Patanjali's Yoga Sutras - False Knowledge

Bodhinatha comments on Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Verses 1.5 through 1.12. The restraint of the mental activities of correct knowledge, erroneous knowledge, fantasy, sleep and memory is achieved through practice and detachment. He focuses up the subject of erroneous knowledge and relates Gurudeva's discussion on how to resolve deep seated erroneous conception from Cognizantibility. Hatha yoga balances ida and pingala. Mindfulness and memory relate. Desire is life. Transmute our desire and change our life.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Verses 1.5 through 1.12 Master Course, Living with Siva, Hatha Yoga Resource. Master Course, Merging with Siva, Cognizantability.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning.

We are continuing in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. As you recall we were talking about the chitta vrittis, mental activities and learning how to control them, remember. So this is getting into the types of vrittis.

"There are five types of activities of which some cause suffering and others do not cause suffering."

So, the translators indicate this is the long term result that he's talking about. In other words, if someone gorges on ice cream that's not suffering, right? Until the next day, then your system is all messed up. So it's not talking about the immediate result but rather the long term results of what you are doing.

So, the five types of activities, they are: Correct knowledge, erroneous knowledge, fantasy, sleep and memory.

Correct knowledge is self explanatory. Patanjali says it arises from three sources. Either perception, inference or testimony. The idea there being we either perceive something directly and correctly. For example we look at the fire there. So we're perceiving the fire; that's a correct perception. If it was a larger fire it could be at a distance and perceive the smoke, right? We would infer that there's a fire. So we can use inference to obtain a correct knowledge.

Testimony: We meet somebody who says there's a fire over there and we trust them. So we're getting knowledge based upon valid testimony.

"Erroneous knowledge is false knowledge, not based upon what actually is." So we'll take a look at that one later; we have a quote from Gurudeva which relates to false knowledge.

"Fantasy derives from verbal statements relying upon a non existent object." So, that's like Santa Claus. We can talk about Santa Clause but Santa Claus isn't, is a non existent object. We're not miss-perceiving an object. The object doesn't exist. So, it's a fantasy; doesn't exist.

"Sleep is the activity supported by cognition of nothingness." That one's obvious.

"And memory is not forgetting experienced objects."

"The restraint of these activities is achieved through practice and detachment."

So that's interesting; it is two-fold. Course we would, if I asked: Well how do we make progress in yoga? Everyone would say practice, right? That one is ingrained in our minds from Gurudeva's teachings. We have to practice; we have to follow the Sadhana Marga.

But we may not have said detachment. In other words, the reason many of these mental activities are occurring is because of our attachments. That's what's causing us to think about the various things we think about is attachment. And, as we talked about before, attachment can be a positive, attached to something pleasurable. Or, we're attached to an experience that was painful. Sometimes the ones that are painful, we have greater attachments to them. We have greater difficulty letting go of things which cause us pain so we tend to think about them periodically.

So, it's the combination of the two: practice and detachment.

So, now we get into the, Gurudeva's example of erroneous knowledge. This is from the resource section, Trilogy. "There is a classic question: What way is there to control our desires and thus stay balanced? Years ago in 1950 I answered this concisely in an aphorism of Cognizantability which you can read in Merging with Siva. Here is that aphorism: 'The seed of desire is a false concept in relation to corresponding objects.'"

Well that's, when I think of erroneous knowledge that's the one I remember first from Gurudeva's teachings. Ah, the seat of desire is a false concept. It's erroneous knowledge. It's based upon perceiving something incorrectly. Something exists but we're perceiving it incorrectly.

"The conscious mind throws into it's subconscious a series of erroneous thoughts based upon a single concept, (sorry) based upon a false concept. This creates a deep rooted desire or complex. Single out the seed of desire by disregarding all of the corresponding erroneous thoughts. Then destroy that seed through understanding it's relation in itself and do all of the corresponding thoughts. The deep rooted desire complex will then vanish."

Well, what's an example? I am, tune it down. Well Madison Avenue is in the business of planting seeds of desires that are false concepts. So, you see this picture of someone driving along in a Mercedes Benz and they look so successful and happy. So, you see that a few times, you put that into your mind. That's the seed of desire. What's the false concept? That if you own a Mercedes Benz you're going to be successful and happy. It's automatic; it's guaranteed. It's right in this picture. So someone really gets impressed by that because they want to be successful and happy and so they, every two years they buy a new Mercedes Benz. This is the result in their life. They're trying to be successful and happy but somehow they never end up being successful and happy.They just end up buying new Mercedes Benz.

Gurudeva's saying: Well how do you sort that out? By understanding. It's an internal process. You just have to understand where that seed of desire came from. You have to realize that: Oh you read those adds, that put that in your mind; that's why you want it. And the whole thing's erroneous knowledge. It's not correct. It's a false concept.

So we have a number of those that are in our mind. We have certain ambitions get into our mind. We see other people who are successful lawyers or successful this or that and therefore, we think that if we do that profession we'll be automatically successful just like them. You know, so we put these seeds of desire into our mind, particularly when we're younger. We put them in the mind because we're not, we don't have a clear path in life. We're more open to random impressions.

"Our deep-rooted desires or complexes--which are the battle within every one during certain periods of life--must be diffused first. But in order to diffuse them we have to find them. (Good point right?) In other words, we have to bring our mind to a point where we can concentrate without any effort, where our mind is so calm and so quiet that we have effortless concentration.."

So, that's the point we made in the second verse, that yoga is restraining the mind's mental activity. When we start out that effort to restrain can be a bit like holding back a strong dog or something. But eventually it's supposed to be effortless. That's the goal. Not after one minute but we want to end up, as it says here: " ...where our mind is so calm and so quiet that we have effortless concentration." That's the goal.

"In other words, we have to bring our mind to a point where the subconscious mind itself is concentrated, giving birth to an inner peace which surpasses all understanding. In order to do this..."

What do you think we're supposed to do? Hatha yoga. This is from the Hatha Yoga Resource. That's why I didn't say where it was from, so I can ask the question. Otherwise you'd say: Oh yeah, hatha yoga, right he said it's from the Hatha Yoga Resource. Yeah, hatha yoga.

"In order to do this, the system of hatha yoga was unfolded to very great teachers many thousands of years ago and handed down from teacher to teacher, and one of my teachers handed it down to me.

"Hatha yoga is a system of handling the physical body so that you quiet it through the subconscious mind."

And it goes on to elaborate on that which is just right in the resource so I won't, I won't read that. If you're interested it's in the Hatha Yoga Resource in [Living] Merging with Siva.

But you can see the logic of the order of the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga: yama, niyama, asana. So even before we sit down to try and meditate we're supposed to have done our asana, whatever that means. To us it means the 24 system of hatha yoga. It helps balance. Balances ida and pingala and therefore quiets the mind. And automatically helps us have awareness go within without a lot of struggling to harness all the thoughts that are active. So if we do hatha yoga first, it helps.

So when we talk about memory, sometimes I remember Gurudeva's challenging questions on that in Cognizantability. So see if we can sort these out.

Normally you say: How can you remember what is forgotten, right? That's the normal question. You've forgotten something; you need to know it. How can I remember what I've forgotten? How can you remember what you've forgotten? Okay.

But Gurudeva gives us two questions: "How can we forget what is forgotten?" And "How can we remember what is remembered?"

So, if anyone remembers the answer, that's good. I always remember that they're there but I don't necessarily remember the answer.

"Now, let us take into consideration the following: How can we remember what has been forgotten? That is the way you would write it, but I said, 'How can we remember what is remembered?' And this is what it means: that nothing is forgotten. It is all locked up in the mind and can be brought out by the proper handling of the mind."

We see that sometimes in hypnosis, that a therapist can bring something out that's there but we need help. But it's there. So, everything that's gone through the conscious mind is there as a memory. We just not, don't necessarily know how to access it. So, how can we access is what Gurudeva's saying. How can we learn to access our memories? How can we remember or access what we've remembered?

Doing a little research and I ended up in the area of "mindfulness." And found out it's a very secular term. Mindfulness meaning: Paying full attention to what you're doing. You're eating a meal so you're eating it slowly and paying attention. You're doing something else; you're paying, you're putting extra effort into paying attention to all the details. It's the idea of mindfulness. And it's turned into a popular secular practice and normally it's attributed to Buddhism but of course, everything in Buddhism comes from Hinduism. So, it's a Hindu concept as well; it's in Gurudeva's teachings. You know, we want to pay attention. Notice what you're doing. Don't do things with your mind somewhere else.

So what interested me was this, the Pali, the Pali which is the Buddhist language comes from Sanskrit. So they did the Sanskrit words. So the word is Smriti which means memory. So how can memory relate to mindfulness? Well the concept I came up with is, sometimes we say when we get older and we say: Oh, I don't remember, clearly. Well when we're younger we do. But when we get older we tend to be distracted more, be preoccupied more. So we don't remember because we weren't paying close attention. It's not that our faculty of memory is flawed. Is that we were doing something or participating in something without fully being there. We were somewhere else at the same time and therefore, we didn't get a clear impression in the mind as to what was going on. And therefore we don't remember it clearly. Therefore, the key to remembering that, you think that's an issue is making sure you're paying close attention to everything that's going on. Everything you're doing, everything others are doing. If you're paying attention, not distracted, then you'll remember it. Much, much easier than if you were distracted. Much more clearly than if you were distracted.

So, it's interesting how mindfulness and memory relate.

And our last one: "How can we forget what is forgotten? (Anybody know?) Now that is even more ambiguous than the one I just explained. However, it is easy when you look at it in the right light--in the light of desire. (Good morning; a spiders here.) For desire is the force that drives humanity onward and through all phases of the mind. Desire is the only thing that holds this world together. So, how can we really forget what is forgotten? Have not all things been forgotten when the focus of desire has been transmuted into the realm of desirelessness? So, truly, how can we forget what is forgotten when through changing desire we change our life? By changing our life we change those around us and so the world. What was forgotten is that the desire changed. However, it still exists in the halls of memory, in the essence of time, cause and space, the superconscious mind, of which you will learn about more later. So, on with the study, and may it lead you into that for which you were destined--peace, power and a positive, unfolded life. "

So as you know, Gurudeva doesn't follow the common statement: "You must give up desire." Right? That's the common statement: You must give up desire. You hear that and then you try and do it and you realize you can't do it. And that's because desire is life. Being alive is the same as having desire. The two things are synonymous. So, we can't get rid of life. We can transmute our desire or desire more refined things. That's Gurudeva's point. Instead of desiring lots of sweets, which is never a good food, we educate our self and we learn to desire healthier foods. Or we transmute our desire and in that we change our life, as Gurudeva's pointing out.

Said another way: We lift up the energy though practices such as worship and meditation into the higher chakras. And the more successful we are then the more our desires will not be for baser things, will be for cultural, spiritual, educational, kinds of activities is what we will naturally desire just by having our energies uplifted through our practices.

Well, thank you very much. We got through Patanjali's five activities.

Have a great phase.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Imagine yourself now, worried, bothered and disturbed, and in the midst of your disturbance say to yourself, "I am all right, right now. Just this instant, I am all right."