12 April 2019

Patanjali and vrittis

                   Image result for patanjali's sutras

Continuing with Patanjali and the spiritual journey:

What are vrittis?

A vritti is a modification of mind. Our own mind. We have many vrittis, they swirl around and around in our mind as thoughts, like a poor wee mouse stuck on a circular treadmill, unable to get off it. 

they are thoughts and perceptions according to how our inner being translates them 

Some of these vrrittis can cause us great torment, as a vritti is either painful, or not painful. (which is not actually rocket science)

And we all have and do this: again, this is part of the human experience in a lifetime. To do with destiny and the path which we must traverse in a particular incarnations. We are to undergo certain experiences pertinent to a lifetime, and these experiences, including those experiences of our ancestors, impact how we perceive everything. This is just the way it is. Some of our modifications are lovely, like happy times. And some, for many of us, are quite horrible.

There are five vrrittis, or modifications of mind, either painful or not painful: 

right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep, and memory are the vrittis

And why do vrittis actually matter?

They matter in that they: 

  • keep us chained to whatever is happening
  • and the effects of what is happening
  • we get 'stuck' on the never ending cycles of action and reaction, or, more often, reaction leading to another reaction, when a vritti is painful. Sometimes this 'painful' is actually only us taking things personally, and again, this is a human trait which we all have
  • they keep us feeling bad about ourselves when we get caught up in the painful vrittis, with accompanying angst

Rather than trying to psycho analyse the whole vritti thing, I would recommend that we just accept them. We accept that it is part of everyone's make-up, and we can do things about all of this, for ourselves and for our loved ones. It takes a bit of time, but we can all help ourselves out a lot here.  

Unfortunately, a lot of effort has gone into yoga aspirants trying to sort out the whole vritti thing. I did too. And, even more unfortunately, this creates problems which are great obstacles in one's life:

  • it keeps us stuck in the whole action/reaction scenario, because, unwittingly, we are 'feeding' it, by always trying to psycho-analyse 
  • it keeps one in the less positive aspects of ego. Honestly, it does. Always obsessing about things and oneself is not a good expression of ego.
  • it totally stops and blocks spiritual advancement. Even more importantly, it wastes our life if we are always  psycho-analysing, and halts us living a good life. 

The other elements which contribute to vrittis, are liking and disliking. Which, again, we all do. Can we achieve a state of being whereby we are not controlled by the five vrittis, which are painful or not painful, nor by liking and disliking? I do think that we can, and, even if they are only decreased by a small amount, we can experience: 
  • great inner peace
  • acceptance in many areas of life
  • and a sublime happiness
This is why vrittis matter.

5 April 2019

Patanjali: mind traps

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Patanjali's 4th sutra: (or) there is identification with the modifications of chitta

We could liken the sutras to pearls on a thread, each following the other, and linked (via the thread) to the one before and after it.

Why would Patanjali say this? First he told us:

  • now therefore, instructions concerning yoga
  • the cessation of the mental fluctuations is yoga
  • then the seer is established in his own true nature

And, then we learn that when we are not established in our own true nature, we are then identifying with the modifications of chitta. 

What is this identifying? It means that our thoughts and feelings are experienced as being oneself. We are our thoughts and feelings. As part of our human experience, this is what we each know, what we believe, and how we live. And this, actually, is fine. We should never, ever, berate ourselves for being human. For, this identification is part of our journey. We are not all going to delve into the mysteries of The Great Souls who have gone before us.

What are the modifications? They are due to:

  • life's experiences
  • what we carry in our DNA
  • residual past life experience and tendencies
  • our own Path in the present lifetime
  • society's and religion's dictates

All of these, in whatever form they may take, make each of us individual, and unique. So, in one way, they are a blessing. We each have a unique blueprint in a lifetime, and indeed, in each and every lifetime, whilst still being part of the family of humankind. All of the causes of modifications create tendencies. We tend to:
  • think in certain ways
  • react in certain ways
  • have certain emotions
And this is us. This is how we all are. Why would it not be so helpful to have these modifications that we are immersed in?

because there is freedom, peace and happiness in not being bound by our modifications

This is the bottom line. (And, we all do experience this anyway, at various times of our life) 

We are linked through time to one another, and our Souls are able to easier connect when life isn't all about oneself. We can make better decisions because we are not being bound to our modifications, we can feel better about ourselves.

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What is chitta?  Chitta is one of the aspects of our consciousness. We could compare it to chitter-chatter in the mind. Those thoughts swirling around in our head. Round and around. Where do they come from? They come from the above modifications. In particular our ideas of:
  • right and wrong
  • likes and dislikes
  • our feelings
our feelings become thoughts

This, unfortunately seems to have been conveniently side stepped. As human beings, this is what happens, our feelings are an integral aspect of our human journey. They also let us know what is right and wrong, on a deeper level. So they are important. Emotions travel to our everyday mind as thoughts. These thoughts can cause us great distress. 

We can end up 'identifying' with these modifications of chitta. Sort of like getting lost in them. What can we do about all of this? Patanjali has lots of answers, but they are not the be-all and end-all. 

What else can we do aside from whatever Patnajaliji is suggesting? I have a couple of suggestions. We can do what our human-e tendencies provide:
  • love can free us from the modifications of mind
  • our feelings do communicate with us. Listen to them.