To understand yourself you need to understand the mind.
Despite thousands of researches trying to come up with new ways of understanding how the mind works we are mostly in the dark. The human mind is still for the most part a mystery. The yogic system of understanding the mind, the brain and it’s functionalities is probably the most realistic and detailed. However when we speak of the mind we do not speak of the thinking mind, we speak of the mid that is consciousness, memory and intelligence.
Consciousness is the power of your soul manifested trough your mind.
The yogic system is based on observing experiences rather than doing experiments. Yoga is a system for self realization, to understand yourself you observe yourself. The definition of yoga, “Yoga chitta vritti nirodah” means that the goal of yoga is the restraint of the modification of the mind-stuff. A clear mind can reflect projections without distortions. (Chitta, consciousness, is the surface that reflects whatever projected on it.) To understand the sutra we want to understand how the mind works. Patanjali gives a clear explanation on the mind and its functionality.
The mind is classified into 4 different categories:
Manas – the senses
Chitta – the consciousness
Buddhi – the intellect
Ahamkara – the ego
The Manas, Buddhi and Ahamkara are tools of Chitta.
Chitta is the background awareness, the consciousness, the space that holds all perceived things or the Spirit. The consciousness is everywhere you direct your focus. Imagine Chitta as a calm peaceful lake where the thoughts makes the ripples on the surface. Our focus and attention tends to follow the ripples (vrittis), Constantly moving here and there all the time. Yoga teaches us how to connect with the background stillness of Chitta so we do not have to move back and forth. This is called drastuh, when you are witnessing your ripples or though patterns. Nirodha is when your mind is calm. Its a deep stillness when the mind is fully under control.
Manas is the recording faculty that receives information from the outside world by the 5 senses before it is presented to the Chitta, the consciousness. Manas is the seat of all thoughts but is is much more vast than the brain. The actual physical location is in the heart and we call it intuition, the ability to connect to others. Many of us are caught up in our other senses and have poor emotional connection or emotional intelligence.
Buddhi is the intelligence that is governing all. It is our ability to discriminate, to tell the right from wrong and good from bad. It keeps us safe and allows us to grow. In yogic understanding the intelligence is an inherent part of us that can only be clouded by our thoughts. The clearer the mind, surface, Chitta, the more intelligence. This belief is contrary to the western belief where intelligence is accumulation of knowledge.
Ahamkara is the ego or one’s image of oneself. The sense of “I” acts as a Chiitas container accumulating experiences from our lives. We need the ego to give direction to the intelligence but when we identify with our ego as our true, authentic self there is a problem. Attachment to the ego is one of the 5 kleshas or causes for suffering. Read more here about the 5 kleshas.
In what way is the yogic explanation of how the mind work different from a western paerspective?
What is the sixth sense according to yogic philosophy?