unbroken flow of thought toward the object of concentration” or “continuous flow of cognition toward the object.” In other words, it is interpreted as a prolonged and unbroken dharana. However, this too is a very simplified and gross reading of these profound words.
Most interpretations of dhyana and samadhi are limited by the personal experience of the translator or interpreter. Given this, one cannot translate the Yoga Sutras in an unbiased way, particularly seeing as their meaning is so ambiguous and hidden. The most common explanation given of the last three limbs of yoga is that dharana means concentration on the object, dhyana refers to continuity of that concentration, and samadhi designates our unity with the object of meditation. But is this really the case?
What is so special about the object of meditation that one would sacrifice so much to become one with it? One should be careful what one wishes for. To see dhyana as a higher stage of dharana is a misunderstanding. But the greater misunderstanding here is to see becoming one with an object as the goal of the spiritual practice. This is a negative type of unity in which the subject gets lost in the object. In Zen, they call this condition ‘negative samadhi’, as it is not being one with reality but being lost in a kind of trance. The common spiritual idea of being ‘total’ in our actions in fact represents this type of negative absorption in the object. True samadhi is absorption in subjectivity, not objectivity.
So putting away these false assumptions, we can again ask ourselves: What is the real difference between dharana and dhyana? Firstly, one should already be able to experience unity with the object through the practice of dharana. Both dharana and dhyana involve concentration on an object, and both should also manifest unbroken attention. The difference is that in dhyana one is not only focused on the object, but is in touch with the observer as well. Because there is more distance between subject and object in dhyana, the adept can begin to create a connection to the sense of me behind the act of concentration.
In our teaching, we do not pass through the stages of dharana and dhyana because our path is based on a sudden awakening to pure subjectivity. Hence, we do not use an object in our meditative practice. However, here we are contemplating the gradual process of coming closer to the essence of consciousness as it is conceived of in yoga and indeed some comparable schools of Buddhism. Within this contemplation, our own concepts and vision of the layers and components of human consciousness can assist us in presenting a clear vision of the deeper meaning of these ancient practices.
Mindfulness – the Missing Step between Dharana and Dhyana
Even though Patanjali only describes one stage before dhyana (dharana), we can actually identify two stages. The first stage would be dharana, concentration, and the second would be ‘mindfulness’. What is mindfulness? It is a condition of attention that is in-between concentration and meditation with an object. In mindfulness, there is a continuity of attention, but there is more distance between the observer and the observed than in concentration alone. However, the observer is still not directly aware of himself. It seems logical to include the stage of mindfulness in the path as it facilitates the maturation of the observer. The observer needs to become familiar with the object, by looking at it from a place of relaxed alertness, before he can develop a deeper connection to himself. From there, the observer has to graduate from concentration to mindfulness before finally entering the state of meditation. Only a rare and very mature seeker can enter the state of meditation directly.
Before we explore the next stage, dhyana, more completely, it may be useful to explain the difference between mindfulness and the practice of so-called ‘watching’. When we are watching an object or thoughts, the observer is quite active; whereas when we are mindful, the observer remains as if unmodified. Because in the condition of watching the observer is more active, it is more difficult for it to develop continuity of attention. Watching is a more useful aid in contemplation or developing disidentification from various mental manifestations. Due to the fluctuation of attention in dharana, passing directly from dharana to dhyana is a bit of a stretch. If one can enter meditation directly from dharana, it means that one did not need to practice dharana in the first place.
In the Yoga Sutras, dhyana is commonly translated as meditation with object or meditation with support. In some interpretations, it is also called a non-dual state of consciousness. However, there is no logic to the latter statement. Firstly, nothing in Patanjali’s own words seem to point to or justify such a translation. Secondly, there is simply no way that one can shift directly from a primitive form of concentration on objects (dharana) to non-dual consciousness without object.
Meditation with Object: Prison of the Observer
Venkatesananda translates Patanjali’s verse on dhyana in the following way:
When the cognition is entirely concentrated in that field thus becoming its own field of observation – that is, when the observer is observed – it is meditation.
The tragedy of meditation with object is that it is, by its very nature, in conflict with the principle of abiding in reality, in pure subjectivity. The observer cannot really meet himself, so even though the above description sounds fine, it is not accurate or true. What does Venkatesananda mean when he says “when the observer is observed”? Does it mean that the observer becomes one with the observed object, or that he actually becomes conscious of himself? We do not want the observer to identify fully with the object because this would result in the negative samadhi discussed above. True oneness with phenomenal existence is not a function of the observer concentrating on objects and somehow identifying totally with them. It is an expression of perceiving the whole world from the depth of pure consciousness through the pristine window of fundamental me.
Given this, it may be helpful to contemplate once again the difference between dharana and meditation with object. As we have explained, the main difference between them is the distance between the observer and the observed. In dhyana, even though the observer is focused on the object, he also remains disidentified from it. And what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation with object? The difference is found in how deep the relationship of the observer with himself is; in the latter, he begins to know himself, to a limited, extent as the subject of the act of cognition.
So, what is the logic in the following sequence: dharana, mindfulness, and meditation with object? In dharana, the observer develops concentration. In mindfulness, he develops a certain distance from the observed while maintaining the continuity of attention and gradually increasing sensitivity to his own sense of self. In mindfulness, attention is not fixed on an object – it is more panoramic. Finally, in meditation with object, the observer is as if combining the quality of dharana with mindfulness; he fixes his attention on a narrow field of perception, but he also remains aloof, attempting to sit in his own center of perception. Even though narrowing the field of perception in dhyana with object seems like a form of regression, it is employed here for a purpose: to capture more deeply the subjective essence of the observing me. After this is achieved, one can open up the faculty of perception again, for one no longer needs an object in order to know oneself.
In what kind of state is an adept dwelling when he sits in dhyana? Certainly, it is not a comfortable one. To sit in meditation with the objective of observing anything is simply painful. It can be described as a condition of alertness or continuity of self-conscious attention that is constantly tied to the observed object. Seen in this light, dhyana does not represent a very evolved condition in comparison to the latter stages of the eight jhanas in Buddhism; at most, it reaches the initial threshold of the four formless jhanas. It is a stage in the development of the observer in which it begins to solidify its presence as a preparation for entering the dimension of conscious me or awareness. It is certainly not an awakened condition, as one has to make a tremendous effort to keep one’s concentration and to hold the restless mind at bay.
So to conclude, dhyana is meditation with support, the purpose of which is firstly to develop further the faculty of attention and secondly to begin to realize the essence of the observing consciousness. This practice opens the space between the observer and the object, enabling us to come closer to the observer as our center of perception. In order to be efficient, this form of dhyana should be supported by contemplative self-enquiry, so as to allow the observer to realize its essence of bare attention as the doorway to conscious me.
In spirituality, it is common to hear that someone is “in samadhi.” But what does this mean? Who is in samadhi? The phrase itself is very accurate, but its true meaning has long been forgotten. Once upon a time, the ignorant view was born that achieving samadhi meant dissolving our sense of me and becoming the universal self. This is ignorance indeed. The ancient spiritual teachings somehow never grasped that true samadhi is not the annihilation of me, but the merging of that very me with the nature of reality. Furthermore, the essential distinction between awakening and samadhi was never made. To be in samadhi is to become absorbed as the soul in universal I am. Within this process, the one who enters samadhi is awakened – this is soul-actualization. Unless the distinction between the soul and the beyond is embraced in our spiritual vision, we cannot understand at all what the spiritual path is actually about. Regrettably, as we go deeper into our exploration of samadhi as it is expressed in the Yoga Sutras, it becomes increasingly apparent that the true meaning of samadhi completely eluded Patanjali. The samadhi of the Yoga Sutras is no more than an illusion.
We can say that true dhyana should be meditation without object. However, meditation without object more closely resembles the stage described as samadhi in yoga. What Patanjali calls samadhi points not to absorption in reality, as it does in our teaching, but to a condition of incompletely realized subjectivity. Yoga’s samadhi is indeed a state of meditation without support. In the past, these two terms (dhyana and samadhi) were often used interchangeably. Even the etymological roots of the word samadhi (‘to unify’ or ‘to bring together’) hold both elements: concentration and absorption. The term appears only later on in the Upanishads, and is used there in most cases to mean the same as dhyana. No wonder, then, that the word Zen (‘Chan’ in Chinese) is a direct translation of dhyana.
In the sutras, the stage of samadhi is described thus:
II. 3 tad eva-artha-matra-nirbhasam svarupa-sunyam iva samadhih
Tad (thus now); eva (the same); artha (object); matra (alone); nirbhasam (luminous, shines forth); svarupa (own form, own nature); sunyam (empty, devoid of); iva (as if); samadhi (absorption).
Because samadhi is such an important stage of yoga, we offer a greater range of translations for this passage:
When the object of meditation engulfs the meditator, appearing as the subject, self-awareness is lost. This is samadhi. —Iyengar
Samadhi is when that same dhyana shines forth as the object alone and (the mind) is devoid of its own (reflective) nature. —Bryant
When the perceiving consciousness in this meditator is wholly given to illuminating the essential meaning of the object contemplated, and is freed from the sense of separateness and personality, this is samadhi.
The state becomes samadhi when there is only the object appearing without the consciousness of one’s own self. —Satyananda
That same (dhyana or meditation) when it comes to shine forth as the object alone, apparently empty of its own nature as knowledge, is called samadhi. —Leggett
Vyasa’s interpreted the phrase as:
When on account of the object of contemplation taking entire possession of the mind, contemplation shows forth only the light of the form of the contemplated object and is devoid, as it were, of its nature of self-cognition, then it is called samadhi.
And here is Shankara’s (somewhat convoluted) paraphrasing of Vyasa’s chain of thought:
That same dhyana, consisting of the idea-stream, having apparently given up being a stream of one idea comes to shine forth in the form of the meditation-object, and is radiant as the form of that object, apparently empty of its own nature of itself as an idea as perceiving, just as a clear crystal shines out as the material on which it has been placed, and is apparently empty of its own nature, and when having entered the being of the meditation-object, that being the cause of the thought, becomes it, that very dhyana is samadhi.
As we can see, the general tendency has been to translate Patanjali’s words as the next step in dhyana, where not only is one continually and one-pointedly conscious of the object, but one also ceases to be self-conscious as the subject of that concentration. So in dharana, concentration is discontinuous; in dhyana, it becomes continuous; and in samadhi, it merges with the object. For instance, Iyengar writes:
When the object of contemplation shines forth without the interruption of one’s own consciousness, dhyana flows into samadhi. When the attentive flow of consciousness of the meditator, the subject, appears to be dissolved in the object, this union of subject and object becomes samadhi.
This typical analysis is unfortunately very poor and incorrect. Iyengar is actually describing an unconscious and negative condition – something that a meditator should avoid like the plague. Unfortunately, Vyasa and Shankara did not contribute anything particularly valuable or substantial either.
Vyasa states that when the mind is so absorbed in the object of meditation that it loses all notions of itself as a self-conscious, reflective mind – ‘svarupa-synyam’ – one has reached the state of samadhi. One is no longer aware of oneself as the one who is meditating on something external to oneself. Is this samadhi? It is quite shocking that no one has so far contested this view. There is nothing positive about this condition – it is simply a typical, false samadhi. In our teaching, we do speak about going beyond self-consciousness and self-reference, but this is to be attempted only after we are established in our fundamental consciousness and, even then, certainly not by means of trying to become unified with an object. Prior to that, we actually need self-reference to prevent us from getting lost in objects and, above all, to awaken our own subjectivity.
The error of yoga is that it is trying to obtain freedom from self-consciousness both prematurely and in the wrong way by falling into an artificial trance induced through concentration on and attempted absorption in an object. Freedom from self-reference is not a function of trance or concentration, but of surrender and absorption in universal consciousness, together with embodying the higher self-knowing of the soul.
One more astute, and yet still very flawed, interpretation of samadhi in the sutras is that of
Venkatesananda, who says:
When the field of observation and the observing intelligence merge as if their own form is abolished and the total intelligence shines as the sole substance or reality, there is pure choiceless awareness without the divided identity of the observer and the observed – that is illumination.
Instead of referring to the object itself, Venkatesananda speaks about the field of observation, which is naturally closer to the observing consciousness. Perhaps ‘observing’ is not the best word here, more precise would be ‘cognizing’. Anyway, the field of observation is the mysterious space in-between the observer and the object. What is that space? It is a mode of the observer in which it is identified with the act perception; it is the observer exteriorized from its seat of self. It is like a child who forgets himself when looking openmouthed at something fascinating; the child becomes his field of perception.
What is the difference between the field of observation and the observing intelligence? There is no difference. Venkatesananda felt like they became one in samadhi because he had become conscious of the field of observation, which is the step before becoming conscious of the observer itself. How do we make the leap from that unity of the observing intelligence with the field of observation to choiceless awareness? It is too big a leap, and as such, there are several major steps missing in Venkatesananda’s description.
It is common to use the words ‘awareness’ or even ‘choiceless awareness’ very lightly. People commonly say, “I am aware of ‘this’ or ‘that,'” or even, “I am awareness,” or, “There is only awareness.” But do they really experience awareness? Our meditation practice and our vision of the evolution of consciousness have to be logical and coherent. The Yoga Sutras lack this coherency. Things just happen by magic, as if there were logical connections between the stages Patanjali presents. We move from dharana, to dhyana, to samadhi, but no one really knows exactly how this happens because no logic has been applied.
For instance, when we analyze Venkatesananda’s sentence above, there is no explanatory reason as to why the realization of choiceless awareness should arise – none whatsoever. In order to move from the “unity of field of observation and observing intelligence” to “choiceless awareness,” we actually have to stop observing and turn the light of consciousness back on itself. In this way, we can finally meet our pure subjectivity, conscious me, as the center of perception. And even then, conscious me is still not awareness. Awareness is horizontally deeper in the headspace than conscious me; it awakens through the expansion of pure attention from conscious me toward the back of the headspace, toward the portal to I am. Awareness is the space in-between conscious me and pure consciousness.
Beyond the False Idea of Unity with the Object
We will now attempt to retranslate this verse on samadhi so that it comes to reflect more accurately the true evolution of human consciousness. It should say, “Now the object shines forth in its own form (just as it is) because it is beheld from our pure nature, devoid of modifications,” It is not about becoming one with an object, but about experiencing non-separation from the object by virtue of embodying our pure subjectivity. When Shankara draws the analogy of a crystal clear diamond reflecting the object upon which it is placed, he emphasizes the purity of the object reflected in its own form. But what he should really have emphasized is the purity of the ground of perception (pure consciousness) from which the object is cognized. Who really cares about the object? Even if we do not see it clearly, it doesn’t matter as long as we experience the clarity of our pure nature.
It is not what we see, or even how we see, but the quality of who is seeing that matters. Not seeing an object clearly from the place of the clarity of our pure self is still clarity. It seems that Patanjali was either not clear himself about this or his words were misinterpreted. When he spoke of the object seen in its own form, it is most probable that he was really pointing to the condition in which, when we perceive the external world from our unmodified nature, all that we see is already in its own form. In Buddhism, this is called ‘thus-ness’ or ‘suchness’.
Still, the fact remains that there is no way that through the practice of being conscious of an object one can somehow automatically shift into a state of pure subjectivity, unless, of course, grace is involved. However, Patanjali does not leave anything to chance, nor does he speak about any form of higher assistance. His way of writing shows him to be a man who seeks total control over the processes of awakening. If that process were really to result in the awakening of awareness, however, it would be more an outcome of chance than the logical result of the preceding steps. A yogi would need to receive additional instructions, ones that are not included in the Yoga Sutras, for this to occur. He would need to turn his attention back to his own subjectivity instead of continuing to stare at his beloved object.
In yoga, the initial practice with samadhi is not a practice of correct self-remembrance. The yogi does not have the power to activate the state at will: he has to apply samyama – the combination of dharana, dhyana, and samadhi – to gain access to purusha (our pure nature). The problem with this is that as much as he needs dharana and dhyana, they also constitute a disturbing influence, because concentrating on an object externalizes our attention from the seat of pure subjectivity. Logically, he is caught in a vicious circle, doing and undoing various modes of consciousness.
The ‘Anti-me’ Bug which Corrupted the Science of Yoga
One of the symptoms of the truly natural, awakened state is that it requires no effort to maintain it – it becomes simply who we are, much in the same sense as we naturally have our body and mental faculties. The fact that samyama is needed is proof that yoga’s first samadhi does not represent awakening, but rather an artificial state of trance which constantly needs to be recreated. Once the yogi has established his very imperfect samadhi, he then engages in the practice of disidentification from vritti (mental manifestations) in order to come closer to his pure nature. But he is neither here nor there. He is trying to dissolve vritti, but has no stable place inside in which to abide. This is not an easy situation, and the chances of failing completely are very high. It would be much better if Patanjali had proposed that samadhi be fully established first of all, meaning abidance in purusha, transcending both dharana and dhyana (meditation with object), and only then introducing the practice of deepening this samadhi through disidentification from and dissolution of the relative components of the mind.
As explored in the previous article, the dilemma of yoga is a certain confusion of identity between ahamkara (ego-sense) and purusha (our pure nature). Yoga sees ahamkara as a hindrance to the attainment of purusha. But in truth, not only is it ahamkara that reaches purusha, purusha is actually a deeper dimension of ahamkara. It is a very similar problem to that of the Buddhist path – the problem of self-negation. To deny the existence of me is to negate, to obstinately cut away at, the very branch that one is sitting on. A yogi has enough common sense not to cut that branch entirely (which would be a kind of suicide), but is still deluded enough to pretend that it does not exist. One should be grateful for that branch, for without it, our fall would be very long and painful. It seems that self-negation was the general spiritual tendency in ancient times, as if the spirituality of India was plagued with an ‘anti-me’ bug.
Even though the term samadhi is often translated as absorption, nothing in the description of this state indicates that condition. In fact, we can say definitively that the samadhi of Patanjali is not absorption. What is referred to as samadhi is more abidance in a partially realized and un-embodied state of subjectivity: either conscious me, awareness, or (if the yogi was lucky) pure consciousness. It is a stage in evolution where our consciousness separates itself from the field of perception and from the various modalities of the mind, but without realizing the soul or reaching deeply into the realm of pure subjectivity. According to the logic of the yogic process, this disengaged state of purusha is most likely only conscious me or awareness. Deeper stages of subjectivity, such as pure consciousness, require the energy of surrender to I am to manifest, and this concept is not present in the Yoga Sutras, where purusha is at best only seen to be surrendering to itself.
From the standpoint of a more contemporary technology of meditation and awakening, the path presented by Patanjali is not very skillful; it is hard and rough. It comes as a great surprise that sages like Vyasa or Shankara did not aspire to correct or improve on Patanjali’s understanding. Anyone who has experience of pure subjectivity should immediately pick up on the fact that something is not quite right there. Perhaps it is a question of the interpreter’s own understanding and the depth of their own realization of the dimension of consciousness. Perhaps they were philosophers who cared more about concepts than about the practical path to realizing truth. We should not forget that Advaita Vedanta, which was given its final shape by Shankara, is a purely intellectual vision of reality; it is not a path that one can actually walk. It is more like standing still and talking about an imaginary destination called ‘Brahman’.
The path that Patanjali presented is a gradual path. It is not a path based on sudden awakening, even though the element of enquiry (vichara or viveka) was included as the direct recognition of purusha. Concentration on an object can be a useful device for certain people, when applied in great moderation, but one certainly cannot come closer to oneself through these types of practices. These practices actually point in exactly the opposite direction to our pure subjectivity – and how, then, will one find what one is looking for? One has to turn one’s attention back on oneself. Going beyond meditation with objects is not done by becoming one with the object, but by forgetting about it. Yoga is pointing east, but it wants us to go west. Paradoxically, if one truly wants to realize the goal of yoga, he has to go against its teaching, or at least go against the way it has commonly been interpreted.
If we want to succeed on the path of yoga, we must know what we are doing; it is not enough to keep practicing without discrimination. People tend to just follow things, as if there is an issue of authority. When something is ancient, seekers tend to respect it, rather than question it. In their minds, it must be correct if it has managed to survive for such a long time. But let us not forget that ignorant facts are also very efficient in their ability to survive. In fact, nothing survives as well as conformism and narrow-mindedness – these are the seemingly eternal aspects of this dimension. Beyond the authority of the past, beyond the parroting of past concepts like mindless sheep, beyond the respecting or disrespecting of theories, beliefs, teachers, and traditions – there is truth. And truth is the way. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” If we do not respect truth, if we do not follow truth, even if we are moral and good, we promote ignorance. We have been given intelligence in order to question things, so that we can arrive at higher levels of clarity, understanding, and wisdom. That is the only way to prove that we are truly human.
The science of yoga and other ancient systems have laid the foundation of our understanding of reality. But their visions were far from complete, and they were deeply conditioned by the ‘anti-me’ philosophy. Their only desire was to dissolve back into the source. But our higher spiritual potential is to become whole. Their vision of the state of enlightenment was one-dimensional; it did not reflect the true complexity of human evolution. Awakening to our pure nature is not a singular event, because our soul exists on several levels. As well as realizing her individual subjectivity, she must merge with the universal reality. In that sense, it is imperative that we begin to see the ancient teachings not as the final conclusions on the subject of truth, but rather for what they really are – the stepping-stones which we need to use, but then transcend, in our pursuit of a higher and more complete understanding.
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