Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.5

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1.5 The movements of the consciousness are fivefold. They may be cognizable or non-cognizable, painful or non-painful.

[from BKS Iyengar]

Other interpretations:

Those gross and subtle thought patterns  fall into five varieties, of which some are colored and others are uncolored 

The vibrations in the mento-emotional energy are five-fold being agonizing or none-troublesome.

By ‘movements of the consciousness’ or ‘vibrations in the mento-emotional energy’, it means our experiences, thoughts and memories. This sutra is saying that there are five ways in which our mind can be disturbed by such things (an explanation of the five ways follows in 1.6).

This website gives some alternative interpretations for the coloured / uncoloured dichotomy:

  • klishta — aklishta
  • painful — not painful 
  • not useful — useful 
  • afflicted — not afflicted
  • impure — pure
  • troubled — not troubled
  • negative — positive
  • vice — virtue
  • away from enlightenment — towards enlightenment
  • resulting in bondage — resulting in freedom

The practice of yoga can help to eradicate these pains or troubles. In our daily lives we can be aware of things which cloud our minds, through practicing mindfulness, as a way to get back to seeing things as they really are without judgement or interpretation. There is a good article here on Zen Buddhism and its fascination with the mundane activities of everyday life. In the West, we are very much preoccupied with the extraordinary things which might happen. But Zen values the mundane, everyday activities, such as washing the dishes. To be truly mindful, when you wash the dishes, wash the dishes – with no detachment or thinking of what you are having for dinner, that argument with your partner or how much washing you have to get done. Just wash the dishes, feel the temperature of the water on your hands, the squidginess of the sponge, the hardness of the plate, etc. If thoughts about other things come into your mind, just notice them, and let them pass. Don’t force them away, but gently guide your mind back to the task in hand. This is a good way to be more present and to be aware of the distractions in our minds moment-to-moment.

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