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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Five Classifications of Fluctuations of Consciousness

Tonight in the Yoga Philosophy Discussion we talked about the five classifications of the fluctuations of consciousness. These five classes of fluctuations may "disturb the [practitioner] or help him to develop maturity of intelligence and attain emancipation." (LoYS, p. 56)

1. Pramana - valid knowledge, experienced knowledge, correct knowledge
"Correct knowledge is direct knowledge from the core of being. It is intuitive, therefore pure, and beyond the field of intellect."

2. Viparyaya - a mistaken view which is observed to be such after study, mistaken identity, misidentification, perverse perception, illusion, wrong perception
"Wrong perceptions are gathered by the senses of perception and influence the mind to accept what is felt by them."

3. Vikalpa - doubt, indecision, delusion, imagination, fanciful knowledge
"Fanciful knowledge causes the mind to live in an imaginary state without consideration of the facts." (LoYS, p. 56)

4. Nidra - sleep, a state of emptiness
"Sleep has its own peculiarity. As a jar when empty is filled with air, so consciousness is empty in sleep. It exists in space, without a place, and is filled with dormancy. In sleep, one has a glimpse of a quiet state of mind...This dormant state of mind is felt only on waking." (LoYS, p. 56)

5. Smrti - memory, the holding fast to the impressions of objects one has experienced
"Memory helps one to recollect experiences for right understanding." (LoYS, p. 56)

Yoga Sutras I.2-I.11 as translated by BKS Iyengar in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

  • I.2 Yoga is the cessation of the movements of consciousness.
  • I.3 Then, the seer (soul) dwells in his own true splendor.
  • I.4 At other times, the seer identifies with the fluctuating consciousness.
  • I.5 The movements of consciousness are fivefold. They may be cognizable or non-cognizable, painful or non-painful.
  • I.6 They are caused by correct knowledge, illusion, delusion, sleep, and memory.
  • I.7 Correct knowledge is direct, inferred, or proven as factual.
  • I.8 Illusory or erroneous knowledge is based on non-fact or the non-real.
  • I.9 Verbal knowledge devoid of substance is fancy or imagination.
  • I.10 Sleep is the non-deliberate absence of thought-waves or knowledge.
  • I.11 Memory is the unmodified recollection of words and experiences.

  • When have I acted upon something that I thought to be true that turned out to be untrue? What were the consequences of this misperception?
  • When have I deluded myself into believing something to be true when it wasn't? Was I conscious of this decision to believe the fantasy? What were the consequences?
  • Is memory always a negative fluctuation? How can examining memories of our experiences be positive? negative?
  • How is the yogic state of union (stilling the fluctuations of the mind) different than that of sleep or the moment of wakefulness? How is it similar?

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