Yoga Sutras 1.5
VRTTAYAH PANCATAYYAH KLISTA AKLISTAH
(modifications of mind stuff) (5 kinds) (painful) (painless)
There are five kinds of mental modifications, which are either painful or painless.
The five mental modifications are: right knowledge, misconception, conceptualization, sleep, and memory. 1.6
It has taken me longer to write about this one sutra than any other so far. As I am learning each sutra I am also digesting them, living with them and with a great deal of effort cultivating them into my thoughts and the way I live my life. Sri Patanjali felt that we should master these mental modifications. It is definitely a process.
Right Knowledge 1.7
The sources of right knowledge are perception, inference, and scriptural testimony. What’s the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ knowledge? Right knowledge has proof, wrong knowledge has no proof. Right knowledge is TRUTH, wrong knowledge is false. The proof comes from learning from others experiences, our own experience, has backing of ancient scripture. I remember growing up in Alaska, (when people talk about walking to school in the freezing cold and snow both ways….my reality!) I came through the gap in the chain link fence and rounded the path up to the school, there was some commotion ahead. As I walked closer I saw a boy wrapped around a light pole. Curiously moving closer I could see that his tongue was attached to the pole! “Who does that?” Obviously some of us do. Yet some of us trust that it’s just not a good idea and some of us have to find out the hard way.
Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form. Swami Satchidananda shared a great example of misconception is his translation of Yoga Sutras. “In the twilight you see a coiled rope and mistake it for a snake. You get frightened. There is no snake there in reality; there is a false understanding. But still it created a terror in your mind. It is not only valid knowledge that creates thought waves, but erroneous impressions also.”
Verbal Delusions 1.9
Knowledge that is based on words alone, without any form, is a verbal delusion. We have all had a friend that has shared a story with us a great feat. Maybe they wrestled a shark, punched it in the eye, saved a life, stood up to their childhood bully, or fell 20ft without a scratch. We have no proof of their feats, yet we can mentally picture each of these perfectly as if we were a witness. The problem arises when we believe the delusions and accept them to be true without any backing up.
The mental modification which depends on the thought of nothing is sleep. What happens in dreamless sleep? Obviously, sleep is a time for rejuvenation; for the mind and the body. But are we thinking in the moments that we are not dreaming? Many great yogis believe that we have to be otherwise there would be nothing and if there was nothing we would have to way to know that we have slept. However, it is those quiet moments that they consider ‘sleep’.
Painful or Painless
Every thought is one or the other. What’s interesting in dealing with thoughts, events, and actions that establish beliefs is that sometimes a painful experience can be for our own good. We learn our lessons through actually sticking our tongue on the pole. Not all of us need that experience; we trust what we have heard because there is proof that this could turn out badly. Some of us are so cautious that we don’t even need proof because the sound of it is not appealing. On the opposite side, many of us do things that are painful thinking it will bring pleasure. Smoking, for example; a smoker will make every excuse for why they are smoking, but they know and we know it will only bring pain in the end, yet they choose to continue smoking and remain in the delusion. The list could go on and on. The way to break free is to trick the mind. You say to the mind, “I’m not going to smoke that cigarette today, I’m not saying forever, just for today”. When you get to the end of the day, you think “Wow! I made it the whole day!” The next day you begin again, reassuring the mind that it’s only one day, not forever, just for today. This principle can apply in many ways to many things. The mind and the ego are like howling vicious wolves in the woods. You have to outwit and satisfy them at the same time.
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