My perspective of Yog Sutras by sage Patanjali, article 3: Mind & It’s Modifications

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In the first 4 sutras (aphorisms), we have seen what is Yog and what is the natural state of mind. In our previous articles, we posed an example of our mind being the lake and true nature of self-realization being the moon. Sticking to the same example, we will try to understand the next aphorism. The modifications of mind are the waves on the surface of the lake, and they create hurdle in our journey to see the moon i.e., our self-realization.

What we need to understand here is, modifications of our mind are a resultant of impressions (sanskara) of our thoughts in our mind. These impressions give rise to relevant modifications and actions and the aspirant gets caught in this vicious circle. The goal of Yoga is to free the aspirant from these impressions, modifications and clean his slate for self-realization.

Sage Patanjali in his next aphorism explains the nature of these vruttis, i.e the modifications of our mind.

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः॥५॥

Meaning: The gross and subtle thought patterns (vrittis) fall into five varieties, of which some are klishta– cognizable/degrading/painful and others are aklishta or non-cognizable/ upgrading/pleasing.

These modifications (vruttis) are not separate from each other, they are parallel to each other or rather follow each other.

Let us consider an example to understand the vruttis being Cognizable or non-cognizable. Suppose, we see a vessel and try to lift it. But unaware of the fact that it is hot we end up burning our fingers. In this case the heat of vessel was Aklishta, non-cognizable (Unrecognized) to us and the moment it burnt or fingers it became Klishta Cognizable (recognized) leading to pain.

The words Klishta and Aklishta also can be perceived as degrading and upgrading, but again what we need to understand is, these two qualities are not separately found instead it co-exists. For example, the act of remembering things (which is one of the vruttis of mind) can be an upgrading if it is used for assimilation of knowledge and betterment, but the same memory can be degrading if it becomes responsible for keeping a person tied to his past making him prisoner of his own situations.

To understand the pleasing (aklishta) and painful (klishta) nature of vruttis, we will consider one important aspect of our life. The consummation of male and female. The modification of mind i.e the vrutti to seek pleasure & act of consummation leads to pregnancy which leads to the pain of labour pains to the woman, but this pain leads parents to pleasure of bringing a new life to world & un-conditional love relationship with the baby. This love and relationship further leads to a roller-coaster ride of pain & pleasures.

Thus, we can see these vruttis of mind and resultant actions are klishta-aklishta and they follow each other inseparably until you break the circle for higher goal of self-realization through Yog!

The next aphorism will clarify more about what are these modifications of mind, their nature and their consequences.

To conclude this aphorism, we can determine ourselves to un-colour our mind from its impressions so that our mind is calm for correct reflections of situations leading us to self-realization.

The science of Asana-Pranayama helps an aspirant to achieve these desired results, so keep stretching and keep controlling your breath.

Love, Light & Peace to all.

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