In the absence of the state of Yoga, the mind only knows its own projections (sarupyam).
PRACTICAL LIVING The previous sutra described what happens when we are in a state of Yoga. This one, on the other hand, tells us what happens the other times (itaratra) when we are not in a state of Yoga. Most of us live our lives in a state that can range from very excited/angry/jealous/anxious to very lethargic/in denial/numb/hopeless. The mind tends to move between these different states, a movement referred to as vrtti. This happens, according to Yoga, due to the scratches and dents of the metaphorical “mirrors” that our minds are (discussed in Sutra I.3). This unclear mind does not allow us to experience our inner light, which makes the mind look for “happiness” in the external world. This is where the senses become a crutch for distractions. And according to Yoga, this is why we suffer (see “In the Yoga world” in Sutra I.3).
A practical way to understand these fluctuations (vrttis) of the mind is to observe the flow of our own thoughts. It’s like watching a river from the banks instead of trying to watch it while floating in it. While in the water you are at the whim of the river’s currents, on the bank however, the changes of the river have little to no effect on you. In the real world this means that as we emotionally attach to our environment, when it changes it carries us with it, while when we remain unattached, we become only observers.
For example, we can begin by observing thoughts such as:
– If only I were skinnier, then I would be happy
– If only I were funnier, then I would be happy
– If only I were married, then I would be happy
– If only, if only, if only…
IN THE YOGA WORLD When we are not aware of our true nature we become identified with the activities of the mind. In other words, when the mind is not focused, the Self appears to assume the forms of the mental modifications. We would then seem to have lost our original identity and have identified those parts of us which are always changing, our bodies and thoughts. In this un-yogic state, the Seer appears to be defined by whatever the content of the mind is – a scary idea when we reflect on what goes on inside our minds sometimes! Reaching a state of Yoga is hard work. Not being in that state is the most common situation for most of us – confusion reigns, whether it is recognized or not. The question is: while in the state of un-yoga, can we just observe our thoughts for a few minutes per day and not attach to them?
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Meka is probably the person who knows me the most. Being exactly 17 months apart, we grew up together and cultivated a dynamic love-hate relationship. There were periods when it was mostly hate, but fortunately today it is a relationship based on love. She has shown me throughout the last 3 decades that my mirror (my thoughts, words and behaviors) has been often blurred and dented. I am immensely grateful to the numerous conversations with her that helped me clean a lot of my past. Meka is also a powerful example of change. From focusing frequently on hers and others weaknesses, she now is a master of being able to see her own strengths and those of others. Meka, thank you for always being beside me! I love you more than words could ever possibly express!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and we will look at the five activities of the mind next week!