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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union
2. The aim of these three is to bring about soul vision and to eliminate obstructions.

It is interesting to note here that the words "soul vision" precede the thought of the eliminated hindrances or obstructions, showing that the vision is possible even to those who have not yet perfected themselves. The vision comes in those moments of exaltation and high aspiration to which most of the sons of men are susceptible and provides the incentive needed to produce that determination and perseverance which the elimination of the obstruction necessitates. The words "elimination of the obstructions" or the "alteration of the hindrances" (as it is sometimes translated), is a large and generic expression and Hindu commentators point out that it involves even the eradication of the seeds of those hindrances, and their total destruction as by fire; that just as a burnt, dried up seed is no longer capable of propagation and becomes unfertile, producing no growth, so the seeds of the obstructions to the life of the Spirit are similarly rendered unfertile. These seeds are found in three groups, each producing a large crop of hindrances or obstructions on the three planes of man's evolution - the seeds latent in the physical body, those producing the obstructions of the astral body, and the seeds latent in the mental body. They are of three kinds in each case, making literally nine types or kinds of seeds:

  1. Seeds brought over from previous lives,
  2. Seeds sown in this life, [127]
  3. Seeds brought into the field of one's life from the family or race with which one is allied.

It is these seeds which produce the obstructions or hindrances to soul vision and the free play of spiritual energy and Patanjali says they are of five kinds and proceeds to deal with them specifically. By some commentators the word is translated distractions, and all three terms are equally correct and any of them can be used. It may perhaps be pointed out that:

  1. The word "obstruction" is more technically correct when applied to the physical plane,
  2. The word "hindrance" is more illuminating when applied to those things which, through the medium of the astral body, prevent soul vision,
  3. The word "distraction" has more specific reference to the difficulties which assail the man who seeks to quiet the mind and so achieve soul vision.
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