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5Yoga Sutras: 1.4 The Seer falsely identifies with mental objects

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Jun 21, 2005
      Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1.4
      (Useful graphics are shown at this link along with text)

      YOGA SUTRA 1.4: At other times, when one is not in Self-realization,
      the Seer appears to take on the form of the modifications of the mind
      field, taking on the identity of those thought patterns.
      (vritti sarupyam itaratra)

      VRITTI = of the operations, activities, fluctuations, modifications,
      changes, or various forms (of the mind-field)

      SARUPYAM = similarity, assimilation, appearance of, identification of
      form or nature, conformity with the shape of; the root sa means with,
      and rupa means form

      ITARATRA = elsewhere, at other times, when not in that state of
      realization above

      WHEN WE ARE NOT AWARE OF OUR TRUE NATURE: When activity of all levels
      of mind have been transcended (1.2), we experience pure consciousness
      (1.3). However, the rest of the time, mind flows towards the many
      sensory experiences we have, as well as towards the streams of
      memories and fantasies. The existence of the external world and the
      memories is not the problem. Rather, the pure consciousness
      mistakenly takes on the identity of those thought patterns. In this
      way, we incorrectly come to think that who we are is one and the same
      with these thoughts. The solution is to separate the seer and the
      seen (2.17), the experiencer and the object experienced, and this is
      the theme and practice of Yoga.

      wants to make a mold, he might first make a plaster statue, then form
      the clay mold around that statue. Later, that clay becomes the mold
      for pouring the liquid metal. The process of the clay taking the form
      of the original plaster model is the meaning of the seer or Self
      appearing to take on the form of the thought pattern stored in the
      mind-field. When pure consciousness wraps itself around the mental
      object it encounters, it only appears to take on the identity of that
      object. It is a sort of mistaken identity that results.

      GOLD AND CLAY: Gold is melted, reformed, and fashioned into many
      different ornaments. Yet, it remains gold. Clay is pushed and pulled
      and twisted, and shaped into many different bowls or other objects.
      Yet, it remains clay. However much consciousness shapes itself into
      the many objects stored in the mind field, that consciousness remains
      pure, standing alone. That consciousness, itself lacking any form, is
      described as having the nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss.

      IT IS ALWAYS A MENTAL OBJECT: The object around which consciousness
      wraps itself is always an inner, mental object, even though there may
      be an external object being perceived through the senses (indriyas).
      If you see and smell your favorite food (or most offensive object),
      it is the memory of that experience, the mental object that is being
      triggered and brought to the surface. Even if you have never
      experienced this particular object before, it is presented through
      the eyes and nose (and other senses) to the mind field, as if on a
      movie screen, which the seer can then watch. The experience itself is
      between the inner witness and the presented object, and that
      presented object might come either through the senses or memory (or
      subtle realm, internal awareness). The significance of this is that
      we need to work with our inner awareness in relation to mental
      objects. In other words, we need to train our own mind and senses.

      FIVE FORMS OF MENTAL OBJECTS: The five types of thought patterns that
      result from this false identity (of the Seer taking on false
      identities) are described in sutras 1.5-1.11. How to release
      consciousness from these few categories of mistaken identity is the
      process of enlightenment, and is the subject of the Yoga Sutras.