Meditation is essentially the process of being non-functional, meaning — resting the mind, intellect and ego, to allow higher wisdom to take over. Quieting of the mind through meditation allows shedding of the ‘vrittis’ or the biases of the mind that causes one to suffer or endure ‘dukh’ (pain).
Biases of the mind
Revered sage Patanjali talks about vrittis in his ancient text Yogasutras, that offers guiding principles to live a balanced life.
The verse/sutra I.2 states: “Yogasch Chitt Vritti Nirodah”, meaning the practice of yoga enables, removal or cessation of vrittis (i.e. the skewed thought patterns, conditioning, prejudices) which get attached to chitt (mind, intellect and ego), causing one to undergo pain.
The cessation (nirodh) of the vrittis allow us to see our authentic self (swarupa), which is free from the impurities of the worldly conditioning, judgements or pre-conceptions. A free mind, thus, can be likened to a still pond where one can see one’s own pure self clearly, whereas vrittis are like ripples, which present our distorted self to us.
These vrittis are afflictions, the rigid belief systems, the non-serving structures that obscures our expansiveness. Such non-serving beliefs are entrenched in our psyche, acquired from this lifetime or carried from past lives.
For instance, beliefs led by family traditions or culture or in established notions of right and wrong, superior and inferior, in self or running across societies, nations or geographical boundaries.
Vrittis are impurities that cling to the consciousness, and are the source of ‘kleshas’ i.e. stress, tension and hindrances to soul’s growth, unless removed through inner wisdom.
These nurtured notions could be, for example, thoughts, ideas or perceptions, claiming superiority, or boosting false ego towards, let’s say, a gender, community or a race or in taking actions driven by lower energies of greed, lust, pride, jealousy, anger, hatred etc. Vrittis, i.e., the biases of the mind are open doors for pain and distress.
Secondary knowledge is distressing
That said, the verse I.6 of Yogasutra states that even ‘right knowledge’ or ‘pramana’ that is, proven knowledge, is a source of vritti; wave distorting the stillness of the mind.
One can wonder how right knowledge or proof such as those mentioned in the scriptures, sacred texts, or reiterations of gurus, parents or older generations can be a source of affliction or sorrow?
That is because pramana, at best, is second hand knowledge, surrogate information, despite coming from authoritative sources.
For example, the tested and proven knowledge that “good deeds bring good results” or “the divine force exists everywhere” or “do your duty without worrying about the outcome”.
Yogasutra states that such proven knowledge is (still) dualistic in nature, external to one’s experience, non-personal and therefore, a cause of affliction. This is because an individual may not find resonance with the stated ‘facts’, having no direct experience with such ‘handed-over’ wisdom.
Acquired vs experienced facts
These laid down facts may not become one’s truth unless experienced by own self. Yogsutras, therefore, encourage one to go for the direct experience — through self-inquiry, by meditating, contemplating, experimenting with them- instead of blindly believing, no matter how time-honoured they are.
So, whether a proof presents itself through direct sensory perceptions, or is acquired by inference, or is stated by competent authorities, sage Patanjali prescribes using inner wisdom to test them over, in meditation, till inner resonance is felt, experienced.
The whole idea of invoking inner wisdom, or ‘prajna’ (inner light) is to understand life through one’s own lens, not others. In such manner of self-inquiry, vrittis or duality cedes, self-realisation is attained and life finds its balance and rhythm.
Disclaimer: Urmila Rao is a healer and a forgiveness teacher. All the ideas expressed herein are her own and not professional advice or medical prescription. She can be reached at: email@example.com