Regardless of what you see when you peer into it, however, if the mirror of your mind is distorted, you are not seeing clearly or correctly and whatever you perceive is simply an illusion that does not accurately reflect the true form or nature of what you are attempting to observe.
Sutra (Thread) or Lesson 3: Tada Drastuh Svarupe’vasthanam
Tada: then | Drastuh: the Seer | Sva: own | rupe: in (itself) color/nature | Avasthanam (Vasthanam): abides
Yoga’s aim is to help humans clear up the delusions and distortions that keep them from seeing, knowing, understanding, and expressing their true self in the world. The practice is designed to reveal the true expression that exists underneath all of the distortions that have been accumulated throughout life and history.
Delusions, illusions, distortions, or impurities of the mind and consciousness (vritti) make it so that the lens through which we peer out into the world and at ourselves (and therefore interact with, and create within, our Reality), is shrouded in falsehoods.
Lesson 3 of our Yoga Sutras does not simply remind us that we cannot see our true face/self if the mirror of our mind is distorted; it goes a bit further in this to also help us to recognize that if we can manage to do the work that is required to correct this distortion within ourselves, we can even drop the mirror all together, and simply shine our true face out into the world as we live as the fully enlightened beings that we really are.
“When the mind ceases to create thought forms or when the citta (mind-field) is completely free from vrttis (distortions), it becomes as clear as a still lake and you see your true Self.”–The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Since homo sapiens have been around for hundreds of thousands of years (about 300,000 to be a bit more precise), when Patanjali observed these aspects of our nature about 6,000 years ago (observations that were passed down to him from a long tradition of observation and practice that came before), he was probably seeing many of the things that we see today being played out in our species when we look out into the world. In fact, I can confidently say, that since our species has not evolved very much in all of this time, and all one has to do in order to verify this information is to look at the fossil records, history, and the state of our societies and cultures that are being enacted in the year 2020, Yoga is not simply an ancient science that was useful for practice by those in the past, but is a relevant science of the mind and body that stands the test of human existence, and could use a bit more paying attention to if we, as a species, wish to create something better moving forward.
Our societies are inhabited by billions of people who are born and die each day without ever becoming full human beings who express their true face/nature in the world. While these people are alive and far long after they have died, their Karma permeates out into their relationships, families, communities, and countries creating havoc as well as interesting things as time passes and the cycle of life continues.
Our planet houses everything from sages, “righteous” individuals, talented to mediocre people, to psychopaths and narcissists, all of whose delusions, or lack of delusions, color their individual and our collective experience and shapes the fate of our species.
Yoga reminds us to take a step back from, or to take a step toward, these different expressions in order to recognize who and what we truly are and to express this fully in the world.
Yoga asks that instead of being obsessed with ourselves and having a distorted and over-inflated delusion about the importance of our illusory self projections, that we let all of these things go and step into our nature as conscious manifestations of the divine spark of life. For those afflicted with narcissism, which is one of the most common and ultimate distortions of an overinflated ego, it asks that that we cease the activity of gathering people as objects/means to an end in our performance of shallow fleeting identities, and makes a call to action for us all to (even if we are blind to the specialness, importance, and value of all life that is here in existence) learn to spot these afflictions within ourselves and work to reduce or eliminate them even if simply for the sake of our own souls.
It asks that we do not overidentify with the falsehoods…that we do not overidentify with our physical expressions outside of the need to remain an optimally functioning healthy unit so that we will remains alive and vibrant for as long as possible. It urges us to reject the numerous false selves that we make up in our heads individually and together in groups, and it asks that we instead see the truth of our vessels as the beautiful containers of our life that they are, as we process our experiences and change over time until we eventually becomes obsolete and die with age.
But the illusions of the mind can be strong for many, as we are born into families where the influences of the identifies and contexts of our existence are strong and we give “meaning” to relationships and actions based on distorted projections passed on in our cultures and from our DNA by those who existed before us…For generations upon generations humans tend to play out their delusions and dramas so convincingly that most of never see, know, or come into, their true selves in the one lifetime that we have the ability to do so.
Instead of stepping into our true nature, millions of humans each day over-identify with their thoughts, their neuroses of identity in the form of trying to obtain a sense of importance or worth through their jobs, social statuses, “lovers,” their “race” (even though as far as biology is concerned homo sapiens is all that we are), culture, income, clothing, family names, the region that they happen to be born in, and so on and so forth, and most humans hold on to these identities so strongly that many are even willing to kill others, stifle to rights of others, disrespect the lives of other living beings and themselves, and desecrate their true nature in order to participate in their illusions/delusions.
Everyday, if we look out into the word, we can watch the terrifying display as our species, smiling and laughing, drunkenly parades its many costumes around in front of others, comparing and poking and falling apart when illusions are shattered…Even though beyond these costumes, illusions, delusions, and numerous performances of the distorted mind, the third Sutra in our lesson teaches us, there is the ever-present truth of who we are, unchanging and infinitely more beautiful in its expression of our nature as manifestations that emerged from the explosion of potential that created all that exists and will exist in time.
Yoga aims to get us close to this truth through a process of purification; purification of the mind, body, and spirit so that we can truly see ourselves and others in our true form, work diligently to express more of this truth in our day to day actions, and then expand our compassion out to those who are lost (in the form of laughter, or tears, or service, and everything in between).
Why Does It Matter If People Are Lost In The Delusion?
Well, these expressions have an impact in the world and create misery that is unnecessary and unfair to all of life.
As we learned in Sutra 2, all projections of the mind are manifested into the world and sometimes people who have similar distortions go out of their way to extend their misery to others through their karma (or actions). They find it appropriate, based on their delusions, to identify others to project into their experiences as their enemies instead of looking within to see that they are delusional…Throughout history these delusions individuals have worked to find others with similar delusions to rally together and participate in atrocious acts that we can all agree only further extends the cycle of suffering in the world.
Homo sapiens acting upon mere illusion, look out into the world, and at each other, and falsely think that they can decide what is beautiful, valuable, meaningful, worthy, good, bad, and so forth, when nature has made all things perfect for survival and the perpetuation of life, they look out into the all of existence that is grander and far more superior than anything that they could create individually or collectively and make judgments that are disrespectful and degrading about everything from others skins colors, to hair textures, to facial features, and body composition, to completing disregarding the value of even the basic things that are required for life to be sustained on this planet like plants that produce oxygen, clean water, and clean air, and feel entitled to act as if they, and their delusions are superior to other living beings and all of life…those who are lost in their own miserable projections create things like the idea of white supremacy to justify their evil actions, create systems of overconsumption that destroy our planet and murder billions of living things each day, and our societies, and our literal planet, are then shaped in ways that sustain misery and death instead of creating a better way forward when this is not necessary.
It matters because life itself, which is the most invaluable gift that ever existed, is being disrespected and desiccated by ignorance and bad behavior that is not even founded in reality.
So, How Do We Move Forward When The World Is So Disconnected And Simultaneously Interconnected In This Ongoing Creation of Misery Caused By Overidentification With Illusions?
I do not know all the answers, but I know that some people, and Yogis, have done some research and created an outline for a customizable path forward, and that all that is required to create something better as a species is to take action towards making positive change starting from within.
Always remember that while you, at your core, are always an invaluable being, beautiful and perfect as nature created and shaped you in everyway, you can get muddied up and dragged into the chaos if you happen to fall into (or be born into) the mud, which we all are.
But, in the same way that your body is not fully representative of who you are, neither is your distorted mind. You do not have to participate in the established and oppressive midfields that keep most in our species comically stuck in the sad parade of illusions that many participate in.
Remember that, like your body, which can always be cleansed and purified so that you can express a fresh and clean form, your mind can also be cleansed. If you accumulate bacteria on your body that causes bad odors, all you have to do is wash it off with soap and water, it does not make you permanently putrid to have accumulated bacteria temporarily, the bacteria that is releasing chemical waste that then smells badly during the process of feeding off your your bodily secretions, once washed off, is no longer hosted by your body and will no longer create bad smells around you. Even if you become infected with a disease that overtakes your body, like many become infected with the mental disease of racism, blind hatred, vanity, or just plain stupidity (having a dull, underdeveloped mind), there is still hope since you are in control of your body (and mind) and with the right “medicines” can heal yourself of the issue or even become immune to recurring problems.
The Eightfold path is similar to this process of purifying and cleansing your body of contamination or disease, it starts with simply working on being a better person which is the very basics of removing yourself from contamination of bad thinking and bad karma. From there, you can work on washing off the debris that are hiding in the creases and crevices of your being with your Asanas and Pranayamas and by applying the purifying soap of mediation before you then move closer to putting on your rightful clean garments that are not only muck-proof, but fragrant smelling, as you get deeper into your practice and move closer to your true self-expression.
Once you are fully clothed in your rightful contamination-free garments without any potential for further contamination, since you will have removed yourself from the mud and gained immunity from it, then your life will be simply about living as your true self and you will go about the business of creating something beautiful the world.
The problem that makes this simple truth so difficult to implement and understand, is that most people identify with their illnesses and “infections” or feel that they cannot rid themselves of the stench of their diseased minds or bad karma once they have spend years solidifying these expressions as a part of their “identity,” which explains why so many are afraid of change. But, ultimately only you can decide whether you will ever be free. The path of purification is always open for you to step upon if you choose to do so.
Our Practice For The Week:
This week, I invite you to think about what mud and muck and bacteria needs to be removed from your mind in order for you to see your healthy radiant self reflected in your life and in the world.
Is it a false ideology, an overidentification with an illusory identify, a false story of some kind that is keeping you from progressing?
Look deeply into the mirror of your mind, see what is reflected there and ask yourself if it is really all that you are? If not, then what can you do to move closer to your true nature?