BKS Iyengar Light on the Yoga Sutras:
“At other times, the seer identifies with the fluctuationg consiousness.”
I.K.Tatami The Science of Yoga:
“In other states there is assimilation (of the Seer) with the modifications (of the mind).”
Edwin Bryant, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:
“Otherwise, at other times, [the seer] is absorbed in the changing states [of the mind]”
Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras:
“At other times (the Self appears to) assume the forms of the mental modications.”
BKS Iyengar has a beautiful analogy for this sutra. He says to think of citta (consciousness) as a lens which has no light of its own. The inner side is placed over the soul which emanates pure light. The outer side of the lens which is our outward focused mind, gets cloudy and scarred from turbulent outward worldly living. Yoga helps us dissociate the consciousness with this material world and clean the outward lens by restraining the senses.
Tatami gives his own visualization: imagine a light bulb suspended in water. If the water starts churning so rapidly the light bulb, it shape, and it’s true light is obscured. Light is there but it is distorted by the swirls of water (like vrttis). Once the swirling calms, the light bulb can be seen through the still water.
Edwin Bryant elaborates on many early commentaries and their analogies but one in particular relates to the modern world. Have you ever been in a movie so absorbed that you forgot your own existence? Once the film was over you return to your life with its real ups and downs. What yoga does is stop this film running in your mind so that the soul can see, it is not what the mind is presenting it. Bryant also asks, so when did the soul starting identifying with citta and the outside world? No one knows but yoga is the remedy.
Carrera says to notice when we say “I” such as “I am sick” or “I am sad”. He says “I” appears to undergo changes but in fact, the Self hasn’t changed. The Self is not our feelings, the Self is not our body. The Self he says remains unaffected and unlimited even though it is reflected on a mind, under the influence of the outside word, distorts it.