The heading sounds grander than what I intend to write. This is on behalf of those on a quest sans belief : the yoga practitioners, who will accept the truth only as it is, as risen in his own heart and directly perceived in experience, and validated over the long term.
As an aside, for the benefit of readers, I may mention that the yoga I speak of is not the yoga appropriated by, and now in vogue in, the West.
There are exactly three sutras in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that refer to God :
One, God is the Adi Guru, the one Teacher of all, those who practice yoga and those who guide or teach.
This specifies the relationship between God and I, the seeking self, even though is not to be construed as one among these many seeking selves. He is not seen or known, at least not yet, but we are informed that He is the eternal, foremost Teacher of all teachers and aspirants ever.
Two, He (God) is free of karma, of impressions carried of past experience, action or desire, retained in memory or deepest subconscious.
That is the very goal of the yoga practitioner : to be thus free, absolutely liberated, without the faintest trace of this impressed sense of doership or awareness of own choices and doings that humans have, of desiring and revolting drives and every other motivation kind in between, which result in retained impressions of the experience then gained and felt and summed up over time. These impressed memory become the source of subsequent flares of desire, attachment or revulsion, and the entire cycle repeats till perpetuity unless consciously and appropriately intervened by the individual with such a purpose.
This Sutra not only describes how the individual self compares with God but posits Him as the aspiring yogi’s ideal, as One who is worthy of remembering so as to constantly clarify and point the supreme yogic attainment towards which the individual in quest should progress.
And, three, our success at yoga, through its practice, is accelerated by our absolute trust in Him.
Never mind the fact that God is yet unseen and unknown, the self is capable of reposing total trust in God, the eternal Teacher, such as to presume His blessing and personal assurance of the aspirant’s success at yoga. That trust, implicit faith in God, adds to the yoga aspirant’s capacity to endure failures, to persevere at furrowing through the practice until the next milestone is attained.
This in fact is the also the long but certain way along which I, the yogi, come to deepen my sense of His presence, for real, by succeeding to attain those herculean milestones of yoga that previously had seemed virtually impossible to realise.
PS : Yoga is unifying with our own true self, the one which remains constant, unchanging and unaffected, unattached, unqualified and featureless. There is no gain in yoga but a series of giving up; no new acquisition, just resurfacing to fore of our own core truth value, the blissful witnessing self, long covered thick and buried deep.
Yoga practice covers well-defined eight fold steps that need to be graduated through over a period of time. What is equally crucial and seldom underscored is vairagya, renunciation, giving up, that must accompany the practice.
The criteria for spotting what is true rests in its universal and immutable validity. The I we perceive of our self is changing from moment to moment. The true self is eternally unblinking witness, unmoving, unattached and unqualified.
Success is stillness of mind in which an object in view or awareness reflects as it is. The object could be gross or material or it may be subtle such as a word, thought or knowledge. However, there are several interim milestones the practioner attains along the way.