1.2 Reigning In The Mind
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 2 | COMMENTARY
Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
योगशिचत्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ।। १.२ ।।
Yogaśchitta Vr̥itti Nirodhaḥ. ||1.2||
To block the circular patterns of consciousness is Yoga.
Chitta means ‘to be conscious of’. In many texts and scriptures, chitta is used to mean only the intellect (the analytical dimension) or only the mind where thoughts arise and dissolve – but here, it represents the entire consciousness of the human being which includes the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, the unconscious mind and also the memory.
This implies that all thoughts, desires, memories, imaginations, visions, emotions, fears and passions arise in Chitta. It is also where all the impressions of this life and the past lives reside, manifesting subtly as personality, decisions and character. All the sensual and subjective perceptions take place in Chitta. Even the experiences of deep meditation are a pattern of the Chitta. This consciousness exists within the body as well as envelopes the physical and pranic body and can expand to an infinite area – the Chitta is not restricted by the laws of Space-Time fabric.
Vrittis are the modifications/modulations of the Chitta. The thoughts and desires, dreams and actions, ambitions and fears, awareness and sleep, convictions and doubts, likes and dislikes, are all modulations of the consciousness – a state of the consciousness.
Nirodhah means to block. It must be noticed here that Maharishi Patanjali does not here define Yoga as blocking the consciousness, but rather blocking/subduing the patterns of the consciousness that keep on following each other in an endless circle and do not allow us to be in our true nature.
Thinking, reliving memories, planning for the future, perceiving sensory objects, sleeping – these processes are in the nature of Chitta. One can drive himself insane beating himself up for every thought that arises and every event that goes in to the “hard drive”. Suppression is not the aim here. Yoga is taking control of Chitta so that one has the power to be unaffected by the wavering desires and thoughts that keep on arising, and become one pointed and then transcending the object of concentration too. It is not identifying oneself with the fears that clutch the consciousness from time to time. It is not attributing oneself with the negative or positive emotions that keep on erupting and dissolving every moment. All these Vrittis, when unsubdued, inherently, stick to the consciousness like a sticky gum and deprive it of clarity of awareness.
The sense of individuality arises for there is no time for the consciousness to become aware of its own nature of purity (clarity) and infinity (vast capability).
The Vrittis keep on churning the consciousness like rain churns a lake and makes it impossible to observe its depth. All these processes of Chitta start covering the consciousness as impressions, forcing it to perceive itself as a separate entity from the rest of the creation resulting in Karma (action done with sense of doership), the desire of whose fruit itself is another impression and results in manifestation of events which are again perceived and the cycle continues. The Vrittis are a circle without a beginning or an end.
Yoga is transcending these expressions and processes of the individual awareness (in all planes and dimensions of the Consciousness), becoming free of the circle and resting at the centre.
Perhaps, it all reads like something that cannot be experienced. I believe that people who devote their life to a single cause, it may be a sport, a business, a service, or a study and achieve stupendous success that is unimaginable are people who have achieved Yoga. Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Steve Jobs, and others in uncountable fields around the world from times immemorial have done inexplicable things by unwavering focus and sheer will. They arose above their pain, their momentary desires, fears, experiences, likes and dislikes, concepts of good and bad, black and white and changed the course of the civilization. They found their centre, and went from being an individual to being an idea that was cosmic. Everyone can have their own centre and everyone has their own path to follow – but we all are headed for the same destination. A vision brings focus, and discipline builds will power, and before one knows it, one transcends the mundane and becomes one with energy that runs the entire cosmos – one achieves Yoga.