Yoga Sutras 1.6: The Five Kinds of Thought Patterns
- Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1.6:
The Five Kinds of Thought Patterns
(Useful graphics are shown at this link along with text)
YOGA SUTRA 1.6: The five varieties of thought patterns to witness
are: 1) knowing correctly (pramana), 2) incorrect knowing
(viparyaya), 3) fantasy or imagination (vikalpa), 4) the object of
void-ness that is deep sleep (nidra), and 5) recollection or memory
(pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smritayah)
PRAMANA = real or valid cognition, right knowledge, valid proof,
VIPARYAYAH = unreal cognition, indiscrimination, perverse cognition,
wrong knowledge, misconception, incorrect knowing, not seeing clearly
VIKALPAH = imagination, verbal misconception or delusion, fantasy,
NIDRA = deep sleep
SMRITAYAH = memory, remembering
THERE ARE ONLY FIVE KINDS OF THOUGHTS: Of all the countless thought
impressions that come into the mind field, which form the matrix of
the barrier or veil covering the true Self or center of
consciousness, they all fall into one or more of these five
categories. In other words, while there are many individual thought
impressions, there are not countless types of thoughts to deal with,
but only five. This can help greatly in seeing the underlying
simplicity of the process of Yoga, not getting lost in the apparent
multiplicity in the gross and subtle realms.
[See the graphic on positioning the five kinds of thoughts on the
fingers so as to remember them.]
WITNESSING THE FIVE KINDS OF THOUGHTS: By learning to observe the
thinking process, and then to discriminate between these five types
of mental objects, we start to gain a mastery over them, and their
ability to control our actions, speech, and thoughts.
WITH MASTERY OF WITNESSING: As that mastery comes within reach, we
gradually find a neutral, non-attached (1.15, 3.38) stance of
witnessing, where we can observe the entire flow of mind, while
remaining peacefully undisturbed, unaffected, and uninvolved.
Meditation can systematically deepen.
WITHOUT MASTERY OF WITNESSING: Without that mastery, we become
victims to our own unconscious mental process, losing free choice in
external life as well as the ability to experience deep meditation.
PRAMANA IS THE ONE TO CULTIVATE: Of the five kinds of thought
patterns, pramana, or correct knowledge is the one to cultivate. The
process of continually seeing ever more clearly brings progress on
the path of meditation. This process of seeing clearly, of seeing
things as they are, is one of the ways of describing the inner
journey, eventually revealing that absolute, unchanging True Self.