If I told you that your suffering will never end, and you will remain stuck without progressing on your inner path, until you drop your thoughts, ideologies, and concepts, would you still hold on to them as if they were precious gems?
If you say no, how confident are you that you can actually let go?
Most people hold on to their thoughts simply out of fear of the unknown. They do not know any other way to be “themselves” other than through the mental and physical constructs that bind them to suffering via attachment to form in the world.
And it is this attachment to, and familiarity with, things that they have grown used to that serves as the primary reason that many well-meaning Yogis never advance beyond the physical limbs of their practice and/or beyond a superficial concept of who they are in limited/fleeting form.
Even when some claim that they understand that they are more than limited/fleeting form, many often still limit themselves to concepts that are simply more etheric as opposed to coming to know that which is eternal and Real, failing to fully settle into their True Nature beyond form.
Your Constructs Have a Hold On You
By now, however, if you have been on your Yogic journey for any length of time, with a basic understanding of Yogic philosophy, you will have been exposed to the fact that the “[r]estraint of the modification of the mind-stuff is Yoga” (Sutra 2).
You will also know that when you drop your overidentification with the mind and its concepts and fluctuations–fluctuations that exist in 5 forms that we will review below–you can then rest in your “True Nature” (Sutras 3-4).
On the Eight-Limbed path, this coming into all that you are occurs by developing awareness, discernment, and practicing meditation (among other things) to clear away the ripples on your mental field, which then allows you to come to a pure clarity in Samadhi when even your deepest impressions/Samskaras are wiped away.
Whether they are “painful or painless” (Sutra 5), your mental fluctuations in the form of right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep, and memory (Sutras 6-11) will keep you trapped in an overidentification with an illusion of self that prevents you from directly experiencing all that you are in Truth.
Simply put, it is your concept (composed of all of your thoughts/mental fluctuations) about who you are that holds you back from knowing your True Self and becoming liberated from your bondage to limited form.
“You” have many ideas about who “you” (and “other people”) are, some of which you have adopted from others who are equally unaware of who they are and/or are unable to see the greater reality beyond shifting temporality, and many of the concepts of self that you use to shape your sense of “I,” or “me,” have been created out of nothing except attachment to fleeting and changing experiences, moods, states of mind, ideas, fantasies, desires, urges, and so forth.
This is fine if you wish to continue to dwell in the realm of Maya (illusion) in which your personal identity is constructed and maintained by attachments to impermeant objects on an individual and collective level–which essentially means that you cannot truly exist since you are now reduced to a shifting concept/object for the sake of fitting yourself into a Karmic illusion. But, if you wish to rest in the eternal Truth of who you are, that is unbounded by form, experience, time, context, place, role, etc, then you will have to drop these concepts and simply learn to be.
This takes some initial practice that is highly uncomfortable, but it is worth it, and gets easier/more effortless over time, since you are not: your body, your mind, your dreams, your fantasies, your experiences, your personality, your desires, your relationships, and so forth. You have your body, your mind, your dreams, your fantasies, your experiences, your personality, your desires, your relationships, and so forth. And attachment to these things is what binds you to an illusion (Maya) of self and of a fixed, concrete, world.
If you lost a leg tomorrow, are you still you? How/Why?
If yesterday you were a student, but today you graduated and are now certified in one thing or another, are you still you? How/Why?
If you changed your mind about a key issue two minutes from now, are you still you? How/Why?
If you get married and have children and then lose your marriage and your children, are you still you? How/Why?
Who are you? Are you the things that come and go in your experience and awareness, even from moment to moment? Are you the form that dies, the roles that transform, the ideas that change, the atoms and subatomic particles that create your form? Who is the “I” that remains present for/in all of these things as they arise and fall away?
You Are Not A Concept
“Ignorance,” Patanjali graciously reminds us, is “regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-self as Self” (Sutra 2.5). And this ignorance is one of the things that holds you back on your path, leading to 4 additional internal obstacles that prevent progress on your journey. These obstacles include “egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to bodily life [the latter of which exits even in the wise according to Sutra 2.9]” (Sutra 2.3). But ignorance can be wiped out with direct and pure awareness and understanding…not with conceptual understanding that can only wipe away distorted understandings about the objects and experiences within Maya (illusion), but eternal Knowledge that can only come directly through a deep inner seeing that wipes away Maya altogether.
Conceptual “right” knowledge in the world can create distress and prevent you from progressing beyond what you currently know if you become overidentified with it; all you have to do is to look out into the world honestly and see how suffering can come from seeing things right. Putin is fighting his war, for example, and there is no amount of crying and begging that the people of this world can do to stop him from doing his Karmas, or prevent him from wanting to do what he is doing. Some things are outside of “your” individual control, and that even includes some of your physiological behaviors and responses.
Misconception can make some feel temporarily happy even while binding them to harmful Karmas…that leads to suffering.
Fantasies keep many stuck chasing after things in the world or believing in things that have no basis in reality…that leads to suffering.
Dreams can keep you trapped in giving attention to illusions…that leads to suffering.
Memory can keep you stuck in harmful behavioral patterns and/or dwelling in the past…that leads to suffering.
And no thoughts can give you direct Truth of the Self.
Though thoughts obviously have a key place in experience when navigating through Maya and existing in the world, all thoughts are nothing in the face of the Truth which you can only come to directly by clearing them away to just be…And being, requires no object to make it what it is…it just is…
So, now that we have briefly explored how your suffering will never end, and how you will remain stuck without progressing on your inner path, until you drop your thoughts, ideologies, and concepts, will you still hold on to your thoughts as if they are precious gems?
If you say no, what are you actually going to do about it?
How can you use your thoughts to navigate effectively through/in this world without having them rule, define, and/or limit you to a fleeting changing object, when everything in this present moment is different from the last (very literally)? Obviously, “you” observing all of this happening, cannot truly be any of the things that pass in your awareness, or even in your unawareness…But, how clearly are you aware of this?
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