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The Raja Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Raja Yoga: The Raja Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Articles by Sukadev Bretz and additions

Sukadev Bretz is the founder of Yoga Vidya, Yoga Vidya e.V. non-profit association, Gut Hoffnungstal, 57641 Oberlah. From his youth he was fascinated by the possibilities of the human mind. He taught himself to read fast and completed courses in concentration and memory training. At the age of 20 he obtained the title of business graduate from the University of Munich. He studied psychology as a minor. In 1981 he was trained as a yoga teacher at the Sivananda Yoga Centers. Swami Vishnu Devananda gave him the title "Acharya" (Yoga Master), commissioned him to set up many yoga centers and train yoga teachers and chose him as one of his successors. In 1992 he founded the first Yoga Vidya Center to teach realistic yoga. Sukadev is chairman of the Association of Yoga Vidya Teachers (BYV) and a member of BDY / EYU. His courses and training combine theory and practice into a holistic development experience for body, mind and soul.

Table of Contents


First Chapter: Samadhi Pada - Theory of Mind
Second Chapter: Sadhana Pada - Spiritual Practice
Third Chapter: Vibhuti Pada - Extraordinary Powers
Chapter Four: Kaivalya Pada - Liberation
Appendix: Important Indian scriptures and systems of philosophy


Important Indian scripts
Structure of the Raja Yoga Sutras

Commentary by Sukadev Volker Bretz on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Patanjali

Basis / source texts: “Meditation and Mantras” by Swami Vishnu-devananda, published by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Munich, ISBN 3-930716-003, and “The Science of Yoga” by I.K. Taimni, F. Hirthammer Verlag, ISBN 3-921288-80-0

Important Indian ScriptsBack to Introduction

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are considered to be the most important of the yoga scriptures. The four most important yoga scriptures are

The Upanishads, which concern Jnana Yoga (yoga of knowledge),
The Bhagavad Gita, which includes all yoga paths, but above all Karma and Bhakti Yoga (devotion, love for God)
· The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which deals with Hatha and Kundalini Yoga
· The Yoga Sutras on Raja Yoga, the yoga of mind control.

By the way, Patanjali himself does not speak of Raja Yoga, but of yoga in general. The term Raja Yoga actually comes from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (one of the most important classical Hatha Yoga scriptures). There it says: “We practice Hatha Yoga (body-oriented part of the yoga) in order to attain Raja Yoga (holistic yoga). ”Because it is very difficult to get control of the mind only through mental-psychological techniques. Asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) can help us with this. So actually the Hatha Yoga scriptures made the expression Raja Yoga popular for the Sutras (sentence with statement) of Patanjali. Raja literally means "ruler"; through Raja Yoga we become rulers of our mind and our life.

The Raja Yoga Sutras were written by a sage named Patanjali. Almost nothing is known about his person and life, not even mythological stories, which is very extraordinary because Indians love to tell legends. As a person, he may have deliberately kept himself in the background, thinking that it is not he as a person that is important, but the yoga system that stands behind it and that he passes on. Patanjali is not the inventor of this system, but he has summarized and organized old, long-standing knowledge. The Raja Yoga Sutras can be found between 600 BC and 500 AD. Since Patanjali's system is very similar to Buddhism, it is assumed that either Patanjali was influenced by Buddhist tradition or, conversely, Buddha was influenced by Patanjali. (Buddha: born 560 BC, died around 480 BC). Opinions differ as to whether Patanjali lived before or after Buddha.

Sutras Back to Introduction

There are different forms of Indian scripts. Sutras are the shortest and most succinct way of saying something - not just in yoga, but in all fields. There are, for example, the Nadya Sutras about Indian dance, there are sutras about politics, etc. For the Jnana Yoga (yoga of knowledge), for example, the Brahma Sutras are very important. But there is only a sutra if the tradition is hundreds of years old and ripe for being condensed into sutra form. Sutra literally means “string” or “thread”, which can also be found in our culture as a “guide”.

A sutra is not a textbook that you read and then you understand everything. Rather, it is intended as a guide for the teacher to teach Raja Yoga to the student by going through sutra by sutra. And it is a guide for the student. In the old days it was customary for students to memorize the sutras completely before the teacher left any comments on them. Only when the student knew them by heart was he considered capable of being instructed in Raja Yoga. Incidentally, they are not so difficult to memorize, because they are written in verses that follow each other like a string or a chain. From the last word of the previous verse you can almost guess the beginning of the following verse.

The point of memorizing is also that the text is always ready in the mind. Because in earlier times there were hardly any books. The Indians wrote on palm leaves. Palm leaves are difficult to prepare and describe and only last for a few generations. Then they have to be written off again. One of the reasons why it is so difficult in India to determine when a script came from is that one can no longer fall back on an original, only on repeated copies. So you can't judge whether a font is thousands or "only" hundreds of years old. The sutras were read aloud, explained by the teacher, and learned by the students. Through this, the students also got to know their spirit and how it works.

One learns Yoga Sutras only because of their content, one does not recite them like for example the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads, which at the same time have a mantra character and work through their sound vibration. Even today it is relatively common in India that the Bhagavad Gita is recited - not so the Yoga Sutras.

Structure of the Raja Yoga Sutras Back to the introduction

The Raja Yoga Sutras consist of four parts, the so-called Padas. Pada literally means “foot” or, in a figurative sense, chapter. Each chapter is divided into verses called aphorisms or sutras. The word Sutra refers to both the entire work and to each individual aphorism. The four feet, chapters on which the sutras are written:

Samadhi Pada = theory of mind (e.g. what types of samadhi there are)
Sadhana Pada = spiritual practice (e.g. the 8 levels of yoga)
Vibhuti Pada = higher levels of Raja Yoga (concentration, meditation, supernatural powers)
· Kaivalya Pada = liberation

Samadhi Pada is often referred to as the “theory of mind”. In the first chapter Patanjali describes which levels of consciousness and which types of samadhi there are and how the mind works or what it is. He deals in turn with what yoga is, then the different thoughts in the mind, the different ways in which one can control the mind, the different levels of samadhi (savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara, sananda and sasmita) as forms of sarvikalpa Samadhi, and finally Nirvikalpa Samadhi. He also writes about the obstacles on the way, tips on how to overcome them and finally again about samadhi and the consequences of samadhi.

The main theme of the second chapter is sadhana, spiritual practice. Patanjali first describes the so-called Kriya Yoga, to which we will come back later, then the Kleshas, ​​the causes of suffering, what karma is and parts of the Raja Yoga philosophy, which ultimately comes from the Samkhya system. The questions are: What is this world, why am I in this identification at all, what is the meaning of it all, what is attachment and what is liberation? The most famous part of the Raja Yoga Sutras, the eight levels of yoga, can also be found in the second chapter. Specifically, the first five stages - Yama, Nyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara - and their effects when we practice them are described here.

The chapters are not as systematic as the headings suggest, precisely because it is sutra style and serves as a guide for instruction and practice. From this point of view, it would make no sense to fill the first quarter only with theory and the second only with practice. Although theory predominates in the first part and practice in the second, at the same time there is practice in the first chapter and theory in the second. Even so, the main theme of the first chapter is theory of mind and the second chapter is spiritual practice. The latter includes both the actual practices (Yama, Nyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara) and the yogi's attitude to life, which then goes back into the philosophy and theory of karma.

The third chapter describes the higher levels of Raja Yoga, namely Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, i.e. concentration, meditation and superconsciousness and their effects. Most of the third chapter deals with the effects of being able to focus your mind on something. When we are capable of great concentration, extraordinary abilities arise. Therefore the 3rd chapter is very fascinating. It is often neglected in the comments in the idea that all of this is only for very highly developed people or that the siddhis (supernatural abilities) that arise are only obstacles on the spiritual path with which one as an aspirant is not at all like that should give very much. But since Patanjali devotes a quarter of his entire work to this subject, it cannot quite be so.

Swami Vishnu has explained some of these aphorisms and shown that they are not only reserved for siddhas (masters in possession of supernatural powers), but are very practical at every stage of development to solve certain problems and remove obstacles in the mind. As we learn to concentrate, all kinds of skills come about. Basically, Patanjali says that focus is everything. And that applies to all stages of development. Concentration techniques are not only for people who actually achieve samadhi, but also for spiritual aspirants who are serious about their journey and want to practice concentration. Swami Vishnu always said: "Nothing is impossible for a concentrated yogi" or "Concentration is the first step in meditation", "A distracted mind is unable to meditate". This also includes being focused in everyday life, in the very banal. We can develop this concentration in daily life with the help of the tasks ahead. Conversely, we can cope better with the difficulties of everyday life when we are focused.

Swami Nidyananda used to say: “Concentrate, just concentrate” - don't concentrate on something, just concentrate, always be fully concentrated, then everything else will come by itself.

When we develop such concentration, power arises and power corrupts. Patanjali describes great things here, such as how we get to know and influence the minds of other people, see the past and future, experience our past lives, become bigger, smaller, invisible, heavy, light, etc. - which is to be understood literally as well as figuratively. We will interpret it more figuratively here: How these techniques make us heavy so that we are perceived when we have something to say, or how they make us invisible so that we are not perceived by other people in a certain situation . But it should also be taken literally. I myself have seen several times how Swami Vishnu could see into the future, that he had clairvoyant abilities and that events that were actually impossible were made possible. If he had a vision, it didn't matter whether it was externally possible or not - it just manifested.

The danger is that the ego will inflate. This is why Patanjali also says that the siddhis (supernatural forces) that develop are obstacles because they strengthen the ego. The more advanced we are, the less we will use our spiritual powers. However, for those who are advanced but not yet that advanced, it is good to practice these techniques in order to further develop concentration and to let one's mind become an instrument of God.

With all of this we have to practice devotion to God, be aware that even when we use our ability to concentrate, we are servants of God and make all our abilities, our prana (life energy), available as an instrument of God. Against this background, nothing speaks against it. We then develop these skills in order to become a better servant of God rather than to get a fat ego. Not “I did that great”, but rather: “God works through me”. You always have to see yourself as a channel of God and see everything that you get and achieve in terms of abilities as God's grace.

The fourth chapter is Kaivalya, Liberation. It does indeed contain a lot about liberation, but also, relatively incoherently, about all sorts of other topics. There was also a theory that the fourth chapter could not be from Patanjali because here one aphorism follows another without them having anything to do with one another. According to modern commentators, it should still be from Patanjali. He has just brought everything into this fourth chapter that did not fit into the logic and sequence of verses of the first three chapters, but is important nonetheless. For example, he speaks again about siddhis, the supernatural powers and their possible causes. He goes back to karma, the difference between chitta and atman (mind and self), the essence of thought, the philosophy of perception and it ends of course with kaivalya, liberation.

First Chapter: Samadhi Pada - Theory of Mind

1. Atha
2. Yogash
3. Tadâ drashtuh swarûpe ‘vasthânam
4. Vritti sârûpyam itaratra
5. Vrittayah pañchatayyah klistâklistâh
6. Pramâna-viparyaya-vikalpa-nidrâ-smritayah
7. Pratyakshânumânâgamâh pramânâni
8. Viparyayo mithyâ – jñânam atad – rûpa – pratishtham
9. Shabda – jñânânupâtî – vastu – shûnyo – vikalpah
10. Abhâva-pratyayâlambanâ vrittir nidrâ
11. Anubhûta – visayâsampramoshah smritih
12. Abhyâsa-vairâgyâbhyâm tan-nirodhah
13. Tatras
14. Sa tu
15. Drishtâ
16. deed param
17. Vitarka
18. Virma-pratyayabhyasa-pûrvah
19. Bhava-pratyayo videha-prakrtilayânâm
20. Shraddhâ – vîrya – smriti – samâdhi – prajnâpûrvaka
21. Tîvra – samvegânâm âsannah
22. Mridu – madhyâdhimâtratvât tato’pi visheshah
23. Îshwara-pranidhânâd vâ
24. Klesha-karma-vipâsakâshayair aparâmrishtah
25. Tatra niratishayam Sarvajna-bîjam
26. Sa pûrveshâm api guruh kâlenânavacchedât
27. Tasya vâchakah pranavah
28. Tajjapas tad – artha – bhâvanam
29. Tatah pratyak – chetanâdhigamo ’py
30. yâdhi – styâna – samshaya – pramâdâlasyâ – virati – bhrânti–
darshanâ – labdhabhûmi – katvânavasthitatvâni chitta – vikshepâs te `ntarâyâh
31. Duhkha-daurmanasyângamejayatva-shvâsa-prashvâsâ vikshepa-sahabhuvah
32. Tat – pratishedhârtham eka – tattvâbhyâsah
33. Maitrî – karunâ – muditopeksânam
34. Pracchardana – vidharanabyam va pranasya
35. Visayavati va pravrttir utpanna manasah
36. Vishokâ vâ jyotishmatî
37. Vîta-râga-vishayam vâ chittam
38.Svapna-nidrâ-jnânâlambanam vâ
39. Yathâbhimata – dhyânâd vâ
40. Paramânu-parama-mahattvânto `sya vashikârah
41. Kshina-vritter abhijâtasyeva maner
42. Tatra shabdârtha-jnâna-vikalpaih samkîrnâ
43. Smriti-parishuddhau
44. Etayaiva savichârâ nirvichârâ cha
45.Sûkshma-vishayatvam châlinga-paryavasânam
46. ​​Tâ eva sabîjah samâdhih
47. Nirvichâra – vaishâradye ’dhyâtma – prasâdah
48. Ritambharâ tatra prajnâ
49.Shrutânumâna-prajnâbhyâm anya-vishayâ
50. Taj-jah samskâro ’nya-samskara-prati-bandhî
51. Tasyâpi nirodhe sarva-nirodhân nirbîjah

1. Atha yogânushâsanamBack to the first chapter

atha = now, now; Yoga = yoga; Unity, union; anusasanam = teaching, interpretation

Yoga will now be explained.

If we tend to postpone everything, we have to say atha (now): now, not tomorrow. Now yoga is explained and practiced.

2. Yogash chitta – vritti – nirodhah Back to the first chapter

Yogash = yoga is; chitta = spirit, mind; vritti = thoughts (waves), nirodhah = bringing to rest, stopping

Yoga is bringing the thoughts to rest in the mind.

The mind is like the water in a lake, at the bottom of which lies treasure. When the water moves it creates waves and we cannot look to the bottom to see this treasure.

Nirodhah is thus the coming to rest of the mind, which is considered one of the five basic states of the mind.

To put it with the sea comparison:

In the mudha state (forgetful mind) the water is completely polluted. You don't see anything of the treasure that lies below. We are not at all with ourselves, but very far from it. That leads to sadness, despair, depression. Thoughts and feelings like "I can't", "I don't want", "Nobody likes me", "Everything has no sense" dominate. One only has the wish to hide in a mouse hole, either for eternity or at least until it gets better again. That is mudha.

Kshipta, the dispersed state, is when we are constantly thinking about something else and forgetting all that is important. For example, you might want to hang up laundry, play with the child, practice yoga, watch after dinner, read, watch TV, call someone ... and meanwhile the cat is jumping into the laundry and the child is screaming.

Vikshipta is the effort to focus. Take this lecture as an example. If you don't follow it at all, it is mudha, the forgetful mind. If you keep thinking of everything else, then it is kshipta, the dispersed state. If we try to follow the lecture and only now and then another thought comes up, then it is Vikshipta.

And if you are completely focused, without having any other thoughts and without feeling yourself, just following, then it is Ekagrata, punctuality, what humanistic psychology today calls the "flow" experience. You are fully concentrated, you flow with it, it just flows, the ego doesn't matter. During Swami Vishnu's lectures it happened to me that I simply took in the content, the individual words were completely unimportant, it just happened that way. This can happen in all kinds of activities, such as singing. I no longer sing, it just happens. Some experience it on the computer, craftsmen at work, chefs while cooking. Ekagrata always comes in when there is no effort to focus, but when it just happens.

Finally, Nirodhah follows, where there is no longer any thought.

The first chapter then addresses different levels of Ekagrata, one-punctuality, i.e. how we can concentrate fully and what experiences come with it. In everyday life, Ekagrata is a result of Vikshipta, the striving for concentration. A relaxed, stress-free Vikshipta leads to Ekagrata. When you are completely detached, you suddenly become very focused.

This model helps to identify less with certain states of mind. For example, if you say: “Oh, I'm so broken today!” Or “I'm so depressed!”, “I'm feeling so bad again!”, Then that sounds very devastating. The very thought of it makes you more depressed or makes you feel worse. But if you say "My Chitta (spirit) is in Kshipta (scattered)", then it is not so tragic. Not “I am depressed”, but “My Chitta is in Mudha (forgetful)” - and then I can change something about it, can think about what helps me to get out of this Mudha state into Kshipta (absent-minded) and out Kshipta in Vikshipta (striving for concentration). In order to train and become aware of this, it is also good to keep a diary for a week or two in which, for example, one writes down: How long have I been in Mudha each day, how long in Kshipta, in Vikshipta, etc. ? Who or what created the transitions?

Question: How can you move from one state to another?

That is individual and different depending on the situation. Sometimes it happens automatically through external influences. Assuming you feel bad and someone suddenly pats you on the shoulder while saying: "What you did yesterday, that was really great!", Then you are usually lifted out of mudha (forgetful). But sometimes you are so deeply involved that even that is of no use. Sometimes external pressure also leads out of Mudha, for example when one is very busy and does not have time to feel sorry for oneself.

There are three reasons why one can feel bad or enter the mudha state: it can be an external reason, an internal rhythm or it just happens for no apparent reason.

An important task of an aspirant (yoga student, someone who is on the spiritual path) is to see to it not to stay too long in mudha (forgetful) and kshipta (absent-minded). That depends on a certain basic composition of our subconscious. When there is a lot of tamas (indolence, darkness) in the subconscious, we are relatively much in mudha. If Rajas (activity) prevails, we are relatively much in Kshipta. When sattwa (purity) predominates, we are more likely to be in vikshipta (striving for concentration) and also in ekagrata (single point of view). If you don't make an effort and work on yourself, the basic state in life remains relatively constant. People have a certain level of happiness regardless of external changes; modern psychology has also established this. A complete change in life will shake you up for a few months, then your inner state of mind will level off as before. So the idea of ​​becoming happy by changing external circumstances is not entirely true. External changes can be a help so that we can work better on the inner transformation. That can happen very quickly, because in yoga we work on several levels in order to change something internally. The various asana (spiritual practices) and pranayama (yoga breathing) practices also increase sattwa (purity) in us. If there is more sattwa and more energy, it is easier to come and stay in vikshipta (striving for concentration) or ekagrata (one-pointedness). Meditation and mantra chanting are also opportunities to create more sattwa.

When we are in a depressed mood, we can consider what specific things we can do. Depending on the situation, the answer can be that you can just relax or do something specific, purify yourself, do a few rounds of pranayama. Sometimes it is enough to say to the mind: “This is a depression now, I don't want it” to dissuade the mind, that is, non-identification and switching.

Or if one is distracted, if the mind is restless and wants to do many things at the same time, then it sometimes helps to write down everything that needs to be done, set priorities and then do them one by one.

There are several reasons why the lake can move:

The wind that blows and messes up the chitta (mind) is ultimately our prana (life energy). If the prana is restless, the chitta also becomes restless.

The second reason are boats on the lake, i.e. external events that cause unrest.

Fish move up from below, these are impressions from the subconscious that come to the surface and stir up the lake.

If we switch off the reasons for the movement, i.e. no longer react so easily to external events, if we slowly cleanse our subconscious - this is a long-lasting process - and make our prana more harmonious, the lake slowly becomes calmer. Then we come more often to Vikshipta (striving for concentration) and Ekagrata (one-pointedness), then gradually to Nirodhah (no more thoughts) and finally to “Tadâ drashtuh swarûpe ´vasthânam”, where “the seer rests in his true being”. - But it will take a while until then!

3. Tadâ drashtuh swarûpe ‘vasthânam Back to the first chapter

tadâ = then; drastuh = seer; swarûpe = own nature; avasthânam = settlement

Then the perceiver (seer) rests in his true nature.

If the thoughts, the Vrittis, are calm, then we rest in our true being, in our actual nature. We are not the mind, we are not the thoughts, we are pure consciousness, consciousness beyond thoughts, which can also be experienced as Sat-Chid-Ananda, being-knowing-bliss.

4. Vritti sârûpyam itaratra Back to the first chapter

vritti = thought waves, behaviors; sârûpyam = identification; itaratra = in other states

In other states (when the mind is not focused) the perceiver identifies with his thoughts.

In all other states of mind apart from Nirodhah (no more thoughts) the seer identifies himself with his vrittis (thoughts). And the more we identify with the thoughts, the stronger they become. If we get less involved with the thoughts, they will disappear more easily. If a thought comes and you can't do much with it, then it's quickly gone. But when a thought comes up that you immediately identify with, it becomes very strong. Nonetheless, Patanjali says that there is always a certain identification as soon as we start to think. Without identification there would be no thoughts and without thoughts there would be no identification.

So far, Patanjali has talked about what yoga is and what the consequences are when we are not in nirodhah (no more thoughts). In the following he describes the different forms of Vrittis (thought waves).

5. Vrittayah pañchatayyah klistâklistâh Back to the first chapter

vrittayah (plural of vritti) = thought waves; pañcatayyah = fivefold; klistâ = painful; aklistâh = not painful

There are five types of thought waves, some of which are painful and some of which are not.

All thoughts are either klistâh, painful, or aklistâh, not painful. So there are no joyful thoughts. Joy, Ananda, is only in the self. The thoughts in themselves are not joyful. When Patanjali speaks of thoughts, it always includes the emotion. Vritti is thought plus words, images and feelings. Thoughts and emotions are two aspects of Vritti that are actually not as different as is believed in western psychology. For example, when I say or think “tree”, it is associated with certain feelings. When I say “tank” it feels completely different, and “cockchafer” gives a completely different impression. So there are actually no thoughts that are completely detached from feeling. With words and thoughts one can evoke feelings that cannot be put into words, but basically all three aspects are always present. Sometimes you don't know which comes first. One can say or think words, for example affirmations (affirmations, confirmations), this can lead to images and feelings. Or a feeling arises that creates certain images that are in turn linked to words.

A distinction is also made here between different types of people. There are people for whom words predominate, for some with images, for others, feelings are particularly important. Depending on the situation, it is easy to repeat affirmations, to think logically (words), to visualize something (pictures) or to concentrate easily on the heart or another region of the body (feeling). This is also noticeable in the linguistic usage: “I just feel that, I can't put it into words.” “Don't you see that?” “That sounds good, doesn't it?” With some people, all three parts have the same weight, right? only two of them.

All meditation, relaxation and energy management techniques work with these three components so that they affect all people. For example, there are relaxation techniques that work more through words ("I relax my feet ..."), through images (dream trips) or purely through feeling (feeling into the various parts of the body). The different meditation techniques work with words (especially mantras), pictures *, imagine Shiva, Krishna, the symbol for Om (below some particularly beautiful Om symbols) or yantras (pictures, symbols) and feel the heart or the Feel the point between the eyebrows. Most of the time, combinations are made to appeal to the mind as a whole.

All of this is meant when one speaks of Vrittis (thoughts, words, feelings). And because feelings are included, one can say that thoughts are either painful or not. If the thought does not reflect the joy of the self, it can be painful. If a thought is beautiful, sublime, joyful, then it is a mirror of our own selves.

If a dog gnaws on a bone that is not completely smooth, it injures its tongue and bleeds. Since he loves blood, he licks even more and the longer he licks, the better it tastes because he gets more and more blood. He thinks it's the bone that he likes, but in reality, his enjoyment comes from his own tongue. It is similar with us. We think we get joy from external objects, but the truth is that joy only comes from within ourselves.

Another example is the story of the woman who receives a valuable ring from her husband, which she has wanted for a long time and which she has always particularly liked. Why is the woman happy the moment she unwraps the present and sees the ring? Not because of the ring itself - otherwise she would only have to wear the ring and look at it in future to be always happy. Not even because the man thought of her ("He loves me ...!"), Because otherwise she would just have to be with him all the time. Of course, she's happy about it too, because it takes away her fears and satisfies her need for love. But that's not all. In reality, she is happy because her wish has been granted. And because a great wish is fulfilled, there are no other wishes at the moment and she comes to rest. The other vrittis largely stall so that the joy of the true self can shine through. Because there are few thoughts, the happiness of the self shines out. And the self is Sat-Chit-Ananda, being, knowledge and bliss, whereby prema (love) is always included in ananda (bliss).

You are born with a certain composition of the Vrittis, with a certain temperament, but you can work to change that. The basic temperament can already be seen in the baby. Certain things are innate and much is shaped by upbringing and experience. And not only this life, but also previous lives have shaped us. But in Raja Yoga we want to change something. You just have to know that certain changes take longer. Some things happen very quickly if something in this direction was already present in a previous life and only karma from previous lives had to be worked off. This phase can take decades. If you then get back into yoga, changes can occur very quickly and very thoroughly. Or progress is a little more deliberate, not in such big steps, depending on what you were and did in your previous life.

6. Pramâna-viparyaya-vikalpa-nidrâ-smritayah Back to the first chapter

pramâna = right knowledge; viparyaya = false knowledge; vikalpa = imagination, wrong idea, "word error"; nidrâ = sleep; smritayah = memory

The five types of thought waves are correct knowledge, misunderstanding, mistaken words, sleep, and memory.

Now he is talking about the five types of thought waves that exist, right knowing, wrong knowing, imagination or mistake of word, sleep and memory.

Word error means that the mind takes, for example, praise, blame and simple affirmations (confirmations), which in reality have no correlates at all, seriously.

Thoughts come from memory and sleep is also considered a thought wave. If it weren't for that, we would be in nirodhah asleep, in a thoughtless state of self-realization. But that wouldn't do much, because after we've slept we feel rested, but we don't know any more than we did before. By sleeping itself we do not achieve liberation, no redemption.

7. Pratyakshânumânâgamâh pramânâni Return to the first chapter

pratyaksha = direct knowledge; anumâna = inference; âgama = testimony; pramânâni = attested facts

Direct perception, inference and competent testimony are evidence of correct knowledge.

Let's look at correct knowledge first. First of all, I want to go back to the theory of mind in its four different aspects.

The mind as a whole is called the antarkarana, an inner instrument. (Karana = tool, instrument, cause; Antar = inside), in contrast to the Bahirkarana, the external instrument. This is the body. Both are not our selves, but only instruments - very valuable instruments, but just instruments; we are not the body and not the mind. You have to keep this in mind in daily life. Body and mind are my instruments to express myself, to gain experience, to let through and experience the divine energy.

The Antarkarana (the mind, the inner instrument) consists of four different parts:

1. Chitta in the narrower sense only relates to the subconscious. In a broader sense, Chitta is the whole mind, so it corresponds to the Antarkarana. In “Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodhah” = “Yoga is the calming of the thoughts in the mind”, Chitta means the entire mind complex. But in the context of the Antarkarana model, chitta only stands for the subconscious.

2. Manas is the principle of thought in itself.

3. Buddhi is very difficult to translate, most likely with common sense.

4. Ahamkara is the ego, the cause of “I am”, identification.

Our normal knowledge is shaped by these four components of the mind.

The sense organs or organs of knowledge, the jnana indriyas, act on manas through sensory perception.

You see something, vibrations come to the eyes, the pupil turns everything around, reduces it, projects it onto the retina, it is converted in the retina, then converted into electrical currents in the manas, these are projected onto the brain by the optic nerve, then other electrical currents arise in the optic nerve, which are converted into an image in the manas. To this day, modern perceptual psychology cannot explain exactly how the process by which these electrical impulses are perceived as an image takes place. Yogis would say that this no longer happens in the physical body, but in the astral body, because images take place on the astral plane.

Then Manas goes into the subconscious and asks: “What is that?” Chitta, the subconscious brings up all possible ideas that could correspond to what is seen. Then Buddhi (reason) comes into action and says, “Yes, this is this or that or it could be this” or “Not enough information.” Then the Ahamkara, the ego, comes and says, “I know that this is THE". One identifies with it and when we are affirmed in it we are delighted.

But it can also be wrong, because the senses can deceive us, as we know, for example, from optical illusions:

The right line looks longer now. But since we know that the lines are exactly the same length, our buddhi, the reason, will say in this case, that cannot be, both lines must be the same length. Another example is perspective in painting.

Our knowledge can deceive us, not only through the sensory perception but also through the interpretations we put into it. People interpret all the time. For example, if someone is thoughtful and therefore does not say hello, one immediately thinks: "He has something against me, what did I do wrong?" Etc. Or someone got angry about something and many people immediately relate it to themselves, interpret the facial expression, the tone etc. Someone is perhaps stressed and therefore not friendly enough for our terms at the moment and we immediately have the feeling that he is playing power games or so similar. That happens when you relate everything to yourself and is also related to your own self-confidence, self-esteem and your own state of mind. The ego needs confirmation. When it is very weak, it is constantly seeking external confirmation. If it doesn't find that confirmation, it feels insecure. Of course, you can now work on strengthening your self-esteem. Another option is to move on and try to connect with God or with yourself. Then we can learn to remain calm, even when things are not so nice on the outside or not going optimally. God is always the same and constant.

We must always be aware that our minds are deceiving us. Swami Vishnu liked to say: “Never trust your mind” or “Mind your mind”. Often a thought appears to be correct too quickly. One often hears from many people in the spiritual scene that one has to listen to the inner voice - which is very important indeed. But you have to be careful, because this inner voice can also deceive you. If it is pure, it is the right one. However, it can also be misinterpreted or mistaken for an emotion. It's not that easy to tell apart.

With correct knowledge we can distinguish three different forms:

The direct perception through the Jnana Indriyas, the sensory and perceptual organs, conclusions about the intellect and competent testimony; that is, we experience or learn something from someone else.

Which of these three sources do you think most of our knowledge comes from?

Most of our knowledge comes from testimonies that are still being tried to understand, but a lot of things are taken over second-hand without really being able to verify or verify it oneself. How do we know, for example, that the earth is round, how many inhabitants our place of residence or our country has, how the body works, how the heart works, etc.? We heard or read it somewhere, tried to understand it through perception and logical inference, but we did not even fly around the earth, nor did we cut open the rib cage ourselves and tried to examine the heart - and even if we did, it would be the realization probably not very useful.

Witness testimony can of course also be a source of incorrect knowledge. Likewise, our conclusion can be wrong. Intellectual conclusions can be drawn wrongly or someone can be trusted to say something untrue.

And especially on the spiritual path, especially at the beginning, we learn most of it from witnesses, i.e. from spiritual masters, their students or from books. It is not possible to find out from logical conclusion or direct perception how the asanas (yoga postures) go. For this you would have to be self-realized so that they come out of you by themselves. But normally you go to a yoga class and are told the asanas in which order they should be practiced, how long they should be held and what to watch out for - and that is first of all a testimony and observation. Then you practice yourself and that of course leads to your own experience, so that a direct perception is added. You realize: "That is good for me". And then maybe there is the conclusion: "This is good for me, so the yoga teacher must somehow be right and in order".

We get most of the knowledge on the spiritual path from great masters and sometimes from less great masters, i.e. through competent witness testimony. You have to be particularly careful who you trust. This is one of the reasons why spirituality is sometimes placed under the cult category. There are enough people who take advantage of and abuse the trust of students - think for example of the mass suicides of some communities in America or the recent poison gas attacks on the population in Japan. These people are convinced of their ideas. It is not known whether the master is convinced of this in each case. He can deliberately seduce or have a distortion of perception. And because there have always been pseudo masters, the yogis give criteria that must be checked and observed before accepting a master. And the higher the demands of the master - that is, when he says of himself that he is self-realized - the higher the bar must be set. Conversely, when a master has achieved self-realization, he is right to demand unconditional obedience from his disciples. If, on the other hand, he describes himself as a simple aspirant on the way, he can be allowed to get away with a few mistakes. In doing so, the student must always consider which of what is said is actually wisdom and which is due to imperfection and human error on the part of the teacher.

In any case, even with the great masters, one must apply the tests. With a self-realized master, one must first consider whether he is actually self-realized. You never know for sure, because it means “It takes one to know one”, so you have to be realized yourself in order to recognize whether someone else is the same. Nevertheless, there are some indications that can be used to tell whether someone is further developed or not. That is the task of buddhi (reason). You shouldn't let your heart speak too early, you have to ask a few critical questions first:

First, the teacher has to refer to ancient writings that you can read for yourself - not some obscure writings that he supposedly found somewhere in a cave and that unfortunately are not accessible to anyone. Many of the top sellers in the spiritual market recently have such backgrounds. The Five Tibetans, for example, are good, powerful exercises, but the background is mysterious and most likely not based on ancient sources. Or the “Prophecies of the Celestines,” which the author says of his own accord, are fictitious. But they are beautiful stories and some people are brought on the spiritual path or start to go a little deeper. But if someone not only writes such books, but wants to guide us directly, then he would have to be more specific. If a teacher says, "Yesterday Krishna appeared to me and said that the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads were only for the earlier age, he is now preaching the new Gospel" - then you better run away!

So, you have to check which scriptures the whole thing refers to. Because there is actually nothing new on this earth. The belief in progress, the thought that we are much smarter than our parents, that our parents are smarter than our grandparents and that our grandparents are considerably smarter than our great-grandparents, is one of the fallacies of our western civilization. Western psychology may have discovered a few more things that can explain the basics of spirituality to us, but as soon as it comes to deeper spirituality it has nothing new to offer compared to Patanjali, Buddha, the Upanishads or the early Christian masters.

The second test relates to ethical behavior. If a master tolerates someone being killed, then he should not be trusted! One should be ethical behavior, observance of Yamas (Yamas = 1. non-violence, 2. honesty, 3. non-stealing, 4. chastity, 5. non-desire) and Nyamas (Nyamas = 1. inner and outer purity, 2. Contentment, 3. Meditation, 4. Study of the scriptures, 5. Surrender to the Lord), non-violating, examining respect for human dignity and human rights.

Someone who claims, for example, that one can only live on energy and therefore instructs people not to eat or drink for weeks and not to ask anyone for advice, should not, in my opinion, be followed. I rarely speak against anyone, but I find such teachings very dangerous. There are many people who have followed this program with permanent kidney and other health problems. Of course, such a message fascinates people, especially in our eating-disturbed society, where people either overeat or try to lose weight. Half of all cover stories in magazines are about eating habits or losing weight!

Of course, there are also people who have not eaten for a long time under medical supervision, for example Theresa von Konnersreut, who only ate one host a day for two years. You can't actually live on that. There are such things, but they are not overly important in the spiritual path. A lot of people think things like that are too great. Whether you eat now or not, what does that mean for the spiritual path? It's like the siddhis, the supernatural powers. Someone who is really advanced is not going to have any real interest in them. Some things then just happen by themselves. But it is only a matter of identifying with ourselves and not with the body, that we clean our instrument, make it a tool of the divine and normally we eat. Ramakrishna was once reported by a monk who is somewhere on a glacier at home without clothes and using his body heat alone to melt the surroundings, thus procuring his water, etc. Ramakrishna said: “What a waste! If he lived further down and put his energy into meditation instead of melting glaciers, then he could already be realized! ”Anandamahi Ma is also said to have eaten nothing for half a year. She didn't lose weight either - at least that's what her biography says. That had happened more or less by accident. She just didn't care about the food, there was no one to make her meal, and so it happened that she didn't eat anything for a while. Until at some point someone noticed that she wasn't eating. Then you gave her something and she just started eating again.

The third criterion is whether the master himself practices what he preaches. Sometimes masters have different practices than the students, but they shouldn't make too many exceptions for themselves.

Fourth, he should always have a simple life. If the master lives in luxury and the students gnaw on starvation, then something is also wrong.

And finally, competent testimony is important. The teacher must clearly tell the student that he cannot do the work for him, but that he must practice himself. A teacher who says: "I'll do everything for you, you don't need to do anything" is unbelievable. There are teachers who claim: "You only need to be with me, I will awaken the Kundalini for you, everything else will happen by itself." However, one must not only judge by the first impression, but must differentiate between what is striking at first it is said. In order to be able to address people, you ultimately have to simplify; you cannot write everything down in the first piece of information. Everyone can judge for himself how the people have developed who have been with an organization or a master for a while and can consider whether that is the direction in which he would like to develop himself

Swami Sivananda humorously recommended the “SB 40” test to test a self-realized master. "SB" for "shoe beating" and "40" for 40 times. If someone says of themselves, “I am a great master”, then you should take an old shoe and hit it 40 times with it - not too strong, but noticeable! If he still smiles and says, "I am a self-realized master," then he really is. Swami Vishnu always added, when he told us this, “But I am not a self-realized master!”. But things like that happened to Swami Sivananda, like the story that someone almost murdered him with an ax in the ashram. The first thing he said was, "Vishnu Swami, moderate your anger!" So his first concern was that the one who almost killed him should not be harmed and that Swami Vishnu should control himself. And that is actually a very natural response for a self-actualized master because consciousness has already changed that way. Then you really feel your whole self everywhere and if someone tries to kill you, then you don't feel that it is further tragic. It is important that no harm is caused to the other person. And one just has to pay attention to such clues; then you can be sure of receiving competent testimony.

All of this must be observed and checked, because on the spiritual path, especially at the beginning, a lot is based on trust. The lower the claim, the more you can let go, but you still have to make sure it's authentic.

Another source of knowledge is direct perception. There are three types of direct perception:

· The sensual perception via the Jnana Indriyas, the sense organs: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling. They can lead to hallucinations or misinterpretations.

· The subconscious or instinctive intuition, i. i.e., any premonitions or feelings.

These hunches and feelings can be real, but they can also be deceptive if they are colored or filtered.

In one of our yoga teacher training courses, for example, a participant once had the feeling that her children, who were on vacation with her father, urgently needed her. As a result, she dropped out of training and went on vacation to the family. The children were totally disappointed because the mother reappeared like a mother hen while they were in the process of finally establishing a direct, uncomplicated relationship with the father!

At the subconscious level, we are not dependent on sensory perception. We can perceive thoughts, go into the past and into the future.

· There is also a higher form of intuition, namely the superconscious intuition, which really comes from the atman, the self.

It can also come from the guru or in the form of a vision from a great master who clearly tells you what to do. Perhaps one also has the vision of a manifestation of God like Jesus, Krishna or Shiva. Or you just feel: that's my job, that's how it is.

This superconscious intuition comes when buddhi (reason) and ahamkara (ego) come to rest. In contrast to a premonition, we recognize a superconscious intuition by the fact that it brings us to our own self, that it opens us to our own selves. And the self, the atman, is sat-chit-ananda, being, knowledge and bliss. Superconscious intuition is always connected 1. with a feeling of expansion, infinity and connectedness as an aspect of pure being (sat) .2. with pure knowledge (chit) that one did not have before and that is not intellectual, but intuitive, direct knowledge, and 3rd finally with bliss, love, light, also with power and energy (ananda). It may be that one or the other feeling is more pronounced, but in principle there should be something of all three; then it is all the less filtered by the subconscious. If only one aspect is strongly palpable, then it may already be filtered and not entirely clear. Then it's more of an instinctive intuition. If we have such superconscious intuition, we should follow it. We just have to be careful how we interpret them. Even if we know what to do, it is still far from clear how. And it doesn't mean that this intuition then does everything for us. In order to implement them, one then has to use one's wits and skills.

For example, when I had just left the Sivananda Yoga Centers about nine years ago and stayed at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, I wasn't sure what to do with the rest of my life. I then had a vision from Swami Sivananda, in which he clearly told me that I should return to Germany, open a yoga center in Frankfurt, in five years there will be an ashram and then some other things would develop. I had been in America for years and actually didn't want to go back to Germany. But after this vision I had no choice. If Swami Sivananda tells me that, then of course I will. Well, the vision was clear. But when I came to Frankfurt, it was by no means the case that everything would have gone by itself. You had to get in touch with realtors, look at various properties, conclude rental contracts, after six months all financial reserves were exhausted. But step by step it went on and about five years later the ashram was actually built here. But that didn't come by itself either. Instead, this intuition came back, now it's time to take care of an ashram. Then the intellect has to work again and get everything in motion. It is not enough just to have such a perception, it must be followed by action. But you can let go, pray and then get guidance in the practical implementation.

Temple, who made the old myths socially acceptable again in America with his own, very popular TV show, says: "Follow your bliss", that is, follow what triggers a feeling of joy and bliss in you.

As we progress along the path, at some point that higher intuition will become the main focus of how we make decisions. Swami Vishnu had many such inspirations and acted accordingly. Sometimes there were also failures. So even with someone like him, that's not always entirely certain. Whereby you can't say whether he was really wrong or whether it should only lead him to a certain experience and so do all of us. But he also had no difficulty in letting go immediately when he noticed that something was wrong. And then the next story came soon! But just because he followed intuition and trusted it, he got more and more access to the divine.

The direct perception thus includes the sensory perception, the instinctive (subconscious) and the superconscious intuition. Later, in the 3rd chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says, only the direct perception from intuition without the detour via the senses is the actual, correct direct perception. Every sensory perception is actually erroneous understanding, harbors sources of error. We cannot perceive the truth through our senses, not even through thinking. Even when Masters tell us about it, we still don't understand. It takes direct perception, pratyaksha, and one's own, immediate experience of the truth. Perception in the superconscious state, in Sarvikalpa Samadhi, with the switching off of the senses and thoughts, allows us to perceive reality directly.

In Manas (principle of thought) the simple thoughts are reflected. Intuition comes when Ahamkara (egoism) and Buddhi (reason) are permeable. So one goal must be to thin out our ego. And our intellect also has to rest, because basically it stands in our way - like the chitta (subconscious) - if we want to come to Atman, our self. Only then can true intuition or direct perception of reality arise.

But buddhi (reason) also has important functions.

As low buddhi, the practical intellect helps us cope with our everyday tasks. If we want to hang up a picture, for example, we have to think about the best way to do it: What kind of material is the wall made of, can I simply drive a nail in or do I need a drill or special nails, who can I ask where I can get it I have the necessary tools and aids, etc. So you use logical thinking to achieve something. Most people only use their intellect for this. When they want something, the intellect is set in motion to get it.

But the higher intellect is another, namely Viveka, the power of distinction. It is very important on the spiritual path. Viveka exists on different levels: on the one hand, the fundamental power of differentiation between the real and the unreal, the eternal and the ephemeral, between what makes us happy and what brings us suffering. What is really important in view of the fact that we will eventually leave this physical body? What makes me really happy Some people chase happiness all their lives without thinking. A yogi thinks first and then goes on a search. To do this, we use the discerning power of buddhi (reason). It is also there to check the other sources of perception. And, as mentioned earlier, we use discernment before we confide in a Master.

When we have finally found a Master who is perfect, we must consider everything he says and learn to distinguish what it actually means. Sometimes one interprets too much into a statement or an action. Swami Vishnu loved to tell the story where a master went to bathe by the river. To protect his clothes from the many monkeys that were there, he made a sand mound over it. Shortly afterwards, his students also came to the river. They did not see Master burying his clothes. They only saw the sand hill and considered this to be a special ritual act. So they all went and built sand hills. When the master came out of the river after his bath, it took quite a while until he had found the right hill with his clothes again….

If the Master is not quite so perfect, we must use our discernment to judge what of what he is doing and teaching is actually a manifestation of wisdom and what are simply human inadequacies that he still has.

Even with a higher experience, an intuition, inspiration or vision, we have to think again with our power of distinction, is it actually an intuition or just an emotion, what does it mean and how do I best implement it in the right sense.

So the intellect always plays a big role. But it can also lead us astray.

For example in the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna explains to Krishna exactly why he should not fight and why he does not want to fight. At the same time he is still not sure and says to Krishna: “Oh Krishna, please, I do not know what is right and what is my duty. Accept me who I give myself to you. Accept me as a student, I will take refuge in you. ”But after asking to be taught and guided, paradoxically, he says:“ I do not want to fight ”. The disciple goes to the master: "Please tell me what to do, but I would rather do that ..." - And Krishna smiles brutally. Masters often do that. You come to them in desperation and they just smile and tell you something, but rarely do they give an unequivocal answer.

I can still remember a great, perhaps the first great spiritual crisis that I had. I started meditating very early, at the age of 16. At 17 I discovered yoga and then practiced a lot, did the four-week intensive yoga teacher training and then moved to the Sivananda Yoga Center in Munich. There I meditated every morning, I usually got up at four or earlier and had already done pranayama for two hours before meditation, after meditation again asanas and pranayama, studied during the day and did karma yoga in the center, i. That is, helped with work in the center, and meditated again in the evening. I was fine too, but at some point the others in the center told me I should relax a little. I also never went out to eat ice cream and pizza with the others - the big vice in the Sivananda centers. At some point I also began to think: I am doing so much, but self-realization is a long time coming and I neither feel the Kundalini nor do I have deep meditation experiences while others often talked about their wonderful experiences. Most importantly, I also lacked the ability to focus my mind. That was a really big problem for me. Finally, I slowly began to doubt whether the head of the center was really guiding me correctly and whether that was the right way at all, whether I shouldn't go somewhere else, whether I had chosen the wrong master or the wrong direction. The year before I had been to another master - that was actually quite nice. Durgananda, the head of the center, knew about my doubts and said that I had to ask Swami Vishnu. Well, at some point Swami Vishnu came to Munich. He lived in the hotel because the center was full, because when he came there were a lot of other people who wanted to see him and stay in the center, so there was no more room for him. It was always the case that everyone went to him in the hotel room and sat around him. Satsang (being together with wise men, with like-minded people on the spiritual path) was held, meditated and sung together and then he began to talk to the participants. Then Durgananda said to me: “So, now you ask him!” I was quite shy at the time, my English wasn't that overwhelming either and I hardly dared to talk to Swami Vishnu - well, yes, at least then I gave him mine Problems described in brief. At first he laughed and said to the others: “Here is a boy who cannot find inner peace. What do boys his age usually do when they can't find peace? They go to the disco, smoke, get drunk or take drugs (all things I've never done in my life!), But he looks for the solution in yoga. “At first I was slightly irritated and laughed at myself and felt not taken seriously . But then he said to me: “What you are doing is right. Your sadhana (spiritual practice) is ok. You just have to be patient ”. Then he told the story of the mango tree that takes many years to bear fruit and that cannot be forced to grow faster. But I should continue all practices as before. Maybe I could take a morning walk once a week instead of meditating. The next morning, of course, I went out straight away. It was pouring rain, but this walk, where I walked meditatively past the Munich Pinakothek, etc. for an hour, stuck in my memory as a wonderful experience!

When students ask you for advice - and if you teach longer, you are asked for advice more often - that is also the art of showing compassion, but still trying to see the whole thing from a higher point of view, around you to be able to give superior advice. The other is not served if one is sad and dejected from sheer compassion.

And so Krishna says to Arjuna in the 11th verse of the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita: “You speak wise words, O Arjuna, but you complain not to be deplored. The wise do not complain for life or death of beings, because in truth there were neither you, nor me, nor these princes ever, nor will we ever be in what follows. ”He brings Arjuna out of his frog's perspective, in which he only sees the narrow walls of the frog well. Of course, he doesn't just tell him: It doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter, but afterwards he explains to him for 16 chapters which principles and how he can act, without attachment and without ego. And at the very end he says: It really doesn't matter what you do. Just sacrifice everything to God:

Sarva Dharman Parityajya
Mam Ekam Sharanam Vraja
Aham Tva Sarvapapebhyo
Mokshayishyami Ma Succha

“Give up all ideas of duties, of right and wrong.
Take refuge in me alone.
I will free you from all your sins (dad), mistakes and guilt.
Do not worry, I will lead you to liberation (Moksha). "

Actually, that's an anarchist statement: You can do what you want, it doesn't matter. Just sacrifice everything to God. God will deliver you from everything. Therefore Krishna immediately makes the restriction: "Do not pass this on to anyone who is not interested in coming to God, do not tell anyone who does not strive to reach perfection and do not tell anyone who does not control himself." This only applies to people who strive for perfection, self-control and devotion to God. These three criteria must be met, then at some point we can let go, leave the decision to God and give our intellect a break.

We have to be careful with all three ways of acquiring knowledge. Our minds lead us astray. Our logical thinking can also lead us astray.

Many people use their logical thinking not to actually come to conclusions, but to justify their emotionally conditioned attitudes and attitudes. A typical example are hypnotic experiments. Someone carries out an action that was suggested to them under hypnosis and then, in retrospect, finds a logical, rational explanation for why they are doing it. Our minds are often not really rational. We rarely use our reasoning to really find out the truth about things, but rather to make something seem somehow rational that is actually not rational.

Since we have now learned a lot about correct knowledge, we of course also know the opposite, namely what incorrect knowledge is.

8. Viparyayo mithyâ – jñânam atad – rûpa – pratishtham Back to the first chapter

viparya = erroneous impression; mithyâ = false, deceptive; jñânam = knowledge, understanding; atad = not of his own; rûpa = real form; pratishtham = possessing, based

Understanding is a misconception of an idea or an object, the real nature of which does not fit that conception.

9.Shabda – jñânânupâtî – vastu – shûnyo – vikalpahBack to chapter one

Shâbda = word; jñâna = knowledge; anupâtî = following; vastu – shûnyah = without substance, without reference to reality; vikalpah = imagination

Literal deception is caused by identification with words that actually have no basis.

Vikalpah, literal deception or word error, as it is mostly translated, is the third form of thought waves alongside correct and erroneous understanding. It's actually hard to translate. Vikalpah is something that is very special to man, because only man has words and is very strongly influenced by words.

Vikalpah refers to affirmations (affirmation, confirmation), suggestions, as well as praise and blame. For example, if someone says to you, “You donkey!” Then in reality there is no correlation. Because of this, you have neither longer ears nor gray fur. You could stand above it now and just think, whoever is saying this, in turn, has an erroneous understanding. But it still affects you somehow. Or if someone says to you: "That was not done correctly", then on our part we not only react with the neutral statement: "Aha, he said that was not done correctly" - because his statement can reflect either correct or erroneous knowledge . For us it is something else at the same time, namely praise or blame. You get angry about it or feel questioned, reprimanded - not necessarily in every situation, but it does happen to you every now and then. This is Vikalpah. We identify with the words. We not only take the words as such and check the truthfulness, but we identify ourselves with the statement, we relate the words to ourselves, because the ego has the desire for confirmation.

Of course, it also depends on who is saying something. For example, when I used to teach yoga, another yoga teacher once said that the way I give the lesson is not entirely correct. That didn't bother me much. I felt like I had more experience, the right teacher training and he wasn't studying from an Indian master. But when the director of the yoga center said: "You didn't teach that properly, it can't be done that way." Then it was like a stab in the heart for me. And when Swami Vishnu criticized me once, it was like a stab in the heart and the knife turned around again.

One has to become independent not only from criticism, but also from praise.

Do you know the forklift principle? Picking up a person to get him where you want him to be. If you want to motivate someone to do something, the best way to do it is to praise them multiple times. You can use that as a positive confirmation, but you shouldn't use it for manipulation.

I saw this once at the Sivananda Yoga Center in America. In America, credit cards play a major role in cashless payments, as is the case here, for example, with direct debit authorization. In order to be able to accept credit cards as a means of payment, you need the approval of your bank, because ultimately they are liable if, for example, a company goes bankrupt but has previously withdrawn a few thousand dollars too much from credit cards. I went to our bank to apply for this permit. The bank refused. I negotiated with them, they checked again and again refused. I related the matter to a yoga teacher at the center who was a lawyer by profession. He said, “I'll show you how to do this.” First, he gathered information and learned that the bank had got a new director. Then he called the bank and smeared honey around the boss's mouth by telling him that he had heard that he was now the new director of the bank, that people were so positive about him, that everything was so much better than before, the predecessor wasn't so good, everyone was looking forward to him, and so on I almost sunk into the ground with shame. Then he mentioned quite casually that a little mistake had recently happened with the approval of the credit cards for the yoga center - but that was almost on the edge. Two days later we had confirmation that we would be able to accept credit cards in the future. So instead of giving in to the natural response, i. H. to scold, threaten, change banks, etc., you can easily achieve what you want through praise. Still, I told the lawyer: It's good to praise others, but as a yogi one should stick to the truth anyway.

If you want to do something good for others, you can definitely use this method. It is surely better to praise someone and try to get them in a better direction that way than yelling at them or trying to get their way through power struggles. But we shouldn't manipulate others and we should also be careful ourselves that nobody manipulates us.

Now there are two possibilities: We can build up our self-esteem, then we need less praise and become more independent from criticism. Or we can try to feel more and more like an instrument of God, then we no longer need self-confirmation from outside. We surrender ourselves to God and feel that it is not I who act, but that God acts through me. That makes you more independent and in my opinion is the easier way. That is an aspect of Vikalpah, mistake of word or imagination.

The second aspect of Vikalpah is that we are not only influenced very much by words in the simple dimension of praise and blame, but more generally by everything that people say. Advertising also takes advantage of this phenomenon. Advertising is not logical, but suggestive; for example “The Taste of Freedom and Adventure” in a cigarette advertisement - what madness! Somebody becomes a slave to a glowing stick, pollutes the environment and his own air, ruins his lungs, makes himself incapable of athletic performance and the whole thing should be freedom and adventure! Nevertheless, people associate this cigarette with freedom and adventure. The cigarette is actually a puberty ritual. After the age of 20, almost nobody is addicted anymore, but before. Children want to grow up and their symbol is the cigarette. The trouble is, they get addicted and can't get away from it. And then you turn 60 and you're still stuck with your puberty ritual - that's certainly an aspect of smoking.

So what other people say influences us. Not just because it's logical, but because words have an effect.

I experienced the profound effect of words during a key experience with Swami Vishnu, which I regard as my actual initiation. I also have a mantra initiation, a brahmacharya and a swami initiation - for a few years I was also a swami with monk vows and everything that goes with it; later, at my request, Swami Vishnu released me from it - but I felt that this experience was my actual initiation. It was the second time that I had translated a longer yoga teacher training course and taught the Asana teaching techniques and the Bhagavad Gita for the German group. At the end of the course, it was common for the teacher to assign a language group - usually four or five, one English, French, German, Italian, etc. - went with his group to Swami Vishnu, who then said some uplifting, inspiring words when he said goodbye. Somehow I felt quite drained at the end of the course and didn't feel like going to Swami Vishnu with the group. I wanted to see him alone. So I asked if I could come - he had a little hut there - and his assistant said: "Yes, you can come down, he's lying in his hammock right now". I thought: “Oh, what do I do now when he is lying in his hammock ?!” In any case, I then slowly went downstairs, my heart was beating more and more violently, because up until then I had actually only exchanged few personal words with Swami Vishnu, although I've known him for a couple of years. Of course I asked him about pranayama practices and the like from time to time, but now I really had no question, I just wanted to see him again at the end before I left for Vienna to take over the center there. Swami Vishnu saw or heard me coming, sat down on his hammock and asked me what I was doing now. I told him that I was going to Vienna and he replied that it was good, but now I should sit down there by the waterfall first. There was a statue of Swami Sivananda and a Shiva with a waterfall flowing out of his head - Swami Vishnu had a great weakness for landscape architecture and beauty, so there was this facility with the statues and the waterfall. So that's where I should sit to seek the blessings of the Masters. In doing so, I had one of my deepest spiritual experiences. I don't know how long I sat there, but based on the number of insect bites it must have been quite a long time. Finally I came out of meditation and bowed again to Swami Vishnu. He put his hand on my forehead, recited the Om Tryambakam (healing and protection mantra) and said: “And when you come to Vienna teach a lot of classes, make a lot of money and turn Vienna topsyturvy” (“If you after Come to Vienna, give many yoga classes, make sure that money comes in - because the center was hopelessly in debt and was actually on the verge of bankruptcy - and turn Vienna upside down! ”).

These words have inspired and changed me profoundly. Before, I was actually a shy person and rarely dared to open my mouth. Words from great masters naturally have a particularly strong effect, but words from other people also have an effect, and so do our own words. Western psychology speaks of the so-called internal dialogue in this context. How do I talk to myself? Some people often and constantly speak to themselves destructively: “You donkey, what have you been doing again? You're no good at all! You never get anything done! ”That influences you. You have to pay attention to how you speak to yourself, how others speak to you, and how you speak to others yourself. What suggestions do I give to the others? Words have power.

There is a simple technique that Patanjali explains in the second chapter: If we find that we are speaking to ourselves words that are not positive, we have to program ourselves to the contrary. So if you think, for example: “I will never do that”, the counter-suggestion must come immediately: “By the grace of God I can do it!” Or “That is too much!” Or “If God gives me tasks, he will also give me the strength to fulfill them. ”The counter-suggestions do not have to sound as arrogant as:“ I can do anything! ”Of course, the same principle also applies when others have a negative influence on us. It has a devastating effect if you set out to do something and someone says: “You can never do it.” Such a negative suggestion should never be left without counter-suggestion, otherwise it will work in a subconscious way. That doesn't mean that we have to show off immediately and say to the other: "I'll show you, I'll be fine!" - that would at most be proof of a healthy ego. The reaction of an unhealthy ego would be: "Well, maybe he is right, I better not even try". Many people are so artificially held down - in the business and social environment, often even by their partner.

Vikalpah (word error) means that we identify with the words, even if they have no basis in reality. We need to pay attention to our thoughts, the words we speak to ourselves and the words others speak to us. In addition to counter-suggestions to negative statements, we can of course also speak affirmations (affirmation, confirmation). While it's not that affirmations can necessarily do anything, they do have some effectiveness that we can take advantage of.

10. Abhâva-pratyayâlambanâ vrittir nidrâ Back to the first chapter

abhâva = absence; pratyayâ = content of the psyche; âlambanâ = support, basis; vritti = thought wave, modification; nidrâ = sleep

The manifestation (vritti) of the mind, which includes the absence of any content in the mind, is called sleep.

Sleep is also a vritti, a state of thought in which there is no other thought in the mind. But it is a Vritti, a wave of thoughts - otherwise we would be self-realized in our sleep!

11. Anubhûta – visayâsampramoshah smritih Back to the first chapter

anubhûta = experienced; vishayâ = object; asampramoshah = "not-theft", do not let go; smritih = memory

Memory is holding onto past experiences.

All past experiences come up in the mind; therefore memory is also a vritti, one of the five main forms of thought.

12. Abhyâsa-vairâgyâbhyâm tan-nirodhah Back to the first chapter

abhyâsa = persistent practice; vairâgyâbhyâm = non-attachment, desirelessness; tan – nirodhah = putting off, suppressing (the Chitta – Vrittis)

The control of the Chitta Vrittis, i.e. the thoughts in the mind, is achieved through practice (abhyāsa) and
Induced arrestlessness (vairâgyâ).