Yoga Sutra 2.4: Stages of reducing colorings
(for more info)
See also the Four Stages of Coloring section of the Witnessing
2.4 The root forgetting or ignorance of the nature of things (avidya)
is the breeding ground for the other of the five colorings (kleshas),
and each of these is in one of four states: 1) dormant or inactive, 2)
attenuated or weakened, 3) interrupted or separated from temporarily,
or 4) active and producing thoughts or actions to varying degrees.
Systematically reduce the colorings: These colorings (kleshas) are
either: 1) active, 2) cut off, 3) attenuated, or 4) dormant. We want
to be able to observe and witness these stages so that we can
systematically reduce the coloring. Then the thought patterns are no
longer obstacles to deep meditation, and that is the goal. (See the
articles on Klisha and Aklishta Vrittis and Karma and the sources of
Actions, Speech, and Thoughts)
Four stages of coloring: The starting point is to observe what is the
current state of the coloring of individual thought patterns. This
self-awareness practice becomes a gentle companion in daily life and
1. Active, aroused (udaram): Is the thought pattern active on the
surface of the mind, or playing itself out through physical actions
(through the instruments of action, called karmendriyas, which include
motion, grasping, and speaking)? These thought patterns and actions
may be mild, extreme, or somewhere in between. However, in any case,
they are active.
2. Distanced, separated, cut off (vicchinna): Is the thought pattern
less active right now, due to there being some distance or separation.
We experience this often when the object of our desire is not
physically in our presence. The attraction or aversion, for example,
is still there, but not in as active a form as if the object were
right in front of us. It is as if we forgot about the object for the
now. It is actually still colored, but just not active (but also not
3. Attenuated, weakened (tanu): Has the thought pattern not just been
interrupted, but actually been weakened or attenuated? Sometimes we
can think that a deep habit pattern has been attenuated, but it really
has not been weakened. When we are not in the presence of the object
of attachment or aversion, that separation can appear to be
attenuation, when it actually is just not seen in the moment.
This is one of the big traps of changing the habits or conditionings
of the mind. First, it is true that we need to get some separation
from the active stage to the distanced stage, but then it is essential
to start to attenuate the power of the coloring of the thought
4. Dormant, latent, seed (prasupta): Is the thought pattern in a
dormant or latent form, as if it were a seed that is not growing at
the moment, but which could grow in the right circumstances?
The thought pattern might be temporarily in a dormant state, such as
when asleep, or when the mind is distracted elsewhere. However, when
some other thought process comes, or some visual or auditory image
comes in through the eyes and ears, the thought pattern is awakened
again, with all of its coloring.
Eventually the seed of the colored thought can be burned in the fire
of meditation, and a burnt seed can no longer grow.