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Chitta Vrtii - Causes of the Modification of the Mind.
In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali lists five classes of chitta vrtti which create pleasure and pain. These are:

1. Pramarna (a standard or ideal)  by which things or values are measured by the mind or known, which men accept upon (a) direct evidence such as perception (pratyaksa), (b) inference (anumana) and [c) testimony or the word of an acceptable authority when the source of knowledge has been checked as reliable and trustworthy (agama).

2. Viparyaya. (a mistaken view which is observed to be such after study). A faulty medical diagnosis based on wrong hypotheses, or the formerly held theory in astronomy that the Sun rotates round the Earth, are examples of viparyaya.

3. Vikalpa (fancy or imagination, resting merely on verbal expression without any factual basis). A beggar may feel happy when he imagines himself spending millions. A rich miser, on the other hand, may starve himself in the belief that he is poor.

4. Nidra (sleep), where there is the absence of ideas and experiences. When a man is sleeping soundly, he does not recall his name, family or status, his knowledge or wisdom, or even his own existence. When a man forgets himself in sleep, he wakes up refreshed. But, if a disturbing thought creeps into his mind when he is dropping off, he will not rest properly.

5. Smrti (memory, the holding fast of the impressions of objects that one has experienced). There are people who live in their past experiences, even though the past is beyond recall. Their sad or happy memories keep them chained to the past and they cannot break their fetters.

Patanjali enumerates five causes of chitta vrtti creating pain (klesa), These are:

1. Avidya (ignorance or nescience)
2. Asmita (the feeling of individuality which limits a person and distinguishes him from a group and which may be physical, mental, intellectual or emotional)
3. Raga (attachment or passion)
4. Dvesa (aversion or revulsion)
5. Abhinivesa (love of or thirst for life, the instinctive clinging to worldly life and bodily enjoyment and the fear that one may be cut off from all this by death).

These causes of pain remain submerged in the mind of the sadhaka (the aspirant or seeker). They are like icebergs barely showing their heads in the polar seas. So long as they are not studiously controlled and eradicated, there, can be no peace. The yogi learns to forget the past and takes no thought for the morrow. He lives in the eternal present.

As a breeze ruffles the surface of a lake and distorts the images reflected therein, so also the chitta vrtti disturb the peace of the mind. The still waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it. When the mind is still, the beauty of the Self is seen reflected in it. The yogi stills his mind by constant study and by freeing himself from desires. The eight stages of Yoga teach him the way.

Chitta Viksepa {Distractions and Obstacles)
The distractions and obstacles which hinder the aspirant's practice of Yoga are:
1. Vyadhi - sickness which disturbs the physical equilibrium.
2. Styana - languor or lack of mental disposition for work.
3. SamSaya - doubt or indecision
4. Pramada - indifference or insensibility
5. Alasya – laziness
6. Avirati - sensuality, the rousing of desire when sensory objects possess the mind.
7. Bhranti Darsana - false or invalid knowledge, or illusion.
8. Alabdha Bhumikatva. - failure to attain continuity of thought or concentration so that reality cannot be seen.
9. Anavasthitattva - instability in holding onto concentration which has been attained after long practice.

There are, however, four more distractions:
1. Duhkha - pain or misery
2. Daurmansya – despair.
3. Angamejayatva – unsteadiness of the body
4. Svasa-prabvisa - unsteady respiration.

To win a battle, a general surveys the terrain and the enemy and plans counter measures. In a similar way the Yogi plans the conquest of the SELF.

 To overcome the obstacles and to win unalloyed happiness, Patanjali offered several remedies.

The best of these is the fourfold remedy of

The deeper significance of the four-fold remedy of maitri, karuna, mudita., and upeksa cannot be felt by an unquiet mind. My experience has led me to conclude that for an ordinary man or woman in any community of the world, the way to achieve a quiet mind is to work with determination on two of the eight stages of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali, namely, asana and pranayama.

The mind (manas) and the breath (prana) are intimately connected and the activity or the cessation of activity of one affects the other. Hence Patanjali recommended pranayama (rhythmic breath control) for achieving mental equipoise and inner peace.

Written by Conrad Howard — November 22, 2012

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