vyaadhistyaanasaMshayapramaadaalasyaaviratibhraantidarshana aalabdhabhUmikatvaanavasthitatvaani chittavikShepAH te’ntaraayaaH
"Disease, languor, doubt, carelessness, laziness, worldly-mindedness, delusion, non-achievement of a stage, instability, these (nine) cause the distraction of the mind and they are the obstacles."
Turning outward of consciousness is caused by Viksepa – the distractions of the mind. The current sutra provides the reasons for this Vikshepa. Two characteristics of an average man of the world (not on a yogic path):
- Lack of purpose: To achieve the desired goal in the material world, one needs a sense of purpose. The yogi, even though not interested in worldly pursuits, needs concentration of purpose to achieve the yogic objectives.
- The mind is generally focused outward only. For a yogi, it is necessary to replace the centrifugal tendency of the mind with a centripetal tendency.
In the case of a mirror, the reflected image of an object gives the appearance of another object where none exists. Similarly, the mind perceives an "image" of the objects outside through the instrumentality of sense organs. After interaction with the consciousness, the same image is projected outward to give us an appearance of the world of forms and shapes etc. Because we are projecting our own image outwards, the world is simply an illusion as it is purely a projection. It is this projection outwards by the lower mind of what is really within which constitutes the fundamental nature of Viksepa and which lies at the basis of this outward turned condition of the mind.Thus there is essentially a big gap between the physical world and our own projection of it. Science can only bridge this gulf between the two when it takes into account the world of Reality which expresses itself through
Patanjali has enumerated nine conditions of the mind or body which cause Viksepa
and thus serve as obstacles in the path of the Yogi.
- Disease (vyadhi): Physical illness or disease is an obvious distraction for the mind
- Languor (styana): Chronic fatigue and lack of nervous energy are caused either by some defect in the "pranamaya kosha" or as a psychological condition based on a total lack of purpose in life
- Doubt (samshaya): Doubts in the efficacy of yogic techniques are a cause of distraction. An unshakable faith (shraddha) in the objectives, in the person himself and the yogic methods to be practiced is a key requirement for progress on the path of yoga.
- Carelessness (pramada): Careful attention to important and seemingly unimportant things in life is needed to overcome the tendency to become lax and careless in yogic pursuits.
- Laziness (alasya): Laziness is love of comfort and ease and a tendency to avoid exertion – physical or mental. Languor (mentioned above) can be considered a physical defect while laziness is a psychological condition.
- Wordly-mindedness (avirati): The path of yoga leads to Viveka (discrimination). However, if this viveka is purely at an intellectual level, the mind will be constantly driven outward through the attraction of sense objects. Worldly-mindedness can be a serious cause of Viksepa (mental distraction).
- Delusion (bhranti-darshana): Delusion, taking a thing for what it is not, is generally caused by lack of discrimination. Sometimes people begin to see lights or hear sounds during their ‘yogic sadhana’. Due to delusion they begin to look at these spurious and trivial experiences as real yogic attainments. These feelings are a serious cause of distractions.
- Non-achievement of a state (alabdha-bhumikatva): To attain deeper levels of consciousness, one needs to go through the essential techniques of yoga – dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption). Persistent effort is required to make the leap from one state to the next. Non-attainment of the next state with reasonable effort is a major cause of distraction for the sadhaka.
- Instability (anavasthitatvani): Sometimes, due to its inherent fickleness or unsteadiness, the mind can revert back to the previous state. This is a cause for vikshepa.
"Sickness, Incompetence, Doubt, Delusion, Sloth, Non-Abstention, Erroneous Conception, Non-Attainment Of Any Yogic Stage, And Instability To Stay In A Yogi State, These Distractions Of The Mind Are The Impediments."
Sickness is disorder of humors (the three doshas – kapha, pitta, vaata), secretions and the organs of the body. Proper and wholesome diet is essential for good health. Incompetence is incapacity of the mind. It results from restlessness of the mind. Doubt – "it can be this or it cannot be this". Doubts can be removed by listening to instructions, contemplation and being with a guru. Delusion is self-forgetfulness which leads to worldly engagement. Dullness of the body and mind leads to disinclination to engage in yogic pursuits which is called sloth. This state represents a preponderance of tamas. Erroneous perception results from not knowing what is to be removed and how to do it; also knowing a lower state of spiritual evolution to be the higher state.
The above impediments disappear as a result of Ishvara-pranidhana whereby a sattvic intellect is developed.
Is the world really an illusion? Since we only have access to the world that is mediated by our own mind, it can be considered an illusion. The eye, for example, can only see the periphery of an object – it cannot see the "whole" object. Thus we can never perceive the full object in its entirety. What we see is what has been interpreted by our mind/ego. In Vedanta the word "mithya" is used which is defined as something that has both a beginning and an end. Since the world appears to us only as a projection of our mind, its existence lasts only as long as the mind lasts. Thus it is ‘mithya’. An example from the movie "Rashomon" was given in which four people describe the same event in four entirely different ways, each of which is equally convincing.
We need to emphasize, though, that as per Patanjali’s yoga philosophy, there are two distinct entities, both equally real – purusha and prakriti. It is true that the prakriti manifests only due to the presence of purusha. However, prakriti, in the unmanifest form, and purusha are recognized in both Sankhya and Yoga as two independent entities.