The next sutra can be well understood in the context of the previous ones, and it complements the earlier sutra 1.35 in terms of logic. Let me remind that the latter stated that the activity filled with an object, a target, facilitates retaining of personal wholeness. Or, to be more specific, it prevents chitta from scattering (chitta-vikshepa). The sutra 1.36 suggests another elegant method of chitta control. As always, we shall start with translation, the more so in this case it is not at all difficult.
विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती ॥ ३६॥
1.36 viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī
viśokā (f. nom. sg.) – “free from anxiety (suffering)”; the word is formed with help of the prefix vi (dis-, out-) and the noun śoka (“suffering”) deriving from the root śuc (“to suffer, to worry”);
vā (ind.) – “or”;
jyotiṣmatī (f. nom. sg.) – “shining”; jyotis, from the root jyut (“to shine/illuminate”) and the suffix matī – a feminine suffix that forms a possessive adjective.
Both words are given in feminine form being adjectives that refer to the word pravṛttir – the “activity” (of manas) from the previous sutra.
Thus the present sutra shall go as follows:
1.36 Or the shining, free from anxiety (activity of manas).
In such a way, Patanjali singles out two opportunities for useful activity of the mind – one that is focused on objects, and another one that is “free from anxiety or sufferings”, “shining”. It is not hard to understand this distinction. There are two types of issues that any person can reflect upon: the real-life problems related to one’s social or other object activity, and the issues of abstract character that are interesting in and of themselves and that are not essential for everyday activity. The second type of thinking gives rise to science, philosophy, esthetic activity. Of course when I say “reflect” I mean genuine reflection that is based on logic and methodology and that is fruitful – rather than mere emotional “replaying” of the problem in one’s head. The latter case is nothing but a vritti.
I believe that in this case the author of Yoga Sutra outlines the difference between Karma-yoga and Jnana-yoga that had been mentioned yet in Bhagavad Gita. Karma-yoga is associated with focusing on one’s real-life activity, while Jnana-yoga deals with cognitive activity.