I thought Ramaswami's newsletter this month was a useful introduction to Yoga philosophy but am aware too that we often read blog posts 'on the fly', here's the newsletter article divided up into three bite size pieces.
Pictures and format are my additions.
Link back to Part 1
and Part 2
|Namarupa 6th edition, includes Ramaswami's article 'My Studies with Sri Krishnamacharya'|
Let us take one of the chittavrittis, the pramana vritti of which the pratyaksha vritti or the vritti of direct perception—direct perception through the senses—is one kind. When I see an object—I have talked about it in an earlier newsletter but we may go beyond by a further
step—light particles, rupatanmatras or rupaparamanus,, are selectively reflected by the object and reach my eyes. The eyes channelize the reflected particles by
focusing on the object. The light particles reach the retina, and the retina stimulated by the sensation, sends electrical impulses through the optic nerves to the brain. Simultaneously, the objects may send sound waves or other sensations which are collected by the appropriate sense organs and transmitted to the brain. In the brain or chitta, there is a center called manas which coordinates all the information and makes a consolidated picture, which may be called mano vritti of the chitta. Another aspect of chitta known as buddhi (mahat)
analyzes the information, refers to memory, etc. and understands the object and
then another aspect of the brain called ahamkara or ego adds its own color.
It introduces feelings and emotions to the whole picture, like I love it or I do not like it or I'm totally indifferent to it. But this information in the brain is within the brain space. This modified/interpreted picture must by seen by me, must be experienced by me in three dimensions. So the chitta projects the information not in the outside physical space
but within the brain by creating a virtual mental space. So what I see or experience is not on the physical plane but in the mental plane called chitta akasa. To complicate matters the chitta also includes me as the experiencer of this chittavritti by positing me or my image as the one that is having the experience. So it can be seen that my chittavritti is the totality of my experience including me Ramaswami as the experiencer of this experience. The chittavritti I experience may have three parts, one the object/s I observe, the act of observing
and the observer or me. This three part experience is called Triputi, like grahitru. grahana. grahya in Yoga sutras.
So whatever I experience now is my Chittavritti.. This is all I experience. Now the next moment the chittavritti changes, The object may have changed or my attention may have changed to another object, so next moment I have another chittavritti representing the objects in the physical space. So moment after moment I have chittavrittis in my mental plane or chitta akasa which alone I see even as it appears that I am experiencing the objects directly from outside.
Let us see the chronology of events.
At moment 1, I see an object as a chittavritti.
At moment 2, I see another object as chittvritti.
But the light particles of the object I see the second time are from my previous chittavritti. Why so? Because I only see chittavrittis, even as I feel I am seeing the object
from the outside world through my senses as mentioned when we started the discussion. Going backwards I realize that I see objects from my previous chittavrittis, and I have no proof that the objects do really exist, for I only experience a succession of chittavrittis in the mental space(like an infinite regress) and I have no proof that they take place in the outer physical space or as the Mayavadins say that there is no proof of the existence of a world outside. There are three possibilities. One is that the universe is real which is the belief
of almost everyone of us. The previous discussion will show that it is indeterminate (anirvachaniya), one cannot prove the existence of the world outside and then thirdly the vedantins assert that there is no real creation as we understand (maya).
What we experience takes place inside the brain or chitta as a chittavritti but appears to be outside of us. The vedantins say all that happens takes place within our consciousness but appears to take place outside of it. Each Chittavritti draws information from previous
chittavritti and my world, as is your world, is just a succession of chittavrittis. They further contend that even the chitta like the body is something observed or experienced by the purusha or pure consciousness and hence all that purusha/ consciousness experiences, i.e., the entire universe including me, Ramaswami, is just an illusion(maya) or rather not really real.
The vedantins especially the advaita proponents quote the chandogya upanishad to drive home this point. :”Namarupe vyakaravani”. Nama means name-- here it represents sound and rupa is form, here it represents light. These are the two that our main senses absorb from
the outside world for the mind to synthesize and present a picture. Namarupa the representative term, would also include the other sensations like touch, taste and smell but which are relatively minor when compared to the other two. So what we experience are just sound- bytes and other sensations.
Two sages once ran into each other in a celestial coffee shop. They decided to sit down and chat over a hot cup of masala chai. One was a great
scholar of the puranas and started stressing the importance of recognizing a creator for the universe. The other argued that it is not necessary to subscribe to this view as nature is capable of evolving without a superior entity. They argued for a long time, a billion years I guess going by a vedic episode. At the end of that period both of them had exhausted their very reasoned arguments. Without anything else to say and unable to convince the other about one's own viewpoint the discussion deteriorated into angry words and
was leading to blows, as my guru would say “Sesaham Kopena Purayet (the rest of the debate was made up of anger)”. Then the coffee shop owner who was watching the debate and wanting to close the shop for the long cosmic day, butted in and said, “Did you ever
consider if the universe that we see was really created or just an illusion even before finding out the origin of the Universe and how it was created?'
What is the use of all these discussions? If I am convinced this really is the truth about the subject and the object, my attitude towards myself (subject), the world around(objects) could change. Knowing the truth about oneself is a great benefit. If I, like the vedantins, come to the conclusion that the waking state worldly experience is essentially no different from the dream experience(an illusion, a make belief) I may attach the same importance
to these worldly experiences as I would to the dream state. When I wake up, if the dream is sweet, I have a smile and if it is a nightmare I shrug it
away –as mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad, like a horse which shrugs off the loosehairs. I do not dwell on it, not even on my dream self. No greater importance will I then tend to
give for my worldly experiences or even to myself. I may even realize that I am really the pure unchanging consciousness and hence immortal leading to the Yogi's Kaivalya or the vedantin's moksha, which I could savor for the rest of my life.
My mind projects what it sees
I see what my chitta projects
Now I see only what the mind/consciousness projects
Incessantly all those illusions.
Now I may sing the popular rhyme as follows
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what WE are.
Full newsletter here on Ramaswami's Newsletter page
For more on Yoga Philosophy see Srivatsa Ramaswami's 'Yoga for the Three Stages of Life'. This is still my favourite book on Yoga, take advantage of the Amazon 'Look Inside' preview feature.
|Link to Amazon.com|