Verse 34 discerns between a gross and a subtle aspect of the elements. Eg: sound has a gross and subtle aspect to it. I can only hear the gross aspect of it but the subtle aspect is also there (and apparently Yogis can also experience the subtle aspect). The gross aspect gives the elements their specificity in that it distinguishes between the different elements (eg: the quality of sound is distinct from the quality of smell). The subtle aspect is indistinguishable.
It seems that every time I visit this verse (something I’ve done numerous times in preparing it for publication) I feel like there is something missing in it. As if there is something that was mentioned in it that I may have missed in summarizing it. So I go to my summary document and scroll around. I first scroll back to earlier verses thinking it may already have been mentioned in a previous verse. It wasn’t. Then I scroll forward to later verses hoping it is mentioned there. I scroll too far forward and shift into what is in my mind the “after verse 40” part of the text and I know it isn’t there. Then I neighboring verses and find that what I am looking forward is in verse 38 (soon to come).
This verse points to a “subtle aspect” of each kind of element – it is pointing to a kind of foundation for the elements – an aspect of sound that I cannot hear but without which sound could not be. Why? Two answers have appeared.
The first answer speaks to the integrity of the metaphysical exploration. This is an expression of the fundamental mechanics of experienced causality upon which Samkhya is constructed (see verse 9). Just as a clay pot would not be possible without clay (and is in fact a latent potential of clay itself), so “gross sound” that I can hear is a latent potential of a “subtle sound” that I cannot hear. Where else would the sound that I can hear come from?
The second answer is, in hindsight, that this subtle aspect of the elements is the foundation for the entire second (approximately) half of the text. The transition into the 2nd half was a jarring experience for me, especially the first few verses of this 2nd half. I now think that this verse, verse 34 is laying a “subtle” foundation for what is coming. This aspect of the elements may seem like a technicality at this point, but there is more to it.