[b]I, 7: Pratyaksha anumana agamah pamanani
The sources of correct understanding are
reflections on the scriptures,
or from the testimony
of one who knows.
I, 8: Viparyayo mithyanjananam atadrupa pratishanam
Misconception is an
founded on an unreliable appearance
lacking its own inherent integrity.
I, 9: Sabda jnana anupati vastusunya vikalpah
Imagination is a
created by relying upon
the sound of language alone,
and words that are
empty of objective truth.[/b]
I grouped these three vacillations, correct perception, misconception, and imagination, together because it was helpful for me to compare and contrast them to better understand the differences between them.
I. Correct understanding
A. Description of sources of correct understanding.
1. Direct or individual perception: that which is perceived by buddhi (intellect).
2. Inference: that which is reasoned logic; another task of buddhi. For example, if there is smoke there must be fire; we cannot see the fire but smoke can only be made from fire.
3. Scriptures: the words of sages, saints and prophets. Here Sw. Satchidananda states that there should be agreement between what a teacher says and the ancient scriptures, because the truth is the same. He then clarifies that there is a difference between the basic truth and its presentation. The presentation of the truth is variable because language, symbols, forms are modifiable and it reflects the individual’s experience and or societal/cultural values. But nevertheless, the underlying truth is the same.
All of these types of correct understanding can be aklishta (helpful, not painful) if the perception contributes to understanding the true Self or klishta (not helpful, painful) if the perception makes the person ?firm in his ignorance, or duality?. (Swami Shyam, p.5-6)
B. The goal of cultivating correct knowledge. Iyengar explains that the goal is to develop discrimination. To identify what is misperception and to discard it. ?When discrimination have been cultivated, intelligence (buddhi) is full and bright, ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas) retreat, and citta (consciousness) becomes sharp and clear.? (p.54). This process of discrimination should be used to ?defuse the negative impact of memory, which links us in psychological time to the world of sensory pleasure and pain.? (p.54) Ultimately, this process of discrimination helps to reduce vritti.
II. Miconception. Misconception is the distortion of reality which in turn generates inappropriate emotions and feelings, thereby distorting consciousness. Sw. Satchidananda gives the example of perceiving a coiled rope as a snake which causes fear but in reality there is nothing to fear.
Imagination or verbal delusion can be distinguished from misconception because in misconception there is an object to be confused about (e.g. a rope mistaken for a snake) whereas with imagination there is no object, only an opinion or a generated thought. One of Sw. Satchidananda’s examples illustrating this is the statement ?His mother was a barren woman.? (p. 17); the words are heard, an impression is created, but the words are not analyzed.
Iyengar states that analysis and discrimination of vikalpa (imagination) can awaken a thirst for pramana (correct knowledge) and transform delusion into ?vision and discovery?.
Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. New Delhi, India: Harper Collins Publications India. 1993
Swami Satchidananda. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Buckingham, VA: Integral Yoga Publications. 2004
Swami Shyam, Patanjali Yog Darshan, India: International Meditation Institute, 2001, 3rd. edition.
Stiles, M. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Boston, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser LLC. 2002