Inner Reflections
February 21, 2022


So much of the way we experience existence is mediated through our mental processes and our thoughts. This means they are central to our journey towards “the cessation of the movements of consciousness,” when the Seer rests in his own unmodified state (Yoga Sutra 1.3).

However, reaching the point where movements of the consciousness, or vrittis, cease, requires the flexibility, receptivity, and openness to create something innovative, to adapt, to learn, to grow. It requires awareness of our consciousness, how it fluctuates, and how we can lean into those vrittis that strengthen us. 

Patanjali describes five vrittis, or mental fluctuations, but I want to focus on the first three. Pramana is correct, or right knowledge. Viparyaya is incorrect knowledge, or knowledge based on misconceptions. Vikalpa is knowledge based on delusion or imagination, a knowledge that is divorced from reality. 

It can be difficult to know when we are using vikalpa or viparyaya, when we are basing our experiences on thought processes that weaken our connection to Oneness and our Higher Self rather than strengthening it. The importance is never to let ourselves get stuck, to keep looking for perspectives and true knowledge: pramana, knowledge that has been shown to be true, valid, and reliable by direct perception, inference, or authoritative testimony. 

The words of French artist Francis Picabia come to mind: 

𝑶𝒖𝒓 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒐 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒔 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏.”

We are born to fluctuate, to explore, to try, to learn, to grow, until we find our splendor, our unmodified state. We can’t do that by repeating the same behaviors, cycling through the same thought patterns (samskaras), or relying on misconception (viparyaya) or delusion (vikalpa). 

When we understand that we are headed in a direction that is wrong for us, based on viparyaya or vikalpa, we can change direction to search for pramana. We can shift our mental movements until we are in the right place to cease them.

By Jenny