May 31, 2021
One of the many challenges within a deep self-study practice is the trap of viparyaya or the state of misperception. Sanskrit for ‘reversed’ or ‘loss of consciousness,’ viparyaya refers to wrong knowledge stemming from incorrect thoughts, assumptions or perceptions, often based in cultural or personal biases and misunderstandings. It can lead to ‘impurities’ of the mind such as fear, hate, attachment or ignorance, and it clouds our perception when we’re simply trying to observe our own truths.
The goal of self-study is to perceive through pramana, or a ‘source of right knowledge,’ so that we can see ourselves accurately and honestly, without judgement or fear, and ‘become established in our own True Nature.’
But how can we become more aware of the source of our self-knowledge? How can we distinguish between false assumptions or distorted perception, and true insight?
The arduous, but rewarding journey of self-discovery requires that we cultivate a willingness to become curious, to question our assumptions, to seek the aperture of perception and see clearly. We will need to observe and watch our minds, to understand how our thoughts flow and form, and then develop the discipline to still them.
Patanjali speaks of five vrittis or fluctuations of the mind. Pramana is the first, the source of right knowledge, but viparyaya is the second, followed by vikalpa (verbal delusion, imagination), nidrā (sleep, dullness of mind) and smṛiti (memory, unquestioning acceptance).
Our mental activities can be categorized within these five fluctuations. By observing and challenging our thoughts, we can identify which vritti our self-knowledge is based in, and, therefore, whether it is a true insight or a false perception.
When you become intimate with the patterns of your mind, you can begin a practice that embodies the true essence of yoga. Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of the mind. It’s the art of finding stillness in true knowledge. It’s the essential step towards becoming established in your own True Nature.
As always, below are some recommended classes to help deepen your practice: