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Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind

Q: What is the one stance from which one can witness all of the Four Functions of Mind and the
way in which senses, body, breath, and mind operate together?
A: It is the Self, the Atman. To know that Self is the reason the Yogi does self-awareness and
self-training. That Self is like the still center of a wheel, where the four spokes are the Four
Functions of Mind that operate the external wheel in the world.


The four functions of mind
are like spokes on a wheel.
The wheel engages the
world, while the center
remains still.

There are Four Functions of Mind:
• Manas = sensory, processing mind
• Chitta = storage of impressions
• Ahamkara = "I-maker" or Ego (2 Egos)
• Buddhi = knows, decides, judges, and discriminates
The aspirant should:
• Understand each function individually.
• Coordinate them all with one another.


Discrimination and Self-Realization
An important part of meditation: When reading about the Four Functions of Mind, it can
sound like this is merely an intellectual study. It is not. Witnessing the Four Functions of Mind is
an important part of Yoga meditation.
Observing and discriminating between
the Four Functions of Mind
is a key to Self-realization.
Discriminating between the four functions: This is one of the most profound self-awareness
practices of the ancient Himalayan sages. This Yoga practice is just as profoundly useful today as
it was thousands of years ago. The process is one of self-observation, and gradually
discriminating between these four aspects of the inner instrument, so as to attain the direct
experience of the Center of Consciousness from which all of our thoughts, emotions, and
experiences arise on various degrees and grades.
Actively observe the four as they are operating: That Center is the Witness of these Four
Functions of Mind. Ultimately, one comes to know that the only stance from which these can be
fully observed is that of the Center itself. In Yoga meditation, the simple act of attempting to
observe these Four Functions,as they function, is the key to the practice.
Mind is like Four Spokes on a Wheel
Like four spokes of a wheel: The Four Functions of Mind are like four spokes that drive the
wheel to operate in the external road of life.
The hub remains still: While the wheel turns, the center hub remains still, like the center of
consciousness, the Self, which remains still. While the hub is the source of the energy driving
the wheel of life, the very center of the hub does not itself move.
Go through the spokes to get to the hub: To know the center or hub (the Self), one must go
through the spokes. The only vantage point from which one may fully be witness to the spokes
is the Self. One who knows that center hub through Yoga meditation knows the Self, which is
called Self-Realization. Thus, the process of observation of the Four Functions of Mind is an
extremely useful aspect of the path of Self-Realization.
Understanding the Four Functions of Mind
To understand the Four Functions of Mind, one needs to:
1) Observe each of the Four Functions of Mind.
2) Accept the nature of each of the Four Functions of Mind.
Train each of the four functions: One must not only observe, accept, and understand the
functions of mind, but also train the four functions. To know and train the four functions, or
spokes is essential for one to get to the center of the wheel. This is done systematically in the
process of Yoga meditation.
Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind
To establish coordination among those functions of mind, one needs to:
1) Actions and speech: Watch the mind’s functioning throughactions and speech.
2) Thinking process within: At the same time, observe the thinking process within.
Observing your actions and speech
reveals the underlying thought
process in the mind.
Observing mind through actions and speech: To watch the mind's
functioningthrough actions and speech means that the motions and words give a mirror
reflection of what is going on in one's own mind. Often, we watch the gestures and body
language of other people, and infer what is going on inside that person. Though we might not
always be exactly correct, we all do this with some degree of accuracy.
Observing gestures and body language: We can do the same thing with ourselves, learning
of our inner mental and emotional states by observing our own gestures and body language, our
own actions and speech.
While observing actions and speech,
directly observe the inner process
of mind, at the same time.
Observe the thinking process within: While we are observing our actions and speech so as
to understand our inner states, we also can literally observe the thinking process within. For a
Yoga meditator, this means
• At the moment operating: Observe the Four Functions of Mind at themoment they are
operating.
• Independently: Observe the Four Functions of Mind independently of one another.
• As they interact: Observe the Four Functions of Mind as they interact with one another.
While this can take some time to learn, it is extremely fruitful when practiced for a while. It
becomes very easy and natural to observe our actions, speech, and thoughts. It brings
heightened awareness and a sense of inner peace.
Exploring the Four Spokes of Mind
Manas

Manas, the lower mind: Manas is the lower mind, through which the mind interacts with the
external world and takes in sensory impressions and data.Manas questions and doubts, which
can cause great difficulties if this tendency becomes excessive.
Manas is the direct supervisor
of the senses
in the inner factory.
Manas is supervisor of the senses: Manas is like the supervisor in the factory of life, and
directs the ten senses or Indriyas. Manas does a wonderful job of carrying out directions, but it
is not supposed to be the key decision maker in the factory. That is the job of Buddhi.
If Buddhi is clouded, then Manas has a habit of continuing to question, seeking good instruction.
Then it often listens to whoever is speaking the loudest in the factory, which is the wants,
wishes, desires, attractions, and aversions stored in the memory bank of Chitta.
Be mindful of actions and speech: A good way to cultivate the witnessing ofManas is to be
mindful of actions and speech, as well as your senses of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and
hearing. By observing these, you come to see howManas is the one behind these actions and
senses. Thus, Manas is like the supervisor of the employees in a factory. Manas is not the boss,
but the supervisor, who is giving the direct orders to the active and cognitive senses.
Chitta
Chitta is the memory bank: Chitta is the memory bank, which stores impressions and
experiences, and while it can be very useful, Chitta can also cause difficulties if its functioning is
not coordinated with the others.
Chitta is the storage place
of the countless latent impressions.
Coordinating Chitta: If Chitta is not coordinated with the other functions of mind, then the
thousands, millions, or countless impressions in this bed of the lake of mind start to stir and
arise. It is as if these many latent impressions, coming to life are all competing for the attention
of Manas to carry out their wants in the external world. In the absence of a clear Buddhi, the
competing voices of Chittaoften drive Manas to take actions in the world that are really not so
useful.

Witnessing Chitta: A good way to cultivate the witnessing of Chitta is to simply be aware of
the streams of thoughts, emotions, images, and impressions that arise in front of Manas (on
which Manas may or may not act). Notice how the stream of thoughts comes from somewhere,
and then recedes back into that same place. This place is Chitta.
Yoga Sutras: In the Yoga Sutras, the term Yoga is defined with inclusion of the word Chitta,
as Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah (See Yoga Sutra 1.2). Throughout the Yoga Sutras, the
word chitta is used many times. By taking a quick look at those usages, the meaning
of chitta becomes clearer.
Ahamkara
Ahamkara is “I-am-ness,”: Ahamkara is the sense of "I-am-ness," the individual Ego, which
feels itself to be a distinct, separate entity. It provides identity to our functioning,
but Ahamkara also creates our feelings of separation, pain, and alienation as well.
Ahamkara is the strong wave
that declares "I am"
Ahamkara takes on partners: This wave of "I-am-ness" called Ahamkara then aligns itself or
forms partnerships with the data or impressions in Chitta (causing them to be colored,
or klishta), and, in turn, with Manas, which then responds to the desires being sought by this
"individuality." Meanwhile, Buddhi, the deep aspect, which knows, decides, and discriminates,
remains clouded. Thus, it is said that purifying (or un-clouding) buddhi is a most important task
in the path of meditation and Self-realization.

Witnessing the coloring by Ahamkara: A good way to cultivate the witnessing
of Ahamkara is to be aware of the fact that rising thoughts and emotions are often colored with
either attraction or aversion. The attraction or aversion may be strong, or it may be so weak
that it is barely noticeable. Noticing the weak ones can be very insightful as to the subtlety
of Ahamkara's coloring (It's much easier to neutrally witness the weak ones at first).
Buddhi
Buddhi is higher mind: Buddhi is the higher aspect of mind, the door-way to inner wisdom.
The word Buddhi itself comes from the root budh, which means one who has
awakened. Buddhi has the capacity to decide, judge, and make cognitive discriminations and
differentiations. It can determine the wiser of two courses of action, if it functions clearly and
if Manas will accept its guidance.
Buddhi is cultivated as the
decision maker
in the factory of life.
Buddhi should be the decision maker: In the factory of life, we want Buddhi to be making
the choices for the factory. Otherwise, Manas gets its instructions from the habit patterns stored
in Chitta, that are colored by Ahamkara, the Ego. Often, Buddhi is clouded over by all of the
coloring and impressions in the Chitta. Thus, a major task of sadhana, spiritual practices, is
to un-cloud the cloudedBuddhi. Then, with clear choice one can ever improve the choices that
lead to the fruits of spiritual practices.

Depth of Buddhi: On the more gross or surface levels of living and meditation,Buddhi is used
as a tool for discrimination, as just described. However, when we get deep enough in
meditation, we discover that it was the subtlest aspect ofBuddhi that first started to see division
in ourselves and the universe. In other words, although Buddhi is used as a tool for deepening
experience in meditation, it was Buddhi who carved up the universe in the first place, seeing
division where there is unity. To discriminate between Buddhi and pure consciousness is one of
the final stages in the meditative journey.

Yoga Sutras: The principle of Buddhi is one of the most important principles and tools of Yoga,
as presented in the Yoga Sutras. The term Buddhi itself is only used a couple times in the Yoga
Sutra, although Buddhi has to do with discrimination, or viveka, and that term is used several
times. By reviewing those few sutras, it will become clear how the entire process is founded on
discrimination and Buddhi.
Two uses of the word "Ego"
"Ego" is used in two ways: To understand and effectively use the practice of witnessing
the Four Functions of Mind (see the rest of this paper), it is important to note that there are two
different ways of using the word Ego. To do this, we will use the metaphor of two houses.
Does "Ego" refer to
the decorations or the house?
Two houses: Imagine two houses that are exactly the same, except for the paint and the
decorations.
• If we like the color of the paint on the house and the nature of the decorations, we say
the house is pretty.
• If we do not like the color of the paint and the nature of the decorations, then we say the
house is ugly.
Both are the same: However, both houses are actually the same as one another, underneath
all of the surface appearances of paint and decorations.

• The paint and the decorations: In our common language and in the field of modern
psychology, the word Ego generally refers to our personality structure. Thus, in our house
metaphor, the Ego of psychology refers to the paint and decorations, with less regard for
the existence of the house itself.
• The underlying house itself: In Yoga psychology, the word Ahamkarameans the I-
maker and refers to the powerful wave of individuated existence that declares "I
am!" When the word Ahamkara is translated into English, we use the word Ego. Thus, in
our house metaphor, the Ego of Yoga psychology, or Ahamkara, refers to the house itself,
not to the paint and decorations, which are considered to be false identities.
Not just semantics: This important principle is not just semantics. When most of us hear the
word Ego used to represent the word Ahamkara, we automatically, out of habit, project the
wrong meaning onto the word Ego. If we only hear the word Ego, and have never previously
encountered the word Ahamkara, we are even more blinded.
Both uses of the word are valid and useful: This is not a claim that one meaning of Ego is
right and the other wrong. Both uses of the word Ego are valid within their own spheres. The
principle of Ego in psychology is useful, and the principle of Ahamkara in Yoga psychology is
useful. Also, using the word Ego forAhamkara is also useful, so long as we remember the way
the word is being used.
(The significance of this misuse of Ego for Ahamkara is further explained in the next section, on
purifying Buddhi.)
Change
"I want"
to
"It wants"
Who is it that "wants" or "does not want"? We usually say, "I want this or that," or "I don't
want this or that." When we understand the way the four functions of mind interact, we come to
see that it is not "I" who has attractions or aversions. That "I" is like the decorations on the
house. It it the false identity aspect of "I" who is doing the wanting. The memory trace in the
chitta, colored with attraction or aversion is, itself, the one who is doing the wanting. Thus, we
can say, "It wants this or that," or "It doesn't want this or that." It is the thought
pattern itself that is wanting or not wanting, not I. This shift is extremely useful in witnessing
the thought patterns so that colorings of attachment and aversion might be attenuated.

Purifying Buddhi is the most important task
Like the memories in Chitta: In Yoga psychology, the paint and decorations are like all of the
impressions or memories stored in Chitta (in the house metaphor above).
Ahamkara makes a mistake: The Ahamkara (literally "I-maker") makes a sort of mistake, by
associating or identifying itself with some of those impressions inChitta. (At a deeper level, it is
the Self that makes this mistake, as described Yoga Sutra #4.)
The association between Ahamkara
and the memories in Chitta
is the root problem.
The association is the problem: This association between Ahamkara (Ego in Yoga science)
and the data in Chitta, in turn, allows the emergence of the apparent individual personality
(Ego in psychology). In this association, the impressions in Chitta are "colored" (klishta / 5
colorings) by Ahamkara with attractions and aversions. These colored impressions then compete
for attention. In the absence of clear choice by Buddhi (knows, decides, judges, discriminates),
the colored impressions drive Manas (sensory-motor mind) to take actions purely out of
habit. (See also the article Uncoloring your Colored Thoughts)
The cause of our suffering: The entire cause of our mental and emotional suffering is the
false identification between Ahamkara and the data that is stored in Chitta. (Eventually, at a
deeper level, the Self is seen to have falsely identified itself with the Four Functions of Mind
themselves). By witnessing the Four Functions of Mind, while they are functioning, we
increasingly come to see this mistaken identity, which leads to freedom.
Buddhi becomes witness to this mistaken identity: It is the function of mind called Buddhi,
which, once again, knows, decides, adjudges, and discriminates. In other words, Buddhi is the
part that sees the situation clearly. Eventually, the Selfor Atman is seen as witness to all of the
Four Functions of Mind, including Buddhiitself.
Purifying Buddhi is the most important goal: How does this clarity come? It happens
by removing the clouds of spiritual ignorance (avidya) that are blocking the wisdom of Buddhi.
Thus, the most important goal of all practices is purifyingBuddhi.
Killing or befriending the ego
Learn to be friends: In many systems of psychological or spiritual growth, there is the
suggestion that one must "kill the ego." In light of the two descriptions of ego above, and the
process of purifying Buddhi, dealing with ego is done in a very different way. Rather than killing
the ego, it is more like befriending the ego.
Ego needs to be trained: Remember, ego, as Ahamkara, is the "I-maker," which allows for our
very existence as individuals. The problem, as described above, is that ego mistakenly takes on
false identities. It is not that ego is somehow bad, and needs to be punished by a death
sentence. Rather, it needs to be trained, along with the other of the four functions of mind,
particularly Manas.
Letting go of the associations: If there is to be a death at all, it is more like the letting go of
the associations that have been made between the memories stored in Chitta and the I-ness of
Ahamkara. This association is the coloring process known as klishta, as distinct from the un-
coloring process known as aklishta.
Ahamkara becomes stronger: This "death" of association does not mean the death of
Ahamkara. In fact, if anything, Ahamkara becomes stronger. People practicing Yoga often speak
of kundalini awakening, which is an outpouring of kundalini shakti, with shakti being the
primordial spiritual energy. However, there is a form of shakti that comes first, before kundalini
shakti, and that is sankalpashakti, which is the shakti of determination. It is that strong
commitment on the spiritual journey that says, "I can do it! I will do it! I have to do it!" This is
none other than the positive application of the force of Ahamkara, or ego. It is not a negative
thing, which needs to die. Rather, it is a positive, essential tool, which needs to be trained,
cultivated, and utilized on the inner journey.
This mistaken identity, and the process of un-coloring is a foundation principle of Yoga, and is
the core of the practices described in the first few sutras of theYoga Sutras (1.1-1.4).
Three freedoms
There are three freedoms that come sequentially over time through this purifying or clarity
of Buddhi:
• Actions: First is freedom from the bondage of actions. As Ahamkara andChitta become
less associated through the colorings such as attachment and aversions (kleshas), there is
greater freedom in actions.
• Thoughts: Second is freedom from the bondage of thoughts. The degree of the coloring
further further attenuates through the process of un-clouding the Buddhi.
• Ignorance: Third is freedom from the bondage of ignorance (avidya). In this final
stage, Buddhi has become so completely clear that it is able to see through all of the
process of false identity.
Going Beyond the Mind
Mind directs, influences, and goes outward:
It is imperative that one become aware of the facts that:
• Mind controls: It is the mind that is in direct control of the senses, breath, and body.
• Mind goes outward: It is the mind that influences the senses and causes them to go out
into the external world.
• Mind desires: It is the mind that desires to perceive the world through the senses and
then to conceptualize and categorize those sense perceptions.
It's all about training the mind: All sadhanas (spiritual practices), techniques, and disciplines
are actually means to train the mind (all of the Four Functions of Mind).
Train mind to go beyond itself: The most important part of the training is to make the mind
aware that Reality lies beyond itself, and that this Reality is the eternal aspect of the Self or
Soul.
Mind is the finest instrument: The mind is the finest instrument that we possess. If it is
understood well, the mind can be helpful in our spiritual practices (sadhana). However, the mind
must be well-ordered and disciplined. Otherwise, the mind can distract and dissipate all of our
potentials.
Levels of consciousness: The Four Functions of Mind operate at the various levels of
consciousness. In the waking state of consciousness, the four operate. In the dreaming state,
the four operate. In the deep sleep state, the four functions become less active, as if they are
partially receding back into the latent part of mind, the Chitta from which all of the activity
arises in the dreaming and waking states.
Experience the truth beyond the four functions: It is necessary that one learn
to observe, understand, and train the functions of mind at the various levels of consciousness.
Then, eventually, one can experience that Truth which is beyond all of the functions of mind and
beyond the levels of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
Intentionally Inviting Thoughts: Being a Ticket Taker
For Yoga meditation, one learns to let the thoughts “flow without interruption.” However,
something comes first, before we can neutrally witness the entire stream of thoughts
flowing. (See the page on witnessing)
First we need to practice with individual thoughts, consciously practicing allowing some single
thought to arise, just so we can observe the way in which it naturally drifts away, returning to
the still, silent place from which it arose.
There is a strong temptation to just block all of the thoughts by focusing on some object, or by
chanting a mantra. This is a serious mistake for a meditator to make. It puts a veil, or maybe
better to say a wall between our conscious state and the deeper parts of our being, including the
bliss we are seeking and the center of consciousness. What can start out as an effort to meditate
ends up just another method of suppressing thoughts and emotions, and this is definitely not
useful.
What we want to do here is to sit quietly, breath smoothly, and then from within our mind field,
intentionally allow some random thought impression to arise. Usually what happens is that we
don’t even notice these single impressions come up, and then we get caught in a long train of
thinking process. Next thing we know, we have a headache!
Here, we want to catch the thought, spot it, or detect it as it arises. This is actually quite
fascinating to notice the way in which a single thought pattern breaks through from the
unconscious into our conscious field. The object may be something very simple and mundane,
such as a piece of fruit, some object around your house, or a scenic view you saw some time
ago.
It does not matter what the object is--just allow the image to arise on its own. Also, it does
not matter whether you literally “see” with your inner eye or not. Whether you “see” or do not
“see” with your inner eye, you still are well aware of what images or impressions are arising.
The next part, which is quite intriguing to observe is to allow that thought to go, to let it drift
right back to the silent, still place from which it arose in the first place. This is not some
complicated meditation practice. Anyone can do this, and will gain tremendous insight from the
practice, if done regularly as a foundation practice of meditation.
You will come to see that if we allow it, it is quite natural for these thought patterns to do two
things:
1. It is natural for them to arise, and
2. It is natural for them to gently fall back to the place from which they arose.
We usually engage that single thought pattern and turn it into a whole train of thought
patterns, as if we are all Hollywood movie producers in our mental stage. That single impression
arises, and then off we go! More and more thought impressions get drawn into the drama, and
along comes our emotional reactions as well. (Here, we are not being critical of thoughts and
emotions and their exploration. These can definitely have a useful place as adjuncts to
meditation, but here we are talking of a specific practice related to Yoga meditation.)
With a little experimentation we can learn that it really is easy to just let the thought drift away,
and not turn it into a movie. This letting go is a skill unto itself. Learning to literally let go of a
thought is a far superior skill than some technique of getting rid of, or blocking thoughts and
emotions.
Imagine you are a ticket taker at a theater, and that there is a long line of people coming
into the theater. What do you do as a ticket taker? Is it not true that when a person comes to
hand you their ticket, you greet them in a friendly way? You are open to them, and acknowledge
them with a gesture, a few words, or maybe both. But how do you get them to go on into the
theater? Or, for that matter, do you need to do anything to get them to go into the theater?
Isn’t it true that they will generally just go on into the theater on their own?
So what is the action that you would naturally do as a ticket taker, when you have just taken the
last persons ticket? Wouldn’t you turn to the next person in line, and maybe say “Next!” as you
greeted, accepted, and acknowledged that person as well? The previous person will just move
on, automatically. This is exactly what we can do with those individual thoughts standing in line
to come forward into consciousness when we sit for meditation.
To have an attitude of quieting thoughts by stopping them would be like stopping the line of
theatergoers from coming in the door. They might get pretty upset and start to cause trouble.
Instead of having the attitude of getting rid of thoughts, have an attitude of inviting them to
come, “Next…. Next…. Next….” Then let them go by.
This literally can be practiced, one individual thought at a time. This can be done without having
an object on which you are meditating. You just sit there and invite the thoughts, one at a time,
to come forward, so that you can observe them come, and can then observe the beautiful way in
which they go, on their own.
Or, the practice can be done while at the same time remembering your object on which you are
trying to focus for meditation, whether that be breath, an internal image, or a mantra.
It is the skill itself, the art of letting go that we are trying to learn. It is an ability that few of us
have ever been trained to do, but can we can train ourselves in this extremely useful skill.
As this skill of learning to witness and let go of thought patterns is developed, it becomes more
clear how this goes along with the practice of concentrating the mind. Then, instead of the
concentration being a means of suppressing thoughts and emotions, and thus preventing
meditation, concentration and witnessing work together. The mind is concentrated, while
at the same time the field of consciousness is expanded from a witnessing stance, and deeper
meditation is experienced.
Witnessing Your Thoughts
in Yoga Practice
by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Witnessing the flow of mind: Witnessing your thoughts is a most important aspect of Yoga
practice. Witnessing the thought process means to be able to observe the natural flow of the
mind, while not being disturbed or distracted. This brings a peaceful state of mind, which allows
the deeper aspects of meditation and samadhi to unfold, revealing that which is beyond, which is
Yoga or Unity.
Witness everything!
-------
A simple process:
Witnessing = Observing + Non-Attachment
Introduction
Simple and complex: The process of witnessing your thoughts and other inner processes is
elegantly simple once you understand and practice it for a while. However, in the meantime it
can admittedly seem quite complicated. In the writing of this article the intent is simplicity,
though the length of the article makes it appear complicated. If we hold in mind the paradox of
the simple appearing complex, then it is much easier to practice witnessing, and then allow it to
gently expand over time. Most of the aspects of witnessing described below are in Yoga
(see Yoga Sutras) and Vedanta, although they are universal processes that are also described
elsewhere.
A simple process: Witnessing starts with an extremely simple process of 1)observing individual
thoughts, 2) labeling them as to their nature, and then, 3)letting go of any clinging to those
thoughts, so as to dive deep into the still, silent consciousness beyond the mind and its thinking
process. (See also the page on inviting thoughts.)
1) Observe individual thoughts.
2) Label them as to their nature.
3) Let go of any clinging to them.
• Calm the mind: This practice is quite insightful and useful in calming the mind.
• It's easy: Labeling and witnessing thoughts is easy, provided you spend some time with
it, both in daily life and at your private practice times. (It only looks difficult.)
• Weaken habit patterns: The practice gradually weakens the deep habit patterns, which
are not useful to your growth, and are blocking spiritual realization.
• Increase freedom: The more you can become a witness to the thoughts, the less control
those thoughts have over you, increasing your freedom of choice.
• Preparation for advanced meditation: Witnessing prepares you for advanced
meditation and samadhi.
• Practice patience: Practicing patience with yourself while learning this process is a very
good idea.
It would also be useful to explore the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, particularly the first part
of Chapter 1, the first part of Chapter 2, and the notes on witnessing.
Both in daily life, and during meditation: It is extremely important to know that you can do
much of the witnessing practice in daily life, right in the middle of your other activities. You will
surely want to do this at meditation time as well, but tremendous progress can be made without
having to set aside a single minute of extra time for this practice. You do it while you are doing
your service to others.
Witnessing thoughts does NOT mean
a psychological suppression or repression
of thoughts and emotions.
What does labeling and witnessing mean?
Simply observe: Labeling your thoughts is an extremely simple process of observing the nature
of your thought process in a given moment. (The basic principle is so simple that it is easy to
make the mistake of not doing it!)
What's useful and not useful: A simple and obvious example will help. If you have a negative
thought about yourself or some other person, a thought that is not useful to your growth, you
simply notice it and note that, "This is Not Useful" silently saying the words internally. Or, you
may internally say only the single phrase, "Not Useful". Negative thoughts can continue to
control us only when we are not aware of them. When we notice them, and label them as "Not
Useful" thoughts, we can deal with those thoughts in positive, useful ways.
See your thoughts honestly: This is not being negative about yourself, passing judgment on
yourself, or calling yourself negative. Rather, it is a process of honestly naming the thought
pattern for what it is, a negative thought. Such observation is not a guilt-ridden passing
judgment, but rather, a healthy form ofadjudging a situation, in this case, that the thought
is negative.
Promote the positive, useful thoughts.
Do nothing with negative, not-useful thoughts.
Remind yourself what is useful or not useful: What about the positive thoughts? Similarly,
when positive, helpful thoughts arise that lead us in the direction of growth and spiritual truths
or enlightenment, we can remind ourselves, "This is Useful," or simply, "Useful". Then we can
allow those useful thoughts move into actions.
This reminding process becomes non-verbal: After some time of doing such a practice, you
will naturally find that the labeling process becomes non-verbal. It is very useful to literally say
the words internally when you label the thoughts. However, the non-verbal labeling comes
automatically as you increasingly become a witness to your thought process. During meditation,
the thoughts can then easily come and drift away. (This means the mind is awake and alert, as
well as clear, which is not meaning dull, lethargic, or in a trance.)
Label and go beyond the thoughts: Yoga science maps out many aspects of the mental
process so that the student of yoga meditation can encounter, deal with, and eventually go
beyond the entire thought process to the joy of the center of consciousness. We learn
to label the thoughts, and then gradually learn to go beyond them.
Parts to the process of witnessing: Witnessing the thought process means to be able to: 1)
observe the natural flow of the mind, and 2) notice the nature of the thought patterns, 3) while
not being disturbed or distracted by this mental process. There is a simple formula to this
process:
Witnessing = Observing + Non-Attachment
Weaken the grip of samskaras: When one can begin to witness the thought process,
meditation can be used as a means to weaken (Yoga Sutra 2.4) the grip of the deep impressions
called samskaras, the driving force of actions or karma. Then, the deeper aspects of meditation
are accessible.
Training your own mind: It is important to remember that there is another aspect
of labeling and witnessing that has to do with the direct training of your mind. This is the
process of deciding and training your mind whether a given thought is Useful or Not Useful (This
was mentioned above, and is covered later in the paper, after introducing all of the thought
processes).
Why should I label my thoughts?
Labeling and witnessing is spiritual practice: In Yoga meditation science one becomes
a witness of the thought process, including all of the various types of inner activity. The practice
of consciously labeling and witnessing the thought patterns is an extremely useful aspect of
spiritual practice. Such self-training sets the stage for moving beyond the entire mental process
to the Self, the Center of Consciousness.
The wall between where we are
and the Self is called the mind.

Encounter, explore, train, and transcend mind: Between where we are and Self-Realization
stands the mind. To attain the direct experience of the Self, which is beyond the mind, we must
encounter and explore the mind itself, so as to transcend it. Even a cursory review of the Yoga
Sutras reveals that it is an instruction manual on how to examine and train the mind, so as to go
beyond.

Learning to use the simple tool: When we learn to ride a bike, drive a car, or use a
computer, there is a learning process of how to use the tools. Once the tools are understood and
used for a while, the process becomes quite simple. Self-observation is also a tool that is quite
simple, once it is used for a while, and some understanding comes. Then, by identifying
or labeling our thought process, we can then witness the whole stream of mind.
Am I ready and willing to explore my thoughts?
Preparation is needed: Patanjali describes the process of Yoga meditation in theYoga Sutras,
and the first word is Atha which means now, then, and therefore (sutra 1.1). It is a particular
word for Now that implies prior preparation. It means that one is prepared to tread the path of
self-exploration through Yoga meditation.
1st question:
Am I willing to explore my mind?
Are you willing to explore within?: The first question about your state of mind is to ask
yourself if you are willing to explore your own thoughts and thought process. It does not mean a
perfect or absolute readiness and willingness, but it does mean having an attitude in which there
is a sincere intent to move inward. The problem comes when we don't want to do this, saying to
ourselves that such inner exploration is not needed for the spiritual journey. This is one of the
main reasons that so many people practice so-called meditation for years and decades, yet
privately complain of not making progress.
Following the preliminary steps: We simply must be willing to encounter and explore the
mind if we are to progress beyond it to the direct experience of the Self. If we are not prepared
to do this, we are not truly ready to tread the path of Yoga meditation. One who is not presently
willing to explore within and is not ready to do these practices, may find that more preliminary
steps leading to Yoga meditation are more useful. Eventually these may lead one to the deeper
aspects of Yoga science.
Mind stands between our surface reality
and the deepest inner Truth.
The mind is inescapable: However, ultimately one must face his or her own thought process.
There is no other way, as the mind stands between our surface reality and the deepest inner
Truth. The methods may be somewhat different on different paths, but encountering and dealing
with the mental process is inescapable.
Desire for truth swallows other desires: If the "Yes" to the willingness to explore the
thoughts and thought process is even a small "Yes," then one can nurture that small flame of
desire until it is a forest fire of desire to know the Self. That single-minded desire for Truth
swallows up the smaller desires and opens the door for the grace which guides from within.
I can do it!
I will do it!
I have to do it!
Developing burning desire, sankalpa shakti: This burning desire to know, with conviction is
called Sankalpa Shakti. Many people hear of and say they want the awakening of Kundalini
Shakti, the spiritual energy within. However, the first form of Shakti, or energy, to cultivate is
that of Sankalpa, or determination. It means cultivating a deep conviction to know oneself at all
levels, so as to know the Self at the core. It means having an attitude that, "I can do it! I will do
it! I have to do it!" (See Yoga Sutra 1.20 on efforts and commitments)
I am not my thoughts
Who I am, is beyond the mind: The fact that "I am not my thoughts" is one of the most
fundamental and important of all principles of Yoga science. This is actually the way in which
Patanjali introduces Yoga in the first four instructions of the Yoga Sutras. Paraphrasing, he says:
1. Now, after all the preparation of life and practices, begins the study and practice of Yoga.
2. Yoga is the nirrudah (mastery, control, regulation, transcendence, restraint) of the many
levels of thought patterns in the field of mind.
3. Then, with that achievement, one rests in the awareness of their true nature as Self or
pure Consciousness.
4. At other times, when not in this higher, truer state of awareness, one is falsely identified
with those many levels of thought patterns contained in the mind field.
Not merely blind faith: If we only believe this, or have blind faith in this principle, then we will
miss the opportunity for the direct experience of this reality.
Who am I?
I am what is left after
letting go of my thoughts.
Find out for yourself: In the oral tradition of Yoga meditation, it is said that you should never
just believe what you read or are told, but that you should also not reject these things either.
Rather, take the principles, reflect on them, do the practices, and find out for yourself, in direct
experience whether or not they are true.
Repeating the same discovery: The means of doing this, in this case, is to systematically
explore all of the levels of the thinking process, one at a time. Repeatedly you will discover,
"Who I am, is different from this particular thought pattern that I am witnessing right now!"
Over and over this insight will come, in direct experience, thought after thought, impression
after impression.
Owning your own truth: Gradually, you come to see in your own opinion, observation,
conclusion, and experience that, "I am not any of these thoughts!" Then you own it as your own
experience and truth.

Direct experience is the goal: Good or bad, happy or sad, clear or clouded,none of the
thoughts are who we are. It is no longer a theory from some book, or the mere statement of
some other person, however great that person may be. This kind of direct experience is the goal
spoken of by the ancient Yogis, Sages and Masters of the Himalayas. It comes when the
practices of meditation, contemplation, prayer, and mantra converge in one experience of
pure witnessing.
Personality is a perfect expression: Resting in this realization, we also come to see that the
habit patterns which define our personality are perfect expressions of this individual person. The
beauty of our personality uniqueness is seen, ever more clearly, as we remember our True Self
that is beyond, yet always there. (Yoga Sutra 1.3)
Witnessing the indriyas or ten senses
Like a building with ten doors: The human being is like a building with ten doors. Five are
entrance doors, and five are exit doors. Witnessing these ten senses is an important part of
meditation, and meditation in action.
Ten senses: The ten indriyas or active and cognitive senses are:
• Karmendriyas: The five exit doors are five means of expression, which are called active
senses or Karmendriyas (Karma means action: Indriyas are the means or senses).
• Jnanendriyas: The five entrance doors are the five cognitive senses, which are called
cognitive senses or Jnanendriyas (Jnana means knowing; Indriyas are the means or
senses).

Which of five states is your mind in right now?
From Yoga Sutra 1.1: The first Sutra of the Yoga Sutras says, "Now, after having done prior
preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins" (atha yoga
anushasanam). The word atha is used fornow, and this particular word implies a process of
preparation, or stages, which one needs to move through before being able to practice yoga
meditation at its fullest level. The sage Vyasa describes five states of mind, which range from
the severely troubled mind to the completely mastered mind. It is very useful to be aware of
these stages, both in the moment, and as a general day-to-day level at which one is functioning.
It reveals the depth of practice that one might be able to currently practice. Some aspect of
yoga meditation applies to every human being, though we need to be mindful of which is most
fitting and effective for a person with this or that state of mind.
Two of the states are desirable: Of the five states of mind (below), the latertwo of which are
desirable for the deeper practice of yoga meditation. For most people, our minds are usually in
one of the first three states.
Stabilize the mind in one-pointedness: By knowing this, we can deal with our minds so as to
gradually stabilize the mind in the fourth state, the state of one-pointedness. This is the state of
mind which prepares us for the fifth state, in which there is mastery of mind. (The first two
states might also be dominant or intense enough that they manifest as what psychologists call
mental illness.)
Knowing where your mind is now
tells you how to get where you're going.
1. Kshipta/disturbed: The ksihipta mind is disturbed, restless, troubled, wandering. This is the
least desirable of the states of mind, in which the mind is troubled. It might be severely
disturbed, moderately disturbed, or mildly disturbed. It might be worried, troubled, or chaotic. It
is not merely the distracted mind (Vikshipta), but has the additional feature of a more intense,
negative, emotional involvement.
2. Mudha/dull: The mudha mind is stupefied, dull, heavy, forgetful. With this state of mind,
there is less of a running here and there of the thought process. It is a dull or sleepy state,
somewhat like one experiences when depressed, though we are not here intending to mean only
clinical depression. It is that heavy frame of mind we can get into, when we want to do nothing,
to be lethargic, to be a couch potato.
The Mudha mind is barely beyond the Kshipta, disturbed mind, only in that the active
disturbance has settled down, and the mind might be somewhat more easily trained from this
place. Gradually the mind can be taught to be a little bit steady in a positive way, only
occasionally distracted, which is the Vikshiptastate. Then the mind can move on in training to
the Ekagra and Nirrudah states.
3. Vikshipta/distracted: The vikshipta mind is distracted, occasionally steady or focused. This
is the state of mind often reported by students of meditation when they are wide awake and
alert, neither noticeably disturbed nor dull and lethargic. Yet, in this state of mind, one's
attention is easily drawn here and there. This is the monkey mind or noisy mind that people
often talk about as disturbing meditation. The mind can concentrate for short periods of time,
and is then distracted into some attraction or aversion. Then, the mind is brought back, only to
again be distracted.
The Vikshipta mind in daily life can concentrate on this or that project, though it might wander
here and there, or be pulled off course by some other person or outside influence, or by a rising
memory. This Vikshipta mind is the stance one wants to attain through the foundation yoga
practices, so that one can then pursue the one-pointedness of Ekagra, and the mastery that
comes with the state of Nirrudah.
4. Ekagra/one-pointed: The ekagra mind is one-pointed, focused, concentrated (Yoga
Sutra 1.32). When the mind has attained the ability to be one-pointed, the real practice of Yoga
meditation begins. It means that one can focus on tasks at hand in daily life, practicing karma
yoga, the yoga of action, by being mindful of the mental process and consciously serving others.
When the mind is one-pointed, other internal and external activities are simply not a distraction.
The ability to focus attention is a
primary skill for meditation and samadhi.
The person with a one-pointed mind just carries on with the matters at hand, undisturbed,
unaffected, and uninvolved with those other stimuli. It is important to note that this is meant in
a positive way, not the negative way of not attending to other people or other internal priorities.
The one-pointed mind is fully present in the moment and able to attend to people, thoughts, and
emotions at will.
The one-pointed mind is able to do the practices of concentration and meditation, leading one
onward towards samadhi. This ability to focus attention is a primary skill that the student wants
to develop for meditation and samadhi.
5. Niruddah/mastered: The nirruddah mind is highly mastered, controlled, regulated,
restrained (Yoga Sutra 1.2). It is very difficult for one to capture the meaning of
the Nirrudah state of mind by reading written descriptions. The real understanding of this state
of mind comes only through practices of meditation and contemplation. When the
word Nirrudah is translated as controlled, regulated, or restrained, it can easily be
misunderstood to mean suppression of thoughts and emotions.
To suppress thoughts and emotions is not healthy and this is not what is meant here. Rather, it
has to do with that natural process when the mind is one-pointed and becomes progressively
more still as meditation deepens. It is not that the thought patterns are not there, or are
suppressed, but that attention moves inward, or beyond the stream of inner impressions. In that
deep stillness, there is a mastery over the process of mind. It is that mastery that is meant
by Nirrudah.
In the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras, Yoga is defined as "Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirrudah," which
is roughly translated as "Yoga is the control [Nirrudah] of the thought patterns of the mind
field". Thus, this Nirrudah state of mind is the goal and definition of Yoga. It is the doorway by
which we go beyond the mind.

What to do:
Be aware of your state of mind: Be aware of your general state of mind. Which of the five is
your typical state of mind in daily life? The single act of identifying your typical state of mind is
very useful in moving that state of mind further along the path of Yoga meditation.
If mind is kshipta or mudha: If your mind is mostly in the first two states (Kshipta or Mudha),
how can you use the vast range of Yoga practices to bring the mind to the merely distracted
(Vikshipta) state and then to one-pointedness (Ekagra)? How can you use other complementary
practices or therapies to help in this process?
If mind is vikshipta: If your mind is mostly in the distracted (Vikshipta) state, how can you
work with your concentration practices to more fully bring the mind to the one-pointedness of
the Ekagra mind?
If mind is ekagra: If you are able to train your mind to be in the one-pointed (Ekagra) state,
then how can you intensify your practices so as to attain glimpses of the mastery over mind
called Nirrudah?
Which of three qualities is most dominant?
Three gunas or qualities: The mind has one of three qualities (three gunas) that predominate.
These three qualities are related to the mind in general, as well as to specific thought patterns:
1. Tamas, static, stable, inert: Negative aspects include heaviness, vice, ignorance,
dullness, stagnation, or stupor. Positive aspects include stability and reliability.
2. Rajas, or active, stirring, moving: Impelled towards activity, which may be a negative,
disturbing, distracted form of energy, or a positive activity to overcome inertia.
3. Sattvas, Illumined, light, spiritual: As the veil of the other two is gradually lifted, there
comes virtue, higher wisdom, desirelessness, and mastery.
Cultivate a Sattvic or illumined mind,
while allowing Tamas to bring stability,
and Rajas to bring positive action.
What to do:
Cultivate sattvic mind: We want to cultivate the Sattvic or Illuminated state of mind, rather
than a mind filled with Inertia or Negative Activity. The three gunasare said to be the building
blocks of the universe, and at the same time are qualities of grosser levels of reality. For
example, one might eat more Sattvic food as an aid to meditation, or create a Sattvic
environment. Here, we are talking about cultivating Sattvic thought patterns.
Notice which of the three is predominant: Here, we want to simply notice the state of mind
in a common sense sort of way. This is very straightforward. The mind and its thoughts might be
filled with a heaviness (tamas), filled with distracting activity (rajas), or it might be filled
with illumination or spiritual lightness (sattvas).
• If heavy or inert: If the mind is heavy or inert, we want to bring activityso that we can
approach the illuminated, clear state of mind.
• If overactive or noisy: If the mind is overly active or noisy, in negative ways, then we
want to allow that to pass, to transform into a clarity andillumination.
• If clear or illumined: If the mind is in a clear, illumined, or Sattvic state, we want to
gently maintain that state of mind.
Cultivate sattvic thoughts and emotions: In any case, we want to cultivate individual
thoughts and emotions that are Sattvic in nature, that are spiritual, clear, or illumined. To do
that, it is useful to label the Tamasic and Rajasicthoughts so that these can be transformed
into Sattvic thoughts. It is not a matter of repressing the Tamasic or Rajasic thoughts, but of
positively emphasizing the Sattvic.
• For example, if Tamas is predominant, then thoughts might be heavy or
negative. However, when Sattvas is dominant, then Tamas provides stability, which is
useful.
• If Rajas is dominant, then thoughts might be anxious or racing. However, ifSattvas is
dominant, Rajas is the force that brings the useful thoughts into positive action,
while Tamas has a stabilizing effect.
It's not good or bad: When considering which of the Gunas are strongest in a given thought or
thought process, it can seem as if Sattvas is "good" and thatTamas and Rajas are "bad". This is
not the case. What is important is that balance of the Gunas and which one is dominant. In
addition to the possible negative aspects, Rajas is also the positive impelling force to take
actions, andTamas is a stabilizing force. Both are useful.
Allow sattvas to be dominant: For meditation, Sattvas is the Guna that the student wants to
be dominant, allowing Rajas and Tamas to have little influence.
Is this particular thought colored or not-colored
Klishta or aklishta: Thought patterns are either Klishta or Aklishta.
• Klishta means that they are not neutral, but are colored or afflicted in some way, such as
with attraction or aversion. These lead to pain and suffering.
• Aklishta means they are not colored, such as when not afflicted either with attraction or
aversion. These do not lead to pain and suffering.
Knowing if a thought is colored or not-colored
brings freedom of choice to act or not act.
A most important practice: To observe whether thoughts are Klishta or Aklishtais extremely
useful. It is the foundation practice of observing your thought process. This is done when
observing both individual thoughts and trains of thoughts. This can seem so simple a practice as
to brush over it as being unimportant, but this is a big mistake. Observing whether thoughts
are colored ornot colored is useful both at meditation time, and during the activities of daily life.
Klishta, or colored thought patterns:
• Often these have a disturbing quality.
• Sometimes they are just distracting, not really disturbing.
• At other times we may enjoy or cultivate the thought patterns, although they are
still colored. In other words, we like our attractions.
• Interestingly, we also hold on to our aversions in such a way, that it is like we want to
keep them around too.
• Many of the mental impressions that seem to be related to "I" or "Me" arecolored,
or Klishta.
Aklishta, or not-colored thought patterns:
• These are neutral. Much of the information stored in our mind is merely data that is there
for day-to-day living. Household or office objects are good examples of objects whose
impressions are naturally neutral.
• In a public area we see many people, some of whom we may have seen before, but do
not know. These too are often Aklishta, or uncoloredmemories.
• Sometimes we have thought patterns that were previously colored, but have lost some,
most, or all of their coloring. Good examples are past habit patterns that we have truly let
go of. The thought impressions of those past habits are now mostly neutral if the habit
has really been changed.
• Are useful on the spiritual journey
What to do:
Observe the rise and fall of thoughts: Simply observe the individual thought patterns that
naturally flow in the stream of the mind. They rise and fall as a normal process. Then, simply
observe whether a certain thought pattern isColored or Not-Colored, Klishta or Aklishta.
Literally ask yourself:
"Is this thought colored or not colored?"
"Is this thought klishta or aklishta?"
Talk with yourself: The way to observe is to literally ask yourself with your inner voice, "Is this
thought colored or not colored, klishta or aklishta?" Answers will come from within.
Literally answer yourself:
"Colored" or "Not colored"
"Klishta" or "Aklishta"
Verbalize the words: You will then want to train your mind by internally saying the word or
label, such as "Colored," "Not-Colored," "Klishta" or "Aklishta". (This goes along with the process
of observing whether the thought is Useful or Not Useful, which is described in a section below.)
The process might go something like this:
1. Thought arises.
2. Ask, "Is this thought colored or not colored?"
3. Answer comes, "Colored!"
4. Ask, "Is this thought useful or not useful?"
5. Answer comes, "Not Useful!".
6. Train the mind with, "Mind, this thought is not useful!"
7. Then you can either let go, explore, or cultivate the thought. (The effect of this is
cumulative. It may seem slow at first, but it builds up over time.)
With a little practice, the process comes very quickly, something like this:
1. Thought arises.
2. "...Colored... Not Useful..."
3. "Let go of it, mind...." (or explore it further if you choose)
Or:
1. Thought arises.
2. "...Colored... Useful..."
3. "This is a good idea... I should do this..."
Or:
1. Thought arises.
2. "...Not Colored..." (or only mildly colored)
3. Thought naturally drifts away.
Intentionally allow a thought to arise: Practice this by intentionally allowing a thought
pattern to arise from within, and then observe and label it. Do this practice several times
allowing different types of thought patterns to arise. With practice, this will be a very easy thing
to do. Then, as a natural outcome of theobserving and labeling process, it becomes much easier
to become a neutralwitness to that stream of thought patterns.
Examine individual thoughts: When we can neutrally witness the entire stream of thoughts, it
is then easier to examine individual thought patterns, so as to further weaken their grip
(weakening the samskaras that drive karma). It is also easier to begin to move beyond the mind
itself, towards the center of consciousness.
Allow colored to become uncolored: We come to see that a most important aspect of yoga
meditation has to do with allowing Colored or Klishta thoughts to naturally transition
into Uncolored or Aklishta thoughts. The original thought remains, but gradually loses its
coloring (mostly attraction and aversion), resulting in those previously troublesome thoughts
becoming mere memories. This is a practical method of attaining the true meaning of non-
attachment (vairagya).
Which of five types is this particular thought?
Then notice which of five types: Once you have observed whether a thought pattern
is colored or not colored (klishta or aklishta), then the next step is to notice which of five types it
is. You need not memorize the Sanskrit words, though that might come naturally as you practice
this aspect of self-awareness. (Yoga Sutra 1.6)
1. Pramana/correct, real, right, accurate, clear,
valid: real cognition, rightor correct knowledge, accurate perception, clear seeing, coming
from anunclouded mind
2. Viparyaya/incorrect, unreal, wrong, inaccurate, misconceived,
unclear:unreal cognition, wrong or incorrect knowledge, inaccurate perception,indiscrimin
ate thoughts, clouded thinking
3. Vikalpa/imaginary, conceptualized, fantasy, deluded, hallucination: coming
from imagination, imagery, fantasy, verbal delusion, creation of strings of thought
patterns, hallucination
4. Nidra/sleep, sleepiness, blankness, focus on non-being: sleep, the state of mind wherein
attention is drawn to the "object" of blankness or inertnessassociated with sleep (this is a
different perspective from Tamas, one of the three gunas previously mentioned, though
they might be related.)
5. Smriti/memory, stored impressions, recalling: coming from memory, the arising of
information from the storehouse of impressions, the natural stream of data in the mind
field
Observe if perceptions are clear or clouded,
if mind is fantasizing or drifting to sleep,
or is having streams of mere memories.
Yoga deals with pramana/correct knowing: Yoga really deals with the first kind of thought,
that of Pramana, or seeing correctly. In a sense, we could ignore the other four. However, it is
useful to know about, and to observe the other four, so that we can intentionally focus on
training the mind to see clearly. It is this correct knowledge that is the key to advancement on
the spiritual journey.
What to do:
Start with an individual thought: Observe an individual thought and simply notice which of
these five types (above) most relates to that individual thought.
• The most important part of this process is to remember that we want to cultivate the type
of thought in which we are seeing clearly, accurately, or correctly (Pramana).
• This first kind of thought is actually the one towards which Yoga meditation is directed.
• The reason we want to notice the other four types is that we are often entangled in them,
but do not know it.
• By becoming aware of this, we are instantly starting to see clearly, which is the first type,
and the one we are trying to cultivate.
Observe your thoughts
one thought at a time.
What we might notice: Here's some examples of what we might notice:
• A single thought arises, and the mind goes off into a fantasy about that single thought,
creating a whole train of thoughts. We might simply note that, "Mind is starting to
fantasize". (Vikalpa)
• With the same thought pattern, we may note that, "This thought arose from memory
(Smriti). Shall I act on this, or let it go?"
• We may be listening to a person, then suddenly, maybe with a jolt, notice that we had
stopped listening. Mind might have drifted in the direction of the blankness associated
with sleep (nidra), though this does not mean we actually fell asleep. We might then
remind ourselves, "Stay awake, mind! Stay alert!"
• We might have been working on some task, and notice in a positive way, that for this past
few minutes, the mind was fully present, seeing clearly (Pramana), and that the thought
patterns were correct or accurate. We notice how useful this is.
• We might be experiencing some thought process, thinking about some person, or
witnessing some thoughts at meditation time. Suddenly, we get a flash of insight that our
thinking or opinions were wrong (Vikalpa). Our incorrect perception (Vikalpa) is replaced
with more correct perception (Pramana).
• In our meditation, we might have a time of streams of thoughts coming and going, but
not distracting us. We come to see that this is the meaning of streams of thoughts, or
memories (Smriti) rising and falling in the lake of mind while we remain non-attached. We
also may see how this whole process relates to chitta, and the four functions of mind.
An example of type and coloring: Determining the type of thought (the five types above) is a
next step, after labeling whether the thought is Colored or Not Colored. Together, we might
then observe, for example,
1. "These thoughts are really colored (klishta) with aversion (dvesha)".
2. "This is leading my mind to fantasize (Vikalpa)".
3. "Mind, you need to let go of this negativity, and focus on the here and now, what's really
going on (Pramana)".
Which of three ways do I know what is correct?
Cultivate correct perception: In the previous section, five types of thought were presented.
One of them is that of having correct knowledge or information, of seeing clearly (Pramana).
This correct seeing is the one we want to cultivate. But how does one know what is true and
what is not true, or false?
Three ways to get correct knowing: Yoga describes three ways of having correct knowledge
(Yoga Sutra 1.7). Simply noting these three ways does not automatically mean you know what
is true, but it can be a good start. The three ways of having correct information are:
1. Direct perception or experience (pratyaksha): Knowledge or information coming from
direct experience, such as seeing it for yourself.
2. Inference or thinking (anumana): From one's own reasoning process, of thinking
through a process and drawing a conclusion.
3. Written or oral information (agamah): Coming from the verbal instruction of some
other respected person who is considered a reliable source, or a reliable writing or
scripture.
Seek the convergence of
experience, inference, and teachings.
What to do:
Be aware of correct perception: This is an ongoing process of observing the ways in which
we draw conclusions about the day to day objects and activities around us, as well as about
spiritual truths.
• Be aware of some thought pattern, whether it is an opinion, a belief, or an observation.
Ask yourself how you know that it is a true, accurate, or correct perception?
• Which of the three ways of knowing is predominant in relation to that opinion, belief, or
observation?
• Do you know it is true because of direct experience, inference, or by the written or
oral statements of others?
• How do the three ways of knowing interplay with one another in a given situation? Do
they agree or disagree with one another?
• Which of your ways of knowing will you follow, or act on, in a given situation?
The goal of Yoga is to ultimately see Truth completely clearly. Thus, the process of identifying
the means of knowing true from not true is very important.
When experience, reasoning
and teachings agree,
then you know,
and you know that you know.
Seek convergence of the three ways of knowing: As we move along the path, we come to
see a convergence of direct experience, inference, and the testimony of others who have tread
the path. When all three ways of knowing seem to agree on a given subject, we have a pretty
good indication that we are going in the right direction. To look for the points of convergence
of experience,inference, and teachings can be a very practical aid on the spiritual path.
By which of five colorings is this thought influenced?
Five kinds of colorings: These colorings or kleshas are of five kinds. The kleshascan be
understood both in a very practical way that applies to our gross thinking process, and they can
also be understood in very subtle ways. Here, we are mostly looking at the grosser ways of
observing the kleshas. The depth comes in the practice of deeper meditation.
Literally ask yourself:
"In what way(s) is this thought colored?"
The five kleshas or colorings are as follows, and are further described in the text further below:
1. Avidya, ignorance, spiritual forgetting, veiling
2. Asmita, associated with I-ness
3. Raga, attraction or drawing to
4. Dvesha, aversion or pushing away
5. Abhinivesha, resistance to loss, fear
Reading the descriptions of the five colorings (kleshas) can sound philosophical rather than
practice. As you read through them, pay particular attention toattraction (raga)
and aversion (dvesha). You will quickly see how practical this process is as a part of your
meditation, and life.
Witness day-to-day thoughts: Remember, we are not talking here about any special kinds of
thought. These are the typical, day to day thoughts, or memories that naturally arise in
meditation. What we are talking about in this section is the way in which those typical thoughts
are colored. It is easiest to start by witnessing the colorings of attraction and aversion. Gradually
the other colorings will become obvious as well.
Literally answer yourself:
"This thought is from forgetting, clouding".
"This is colored with I, or is about me".
"This is from attraction, or aversion".
"This is fear of losing, or not gaining".
1) Avidya, spiritual forgetting, ignorance, veiling:
Vidya is with knowledge: Vidya means knowledge, specifically the knowledge of Truth. It is
not a mere mental knowledge, but the spiritual realization that is beyond the mind. When the
"A" is put in front of Vidya (to make it Avidya), the "A" means without.
Avidya is without knowledge: Thus, Avidya means without Truth or withoutknowledge. It is
the first form of forgetting the spiritual Reality. It is not just a thought pattern in the
conventional sense of a thought pattern. Rather, it is the very ground of losing touch with the
Reality of being the ocean of Oneness, of pure Consciousness.
Meaning of ignorance: Avidya is usually translated as ignorance, which is a good word, so
long as we keep in mind the subtlety of the meaning. It is not a matter of gaining more
knowledge, like going to school, and having this add up to receiving a degree. Rather, ignorance
is something that is removed, like removing clouds that obstruct the view. Then, with
the ignorance (or clouds) removed, we see knowledge or Vidya clearly.
Even in English, this principle is in the word ignorance. Notice that the word contains the root
of ignore, which is an ability that is not necessarily negative. The ability to ignore allows the
ability to focus. Imagine that you are in a busy restaurant, and are having a conversation with
your friend. To listen to your friend means both focusing on listening, while also ignoring the
other conversations going on around you. However, in the path of Self-realization, we want to
see past the veil of ignorance, to no longer ignore, and to see clearly.
Avidya is confusion of one for the other
Temporary
Impure
Painful
Not-self
<----->
<----->
<----->
<----->

Eternal
Pure
Pleasureful
Self
Avidya is the ground for the other colorings: Avidya is like a fabric, like a screen on which a
movie might then be projected. It is the ground in which comes the other four of
the colorings described below. Avidya (ignorance) is somewhat like making a mistake, in which
one thing is confused for another. Four major forms of this are:
• Seeing the temporary as eternal: For example, thinking that the earth and moon are
permanent, or behaving as if our possessions are permanently ours, forgetting that all of
them will go, and that our so-called ownership is only relative.
• Mistaking the impure for the pure: For example, believing that our thoughts,
emotions, opinions, or motives in relation to ourselves, some other person, or situation
are purely good, healthy, and spiritual, when they are actually a mixture of tendencies or
inclinations.
• Confusing the painful to be pleasureful: For example, in our social, familial, and
cultural settings there are many actions that seem pleasure filled in the moment, only
later to be found as painful in retrospect.
• Thinking the not-self to be the self: For example, we may think of our country, name,
body, profession, or deep predispositions to be "who I am," confusing these with who I
really am at the deepest level, the level of our eternal Self.
Both large and small scales: As you reflect on these forms of Avidya, you will notice that they
apply at both large scales and smaller scales, such as the impermanence of both the planet
Earth and the object we hold in our hand. The same breadth applies to the others as well.
Avidya gets us entangled in the first place: In relation to individual thought patterns, it
is Avidya (spiritual forgetting) that allows us to get entangled in the thought in the first place. If
in the moment the thought arises, there is also complete spiritual awareness (Vidya) of Truth,
then there is simply no room for I-ness to get involved, nor attraction, nor aversion, nor fear.
There would be only spiritual awareness along with a stream of impressions that had no power
to draw attention into their sway. Witnessing this Avidya (spiritual forgetting) in relation to
thoughts is the practice.
2) Asmita, associated with I-ness:
Nature of I-ness: Asmita is the finest form of individuality. It is not I-am-ness, as when we
say, "I am a man or woman," or "I am a person from this or that country". Rather, it is I-
ness that has not taken on any of those identities.
Mistake of thinking it is about me: However, when we see I-ness or Asmita as a coloring,
a klesha, we are seeing that a kind of mistake has been made. The mistake is that the thought
pattern of the object is falsely associated with I-ness (Asmita), and thus we say that the thought
pattern is a klishta thought pattern, or a klishta vritti.
The image in the mind is not neutral: Imagine some thought that it is notcolored by I-ness.
Such an un-colored thought would have no ability to distract your mind during meditation, nor to
control your actions. Actually, there are many such neutral thought patterns. For example, we
encounter many people in daily life whom we may recognize, but have never met, and for whom
their memory in our mind is neither colored with attraction nor aversion. It simply means that
the image of those people is stored in the mind, but that it is neutral, not colored.
Uncoloring your thoughts: Imagine how nice it would be if you could regulate
this coloring process itself. Then, if there were an attraction or aversion, we could un-color it,
internally, so as to be free from its control (or attenuate it). This is done as a part of the process
of meditation. It not only has benefits in our relationship with the world, but also purifies the
mind so as to experience deeper meditation.
I-ness is necessary for the others: In relation to individual thought patterns, the coloring
of I-ness is necessary for attraction, aversion, and fear to have any power. Thus, the I-
ness itself is seen as a coloring process of the thoughts. The practice is that
of witnessing this Asmita (I-ness), and how it comes into relation with though patterns.
3) Raga, attraction or drawing to:
Once there is the primary forgetting called Avidya, and the rising of individuality called Asmita,
there is now the potential for attachment, or Raga.
It is not that "I" am attached.
Rather, the thought is colored.
"I" then identifies with the thought.
Attachment is an obstacle, but not bad: Raga is not a moral issue; it is not "bad" that there
is attachment. It seems to be built into the universe and the makeup of all living creatures,
including humans.
Degree of coloring: Where we get into trouble with attachment, is the degree of the coloring.
If the coloring gets strong enough to control us, without restraint, we may call it addiction or
neurosis, in a psychological sense.
Gaining mastery: In spiritual practices, we want to gain mastery over theattachments. At
meditation time, we want to be able to let go of theattachments, so that we might experience
the Truth that is deeper, or on the other side from the attachments.
Attachment is a natural habit of mind: However, in the process of witnessing, we want to be
aware of the many ways in which the mind habitually becomes attached. If you see this as a
natural action of the mind, it is much easier to accept, without feeling that something is wrong
with your own mind. The habit of the mind to attach can actually become amusing, bringing a
smile to the face, as you increasingly are free from the attachment.
Witnessing is necessary for meditation: In relation to individual thoughts,attachment is one
of the two colorings that is most easily seen, along withaversion. To witness attachments and
aversions is a necessary skill to develop for meditation. The ability to let go of the train of
thoughts is based on the solid foundation of seeing and labeling individual thoughts as being
colored withattachment.
4) Dvesha, aversion or pushing away:
Aversion is a form of attachment: Aversion is actually another form ofattachment. It is what
we are trying to mentally push away, but that pushing away is also a form of connection, just as
much as attachment is a way of pulling towards us.
Aversion is just
another form of attachment.
Aversion is a natural part of the mind: Dvesha actually seems to be a natural part of the
universal process, as we build a precarious mental balance between the many attractions and
the many aversions.
Aversion is both surface and subtle: It is important to remember that aversioncan be very
subtle, and that this subtlety will be revealed with deeper meditation. However, it is also quite
visible on the more surface level as well. It is here, on the surface that we can begin the process
of witnessing our aversions.
Aversion can be easier to notice than attachment: In relation to individual thought
patterns, aversion is one of the two colorings that is most easily seen, along with attachment.
Actually, aversion can be easier to notice than attachment, in that there is often an emotional
response, such as anger, irritation, or anxiety. Such an emotional response may be mild or
strong. Because of these kinds of responses, which animate through the sensations of the
physical body, this aspect of witnessing can be very easily done right in the middle of daily life,
along with meditation time.
Attenuating the colorings: Notice the process of attenuating the colorings in the next section.
To follow this attenuating process, it is first necessary to be aware of the colorings, such
as aversion and attachment. Gradually, through the attenuating process, we truly can become
a witness to the entire stream of the thinking process. This sets the stage for deeper meditation.
5) Abhinivesha, resistance to loss, fear:
Once the balance has been attained between the many attractions and aversions, along with
having the foundation I-ness and spiritual ignorance, there comes an innate desire to keep
things just the way they are.
The resistance to losing the delicate balance
among the false identities is called
fear of the death of those identities.
Fear of change: There is a resistance and fear that comes with the possibility of losing the
current situation. It is like a fear of death, though it does not just mean death of the physical
body. Often, this fear is not consciously experienced. It is common for a person new to
meditation to say, "But I have no fear!" Then, after some time there arises a subtle fear, as one
becomes more aware of the inner process.
Fear is natural: This is definitely not a matter of trying to create fear in people. Rather, it is a
natural part of the process of thinning out the thick blanket of colored thought patterns. There is
a recognition of letting go of our unconsciously cherished attachments and aversions. When
meditation is practiced gently and systematically, this fear is seen as less of an obstacle.
What to do:
Allow streams of individual thoughts to flow: One of the best ways to get a good
understanding of witnessing the kleshas (colorings) is to sit quietly and intentionally allow
streams of individual thoughts to arise. This doesn't mean thinking or worrying. It literally is an
experiment in which you intentionally let an image come. It is easiest to do with what seem to
be insignificant impressions.
For example, imagine a fruit, and notice what comes to mind. An apple may come to mind, and
you simply note "Attraction" if you like it, or are drawn to it. It may not be a strong coloring, but
maybe you notice there is some coloring. You may think of a pear, and note that there is an
ever so slight "aversion" because you do not like pears.
Experiment with colorings: Allow lots of such to images come. One of the things I have done
often with people is to grab about 10-15 small stones in my hand, and ask a person to pick one
they like. Then I ask them to pick one they are less drawn to (few people will say they "dislike"
one of the stones). It is a very simple experiment that demonstrates the way in which
attractions and aversions are born. It is easier at first to experiment with witnessing thoughts for
which there is only slight coloring, only a small amount of attraction or aversion.
You can easily run such experiments with many objects arising into the field of mind from the
unconscious. You can also easily do this by observing the world around you. Notice the countless
ways in which your attention is drawn to this or that object or person, but gently or strongly
turns away from other objects or people.
Though it is a bit harder to do, notice the countless objects you pass by everyday for which
there is no response whatsoever. These are examples of neutral impressions in the mind field.
Gradually witness stronger colorings: By observing in this way, it is easier to gradually
witness stronger attractions and aversions in a similar way. When we can begin the process of
witnessing the type of coloring, then we can start the process of attenuating the coloring, which
is discussed in the next section.
In which of four stages is this colored thought pattern?
Systematically reduce the colorings: These colorings (kleshas) are either: 1) active, 2) cut
off, 3) attenuated, or 4) dormant. We want to be able to observe and witness these stages
so that we can systematically reduce the coloring. Then the thought patterns are no longer
obstacles to deep meditation, and that is the goal.
Review: For clarity, let's quickly go over what has been covered so far, in relation to witnessing
a thought:
• What is your general state of mind? (disturbed, dull, distracted...)
• What about the three qualities, or gunas? (heavy, active, illumined)
• Is it correct thinking, incorrect, fantasy, memory, or sleep?
• Is the thought colored or not-colored? (and to what degree)
• How are the five colorings affecting the thought? (ignorance, I-ness, attachment,
aversion, fear)
It's not so complicated: Hopefully, when you read these few points above, the process
of labeling and witnessing is now starting to seem not so complicated. It really is easy to see all
of this in a moment, and the internal labeling takes only a few seconds. It really does get easier
with practice.
Four stages of coloring: Now, we want to know what to do about thesecolorings that are
normally obstacles to meditation and spiritual realization, and which often cause trouble in our
external lives; that is, in the world of other people, situations, and circumstances. The starting
point is to observe what is the current state of the coloring:
1. Active, aroused (udaram): Is the thought pattern active on the surface of the mind, or
playing itself out through physical actions (through the instruments of action,
called karmendriyas, which include motion, grasping, and speaking)? These thought patterns
and actions may be mild, extreme, or somewhere in between. However, in any case, they
are active.
2. Distanced, separated, cut off (vicchinna): Is the thought pattern less active right now,
due to there being some distance or separation. We experience this often when the object of
our desire is not physically in our presence. The attraction or aversion, for example, is still
there, but not in as active a form as if the object were right in front of us. It is as if we
forgot about the object for the now. It is actually still colored, but just not active(but also
not really attenuated).
3. Attenuated, weakened (tanu): Has the thought pattern not just been interrupted, but
actually been weakened or attenuated? Sometimes we can think that a deep habit pattern
has been attenuated, but it really has not been weakened. When we are not in the presence
of the object ofattachment or aversion, that separation can appear to be attenuation, when
it actually is just not seen in the moment.
This is one of the big traps of changing the habits or conditionings of the mind. First, it is
true that we need to get some separation from the activestage to the distanced stage, but
then it is essential to start to attenuatethe power of the coloring of the thought pattern.
4. Dormant, latent, seed (prasupta): Is the thought pattern in a dormantor latent form, as
if it were a seed that is not growing at the moment, but which could grow in the right
circumstances?
The thought pattern might be temporarily in a dormant state, such as when asleep, or when
the mind is distracted elsewhere. However, when some other thought process comes, or
some visual or auditory image comes in through the eyes and ears, the thought pattern is
awakened again, with all of its coloring.
Eventually the seed of the colored thought
can be burned in the fire of meditation,
and a burnt seed can no longer grow.
Where does all of this go? Through the process of Yoga meditation, the thought patterns are
gradually weakened, then can mostly remain in a dormant state. Then, in deep meditation the
"seed" of the dormant can eventually be burned, and a burned seed can no longer grow. Then,
one is free from that previously coloredthought pattern.
Example: An example will help to understand the way these four stages work together. We'll
use the physical example of four people, in relation to smoking cigarettes, because the example
can be so clear. The principles apply not only to objects such as cigarettes, but also to people,
opinions, concepts, beliefs, thoughts or emotions.
• Person A: Has never smoked and has never felt any desire to smoke. When Person A
sees a cigarette, he recognizes what it is. There is a memory impression in the chitta, but
it is completely neutral--it just is a matter or recognition. It is not colored; it is aklishta.
(The thought of cigarettes might be colored by aversion, if he is offended by smoking, but
that is a different example.)
• Person B: Has smoked for many years, but then quit several years ago. Occasionally she
still says, "I'd kill for a cigarette!" but does not smoke due to health reasons. Her deep
impression of cigarettes remains colored, and is actively playing out in both the
unconscious and conscious, waking states. At times, the impression of cigarettes might
not be active, such as when she is asleep, or doing some other distracting activity.
However, at the latent level, the impression is still very colored in a potential form.
• Person C: Has smoked for many years, but then quit several years ago. He always says,
"Oh, no, I don't want a cigarette; I never even think about it". At the same time his
gestures and body language reveal something different. He may have very colored mental
impressions of attachment, but they are not allowed to surface into consciousness. There
is separation from the thought pattern, but the coloring has not truly
been attenuated(even though it goes into latent form during sleep, or when the mind is
distracted). This kind of blocking the coloring is not what is intended in Yoga science.
• Person D: Smoked for many years, but then quit several years ago. After some time of
struggling with the separation or cutting off phase (Vicchinna), she then sat with this
desire during meditation, allowed the awareness of the attachment to rise, gently
refrained from engaging the impressions, and watched the coloring gradually fade. During
that time, the thought patterns were sometimes active, sometimes separated, and
sometimes temporarily dormant. However, it is now as if she were a non-smoker. The
desire has returned to seed form or is completely gone, not only when asleep, or when
the mind is distracted, but also when in the presence of cigarettes in the external world.
What to do:
Notice the stage of individual thoughts: We want to observe our thinking process often, in a
gentle, non-judging way, noticing the stage of the coloring of thought patterns. It can be great
fun, not just hard work. The mind is quite amusing the way that it so easily and quickly goes
here and there, both internally and through the senses, seeking out and reacting to the objects
of desire.
There are many thoughts traveling in the train of mind, and many are colored. This is how the
mind works; it is not good or bad. By noticing the colored thought patterns, understanding their
nature by labeling them, we can increasingly become a witness to the whole process, and in
turn, become free from thecoloring. Then, the spiritual insights can more easily come to the
forefront of awareness in life and meditation.
Literally say to your mind:
"This colored thought is going to bring
only pain and suffering. Let it go, mind".
Train the mind about coloring: An extremely important part of attenuating,
orreducing the coloring of the colored thought pattern is to train the mind that thiscoloring is
going to bring nothing but further trouble.
It means training the mind that, "This is not useful!" (This is discussed in the next section). This
simple training is the beginning of attenuating the coloring (The process starts with observing,
but then moves on to attenuating). It is similar to training a small child; it all begins by labeling
and saying what is useful and not useful. Note that this is not a moral judgment as to what is
good or bad. It is more like saying whether it is more useful to go left or right when taking a
journey.
Often, we are stuck in a cycle: Often in life, we find that the colored thought patterns move
between active and separated stages, and then back to active. They go in a cycle between these
two. Either they are actively causing challenges, or we are able to get some distance from them,
like taking a vacation.
Break the cycle: However, it is possible that we may never really attenuatethem when
engaged in such a cycle, let alone get the colorings down into seed form, when we are stuck in
this cycle. It is important to be aware of this possibility, so that we can intentionally pursue the
process of weakening the strength of the coloring.
The deeper, stronger, more profound
attenuating comes in the
stillness and silence of meditation.
Meditation attenuates coloring: This is where meditation can be of tremendous value in
getting free from these deep impressions. We sit quietly, focusing the mind, yet intentionally
allow the cycling process to play out, right in front of our awareness. Gradually it weakens, so
we can experience the deeper silence, where we can come in greater touch with the spiritual
aspects of meditation.
Will I train my mind as to what is useful and not useful?
Are you willing to train your mind?: Recall that at the beginning of the paper, we spoke of
negative thoughts as an example of labeling thoughts. We used the simple example of internally
saying, "Negative" to label such a thought.
Train the mind:
"Mind, this is not useful!"
"Mind, this is useful!"
Now, the next piece of the process is to evaluate whether the thought is Usefulor Not Useful.
This, in turn leads to the question of whether we will, or will not cultivate this thought, and
whether we will or will not allow it to turn into actions. We may ask, for example, "Should I do it,
or not do it?" "Should I give this any energy, or let it go?"
A simple sequence might be like this:
1. "This thought is colored. It's aversion, though mild".
2. "I'm not seeing clearly. I need to look at this more clearly".
3. "This is Not Useful, mind".
4. "I'm not going to act on this. Mind, we need to take a closer look at this, and let go of any
actions for now".
Or, like this:
1. "This thought is colored. It's attachment, and pretty strong".
2. "Mind is fantasizing, but also can see this clearly".
3. "The thought has some pure, sattvic qualities".
4. "This may be colored, but it really is Useful and serves others".
5. "I'm going to do this, but mind, remember to do it for others".
Or, to be quiet for meditation:
1. "This is colored. I've been exploring this already, dealing with it".
2. "Mind, this is Not Useful right now".
3. "Don't get entangled in this right now. Let it go".
4. "Mind, focus on the stillness behind all these thoughts".
Cultivate the higher function of mind: The evaluation of thoughts being Usefulor Not
Useful comes from using the function of mind called buddhi, which is the aspect of mind most
important to cultivate. Most often, it is pretty obvious whether a thought is Useful or Not Useful.
However, consciously noticing this is a very important part of training the mind.
Literally say to your mind,
"Useful!" or "Not useful!"
Talk to yourself: Then, you literally say to your mind either "Useful" or "Not Useful". This is
spoken internally, not aloud. It is somewhat the way one might train a small child. It is done
very lovingly, but with a clear statement of the reality of being Useful or Not Useful.
To say that a thought is Not Useful makes it easier to then let go of the thought without it
turning into a long train of Not Useful thoughts. It is also easier for the thought to not turn into
actions that are occurring only out of habit.
Cultivate the useful thoughts: If a thought is Useful, then it is easier to cultivate that
thought, and bring it into action in the external world if that is appropriate. In this way, more of
the Useful thoughts are cultivated, while more of the Not Useful thoughts are dropped. This is an
extremely useful part of the process of stabilizing and purifying the mind, which sets the stage
for advanced meditation and samadhi.
This labeling applies to all types of thoughts: To label thoughts as Useful orNot
Useful applies to virtually all of the types of witnessing that are being described here in this
paper.
How does this relate to the Four Functions of Mind?
All of the witnessing practices described here play out in the field of the Four Functions of Mind.
The more the individual aspects are labeled and witnessed, the more one comes to see the
elegant simplicity of the inner process of the four functions.
• Manas: driving actions and senses; sensory, processing mind
• Chitta: storehouse of latent impressions, memories
• Ahamkara: I-maker or ego (though not "egotistical")
• Buddhi: knows, decides, judges, discriminates
Consciously witness
the Four Functions of Mind,
while they are functioning.
From where did the thought come?: In consciously working with witnessing the Four
Functions of Mind, you can ask yourself, "From where did this thought, emotion, sensation,
image, or impression arise?" It is not a question of life history or psychodynamics, but of
logistics. Where was this thought pattern located a moment ago, just before it arose? You come
to see that it arose from the place it was resting, the reservoir of the mind-field called chitta in
Yoga science. Whatever thought arises, it is always true that it arose from chitta.
So why should you ask yourself where the thought came from, if the answer is always the same?
It is a part of self-training, of becoming a witness to the process. Further, it allows you to have
some distance from the thought itself. It allow you to see clearly, instantly, in the moment, that,
"This thought is not who I am! I am different from my thoughts! I am the one who is witness of
all of these thought patterns!"
How did this thought come to affect me?: Then, it allows you to be able to pose the
question, the reflection, "How did I get caught up in this thought pattern? How did I get
entangled in this, thinking that this is who I am? That this has something to do with me? Why is
this thought pattern not neutral? Why is it not a mere memory?"
Learn to see the mistake that this thought
has something to do with me, the real me.
You come to see the coloring agent, the one who took this otherwise neutral thought pattern,
this mere memory, and turn it into something more, into a false identity of "who I am". You
come to see the effect of ahamkara, the ego.
A case of mistaken identity: You see that a mistake has been made--the mistake of the ego
thinking that this thought pattern has something to do withme. When that wisdom comes, it
means that the function of mind called buddhi is now seeing clearly, and the manas, or mind is
now much more free from those thought patterns, rather than automatically reacting out of
habit or conditioned response.
A very high practice: Witnessing the interplay of the Four Functions of Mind is a very high
practice on the path of Self-Realization. Because there are only four processes to witness, there
is also a simplicity to it. It is not easy to do initially, but there really is a simplicity to it. One
hundred percent of the processes of the mind involve only these four functions. By
becoming witness to these four processes, one is automatically moved in the direction of
realizing the Self or Atman, since that is ultimately the highest stance from
which witnessing occurs.
How does this relate to the Levels of Consciousness?
To understand the relation between witnessing and the levels of consciousness, you might want
to also review these two papers:
• OM and the 7 Levels of Consciousness
• 4 Levels and 3 Domains of Consciousness
Latent level of consciousness: When the colored thought patterns (klishta vrittis) are in a
latent, dormant form, they reside in the third level of consciousness (see below). This is the level
called Prajna, which is also the Deep Sleep, Subconscious, or Causal level.

AUM Sanskrit
States of
Consciousness
Levels of
Consciousness
Levels of
Reality
A Vaishvanara Waking Conscious
Gross

U Taijasa Dreaming Unconscious
Subtle

M Prajna Deep Sleep Subconscious
Causal

Silence
Turiya /
Fourth
Turiya /
Fourth
Consciousness /
Self / Atman
Absolute
Reality

The seed thoughts awaken, and arise
through the levels of mind, leading to
thoughts, emotions, actions, and speech.
Subtle level of consciousness: When those thought patterns begin to stir, the thought
patterns start to interact in the Taijasa level, which is also the Dreaming, Unconscious, or
Subtle. The thought patterns have not actually gone anywhere, traveled anywhere. Rather, the
state of consciousness has shifted; they have simply become active, though it is not seen
consciously, in the waking state.
Gross level of consciousness: When the thought patterns break through the threshold
between conscious, and unconscious, they are experienced at theVaishvanara level, which is also
the Waking, Conscious, or Gross. Now, the thought patterns can begin to effect actions and
speech, as well as thoughts. Obviously a person can be in the conscious state and not
consciously aware of the thinking process that is driving the actions. This is how our unconscious
process controls us, and this is part of the reason we want to become aware.
Do not block the levels of consciousness: Sometimes, it is easy to think that if we can
simply block these deeper levels, we can sit in the waking state and enjoy deep meditation. It
may be peaceful to do this, but it will not bring deep meditation. The deep Silence, Self, Atman,
or Absolute Reality is underneath, or beyond the other levels and the colored thought patterns.
Therefore, it is essential to learn how to open the veil to the deeper layer.
Three companions:
Focus, Expansion, Non-attachment
Three parts to opening the veil: In opening the veil, there are three principles or aspects of
practice that go together:
1. Focus: The mind is trained to be able to pay attention, so as to not be drawn here and
there, whether due to the spontaneous rising of impressions in meditation, or due to
external stimuli.
2. Expansion: The ability to focus is accompanied by a willingness to expand the conscious
field through that which is normally unconscious, including the center of consciousness.
3. Non-attachment: The ability to remain undisturbed, unaffected and uninvolved with the
thoughts and impressions of the mind is the key ingredient that must go along with focus
and expansion.
With these three abilities, one can then witness the field of consciousness, and begin the journey
beyond.
Where does this fit in with other yoga practices?
Body, breath, and mind: It is most useful to work with the grosser aspects ofbody, breath,
and mind. Then you are better able to do these witnessing practices. It does not mean that you
cannot begin the labeling and witnessingpractices immediately--that would not be true.
However, the foundation practices are really quite beneficial. If the body is uncomfortable,
the breath erratic, and the mind troubled, then these witnessing practices might end up worry
sessions rather than peaceful, contemplative observations.
Witnessing the mind leads one
beyond the process of mind,
through deep meditation.
The witnessing practices set the stage for the deeper practices of meditation, wherein you
consciously, intentionally, willfully allow your attention to go into the space beyond all of the
processes of mind. Theoretically, one could go directly to that space, bypassing all of the other
work, including with body, breath, and mind, including these witnessing practices. However, to
directly go beyond all of this is extremely difficult and might not be the better approach for most
seekers.
Position of witnessing in practice: A simple way of graphically describing the relative position
of these witnessing practices is like this:
Foundation practices > Witnessing > Deep Meditation
To be able to witness your thinking process means first having the mind somewhat stable.
The witnessing skill is then cultivated. This in turn leads to deep meditation.
Witnessing in meditation
Discriminating in meditation: Ultimately, the one stance from which all of these thoughts and
aspects of mind can be witnessed is the Self, the Atman. In Yoga, the process is described as
discriminating between Purusha and Prakriti (approximately, though crudely translated as
consciousness and matter).
A universal teaching:
Know yourself!
Journey from the mere self
to the True Self.
Know yourself: By whichever philosophical model one follows, this process
oflabeling and witnessing thought processes and patterns is a profoundly useful practice on the
path to Enlightenment. It is a major part of the perennial wisdom that suggests that you, "Know
Yourself" to follow the spiritual journey. It is the journey from the mere self to the True Self.
Witnessing is an essential skill: The ability to witness the individual thoughts and the whole
stream of thoughts is one of the important skills in practicing meditation. In this way meditation
can turn into the higher state of samadhi. It means that the mind is truly able to focus without
being disturbed. Then, this focus (one-pointedness called ekagra) and the quality of being
undisturbed by the thoughts (non-attachment, or vairagya) can allow a natural piercing of the
layers of consciousness, and expansion to That which is beyond.
Patience and practice: To do this process of labeling and witnessing requires patience and
practice. Like most things, it can look difficult at first, though it truly is an easy thing to do.
Seven Skills to Cultivate
for Yoga Meditation
You learn a technique so that
you can gain an underlying skill.
Techniques versus skills:
There are many Yoga techniques that can be learned. In pursuing those techniques, one can be
left with a bewildering sense of uncertainty about "why" all of the methods are being learned,
aside from a general idea that the methods are for "Self-Realization" or "Enlightenment".
Difference between techniques and skills: To put it simply, there is a vast difference
between a skill and the methods or techniques that were used to attainthat skill. Think of the
way an infant does many actions in those early months and years. The child may be playing with
this or that toy, or exploring the new environment of this new world. Yet, all of the play and
exploring leads to development of a few underlying skills, such as the motor skills of being able
to hold an object in the hand, or to move the legs so as to go from here to there.
Techniques are tools to gain skills: In Yoga science, all of the techniques are used to develop
certain skills by which one can meditate at a depth that will reveal the Center of Consciousness,
the Self within. It is not so much a matter of the techniques themselves being important, but
rather the techniques are tools to cultivate the underlying skill.
What we want is the skill,
not merely the techniques.
Learn the skill, not just techniques: Below are seven skills to cultivate for Meditation. It is
the skill we want to learn, not merely techniques (though, again, the techniques are quite
useful). For example, we want to gain the ability todirectly relax the body, smoothen the breath,
and quiet the mind in a moment, with no technique needed to do it.
Apply that skill in the moment: Having the methods, but without the skillmastery is not the
goal. We want to have the direct ability to apply the skill in a moment. However, to gain mastery
in the skill, we may need to learn the techniques and gradually advance to the point of directly
applying our learnedskill.
Many techniques, but only a few skills: By remembering that the goal is to attain those
few skills, the underlying simplicity of Yoga is seen amidst the seeming complexity of all the
techniques.
1. How to relax the body:
Relaxing: This may include relaxation exercises in the corpse posture, such as tense and
release, complete relaxation, 61-points, or yoga nidra (yogic sleep). It may involve a range of
Hatha Yoga postures learned over some time.
We want the skill of being able to
directly, immediately relax the body.
Repetition is the key: By repeating the relaxation exercises over and over, the nature of
relaxation itself is gradually known, experientially. You may practice the exercises in a class,
with a recorded voice, or on your own, systematically going through the various points of inner
attention.
The root skill is how to relax: However, the root skill to be learned is how to relax the body,
directly, immediately, at your own will and desire, whenever you want. Gradually, it becomes
easier and easier to do this, with or without specific methods. Because of the practice of the
methods, one develops a heightened level of awareness and an increasing ability to
simply "relax the body" with no technique whatsoever.
Apply that skill whenever you choose: However, the skill to relax at choice, may have come
from repeated practice of specific methods of relaxation.
2. How to sit in a comfortable, steady, straight posture:
Sitting posture: Several different meditation postures are offered in Yoga, including the
Accomplished pose (Siddhasana), the Auspicious pose (Swastikasana), the Easy pose
(Sukhasana), and the Friendship pose (Maitriasana). One may spend years developing and
refining their meditation sitting posture. There may be many adjustments of cushions, spine,
legs, feet, arms. The flexibility of the body, and elimination of soreness or pain is enhanced by
Hatha Yoga postures.
The goal is the skill of sitting
comfortably, steady, and straight.
The root skill is how to sit: However, the goal of all of these postures, methods, and
adjustments is the skill of sitting comfortably, steady, and straight.
Choosing what is right for you: While it is true that the sitting posture may develop over a
long period of time, it is also easy to have a comfortable, steady, and straight posture almost
immediately. To do so means working with a posture that is right for you, regardless of your
stage of development. The easiest to start with is the Friendship pose (Maitriasana) which is
sitting straight in a chair (though even this requires some training to do well).
Go directly to a comfortable posture: Gradually, a skill itself is developed, whereby the
aspirant is able to just sit down and be comfortable and steady, and have the head, neck, and
trunk aligned. While one may continue to do the preparatory practices, the skill is to go directly
to a proper sitting posture.
3. How to make your breathing process serene:
Breath training: Breath training starts with awareness, and ends with awareness. In the
beginning, one learns to observe the quality of breath, whether there are jerks, pauses, fast
breathing, or shallow breathing.
The skill is of making your breath
smooth, slow, and serene, with no pauses.
Then the breath is regulated so that the jerks and pauses are eliminated, the breath is slowed,
and becomes deep. Many breathing practices may be learned, including diaphragmatic
breathing, two-to-one breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and a variety of vigorous breathing
practices.
The root skill is how to breathe: There are many breathing practices, and variations within
those practices. They are designed to balance, energize, or calm the breath and underlying
energy system. However, they are all directed towards having the skill to make the breath
smooth, slow, and serene, in a particular way that allows your balanced energy to bring you
deeper into meditation.
The skill of serene breath, in a moment: Eventually one develops the directskill of making
the breathing process serene, in a moment. After all of the techniques, the practice comes back
to simple awareness that becomes so subtle that attention goes beyond the gross breath, to the
subtle energy, and on to the mind. The ability to attend to breath in this way is a skill, not a
method.
4. How to witness objects traveling in the train of mind:
Witness everything: Often students of meditation mistakenly trying to eliminatethought
patterns from the mind, rather than learning to be a neutral witness of the objects of the mind
field. This mistake usually comes from misunderstanding the process of quieting the mind.
The root skill is how to witness and let go: To quiet the mind does not mean suppression or
repression of thoughts and emotions. Rather, it has to do with theskill of letting go, of allowing
the thought patterns to flow without interruption, remaining focused not on the objects in the
flow of the river of mind, but on the stream itself.
Letting go of the stream of thoughts
in the mind is a skill unto itself.
Develop one, single new habit: This is like a process of developing a new habit. The new
habit is the habit of letting go of thought patterns when they arise. By developing one, single
new skill that becomes a habit, that of simply letting the thought pass by when it arises, we
become a witness to the whole stream of mental process. We can train ourselves in this new
habit, though it takes effort.
It is normally the habit of the mind to attach itself to the thought patterns when they arise. The
greater the coloring of the thought pattern, with attachment or aversion, the more quickly and
tightly the mind clings to that thought pattern once it awakens. These in turn lead to our actions
and speech.
That drive towards action and speech is the stirring of the aspect of mind called Manas, which is
wanting to drive the cycle of actions and sensory input (karmendriyas and jnanendriyas) in the
external world. In other words, that old habit of attaching to rising thought patterns normally
stirs us to move from our meditation, or leaves us in a fight with the mind.
Two stages to this new habit of witnessing: This skill of habit change, letting go, and
witnessing is cultivated in two stages:
• An individual thought: First, the skill of letting go of individual thoughts, one at a time.
We can do this moment by moment as we sit for meditation, intentionally allowing a
single thought to arise, and then consciously watching that thought drift away.
• Streams of thoughts: Second, after we become somewhat skilled in this practice of
dealing with one single thought at a time, we gradually develop the skill of witnessing
a stream of thoughts.
• Collective of streams: Then, we can allow the streams of thoughts to flow collectively,
naturally, while remaining undisturbed, unaffected, and uninvolved. This is the skill of
witnessing.
Witness, simply witness: There are a variety of concentration methods used to train and
focus the mind on gross, subtle, or subtler objects, while at the same time, the root skill is to be
able to simply witness the train of objects traveling in the mind without getting caught up in
them. While we are learning specific methods, it is very useful to continually remember that the
ability to witnessobjects in the train of mind is a root skill we are trying to cultivate.
5. How to inspect the quality of thoughts:
Inspecting helpful and not helpful: When one can witness the train of objects traveling in the
mind, the next skill is the ability to call back individual thought patterns so that they may be
observed and inspected with that trained skill of witnessing. There continues to be a steady body
and smooth breath (the previousskills).
Deciding which thoughts are helpful
and which are not helpful
is a skill unto itself.
The root skill is how to discriminate thoughts: When we have the skill of witnessing the
stream of thoughts, and also the skill of being able to call back individual thoughts, next comes
the skill of deciding which are helpful and which are not helpful in our growth.
Inspecting a thought is a skill: By learning to witness, and then learning to inspect individual
thoughts for their useful versus not useful qualities, we become free from the control of
unconscious thought patterns, and move ever closer to the experience of the deep center of
consciousness. The ability to inspect individual thoughts is a skill, not a method, and is crucial
for advancing in meditation.
Attenuating samskaras and karma: This ability to bring back, and to inspect thought
patterns is a key skill in attenuating the deep impressions of samskaras that normally, invisibly
lead to the playing out of our karma (actions) in the external world. Often, we don't really see
these thought patterns, but instead get unconsciously led to actions and speech that we later
regret.
6. How to promote the thoughts that are helpful:
Promote that which is helpful: After discriminating between helpful and not helpful thought
patterns (the skill explained above), the positive, useful, or helpful thoughts are intentionally
reinforced through our willpower, or sankalpa shakti. The next skill is promoting the thoughts
that are helpful, turning them into actions or into new habits of thinking.
Taking action on the helpful thoughts
is a skill to be learned and cultivated.
The root skill is how to promote the positive: This ability to promote the thoughts that are
helpful requires developing the skill to direct willpower, or sankalpa shakti, so as to turn the
positive thoughts into action. (When kundalini starts to stir, sankalpa shakti, or the power of
determination comes first, before kundalini travels to the crown chakra.)
The positive power of ego: The skill of promoting helpful thoughts rides on the positive power
of the ego (ahamkara), the training of the sensory-motor mind (manas), and the wisdom of
choice (buddhi), while integrating these with the storehouse of the thought patterns (chitta). In
other words, it means integrating the Four Functions of Mind.
Do nothing with that which is not helpful: What do we do with the negative thoughts, or the
thoughts that are not useful to our growth and well being? With the thoughts that are not helpful
we do nothing, absolutely nothing. We simply do not engage them. We take an attitude of
neither feeding into them, nor trying to push them away. By focusing only on the helpful
thoughts, the other ones gradually lose their intensity of coloring, and become mere memories,
without having and ability to control our thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Go gently: The letting go and witnessing skill works with this discriminating skillso as to gently
move us in the direction of growth and depth in our spiritual practices.
7. How to not allow yourself to be disturbed in any situation:
Equanimity is a skill: Resting on the foundation of the other six skills is the skillto not be
disturbed by any situation, whether in daily life or at meditation time.
• It means that even though you may correctly evaluate some situation or thought to be
"bad," you can remain calm and do not, yourself become disturbed.
• If you correctly judge a situation or thought to be "good," you can similarly remain calm
and not find yourself needlessly drawn into a feeling of excitement of a prideful nature.
Learning to remain undisturbed
is also a skill unto itself.
The root skill is how to maintain equanimity: This quality of not being disturbed does not
mean being inert. Rather, this skill means having balance, equanimity, which comes over time.
This equanimity does not mean being emotionless. The difference is between having an
emotional response arise and seeing that response stay with you for some extended period of
time, versus having an emotional response that rather quickly fades away as you make any
needed adjustments or changes.
Equanimity comes in stages: Eventually one may develop the skill of not being disturbed in
any situation such that there really is a continuous equanimity, but again, it comes gradually in
stages. It is important to see how this skill grows over time, so as to not set ourselves up with
expectations of immediately having complete balance and equanimity.
Remain calm, without acting: This is a skill unto itself. One may be able to train themselves
to be an actor, and appear to be not disturbed, but with this skill, one can truly have calm,
without merely acting as if calm.
A critical skill: This skill of not being disturbed is a critical skill in advanced meditation. It is
called non-attachment, or vairagya.
Letting the skills work together
Cultivate these skills: Cultivating the skills is the real key to advancing in meditation, not just
the addition of more and more techniques, although knowing techniques is important.
Allow the seven skills to work together,
like fingers on a hand.
Like fingers on a hand: These skills work together, like fingers on a hand, and bring one ever
closer to meditation, samadhi, and Self-Realization.
What is "Systematic" Meditation?
What is "systematic" meditation?: The purpose of this article is to discuss what it means to
go inward systematically, through the four dimensions of reality, and how this relates to yoga
practices of meditation. If your logical mind understands the process, then it is much easier to
do your practices systematically, and to more deeply experience the benefits from that.


Meaning of one-pointedness
Moving inward, through the dimensions: We live in a three dimensional world, but during
the process of meditation, we systematically move from 3, to 2, to 1, and finally to 0
dimensions. This is a finer meaning of making the mind focused, or one-pointed (ekagra).

We have levels of our being
Moving inward, through the levels: We have several levels of our being, including the body,
energy (breath), mind, and beyond. To the yogis, meditation is a systematic process of moving
inward, through those levels, so as to experience the center of consciousness.


What we would like to do

Going to the center: Theoretically, we would
like to sit down for meditation, immediately go
to the center of consciousness, beyond all the
surface levels of our own being, and beyond all
of the surface dimensions of reality.
Attention would go directly to the core of our
being that is beyond time, space, and
causation. We would just go there, and rest in
the bliss of the truth beyond.

We live in 3-dimensions: However, where
most of us find ourselves, is planted squarely
in the body, dealing with the external, 3-
dimensional world. Few are able to make that
leap directly into the core, beyond all
dimensions.
This, then, is where we need to start our
practices; right in the middle of life, in the 3-
dimensional world. Then, we can
systematically move inward, through the
dimensions.
Moving through the levels and dimensions: The examples below should give a feel of
systematically going inward, through both the levels of our being, and also the dimensions of
reality. The examples show a series of practices moving from 3, to 2, to 1, and to 0 dimensions,
or one-pointedness, so as to go beyond in deep meditation or samadhi.
Flexibility in the examples: As you read through these, please hold the examples loosely, as
far as the specific practices mentioned and the number of dimensions that is related to that
practice. These examples are given so as to clarify the process, rather than outline a rigid
practice sequence. You might personally think of different practices, or might have somewhat
different opinions about the dimensions of a particular practice.
3-dimensions
The first level of practices is 3-dimensional, whether practicing in the world, or at the time of
your daily practice and meditation time.


World: Practices may include:
• Yamas, including non-harming,
truthfulness, non-stealing, remembering
the creative force, non-materialism
• Karma yoga, the yoga of action, serving
others, while giving away the fruits of
your actions.
• Relationships with other people and the
world are key.


Senses: Practices may include:
• Mindfulness of the ten senses (indriyas)
during daily life.
• Tapas, which is the training of the
senses (the 3rd niyama of the 8 rungs
of yoga)


Physical exercise: Any form of physical
exercise can help with the practice of yoga
meditation.
Food: Proper diet is an important part of yoga
meditation, and is said to be the first part of
training.
Hatha postures: During the practice session
itself, working with the physical postures is the
starting point of the practice sequence.
Asana: The sitting posture and awareness of
stillness is rung 3 of 8 in yoga.


Gross breath: The first levels ofbreathing
practice involve working in 3-dimensions. It
may be breath awareness during the postures,
or breath awareness during actions of daily
life.
2-dimensions
After having worked with the grosser aspects of the body and the breath, attention can now
much more easily come to a more refined form. Practices and attention start to shift from 3-
dimensions to 2-dimensions.


Survey: There are a variety of practices done
in the corpse posture, which can be
called survey, scanning, or relaxation
exercises. These practices are done afterthe
postures.
Sensing: Awareness on the sensing process,
such as meditation on the sense of touch
throughout the body. Even stilling the body is
a part of the process of awareness of the
senses (karmendriyas and jnanendriyas).
2-dimensions: Mostly, attention is operating
in 2-dimensions (up/down and left/right),
since you are lying on your back, and the
forward / backward dimension is less
emphasized.


Physical body: During those practices of
survey, scanning, or relaxation exercises, a
greater depth comes where you are exploring
the makeup of your own physical body.
Systems and organs: This may include
awareness of systems, such as muscular,
skeletal, cardiovascular, endocrine, or
gastrointestinal.
Elements: The survey of the body may also
include awareness of the gross or subtle
aspects of the elements of earth, water, fire,
air, and space.


Breath awareness: When practicing
diaphragmatic breathing, there is awareness
of the up/down and left/right dimensions. So
too with alternate nostril breathing.
Vigorous breath: With the practices such as
kapalabhiti, bhastrika, or agniprasana, there
remains mostly 2-dimensional awareness.
1-dimension
After all of the practices at the grosser levels, the 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional levels,
attention is now able to flow in only 1-dimension. Without having done the preparation practices,
it can be quite difficult to come directly to this 1-dimensional level of practice.


Spinal breath: To allow attention to flow
along the subtle spine, with the breath is an
extremely useful practice. Sometimes this is
considered to be part of kriya yoga, kundalini
yoga, or pranayama.
Sometimes people have difficulty going
directly to this practice, as the mind doesn't
want to settle into it. By working with the
other practices and dimensions first, this
practice comes much more easily.
1-dimension: Attention is now flowing only in
the 1-dimension of up/down. (3-dimensions
would be up/down, left/right,
forward/backward)


Deepening spinal breath: As the spinal
breath practice deepens, it moves beyond
gross breath, and more into the mind field.
Attention flows with the sushumna channel of
the subtle spine, as gross breath has been left
behind. It is flowing only in the up/down
dimension.
Between chakras: Attention can be directed
to flow between one chakra and another. This
flowing attention is moving in only 1-
dimension (up/down). This is generally done
to emphasize issues or desired shifts related to
those chakras.

0-dimensions
After the various practices at 3, 2, and 1-dimensions, attention shifts to 0-dimensions, which
means the mind is truly 1-pointed. Few can consistently, successfully bring attention directly to
this focus. Thus, the systematic approach is best for the majority of people.


Meditation on breath: Meditation on breath
at the bridge of the nostrils can be either a
beginning practice, or it can be a very deep
practice, if one truly has the ability to focus.
To do this simple practice as a deep practice
can come much more easily by systematically
working first with the other levels and
dimensions.


Meditation on a point: After the mind has
been systematically moved from 3, to 2, and
to 1 dimension of attention, it becomes much
easier to hold attention on a point. This gentle
holding of attention is the concentration that
leads to meditation, that leads to samadhi.
Space or chakra: Whether you call it a
chakra or merely a space, an extremely
important part of meditation is holding
attention in a particular space, such as
between the breasts or between the
eyebrows.
0-dimension: Whether you are watching an
inner object, remembering a mantra, listening
to inner sound, or witnessing a stream of
thoughts, it is best to hold attention in one
space while you do that. This is holding
attention in 0-dimension.


Finding the point: The word bindu means
point. In the subtle body, beyond all of the
other dimensions, there comes the direct
experience of a point, a bindu, in the inner
world. This point is like a point of light or a
pearl.
Beyond dimensions: Eventually thisbindu is
pierced, gone beyond, into the direct
experience of the absolute reality, and this is
the goal of meditation. It is beyond all
dimensions of time, space, and causation.
Training the Ten Senses or Indriyas
in Traditional Yoga Practice
Like a building with ten doors: In traditional Yoga philosophy and practice, the human being
is seen as being like a building with ten doors. Five are entrance doors, and five are exit
doors. Consciously, actively and intentionally witnessingthese ten senses as they function is an
important part of Yoga meditation, and meditation in action.

• Karmendriyas: The five exit doors are five means of expression, which are called
karmendriyas. (Karma means action. Indriyas are the means or senses.)
• Jnanendriyas: The five entrance doors are the five cognitive senses, which are called
jnanendriyas. (Jnana means knowing. Indriyas are the means or senses.)
The indweller relates through the Indriyas
Observe the ten senses during daily life: What the ten doors have in common, is that they
are all doors. By observing these ten in daily life through meditation in action, or mindfulness,
we become increasingly aware of the indweller. We see more and more clearly how the indweller
relates to the external world through the means of these ten instruments.
"Who I really am is independent
of my actions and senses".
"I" am independent of actions and senses: As we come to see that the actions and senses
are only instruments (though very good at their jobs), we increasingly see that "Who I am is
independent of my actions and sensory input and fulfillment". It does not mean that we do not
enjoy life, and its actions and sensory experiences. Rather, these are enjoyed more fully, in a
spirit of wisdom, freedom, and non-attachment.
When we see through direct experience of observation how the ten senses are doors serving the
indweller, we increasingly become aware of the true nature of that indweller.
Manas and the Ten Senses
The ten senses are like employees: The Ten Senses are like the employees in the factory of
life, and they receive their instructions from Manas, one of the Four Functions of Mind.

This is an important part of the practice of meditation in action and witnessing our inner process.
Being able to see that this is how the actions and senses operate helps a great deal with the
cultivation of non-attachment, vairagya.
Beyond the fact that Manas is giving instructions to the Ten Senses, is the very important
question of whether Manas is acting out of unconscious habits (stored in Chitta) or the wisdom
of Buddhi.
Withdrawing the senses and sitting still at meditation time naturally come much more easily as a
result of an ongoing mindfulness of the ten senses.
The senses are not reliable
Senses are not reliable instruments: There are three main problems with directly
experiencing the Absolute Truth, Reality, or the Self through the vehicles of the mind and the
senses. One of these problems is the fact that the senses are not reliable instruments.
This leads one inward: Realizing that the senses are unreliable leads the seeker inward to a
more pure form of direct experience. However, to turn inward this way happens best by first
being aware of the senses and how they operate. Then attention can be withdrawn from the
senses, like withdrawing your hand from a glove. An exercise in this is described further below.
Synaesthesia
Sensory connections can even be crossed: One of the ways that it is easy for us to
understand the unreliability of the senses is by considering the neurological disorder called
synaesthesia. With this disorder, a person's brain connections are different from the typical.
When, for example, light comes in the eyes (normally used for sight), the neurological
connections might be to the smelling centers of the brain. Thus, one might
experience smell when looking at certain objects, or may hear some particular color. How very
different would be our descriptions of external reality if all human brains operated this way. (It is
estimated that approximately 1 in 25,000 people naturally experience synaesthesia.)
Truth is beyond the senses: With a little reflection on this, you can understand the way in
which the yogis are saying that the senses are not really accurate perceptual instruments. You
might want to read a bit more about this disorder by searching web pages related to
synaesthesia. It is not that this will directly tell you about Yoga in relation to the Indriyas, but
will help to clarify the varieties of ways in which the senses might operate, and experience
reality differently. This can further help you to understand how it is that the yogis say that Truth
must be found within, or beyond the senses.
Witnessing the ten senses in daily life
Moving is behind, or subtler than walking: To witness the active senses (karmendriyas) in
daily life means, for example, that when you are walking you observe that "I am moving". It is
not just seeing that "I am walking," but going one step further inward and observing the process
of moving that is behind thewalking. Then, as you observe different actions and the many ways
of moving, you become increasingly aware of the underlying process behind the motion, and this
is manas, one of the four functions of mind.
Awareness of the ten senses leads to
awareness of what is behind those senses.
Observe the karmendriya itself: Similarly, if you are using some object, such as when writing
with a pen or drinking water from a cup, you notice, "I am grasping" or "I am holding". To be
mindful of writing or drinking is one step of the process of mindfulness, but to observe
the karmendriya itself is more interior, more subtle. It takes attention inward to
the antahkarana (the inner instrument, including thefour functions of mind), leading you to be
closer to the awareness of the still, silent center of consciousness, like the center of the hub of
the wheel.
Observing the jnanendriyas: To witness the cognitive senses (jnanendriyas) in daily life
means, for example, that when you are walking you observe that "I am seeing" as you navigate
around other people and objects. You observe that "I am hearing" when some sound captures
your attention.
Witnessing the senses leads toward non-attachment: Witnessing the ten senses is a
practical tool in coordinating the four functions of mind. By witnessing the ten doors, we are
better able to become a neutral witness to all of the inner activities of the mind, and thus be
more able to find and rest in the silence beyond, or underneath the mind. This is an important
part of cultivating non-attachment.

The active senses at meditation time
Senses at meditation time: At meditation time, you naturally work with the ten senses in a
systematic way. The first part of meditation itself is to work with the five active senses
(karmendriyas). Before meditation it is best to empty the bladder and the bowels, and to set
aside the expression through the organs of reproduction. That is two of the five active senses,
elimination and procreation.
Sitting still is the cessation of moving,
the suspension of the use of a karmendriya.
Being aware of the ability to move: Then, you learn to sit still. Sitting still is the setting
aside of the karmendriya of moving. Sometimes it seems that sitting still is an act
of doing something. Actually, it is not an act, but rather is theabsence of an act. Sitting still for
meditation is the cessation of the act of moving, the suspension of the use of the active sense,
or karmendriya, of motion. In practice, it is extremely useful to sit and be aware of the ability to
move, but that you are not using that ability for the present time.
"I have the abilities to move and to grasp,
but I am not using those abilities for now".
Choosing to not utilize motion or grasping: In the process of meditation one then cultivates
a practice of letting go that is often called relaxation practice. This relaxation is also not an act
unto itself. There may be particular methods associated with the practice, but it is actually a
practice of cessation of that act of holding on or grasping, which is the suspension of one of the
active senses, or karmendriyas. In practice, it is extremely useful to sit and be aware of the
ability to hold or grasp, but that you are not using that ability for the present time.
"I have the ability to form words,
but I am not using that ability for now".
The ability to form words, but not doing so: At meditation time it is a common complaint
that the mind is chattering and that it won't shut up. Often, people get into fights with the mind
over this. The act of quieting the mind is not actually an act in itself. Rather, it is the absence of
an act. Being quiet for meditation is thecessation of the act of forming words, the suspension of
the use of the active sense, or karmendriya, of speaking. In practice, it is extremely useful to sit
and be aware of the ability to form words, but that you are not using that ability for the present
time.
Karmendriyas and the chakras: The five active senses, or karmendriyas, operate from the
lower five chakras (scroll down to see the section further below), and thus can be explored in a
systematic sequence. In other words, you might want to practice awareness of the five in the
order of gross to subtle, like this:
• First, be aware of elimination, and let it go
• Then, procreation, and let it go
• Then, motion, and let it go
• Then, grasping, and let it go
• Finally, speaking, and let it go
Be aware of each of the ten senses,
one at a time, naturally moving inward.
By being aware of each of the five active senses, karmendriyas, one at a time, and that you are
temporarily ceasing to use those abilities for now, attention will naturally move inward, in the
direction of meditation. As your attention moves through the five active senses, your attention
might naturally be drawn to the physical parts of the body that symbolizes the particular
karmendriya.
Karmendriya Symbolized by Chakra
elimination anus 1st
procreation genitals 2nd
moving feet 3rd
grasping hands 4th
speaking mouth 5th
See also the description of meditation on the karmendriyas in the article on Sankhya and
Prakriti:
The cognitive senses at meditation time
Interplay between active and cognitive senses: As the five active senses are being settled,
attention naturally shifts to the cognitive senses. The two sets of Indriyas, the active and
cognitive senses, have a great deal of interplay between them. Once the active expressions are
stilled somewhat, the cognitive senses seem to become more noticed.
Often the active senses of expressions (karmendriyas) are so busy, that the cognitive senses can
be overpowered and less easily witnessed. In other words, if you're having trouble sitting still
and the mind is chattering, it is hard to sit quietly and work with the practices of seeing, feeling
sensation, and hearing internally.
Be aware not only of the object
you are experiencing,
but more importantly, the senses
with which you are experiencing.
Witnessing the cognitive senses: The section above described the witnessing of the active
senses. In a similar way, you can also practice witnessing the cognitive senses.
The ability to smell: The awareness of the sense of smell automatically draws your attention
to the nose from where you smell, from the physical perspective (though it actually operates
from the first chakra). You are not trying to smell anything in particular, but rather, be aware of
the sense of smell itself. You become aware of the ability to smell, and then you set aside that
ability.
The ability to taste: The sense of taste automatically draws your attention to the mouth,
where the physical taste buds are located (though operating from the second chakra). It is not
just that you are trying to taste something in particular, though that might happen. Rather, it is
awareness of the sense of taste itself. You become aware of the ability to taste, and then you set
aside that ability.
The ability to see: Awareness of the sense of sight draws your attention to the eyes (though
actually operating from the third chakra, the fire center). Here, you are not trying to be aware of
objects that you might see with the eye, even the inner eye, but rather, you are being aware of
the seeing ability itself. You become aware of the ability to see, and then you set aside that
ability.
The ability to touch: When you become aware of the sense of touch, that cognitive sense
automatically draws your attention to some part of the skin, where the sensory nerves are
located (though the sense operates from the heart center, where you feel). It is not a question
of what object you might be feeling, but of the sense of touch itself. You become aware of the
ability to feel with touch, and then you set aside that ability.
The ability to hear: The sense of hearing automatically draws your attention to the ears,
where the complex physical structure of hearing is located (though operating from the throat
chakra, the same place as speaking). As you become aware of hearing itself, rather than
listening to specific external sounds, you will also become aware of the inner sounds, though
trying here to be aware of the hearing process itself. You become aware of the ability to hear,
and then you set aside that ability.
First the senses; then move inward: By being aware of each of the five cognitive senses,
jnanendriyas, one at a time, and that you are temporarilyceasing to use those abilities for now,
attention will naturally move inward, in the direction of deeper meditation. (Note that the
cognitive senses are more interior, or subtler than the active senses, which is described in a
section below.)
Some meditation schools emphasize one Indriya: One currently popular school of
meditation places it's main emphasis on this sensory awareness oftouch, and how this is
experienced in the physical body as a reflection of the mental process. Some other well known
schools of meditation emphasize the sense of touch of the air at the nostrils when breathing.
Still others emphasize using the senses to see some visualized object or hear an internal
mantra. Or, some teach the practice of seeing into the no-thing-ness, or listening into the
silence. In the Yoga meditation of the Himalayan tradition, all of these uses of the jnanendriyas
are practiced, and are considered natural stages along the inner journey to the center of
consciousness. While exploring them all, an individual practitioner may emphasize a particular
sense, following his or her predisposition.
Pratyahara, or sense withdrawal: In the ladder of Yoga, there are eight steps, the fifth of
which is pratyahara. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. Following that are dharana
(concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (deep absorption). This withdrawal of the
senses is often taken to mean simply the process of closing your eyes for meditation. It is
actually deeper than that. In practice, one may choose one of the senses, usually seeing or
hearing, and focus that one sense on an inner object of meditation. (To focus sight on an
external object is called trataka.)
Withdrawal of the senses is
like taking a hand out of a glove.
Like taking a hand out of a glove: This process being described above, wherein the ability to
use the mental functioning of the five active and cognitive senses is being suspended is the
deeper meaning of sense withdrawal. It is as if each of the senses is like a glove, and
consciousness is being withdrawn. Withdrawal of the senses is like taking a hand out of a glove.
When the ten Indriyas are withdrawn, you encounter the mind itself, wherein the real practice of
concentration begins, that leads you to meditation and samadhi.
See also the description of meditation on the jnanendriyas in the article on Sankhya and Prakriti:

The cognitive senses are more interior

Entrance and exit doors: There are five exit doors and five entrance doors.
The exit doors are the means of expression or active senses (karmendriyas).
The five entrance doors are the cognitive senses (jnanendriyas).
Going outward or inward: The active senses express outward, and the
cognitive senses bring information inward. In meditation we are trying to
systematically bring attention inward, through the levels of our being to the
center of consciousness.
Subtler than active Indriyas
are the cognitive Indriyas.
First, the karmendriyas: Therefore in the systematic process of Yoga
meditation, attention is first brought to the active senses (karmendriyas) and
then to the cognitive senses (jnanendriyas). Notice how naturally you first
work on having the body still in a meditation posture, which means stilling the
karmendriya of motion, and then letting go of the karmendriya of holding on,
or grasping.
Second, the jnanendriyas: Then your attention quite naturally moves inward
to the awareness of sensations, both of the external sounds and the internal
senses, such as little itches or pains. This is the awareness from the cognitive
senses (jnanendriyas). Thus, we once again see the systematic process of
meditation, going ever deep into the levels of our being.
Chakras and the Elements
The ten Indriyas operate from the first five chakras (root, genital, navel, heart, throat), along
with the five elements:

The mind, operating from the 6th chakra that is experienced in the space between the eyebrows,
is the coordinating center for the lower five chakras. From this 6th chakra, the mind is the
recipient of the information imported through the five doors of jnanendriyas, and their physical
counterparts. From this 6th chakra, the mind is also the giver of the instructions through the five
doors of karmendriyas, and their physical counterparts.
Consciousness itself is operating from the 7th chakra, providing the fuel or energy for the mind
to operate, and in turn illuminate the other five, through it's storage battery at the base of the
subtle spine.
Mindfulness of the ten senses is
preparation for deep meditation.
By being ever more mindful of the ten Indriyas, or ten senses, the mind comes into greater
awareness and control, which prepares the pathway upwards to the pure Consciousness.
A practice in awareness of the Indriyas
Attention in a particular chakra: A practical way to be mindful of the relationship between
the chakras and the ten Indriyas is to focus your attention on a particular chakra. With attention
on that chakra, allow yourself to be aware of either the associated active sense or cognitive
sense. In your own experience, you will come to see the relationship between that chakra and
the specific Indriya.
One way to systematically do this practice is to:
• First be aware of the first chakra, and while your attention is in that chakra, be aware of
the element of earth. Stay with that awareness for a few seconds or a few breaths, or
longer.
• Then, with attention still in that chakra, be aware of the active sense of elimination and
how it operates from that energy center, but influences the whole of the body.
• Then, with attention still on the first chakra, be aware of the cognitive sense of smell in a
similar way.
• Progressively move through each of the first five chakras in a similar way.
• Then allow your attention to rest in the 6th chakra, the space between the eyebrows.
While remaining somewhat aware of the ten senses, be aware of the mind itself, but
specifically as being the control center or operator over the ten senses. With practice,
some insight will come.
• You might want to then spend a few seconds in the crown chakra, at the top of the head,
as being the source of consciousness behind, or supplying awareness to the mind itself.
• Then, it is a good idea to bring your attention back through the chakras, from top to
bottom. This journey downward will take a lot less time, as you are just briefly visiting
those places without going into the depth of awareness of the elements or Indriyas.
Old and new habits: By cultivating awareness of the ten senses, or Indriyas, both at
meditation time and in daily life, the whole of the science of Yoga meditation will be more
greatly understood in your own direct experience. This awareness goes a long way in serving to
break old habits and to create new habits that support the whole of your spiritual life.
Withdrawal of the senses - pratyahara
The ten senses turn inward: For meditation, it is necessary to withdraw, or turn inward the
ten senses (the karmendriyas and jnanendriyas). Often a student of meditation will wonder such
things as:
• How do I sit still, without fidgeting?
• How do I let go of this tension I'm holding on to?
• How do I quiet this chattering mind?
• How do I let go of this itching and sensations?
• How do I turn off my eyes and ears?
Rung 5 of 8: Each of these are questions related to pratyahara, the turning inward, or
withdrawal of the ten senses, or Indriyas. In Yoga, there are eight rungs or steps, of which
pratyahara, sense withdrawal is step 5 of 8 (See Yoga Sutras 2.54-2.55). It comes just after
numbers 3 and 4, which deal with establishing sitting posture and regulating breath and prana.
Step 1 is the 5 yamas, which deal with our relationship with the world. Step 2 is the 5 niyamas,
which deal with self-regulation. Pratyahara comes just before steps 6, 7, and 8, which are
concentration, meditation, and samadhi.
Like the bees following the queen bee,
so too will the senses follow the mind.
The ten senses follow the queen bee: In commenting on Patanjali's description of pratyahara
in the Yoga Sutras (2.54), sage Vyasa gives a great description of the process, saying
pratyahara is like the way bees will follow the queen bee when she comes to rest. Similarly, the
Indriyas, or senses, will follow the mind in the same way that the bees follow the queen bee.
Where the mind goes, the senses will follow. Thus, the key to withdrawal of the senses is the
one-pointedness of the mind (ekagra; see Yoga Sutra 1.32). It is not so much that withdrawing
the senses leads to regulation of the mind. Rather, it is a case of focusing the mind bringing the
senses inward.

The willingness or unwillingness to withdraw
the senses is a significant dividing line
between those seeking the depths of meditation
and those seeking mere mental relaxation.
Unwillingness to withdraw the senses: It is very common for people to be completely
unwilling to withdraw the senses, even to the point of intense anger at any suggestion to do so.
We can so cling to our sensory experience and the senses themselves that we might insist that
being in nature is called meditation, that listening to music is called meditation, or that having
internal visions is called meditation. Clinging to the senses does not just mean that we are
engaged with the objects of the external world. Withdrawal of the senses for meditation does not
just meaning closing the eyes and sitting in a quiet room. Rather, the clinging has to do with
attachment to the process of sensing itself, and withdrawal of the senses literally means the
cessation of seeking the sensing experiences through those senses, in relation to both external
physical objects and internal mental objects. It means suspending all use of the
inner instruments of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching and hearing, whether directed to the
outer or the inner. The willingness or unwillingness to be open to this withdrawal is a significant
dividing line between those who experience the depths of meditation and those who merely
achieve some degree of mental relaxation. Very few will opt for the depths of meditation, which
comes with sense withdrawal or pratyahara.
With preparation, pratyahara comes naturally: Pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, rests
on the foundation practices of purifying the mind through regulating lifestyle, dealing with the
body and breath, each of which are done with one-pointedness of mind. It involves exploration
and focus on the ten senses themselves, as instruments, as described in the sections above.
Then, the withdrawal of the senses comes naturally, and leads to concentration, which, in turn,
will lead to meditation with practice.
Knowing you exist beyond the senses
Self-awareness does not depend on the senses: If you hold your hand out in front of you,
you know that you have fingers because you see them. But if you close your eyes, you still know
that you have fingers. If you have withdrawn all of your senses inward, you still know that you
exist. This is because of the self-awareness that is not dependent on the senses.
To advance, let go of the imagery and sensing: In meditation, you withdraw the senses. At
first, you might be aware of the objects of the senses and the senses themselves. But for
advancing in meditation, you let go of all of this imagery and sensing. You rest in a deep
stillness and silence, without any sensory experience, either from the external world or from the
thought patterns arising from the basement of the mind.
Sensory awareness is one of the stages: Awareness of objects, senses, and inner
experiences are stages along the journey of meditation. However, ultimately, you want to dwell
in the knowing that is beyond, or interior to all of these. It is the doorway to the realization of
the formless, colorless Self, the center of consciousness.
Mindfulness and Concentration in Yoga Meditation
Mindfulness and Concentration
are companions on the inner journey.
Mindfulness OR Concentration
It is very common for teachers of meditation to describe one of two general types of meditation,
and to recommend one as being superior to the other:
• Concentration: In this approach, one intentionally focuses the attention on only one
object, such as breath, mantra, a chakra center, or an internally visualized image.
• Mindfulness: In this approach, one does not focus the mind on one object, but rather
observes the whole range of passing thoughts, emotions, sensations, or images.
Students of meditation often find themselves confused by having to decide which is best, having
to practice only one or the other of mindfulness or concentration. To cause further confusion,
mindfulness is often described as coming from one religion or tradition, while concentration from
another religion or tradition.
Mindfulness AND Concentration
To the sages of the Himalayas, both methods are used in yoga meditation. In fact, they are not
seen as different choices at all. Mindfulness and concentration are companions in the same one
process that leads inward to the center of consciousness.
If one stays only in the shallow, beginning levels of meditation, then choosing between one or
the other can seem to make sense. But if you go deeper in meditation, you will find that both
processes are essential.
• If one practices only mindfulness, the mind is trained to always have this surface level
activity present. Having this activity constantly present may be seen as normal, and the
attention simply does not go beyond the mind-field. Attention can "back off" from
experiencing deeper meditation and samadhi so as to remain in the fields of sensation and
thoughts.
• If one practices only concentration or one-pointedness, the mind is trained to not
experience this activity of thoughts, sensations, emotions, and images. The activity is
seen as something to be avoided, and the attention may not even be open to the
existence of these experiences. Attention can "back off" from the deeper aspects of the
mind field, and thus prevent deeper meditation and samadhi.
• By practicing both mindfulness and concentration, one is able to experience the vast
impressions, learning the vital skill of non-attachment, while also using concentration to
focus the mind in such a way as to be able to transcend the whole of the mind field,
where there is only stillness and silence, beyond all of the impressions. Finally, one can
come to experience the center of consciousness, the Absolute reality.
To the sages of the Himalayas, mindfulness can be emphasized at one time, concentration
emphasized at another, and the two can work together.
• When exploring the mind, mindfulness may be emphasized, while remaining focused.
Then, if a particular thought pattern or samskara is to be examined so as to weaken its
power over the mind, concentration is the tool with which this examination is done. This
allows an increase in vairagya, non-attachment.
• When settling the mind, trying to pierce the layers of our being, including senses, body,
and breath, concentration carries the attention inward through the layers.
• When attention moves into that next deeper level of our being, then concentration and
mindfulness once again work together to explore that layer, so as to once again move
beyond, or deeper.
Integrating the Stages of Practice
In the yoga meditation of the Himalayan tradition, one systematically works with senses, body,
breath, the various levels of mind, and then goes beyond, to the center of consciousness. The
qualities of mindfulness and concentration dance together in this journey.
• When dealing with the senses and body, there is emphasis on exploring and examining,
being open to all of the thoughts, emotions, and sensations. One systematically moves
attention through the parts and aspects of the body, fully experiencing the sensory
impressions. This is quite similar to what is sometimes recommended by those who
exclusively teach mindfulness meditation.
• When dealing with the breath, there comes a stage wherein one experiences the energy
or prana level alone. This is beyond, or deeper than the mechanical or gross breath, and
does not involve the thought process of passing images. It involves solely concentrating
on that level of our being. There is definitely a mindfulness of the play of energy within
that level, and it is done in a concentrated, non-attached way.
• When attention goes further inward, there is the mind field itself. In this stage of practice,
the senses have been withdrawn, and there is no longer any sensory awareness of the
body, nor of the physical. One is now fully in the level of mind itself. Here is still another
form of mindfulness, exclusive of bodily sensation, and once again, concentration is its
companion.
• Finally, one comes near the end of the mind and all of its associated thoughts, emotions,
sensations, and impressions. Concentration is essential at this stage. As Patanjali notes in
the Yoga Sutras (4.31), there is then little to know as the experiences have been resolved
into their causes.
Three Skills go Together
By working with both mindfulness and concentration, it is easy to see three skills in which the
mind is trained, and how these go together:
1. Focus: The mind is trained to be able to pay attention, so as to not be drawn here and
there, whether due to the spontaneous rising of impressions in meditation, or due to
external stimuli.
2. Expansion: The ability to focus is accompanied by a willingness to expand the conscious
field through that which is normally unconscious, including the center of consciousness.
3. Non-Attachment: The ability to remain undisturbed, unaffected and uninvolved with the
thoughts and impressions of the mind is the key ingredient that must go along with focus
and expansion.
Yoga Meditation is Already a Whole Science
While speaking here of integrating the practices of mindfulness and concentration, it is useful to
note that, in a sense, integrating is not quite the right word.
The science of yoga meditation as taught by the Himalayan sages is already a whole, complete
science that has been torn into smaller pieces over time. Individual parts have been cut out from
the whole, given separate names, and then taught as unique systems of meditation.
Using mindfulness and concentration is not really a process of gluing together two systems.
Because of various teaching lineages pulling them apart and creating theappearance of
separateness, it can now seem that we are integrating two systems. It is only an appearance.
Mindfulness and concentration have both been part of the same, one process of meditation for a
very long time.
Types versus Stages of Meditation
There are many Types of meditation based on
the Object that is Observed by the Observer,
and these can evolve through Stages, from
Gross, to Subtle, to Subtler, and Subtle most.
Three interrelated principles: This article describes the interrelationship between three
aspects of the meditation process, and how these lead one to experience not only the breadth,
but also the depth of meditation:
1. Focal point as the basis of meditation Types
2. Process of Observer, Observing, and Object Observed
3. Stages of meditation evolving past the focal point
Focal point of meditation
Basis for the Type of meditation: It is common for one to ask a meditator, "What type of
meditation do you do?" Usually, it is the Object on which one focuses attention that determines
the answer to the question. Following are some of the examples (their popular names are
excluded):
• Sensation experience (mostly sense of touch or seeing)
• Breath (many different methods)
• Energy (chakras or channels of energy)
• Attitudes (love, non-violence, compassion)
• Mantra (various types or traditions)
• Visualized image (numerous varieties)
• Stream of thoughts (methods known by different names)
The styles, systems, or types of meditation may go by different names, and they may be taught
by a wide range of schools, traditions, teachers, lineages, religions, or paths, but the primary
underlying discrimination between them is the nature of that focal point.
Subtler than the Gross Objects: What is often missed, however, is that meditation evolves in
stages (described in detail below). Some systems or schools of meditation deepen beyond the
Gross form of that Object of meditation, while others remain focused on thatsingle Object, and
go no further. In other words, some go very deep, while others remain in the shallow waters of
practice with that Gross Object, not recognizing the further reaches of meditation.
Another way of saying this, is that some methods of meditation are only methods of relaxation,
and do not really pursue the depths of practice that lead to higher, truer states of consciousness
or being. Still others emphasize only the surface meditation Objects as part of religious worship,
not pursuing the esoteric depth of the practices. While these surface practices might be very
useful, they are early stages from the perspective of the whole of the meditative process.
• As an example, meditation on the mechanical aspects of breath may be the basis for a
system of meditation. This can be extremely relaxing and may bring some peace of mind,
as well as improved physical health. Yet, if the practice is limited to the Gross breath
alone, the higher aspects will be missed. Beyond the Gross breath is the energy (prana)
that is behind the breath, as well as many levels of mental process, the instruments of
mind itself, and the Subtler aspects that define our individuality. Beyond that is the true
Self, the direct experience of which is called Self-realization, or other names.

• Similarly, one may practice meditation on the sensory experience throughout the body,
which is a very useful practice. However, Subtler than the physical sensation is the energy
(prana), the senses themselves (as Objects of examination), the mind which is doing the
experiencing, and the deeper mental aspects beyond the conscious thinking. If one
chooses to progress beyond the sensing stage, the sensory meditation can be used
effectively near the beginning of a specific meditation session, following this with the
Subtler meditation practices.

• The same kind of Gross versus Subtle meditation also applies with the Gross levels of
mantra, attitudes, and all forms of visualized images. Each of these surface level practice
are useful in their Gross forms, and each can be followed to their Subtler sources, but only
if the meditator is aware of the process of meditation moving in stages.
Observer, Observing, and Observed
Three aspects: In each of the examples above, there are three aspects to the process of
meditation:
Observer <--> Observing <--> Observed
1. Object: There is an Object being Observed, including visualized images, sensation,
breath, mantra, and attitudes, etc..
2. Observing: There is also a process by which that Observing occurs, which utilizes the
sensory and mental instruments.
3. Observer: Beyond the mental and sensory instruments, there is an Observer, who is
doing the Observing by means of those instruments.
1. Object Observed: A Gross Object is composed of Subtler Objects. We are all familiar with
this process in the physical world, in relation to Objects being constructed of compounds,
molecules, and atoms. A similar process is encountered in the Subtler meditations. In each case,
there is an Observed Object, whether that Object is the Gross Object itself, or one of its Subtler
components.

Observer <--> Observing <--> Observed
Gross Objects: The notion of meditation on a Gross Object is pretty straightforward, including
any of the familiar Objects, such as visualized images, sensation, breath, mantra, and attitudes,
etc..
Subtler components: All of the Objects are constructed of five Gross elementscalled bhutas,
and these are earth, water, fire, air, and space. These five also have five Subtle elements,
called tattvas, which are the Subtler aspects of earth, water, fire, air, and space. Subtler than
these are the mental processes and three components out of which these arise, which are
called gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas).
Although one may be practicing meditation on Gross Objects, which is extremely useful, it is also
important to recognize that these Subtler explorations of the component nature of the Objects is
a further stage of the meditation process. The particulars of how to do those Subtler meditations
come with practice and training.
2. Observing process: Subtler than Observing either the Gross Objects of the
various types of meditation, or the Subtler components of those Objects, is meditation
on the process and instruments by which that Observing or meditating is done. The
process and means of Observing is, itself, now the focal point of meditation.
Observer <--> Observing <--> Observed
Meditation on the Observing process includes meditation on the:
• Indriyas: The ten senses, including the five active senses (karmendriyas) and the five
cognitive senses (jnanendriyas).
• Antahkarana: The inner mental instrument includes the four functions of mind, which
are manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi
• Vayus: The five forms of energy flow of prana, the Subtle energy underlying the Gross
breath
Notice that when meditation is done with these inner instruments as the Object of meditation,
attention has shifted away from the other Objects, such as visualized images, sensation, breath,
energy, mantra, and attitudes, etc.. This is a Subtler aspect of meditation, and leads one further
inward, moving in the direction of the center of consciousness, the Self.
3. Observing the Observer: Here, attention has shifted not only past the Gross
Objects and their Subtle components, but also the sensory and mental processes by
which they were being Observed. Attention is now directed towards the Observer
itself, seeking to experience the Subtlest aspect of individuation.
Observer <--> Observing <--> Observed
This stage is so Subtle that it becomes extremely difficult to talk or write about. In this arena of
individuated identity people can easily find themselves in philosophical debates with one
another. Observing the Observer has to do with Asmita, which is described as I-ness itself,
which is Subtler than the mental instruments through which Observing occurs. The function of
mind called Buddhi (which knows, decides, judges, and discriminates) has levels of functioning
itself, and the finest aspect of buddhi can also considered a part of the individuated Observer.
Going beyond relaxation: An important point here is that when we discriminate between
styles or types of meditation on the basis of the Gross Object of meditation (visualized images,
sensation, breath, energy, mantra, and attitudes, etc.), we can unfortunately miss these Subtler
levels of Observing both the Observing instruments and the Observer itself. With awareness of
this process, our inner journey will not restrict itself to the shallower stages of meditation. We
will not then settle for mere relaxation stages, but will pursue the depths of self-inquiry, so as to
ultimately experience the eternal core of our being, by whatever name you choose to call that.
Stages of meditation
Whatever Gross Object is chosen for meditation (visualized images, sensation, breath, energy,
mantra, and attitudes, etc.), the process moves inward through stages (Gross, Subtle, Bliss, I-
ness, Objectless). All methods of meditation, of all schools, traditions, teachers, lineages,
religions, or paths are experienced in one or more of the stages described below. This is a
universal framework for deepening meditation, and is extremely useful to understand, in that it
allows you to see where you stand, and where you are going.
Stages of attention: In going through the stages of meditation below (Gross, Subtle, Bliss, I-
ness, Objectless), it is useful to understand that the attention process itself also advances in
stages. This means the nature of attention itself is also refined in subtler forms.
1. Attention: Simple attention is meant to denote that awareness that we are all
accustomed to experience. While it might be a deep metaphysical reflection to discuss the
nature of attention, it is here being used in a straightforward way.
2. Concentration: The effort to bring attention to a single point is called concentration
(dharana). The concentration is temporary, and is broken by interruption of other thought
patterns, impressions, or sensations.
3. Meditation: When attention turns into concentration on an Object (any Object, at any
stage), and when that concentration is unbroken for some period of time, that is called
meditation (dhyana).
4. Samadhi: Recall the three part process of Observer, Observing, and Observed. When
meditation deepens to such a point that these three seem to collapse into one experience,
that is the meaning of samadhi. It is as if there is no longer an Observer or a process of
Observing, but instead, all that exists is the Object itself. Thus, samadhi may occur at
levels. (Sometimes the word samadhi is used to connote solely the highest state of
consciousness, so it is important to know that the word is also used at a variety of levels
and in relation to different objects.)
If the difference between attention, concentration, meditation, and samadhi is not clear, it is
best to think of the stages below in terms of simple attention. The stages can be viewed as the
various levels one moves through on the inner journey, and the matter of whether the attention
is occurring as concentration, meditation, or samadhi can be left for later, or allowed to come
over time through direct experience.
Stages of meditation: Below are descriptions of four stages of meditation with a focal point,
and then a fifth stage of objectless meditation.)
Gross (Savitarka)
Subtle (Savichara)
Bliss (Sananda)
I-ness (Sasmita)
Objectless

Gross stage: All of the methods of meditation described
above (visualized images, sensation, breath, energy, mantra,
and attitudes, etc.) operate at the Gross level of the world.
• Meditation on physical sensation is at the Gross level.
• Meditation on mechanical breath is at the Gross level.
• Meditation on the syllables of mantras is at the Gross
level.
• Meditation on visualized Objects is at the Gross level.
• Meditation on stream of thoughts is at the Gross level.
While each of these might be considered a
different styleor type of meditation, they are all being done at
the same stage of meditation, which is the Gross or Savitarka
stage (or level). If the meditator wants to go to deeper
meditation, samadhi, and Self-realization, these Gross
Objects must be experienced in their Subtle forms, along with
the Subtle instruments of our own makeup that allow them to
be experienced.
In other words, you must let go of the Gross level of the
Object for meditation to deepen. You must go beyond the
Gross stage of meditation, regardless of which styleyou are
practicing.

Gross (Savitarka)
Subtle (Savichara)
Bliss (Sananda)
I-ness (Sasmita)
Objectless

Subtle stage: For all of the Gross Objects above, the
question is what is the Subtle level or stage underneath. To
not pursue the Subtler aspect of these Gross Objects is to
stay stuck in the most surface level of meditation. The deeper
experiences of samadhi and Self-realization will totally elude
one who emphasizes the Gross meditations alone, without
following those beginning level practices into the field of
experience out of which they come.
In the Subtle stage of meditation, the Gross Objects are now
experienced in their Subtle form:
• Physical sensation is replaced by exploration of the
nature of sensing itself.
• Mantra begins to be experienced beyond the syllables.
• Visualized images begin to be experienced in their
Subtle or formless forms.
• Meditation on streams of thoughts is replaced with
meditation on the mind which is doing the thinking.
There are two general ways in which this Subtle level is
utilized for meditation leading to Self-realization:
• First, the Gross Objects are explored in their Subtle
forms of shape, vibration, and light so as to determine
that they are not truly related to the Self, and can be
set aside with non-attachment as not worthy of further
pursuit on the inner path to Self-realization. (They
may, however, be useful in other ways related to the
Gross world, such as your physical health.)
• Second, the Subtle forms of our own constitution are
explored as Objects of meditation. They are seen to be
not-Self, and are also set aside with non-attachment.
This includes the instruments with which we experience
the Gross meditations. For example, the senses of sight
and touch (physical sensation), the pranas underneath
Gross breath, as well as the mind which is doing the
processing of all this data.

Gross (Savitarka)
Subtle (Savichara)
Bliss (Sananda)
I-ness (Sasmita)
Objectless

Bliss stage: Underneath, or Subtler than all of the Gross
Objects, the Subtle aspects of those Objects, and the Subtle
Objects of Observing, there still remains consciousness. When
all of these subside, or are transcended, there remains a
feeling of Bliss or Joy that is called Ananda.
This Bliss is not a mere emotion, as wonderful as emotions
can be. It is a whole different order of reality or being, Subtler
than the mind, which normally experiences emotions. This
can be seen more clearly by looking at thearticle on the
Koshas, where you can see graphically how the day-to-day
thoughts and emotions are at the mental level (manamaya
kosha), whereas the Bliss being described here is at a deeper
level, beyond the typical mental functioning.
One of the main reasons for this Bliss is the fact that all of
other levels and Objects have been temporarily allowed to
come to rest, or be transcended during this period of
meditation with Bliss.

Gross (Savitarka)
Subtle (Savichara)
Bliss (Sananda)
I-ness (Sasmita)
Objectless

I-ness stage: Regardless of the Gross or Subtle Object on
which you may have been meditating, or even the meditation
on Bliss, there is an I-ness (Asmita), an individuality that is
experiencing those Objects of meditation.
When meditation shifts so far inward that the Object of
meditation is the I-ness itself, it is irrelevant what might have
been the more surface level of Object. It is also irrelevant to
consider the Subtleties of sensation, energies, lights and
sounds, etc. that existed at the Subtle stage just below the
Gross. Even the Bliss stage has been transcended, letting go
even of the Latent forms of the Gross and Subtle Objects.
At this stage, consciousness is wrapped only around I-ness or
individuality itself. This stage is not merely analternative to
the grosser Objects of meditation; it is an entirely different
level of reality and self-being.

Gross (Savitarka)
Subtle (Savichara)
Bliss (Sananda)
Objectless stage: When attention is no longer wrapped
around any Object whatsoever, that is objectless meditation.
This is called Asamprajnata or Nirbija meditation (samadhi).
This is not merely a conscious state of mind like we typically
encounter, where there are few Gross thoughts. It is an
extremely high order of awareness, beyond or deeper than all
I-ness (Sasmita)
Objectless

of the Gross meditations, all of the Subtle meditations, the
meditation on the Bliss, as well as the meditation on I-ness.

Breadth versus depth of experience
Breadth and depth of meditation: The two dimensions of type and stage of meditation also
represent the breadth and depth of meditation practices. There may be a great breadth, or
diversity of Gross Objects that may be used as focal points of attention (there are many objects
in the world and mind), but the deeper stages are Subtler than all of these surface level
diversities.
• Types or styles deal with breadth: The different styles of meditation usually
emphasize different Objects of meditation. These various styles are all at the Gross level
of reality.
• Stages deal with depth: Each of the styles of meditation align with the Gross level of
reality, and their Gross form must be transcended if one is to progress to the Subtler,
deeper stages.
Styles or types deal with Breadth: The different styles of meditation usually emphasize
different Objects of meditation. These various types are all at the Gross level of reality, and
there is a great breadth of the number of such practices which are possible to pursue.
• Sensations are experienced at the Gross stage.
• Mechanics of breathing is at the Gross stage.
• Emotional attitudes are at the Gross stage.
• Reciting the syllables of mantra is at the Gross stage.
• Visualized images are at the Gross stage.
• Streams of pictures and words are at the Gross stage.

B R E A D T H

D
E
P
T
H



Stages deal with Depth: Each of the styles or types of meditation (above) align with the Gross
level of reality, and their Gross form must be transcended if one is to progress to the Subtler,
deeper stages.
• Sensation shifts to awareness of the instruments of sensation (the senses and mind
itself).
• Breath awareness is dropped as one encounters the underlying pranic energy itself.
• Emotional attitudes give way to serenity beyond the mind.
• The syllables of mantra fade away, as one becomes absorbed in the deep feeling and
meaning.
• Visualized images give way to meditation on light itself, along with the mental instruments
of perception.
• Streams of pictures and words are dropped, as their building blocks, the Subtle elements
of earth, water, fire, air, and space are explored.

B R E A D T H

D
E
P
T
H


Observing the Observer: Gradually, the Objects themselves are dropped, at both their Gross
and Subtle stages, as attention goes to the ever Subtler stages of ones own being.
• Instead of being absorbed in the Objects, attention is wrapped around the deep Bliss that
arises when one is still conscious, yet has let go of those Gross and Subtle images.
• When that too is allowed to be shed, attention wraps itself around I-ness itself.
• Thus, the Observer, which was originally the one Observing all of those other Objects is
now, itself, the Object pursued in meditation.
The meditator is at the doorway of the deepest meditation.

Meditation is systematic: Meditation is a systematic process that moves through stages.
Meditation may begin with a Gross Object that has shape and form. Gradually, the meditation
may deepen into the Subtler aspects of that Object. Systematically, attention then explores the
mental and sensory instruments by which that Gross Object is Observed, experienced, and
understood. Then, the individual Observer itself, the I-ness, becomes the focus of exploration.
Finally, the reality beyond the Objects, the Observing process, and the Observer is experienced.
Integrating and Converging Four
Complementary Practices
By practicing each of the practices of
Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra,
these four converge into a unified force of
clarity, will, focus, and surrender.

Choose the better of two approaches: Some spiritual traditions or individual teachers may
deal with only one or two of the four types of practices. Others, such as the path of Yoga
meditation, take a more holistic approach and suggest that one integrate and balance all four of
the practices.
Two Approaches to these Four Practices
Practice one OR the other: Practice one AND the other:
• Meditation
• OR Contemplation
• OR Prayer
• OR Mantra
• Meditation
• AND Contemplation
• AND Prayer
• AND Mantra
Do all of the practices: Yoga meditation of the Himalayas suggests training all of the levelsof
our being (senses, body, breath, mind), and utilizes a variety of attitude, physical and breathing
practices as a foundation. It also teaches one that there is great benefit from doing not only one,
but all of the practices of Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra.
Follow your predisposition: However, these are not "one size fits all" recommendations, but
recognize the predisposition, culture, and religion of individual aspirants. These personal traits
are the guidelines by which one chooses the objects of focus for Meditation, the nature of the
Contemplations, the emphasis of Prayer, and the specific Mantras.
Seek the true meaning of Yoga: Yoga means "union," to re-integrate all of the aspects of our
being, that were never really divided in the first place. Thus, it is quite beneficial to work with all
levels of our being, and to utilize the full range of practices, adapted to individual needs. To deal
with all levels, through such a full range of practices is the true meaning of Yoga.
The four work as a team: As these practices of Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra
progress to their subtler stages, they become increasingly powerful as a team, moving one to
the height of spiritual awakening.
Meditation

Meditation evolves: Meditation evolves in stages, regardless of what object of focus is used,
such as breath, a visualized image, an internal point of focus, or a religious symbol. There are
several categories or stages in Yoga meditation.
• Gross objects: Yoga meditation may start with concentration on identifiable objects or
words,
• Subtle objects: Then shift to their non-objective form, such as the light or sound which
constructs the object,
• Bliss: Then lead to the subtler, joy-producing essence or meaning of the object, or
• I-ness: Move still deeper into being-ness or existence itself.
Meditation moves inward: Yoga meditation is systematic, moving inward from gross, to
subtle, to subtler, and to subtle-most. Attention moves progressively inward, from the most
external to the very core of our being. As attention follows the object inward, the awareness of
the grosser aspects of the object fall away, as if being shed, while the deeper essence reveals
itself.
Mental stance is following: The mental stance of Meditation is one of following the object of
meditation, like a bird following a flying insect with unwavering concentration. It is as if the
object arose from a deep place, and that by focusing on that object, our attention can follow it
back to the source from which it arose.
[Words used interchangeably: It is important to note that many traditions and authors
use the words "Meditation" and "Contemplation" interchangeably. If we are aware of this,
then we can easily see the context of the way the words are being used in different ways.
With that clarity, we do not become confused by the terminology. Here, we are using the
two words from the approach of Yoga and Vedanta.]
Contemplation

Contemplation evolves: Contemplation also evolves through stages, whether it is a reflection
on a universal principle such as, "Truth is in Oneness," an inner question such as, "Who am I?"
or on an inspiring verse from the sacred texts of one's religion. In the Himalayan tradition, one
of the focuses of Contemplation is on the Mahavakyas, or Great Contemplations.
• Thought: Contemplation may start with a verbal thought process,
• Reflection: Deepen to quiet reflection,
• Intuition: Later bring intuitive wisdom, and
• Knowing: Then lead to a formless knowing.
Contemplation moves inward: Contemplation moves from gross, to subtle, to subtler, and to
subtle-most. As attention moves progressively inward, the more external, gross, verbal way of
thinking recedes, leading us to the very core of our intuitive being.
Mental stance is of inviting: The mental stance of Contemplation is like when you have lost
some personal object, such as a key or a pair of glasses. You look and think, look and think, but
do not find. Finally, you come to stillness, while your eyes quit roaming, and your mind quits
thinking. There is a mental stance of openness, of invitation for the memory to simply arise, as if
you were inviting it by saying, "Come....". It is the stance of stillness after the invitation that is
Contemplation.
Prayer

Prayer evolves: Prayer also evolves through stages, although the specific words and focus of
the Prayers might be different for people of different cultures and religions.
• Repetition: Prayer may start by being repetitive and standardized in a traditional way,
• Relationship: Then shift more to a verbal and spontaneous inner relationship,
• Feeling: Then develop to a deeper, non-verbal feeling of love and devotion, and
• Communion: Then transform into a still deeper communion.
Prayer moves inward: Prayer moves from gross, to subtle, to subtler, and to subtle-most.
Prayer moves progressively inward, from the most external to the very core of our being, as
Prayers such as for strength, or help with going inward, or for spiritual awakening, gradually
come to fruition.
Mental stance is of anticipation: The mental stance of Prayer is one of anticipation. There is a
"Me" and an "Other," and there is a draw, a longing for them to come into presence together.
There is a calling forward, an appeal between the heart and the beloved.
Mantra

Mantra evolves: Mantra also evolves through stages, whether the Mantra is of a particular
religious significance, such as a short phrase, is of a spiritual language such as Sanskrit, or is a
seed syllable not of any particular religion or language. Mantra usage deepens with practice:
• Spoken: At first it may be spoken externally or internally,
• Heard: Later heard or attended to internally,
• Feeling: Still later experienced as a syllable-less feeling, or
• Pervasive awareness: Finally experienced as a pervasive awareness that leads to its
source.
Manta moves inward: Mantra moves from gross, to subtle, to subtler, and to subtle-most.
Mantra moves progressively inward, from the most external to the very core of our being.
Mental stance is of following: The higher mental stance of Mantra is one of following, as if by
aligning attention to the Mantra, it will lead one into the Silence from which it arose. The stance
is somewhat like listening to the sound of faint, distant music in a forest, where you become
physically still, as you strain your attention to identify the source of the sound.
Converging

Integrate the four: As each of the practices deepen in their own special ways, Meditation,
Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra integrate with one another in a dance of the heart and an
orchestra of their individuality and synergy.
• Meditation objects are experienced more in their essence rather than being seen or
thought of in gross, material ways.
• Contemplation brings intuition that is non-verbal, non-visual, and non-auditory. It is
pure knowing that begins to come.
• Prayer moves from repeating standardized, oral Prayers, past verbal dialogue with the
Divine, to silent communion.
• Mantra transitions from speaking syllables, to listening, to feeling, to constant
awareness, to soundless sound.
The four begin to merge: The practices of Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra
begin to merge into one another. What at first seemed like very different practices are now
seeming to be only most subtly differentiated.
Two forces work together: The two stances of experience coming forward (the coming
forward of intuition in Contemplation, and of divinity in Prayer), and of attention following inward
(the following inward of Meditation and Mantra) combine in their intensity. Together, the
practices form two synergistic forces: 1) a powerful magnetism that pulls one further inward
towards the Absolute Reality, as 2) the Absolute Reality seems to come forward at the same
time.
The four converge into one: Finally, as Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra each
reach their subtler stages, they converge into one laser like force-field of concentrated
awareness, which then pierces the final barrier into the Realization of the Self, the Absolute
Reality.
Samahitam: The state of deep, inner Silence from which the higher knowledge (Paravidya)
begins to come, is called Samahitam. It is the final launching pad, or jumping off place for the
direct experience of the Absolute Reality.
Karma
Reducing Karma and the Sources of
Negative Actions, Speech, and Thoughts

The word Karma literally means action. It may appear that Karma is
happening to us, as if some outside force is causing good things orbad things
to come to us. However, it is really our own innerconditionings and processes
that are leading us to experience outereffects or consequences in relation to
our own actions.



Outline of the process of Karma: The process of
Karma is outlined in the chart at the left.
As you scroll down through this article, you will find
detailed descriptions of each of the stages on the
chart. The particular section being described is
highlighted in blue in the accompanying chart.
It is also useful to read these pages about karma:
• Three Types of Karma
• Reducing Karma - Yoga Sutras
• Karma and Non-Attachment
• Karma articles Index
Law of Karma: The law of Karma is a universal process, whereby causes lead to effects. This is
something that all of us are already familiar with, whether or not we use the wordKarma to
describe it. Newton's third law of motion, that every action leads to a reaction, is an application
of the law of Karma. Whether we are talking about physics or daily life in the world, it is
extremely useful to understand the law and process of Karma so that we may regulate or direct
the process. We can soften the impact of the playing out of our past Karmas, and
can choose our own future Karma if we are willing to put in the effort to learn how to do it.
Remember the Bliss beyond Karma: When journeying through the process of Karma, it can
start to feel a bit heavy with all the explanations and inner explorations. The best companion on
this journey through Karma is to remember that we are trying to experience that Bliss, Joy, or
Absolute Truth, which is beyond, behind, or underneath all of the Karma. By remembering that
the goal is Joy, Bliss, or Absolute, we (and the mind) will have a focal point and a context for all
of the efforts put into sadhana (spiritual practices). Above all else, seek that Joy or Bliss.


Two Essential Terms


Two essential terms: To understand the meaning
of Karma, and to reduce its control through Yoga,
one needs to understand another term, and that
is Samskara. Karma literally means actions, and
those actions come from the deep impressions of
habit that are calledSamskaras.
These two act together: Our actions and speech
bring us experiences or consequences in the world.
Those, in turn, lead to further creation of deep
impressions (Samskaras) in the basement of the
mind. Later, those latent impressions come to life
and create still further experiences.
We must deal with both: If we want the higher
insights and freedoms, we need to deal with both
our actions and these habits.

Samskara is the most important principle: The most important principle to understand
about Karma is the principle of the Samskara, those deep impressions. It is those deep
impressions or seed habit patterns, which are at the root of ALL of our Karmas, whether we
think of that Karma as good or bad. There are two general things we need to do in relation to
those Samskaras:
• External: Allow some Samskaras to wisely play out externally in our life, in ways that
allow us to become free from them recycling into more and more loops of habitual actions.
(See Archery article)
• Internal: Let go of other Samskaras internally by attenuating the colorings of attractions,
aversions, and fears through the processes meditation, contemplation, and prayer.
Karma Yoga: To purify or attenuate the Samskaras while one is doing actions in the world is
the Yoga known as Karma Yoga. This involves being aware or mindful of our actions and speech,
and seeing their sources in emotions and the subtler processes of the mind. Karma Yoga also
involves doing our actions in ways, which are of benefit to others (service or seva), freeing
ourselves from the cycles of feeding egotism.
Subtler freedom through Meditation: The subtler, finer colorings of Samskaras are
systematically encountered, weakened, reduced, eliminated and transcended through the
process of meditation.

Cycling process of the inner instruments: To experience the Eternal Self beyond the many
forms, one needs to experientially understand the cycling process of the inner instruments that
drives Karma (actions). This cycling process between actions and the deep impressions also is
affected by the inner thinking process, the emotions, primitive urges, and the ignorance called
Avidya. All of these are infused with or operated by the pure consciousness, which is at the core
of our being. (These are described in the article.)
Attenuating the deep impressions: By observing this process in one's own inner laboratory of
Yoga Meditation, the effects of deep impressions (Samskaras) can be reduced, and
thus, Karma regulated. This process of attenuating Samskaras and Karmaincreasingly allows
attention to shift to the viewing point of Witness of it all.
The cycle of actions (Karma):
• ...arises from a mostly unconscious thought process,
• ...that is inspired by the inner passions of "I-am-ness"
• ...and specific desires ("I want..."),
• ...that is filtered through layers of deep impressions (Samskaras),
• ...that are inspired by primitive urges
• ...that first arise with the individuation of the wave from the ocean of Oneness.

Three Freedoms



Three freedoms come: There are three general
stages of freedom that come from this process of
dealing with Karma:
1. Freedom from Actions: Freedom from the
bondage of Karma (actions), meaning that
one does not necessarily have to act out of
habit, but is free to make choice.
2. Freedom from Thought: Freedom from the
bondage of Thought, meaning that one has
the ability to regulate thoughts and emotions
in positive ways, not being merely dragged
around by the conditionings of the mind.
3. Freedom from Ignorance: Freedom from
the bondage of Ignorance, meaning that one
has become free from the primal forgetting of
ones True nature, and of the temporary,
painful nature of things.
Emerging freedoms: These three freedoms emerge in stages. The direct experience of the
Center of Consciousness, the Self, leads towards all three of these freedoms.
Observe and Regulate your actions and speech: One of the first things to do in sadhana
(spiritual practices) is to regulate actions and speech, promoting the positive and useful, while
setting aside the negative and not useful. This is the first part of breaking the cycles of actions
and reactions, or Karma. In Yoga, this includes practicing the Yamas, which are not harming,
truthfulness, not stealing, remembering higher truth, and not being possessive (Yoga Sutras
2.30-2.34). Initially these practices might be done on the more surface level, like behavioral
psychology, but later are done on a subtler level through meditation (Yoga Sutras 2.10-2.11).
Then the roots of those negative or not useful actions and speech are dealt with through
meditation at the level of Samskaras (See the Samskaras level on the chart).
Witness your Emotions and Thoughts: Observe your emotional reactions during the day and
you will easily notice that most, if not all of them are one of two types. The emotions are either
in getting what you want (or successfully avoiding what you don't want), or not getting what you
want (or failing to avoid what you don't want). These emotional reactions will cluster around
happiness or pride when we get our way, and frustration or jealousy when we do not get our
way. These reactions might be intense or very mild. One of the most straightforward and useful
practices in observing these emotional reactions is to ask ourselves, "What desire is being
fulfilled here?" or "What desire is not being fulfilled here?" In either case, it is very useful to
witness these emotional reactions, as they give us clues about the underlying Deep Impressions
(Samskaras), and can help us see the way the Four Primitive Urges (see chart) set the stage for
these. Then they can be systematically attenuated, eventually revealing the joy and Truth
underneath.
Remember and observe the basic forms of Ignorance: It is extremely useful to notice from
time to time the many ways in which we forget the subtler realities in our busy daily lives.
Avidya means ignorance, to not see clearly. Avidya literally means without-knowledge, as the a-
means without, and vidya means knowledge (See Yoga Sutra 2.5). We may observe, for
example, some frustration when something we own breaks, is lost, or is stolen. The root of the
frustration comes because of forgetting the temporary nature of things. When somebody says
something negative about us, we might feel hurt or become defensive because of the root
forgetting of who I am, thinking that I am my personality. Remembering the reality of things can
help lead to freedom, though we will also need to deal with these in subtler meditation. (See the
Avidya/Ignorance level on the chart )


About the descriptions below...

Descriptions from inner to outer: The descriptions below explain the process of Karma by
starting at the subtlest level and then progressively moving outward. One after the other, the
process emerges through these levels until there is finally a playing out of actions (Karmas) in
the external world. The particular section being described is highlighted in blue in the
accompanying chart.

Center of Consciousness


Center: Underneath all of the levels and layers of
inner process affecting Karma is the Center of
Consciousness (or whatever name one chooses to
call it). Understanding the process of Karma and its
sources does not require one to use or believe in
any particular term or concept for this ultimate level
that we are here calling Center of Consciousness.
The principles and processes of Karma apply to all
people, regardless of how we might conceive this
core of consciousness.
Conditioning: It is the conditioning of this
otherwise pure consciousness that relates to Karma
and the sources of actions, speech, and thoughts.
The Center of Consciousness has been placed on
this chart so that we can see the way in which
this conditioning process happens.
Be ever mindful of your Center: Cultivate an attitude of constant awareness of the core of
your being, or center of consciousness. It doesn't matter whether you use these terms, or refer
to that center as Self, Soul, Atman, or some other name. It is very useful to be mindful of that
center while doing your actions in the world. Attention may not be there continuously, but
can pop into awareness from time to time. This allows you to see the way in which the center is,
as the name says, the center from which all of the other deep habits, emotions, thoughts,
actions and speech emerge.

Remembering often: To recall this center of consciousness is a frequent reminder thatwho I
am is independent of these habits or Samskaras (though we are responsible for them), much as
if we were to see ourselves as being electricity, independent of the machines or instruments we
might operate. This practice is a real key to internalizing or remembering the whole of this
process of Karma, and learning how to deal with it. This is often called Meditation in Action or
Mindfulness.


Avidya / Ignorance


Avidya/Ignorance: Avidya means ignorance, or to
not see clearly. Ignorance does not mean stupid or
lacking in intelligence, but refers to the root
ability to ignore.
Wave forgets it is ocean: Imagine an ocean,
which is an ocean of consciousness, and that the
wave forgets that its essential nature is that of the
ocean itself. That forgetting, or ignoring, allows the
wave to think that it is an individual, independent of
the ocean. We humans do this too; we forget we
are part of the whole, and declare, "I am so-and-
so."

Kinds of Avidya: The aspect of Avidya that has to do with our fundamental forgetting that we
are part of the whole is an extremely subtle part of our being. However, this process also
manifests in more surface ways as well. For example, Avidya (ignorance) sets the stage for us to
confuse pain for pleasure, impure thoughts for pure thoughts, temporary for long lasting, and
our actions as being our identity. You might want to read through Yoga Sutra 2.5 on types of
Avidya.
Opens the door to Karma: This primal forgetting or ignorance of Avidya allows for
thepossibility of the chains of Karma, or cause and effect. Imagine for a moment that you were a
totally enlightened sage, and that you never, ever, lost touch with your eternal Self. If you were
in that state, you would be free, at all times, even when actions were playing out! However,
those who are not free, who do have Karma, are influenced by this foundation of Ignorance or
Avidya. In forgetting our True Nature and falsely identifying ourselves with the objects of the
world that are stored in the mind, we are subject to the playing out of the seemingly endless
cycles of desires and actions, cause and effect. The whole process of Karma begins with, or rests
on the foundation of Avidya or Ignorance.
Avidya/Ignorance is like Forgetting...

The wave forgets the truth that it is ocean, thinking itself
to be the grand shape, which it has temporarily taken.
For a while, it takes on the rupa (form) of wave.
Finally, it remembers its true rupa (form) of ocean.
The two coexist, though one is true, and the
other, though beautiful, is only relatively true.
So too, we humans forget our true nature,
but, through Yoga, can remember.
Avidya is an ability: This Avidya or Ignorance is actually an ability or skill, in addition to being
the most subtle obstacle; it is not all bad. While it is true that Avidya masks our True Nature, it
also allows us to function in the world. Imagine that you did not have the ability to ignore all of
the thoughts going on in your unconscious mind at a given moment. This could be a state of
what psychologists call flooding of unconscious material, which might be called psychosis. If we
were masters of non-attachment (See Yoga Sutras 1.15-1.16), then we could be completely
open, with no Avidya or Ignorance, and we would be unaffected by that flood of thoughts. That
would be a state of complete freedom from the bondage of Karma, the bondage of thought, and
the bondage of Avidya. However, in the meantime, it is good to see how Avidya sets the stage
for the play of Karma, so we can do the practical work in our daily lives as spiritual aspirants.

Four Primitive Fountains



Four Primitive Fountains: All creatures share
some common drives, which form the root of all
other drives, wants, wishes, or motives, which
might be more specific in nature. While you might
see other nuances within these, there are four basic
urges for food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation.
• Food
• Sleep
• Sex
• Self-preservation
Others come from these: These are
calledfountains because other drives spring from
these four, combining and recombining in many
complex combinations.
Generalized urges: These four primitive urges are very generalized, while the ensuing
experiences of life lead to more particularized drives, habits, or conditionings. Thus, for example,
all creatures have a drive toward sustenance, which we can broadly call food. However, humans
have a narrower range of appropriate food compared to others. For example, the food of an
algae growing in a pond might be different than what people eat. As our food drive becomes
more particularized, we might develop a predisposition for healthy food or tasty food, for apples
or chocolate.
Also open the door to Karma: As was mentioned above in relation to Avidya or Ignorance,
these very broad Primitive Urges also allow for the next level of conditionings to occur, where we
start to get a real feel for the nature of Karma and how we actually deal with it in our spiritual
lives and meditation practices.

Deep Impressions / Samskaras



Deep impressions drive Karma: There are many
layers and levels of Samskaras, the stored
impressions resulting from actions and desires,
asleep in the unconscious.
Latent, but with potential: In their latent form,
these Samskaras have no immediate impelling force
to action, but only the potentialfor such
action. These are the driving force of
our Karma. Sometimes the Samskaras become
active, and then they motivate and control the mind
and the emotions, which in turn leads to the
possibility of actions (Karma).
Sleeping desires: Just as a person may sleep,
these latent impressions are usually asleep, so to
speak. It is only when they become active that they
stir into active desires.
Two essential terms: To understand the meaning of Karma, and to reduce
it's control, one needs to understand another term, and that
is Samskara. Karma literally means actions, and those actions come from the
deep impressions of habit that are called Samskaras.
These two act together: Our actions and speech bring us experiences or consequences in the
world. Those, in turn, lead to further creation of deep impressions (Samskaras) in the basement
of the mind. Later, those latent impressions come to life and create still further experiences.

We must deal with both: If we want the higher spiritual freedoms and insights, it is necessary
not only to deal with the external actions or behavior, but also with the
deep,internal impressions or Samskaras. These must be systematically encountered, weakened,
eliminated, and transcended.
Karma Yoga: To purify or attenuate the Samskaras while one is doing actions in the world is
the Yoga known as Karma Yoga. This involves being aware or mindful of our actions and speech,
and seeing their sources in emotions and the subtler processes of the mind. Karma Yoga also
involves doing our actions in ways, which are of benefit to others, freeing ourselves from the
cycles of feeding egotism.
(Four Paths of Yoga: Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja)
Subtler freedom through Meditation: The subtler, finer colorings of Samskaras are
systematically encountered, weakened, reduced, eliminated and transcended through the
process of meditation (See Yoga Sutras, including the first 25 Sutras of Chapter 2).
Cycling process of the inner instruments: To experience the Eternal Self beyond the many
forms, one needs to experientially understand the cycling process of the inner instruments that
drives Karma (actions). This cycling process between actions and the deep impressions also is
affected by the inner thinking process, the emotions, primitive urges, and the ignorance called
Avidya (See Yoga Sutra 2.5 for more info about Ignorance or Avidya). All of these are infused
with or operated by the pure consciousness, which is at the core of our being.
Attenuating the deep impressions: By observing this process in one's own inner laboratory of
Yoga Meditation, the effects of deep impressions (Samskaras) can be reduced, and
thus, Karma regulated. This process of attenuating Samskaras and Karmaincreasingly allows
attention to shift to the viewing point of Witness of it all.
Samskaras must be examined and purified: To make progress in regulating Karma,
the Samskaras need to be examined and purified, which means to gradually attenuatetheir
intensity, until they can finally be completely purified in the inner fire of pure consciousness. This
is an important part of the process of Yoga Meditation and Yoga Nidra as tools to deal
with Karma.
Uncoloring Your Colored Thoughts

Yoga Sutras:

Breaking the alliance of Karma: The key to breaking the cycle of karma is
that the connection between seer and that which is seen is set aside (2.17). This
allows one to avoid even the future karmas that have not yet manifested
(2.16). Ignorance, or avidya (2.5), is the cause of this alliance (2.24), and
eliminating this ignorance is the means of ending the alliance (2.25). This, in
turn, breaks the cycle of karma.
(See Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.25 for deeper explanations on the process of breaking
the alliance of Karma.)
See the beginning of this article: The relationship of Samskaras to the whole of the process
of karma, and this relationship is also explained at the beginning of this article.
Emotions



Emotions: These three lines in the chart relate to
Emotions, and are further explained in their
individual sections.
Which comes first? It is a very common to ask,
"Which comes first, thoughts or emotions?" The
answer is, "both!" By understanding the law and
process of Karma, this is easy to see.
• When the Deep Impressions or Samskaras
are triggered or awakened, they align with
the primary Emotion of Desire itself.
• The emotional process then leads to a
thought process that is typically only partially
conscious.
• This leads to the surface mental awareness of
the thoughts and the ensuing actions and
speech.
Latent thoughts > Emotions > Active thoughts: Thus, we see that the latent thought
impressions (stored from our countless experiences) lead to an emotional process, which then
lead to an active thought process, which, in turn, leads to actions and speech. This Active
thought process occurs through an aspect of mind called manas in Yoga science and sensory-
motor mind in psychology.
(See manas in the article, Four Functions of Mind)
Witness the Emotions often during daily life: It is extremely useful to become a witness to
our own emotional processes during our actions in the world. Isn't it true that we often,
and easily observe the gestures, body language, and emotional reactions ofothers? If we can so
easily see it in others, we can also see it in ourselves. By clearly seeing our own positive and
negative emotions (those are the culprits), we can promote or strengthen the positive, useful
emotions like love, compassion, benevolence, and acceptance (See Yoga Sutra 1.33 for
meditation on these positive emotions). Witnessing our own body language, speech,
actions, and our emotional reactions will give us a mirror reflection of our Deep Impressions or
Samskaras. It also allows us to see the predictable ways in which the Four Primitive Fountains
(food, sleep, sex, self-preservation) play out. Thus, we not only learn to regulate our emotions
in positive ways, but also come to see the roots from which they arise. This self-witnessing in
daily life is a major part of Karma Yoga, going along with doing our actions selflessly for others.


Emotion of Desire / Kama



Desire as it's own entity: Kama is desire itself (a
different word than Karma, which
meansactions stemming from desire), and is one of
the two primary emotions (along
with ahamkara).Kama is the mother of all other
desires. It gives rise to both the desire to satisfy the
senses, and the beneficial desire to help others
selflessly.
Desire is a single process: Regardless of the
particular object being desired, the process of
Desire itself is the same. The same wanting,
wishing, or longing, etc., is there. Think of
examples in your own life and you will see this
clearly, that there is a fundamental wave of Desire,
which then associates with particular objects.
Kama, not Karma: Note the the word for desire is kama (without the letter "r"), and that the
word for actions is karma (with the letter "r"), which are two different words and concepts.
Think of your favorite desires: Whether the desire is for your favorite food, the comfort of
family life, success on your job, money in the bank, or a new car, the desire itself is the same.
With some reflection, it becomes easy to see the way in which the prime desire allies itself with
the particular objects. This is not bad, and is not to suggest that one should suddenly attempt to
abandon all desires in the world. Rather, it means being aware of how the unconscious process
of karma works so that those desires do not make you a slave to their intensity.
Kama is the prime desire: Kama is the prime desire, and from this impelling force arise all of
the other, specific desires. It is this prime force of kama which motivates a person to do
anything and everything. Kama is blind desire that has not yet been related with any particular
objects or thoughts. It is the nature of kama that it has no sense of discrimination, judgment or
understanding. Kama then associates itself with deep impressions (Samskaras), and that
combination then motivates one to do something simply to fulfill that desire—solely because it
exists.
Desire pulls one outward: All of these desires draw one outward, into the domains of mind
and the physical world, so as to seek to fulfill the desires, either in Dreaming or Waking
states. The fulfilling of these desires is Karma, stimulated by kama.
One desire stands alone: There is one desire that stands alone as different. That is, the desire
for Truth, Reality, Self, or God, and this desire alone draws the attention inward, past all of the
other desires, conditionings of Samskaras, Karma, and Primitive Fountains. (See the paper on
the koshas.)
Association of Desire and objects is key: By seeing the way this uniform process of Desire
associates with numerous objects, we come to see a universal need to gain some degree of
mastery over the process of Desire itself. If we can do that, even to a small degree, we can start
to regulate our actions and speech, which alters our consequences in beneficial ways. This
changes the Deep Impressions or Samskaras in the basement of the mind.


Unfulfilled Desires / Fulfilled Desires



Desire combines with Samskaras: In the
previous section on the Emotion of Desire itself
(Kama), desire is seen to be its own motivating
force. It is a coloring, so to speak, which then
associates with the latent impressions (Samskaras)
in the bed of the lake of the mind. There
is one essence of desire and manyobjects to which
it might associate. Thus, there may be countless
possibilities of "desired objects," while there
remains only one coloring of desire itself.
Desire works in 1 of 2 ways: Once there is a
particular desire (or aversion, which is also a desire
of sorts), there are only two possibilities:
1. You do get what you want.
2. You do not get what you want.

When desire is NOT fulfilled: If one's desire
(kama) is not achieved or fulfilled, then there
is the emotion of frustration or anger, which is
called krodha. Anger results from unfulfilled
desires that one has not learned how to
arrange, to pacify, or to understand. It means
that there is a desire that needs to be
understood and resolved. Jealousy, matsarya,
comes when one doesn’t have something that
he wants and someone else does.
There are many other words that describe
the subtleties of emotional resistance when
desires are not fulfilled. However, they all
involve a sort of "pushing against," similar to
that with anger.
When desire IS fulfilled: If one's desire
(kama) is achieved or fulfilled, then there is
the emotion of pride, or muda, having what
others do not. When one attains what is longed
for, then attachment comes; this attachment is
called moha. Moha is the incorrect sense that,
“This is mine!” When one is attached to
something, one becomes greedy, which is
called lobha. Once there is attachment to
something, it is as if one can never have
enough.
There are many other words that describe the
subtleties of emotional attraction when
desires are fulfilled. However, they all involve a
"drawing towards," similar to that which comes
with pride or greed.
Four Meditations on Positive Emotions: Yoga suggests meditation on four positive emotions
as a means of stabilizing and clearing the mind. These four are meditations on love, compassion,
benevolence, and acceptance (See Yoga Sutra 1.33 for meditation on these positive emotions).
Meditation on these positive emotions is done both by being mindful of them during the day, and
also consciously, intentionally practicing them at your regular meditation time. Meditation on
these attitudes brings a tremendous amount of freedom from difficult relationships with the
people in our personal lives, and our fellow humans in general. To feel an ever increasing sense
of love, compassion, benevolence, and acceptance is a beautiful experience.
Preparing for advanced meditations: In relation to the whole of the process of dealing with
Karma and enlightenment, these meditations on attitudes or emotions are preliminary, and set
the stage for the more advanced meditations to come later. In the later meditations, the
aspirant is seeking out the roots, which are beyond, or deeper than the emotions, however
beautiful and alluring those might be. The seeker of enlightenment is seeking all of the levels of
freedom (described above), so as to eventually experience the highest Bliss and Truth beyond.

Emotion of Ahamkara / Ego



Either way, Ego may increase: Whether desires
are fulfilled or not fulfilled, Ego can increase.
If desires are fulfilled, Ego can increase because
of the pride and other emotions associated with
attaining ones goals. Ego even further takes on the
identities related to those objects of desire.
If desires are not fulfilled, Ego can increase
because of the frustration and other emotions
associated with not attaining ones goals. Ego seeks
to defend its stance, and thus increases.
Either way, one can end up facing the challenge of
an increased sense of Ego.
Ego and desire are two primary emotions: Egoism, or ahamkara, is one of the two primary
emotions (along with the prime desire, kama). Notice carefully how this works.
Two meanings of "Ego" It is extremely important to understand that the word Ego is used in
two different ways. One is the psychological use of the word and the other is according to Yoga.
Both are equally valid and the terms can properly be used in both ways. However, it is necessary
to know the two concepts so that it is easy to discern which way the word is being used in a
given sentence.
See the section on Two Egos in the Four Functions of Mind article.
Ego gives individuality and separation: Because of ahamkara, we are individuals, but
then ahamkara also separates us from the whole. This “I” refers to ourselves as separate from
others, and becomes the center of our lives.
Four functions of mind: To understand the origin of ahamkara (the "I"), it is very important to
understand the Four Functions of Mind. We are like a wheel, which needs both spokes and a hub
to rotate. The hub is the still Center of Consciousness and the four spokes are the four functions
of mind, one of which is ahamkara. The Four Functions of Mind are:

• Ahamkara, the ego or "I-maker"
• Manas, the sensory-motor mind that directs the ten senses or
indriyas
• Buddhi, which knows, decides, judges, and discriminates
• Chitta, the storehouse of all of these, along with the countless
deep impressions).

Emotion is stronger than intelligence: Intelligence has no power before bhava, the power of
emotion. But intelligence, if properly handled, can channel emotional power so that we can use it
positively. Learning to use bhava properly is essential to successful living and working
with Karma. If one can use that emotional power, the highest state of ecstasy can be attained in
a second’s time.
Spiritual bliss is not an emotion: It is important to note that the emotions of personality that
interact with mental process are at a different level of reality or consciousness than the bliss, or
ananda that is deeper in our being. This is explained in an article on the Koshas (sheaths),
paying particular attention to the descriptions of manamaya kosha and anandamaya kosha.
Thoughts



Actions come from thoughts: No action (Karma)
can ever be performed unless we think of, or want it
to happen at some level of mind.
Habit patterns define personality: Our
personalities have been woven by our habit
patterns (Samskaras and Karma), and our habit
patterns are the result of our repetitive actions. If
we look at ourselves closely, we will realize that our
habits really are our personality. In a sense,
we become our Karma, while at the same time the
true Self resides there, underneath, all along.
Emotions control thoughts, which control
actions: The real motivation for actions (Karma) is
our thoughts. All of our actions are controlled by our
thoughts, and all our thoughts are controlled by our
emotions. Compared with our emotions, thought
has little power.

Actions and Speech



Mind functions through ten senses: Actions and
speech involve the use of the five active senses
(karmendriyas) of eliminating, reproducing, moving,
grasping, and speaking, and the five cognitive
senses (jnanendriyas) of smelling, tasting, seeing,
touching, and hearing. The mind
functions through these ten senses (indriyas). (Each
of these operates sequentially from the first five
chakras.)
Conscious is controlled by unconscious:
Whenever an event occurs that relates to an
impression in the deep bed of the mind, then the
deep impression or Samskara becomes active and
starts the process of manifesting theKarma. The
conscious mind is actually controlled by the
unconscious, which is why we can have some
difficulty making progress in our growth and
spiritual life.

Consequences control our lives: All of our actions bring responses that leave an impression
in the unconscious mind. These impressions become our Samskaras and then control our lives.
Thus, a cycling process continues, day after day, life after life, and this process is known
as Karma.
Training the senses and actions: The training of our senses and actions (indriyas) is a most
important part of breaking the cycles of Karma. See the article Training the Ten Senses or
Indriyas, which describes the following graphic:

Training Speech with mantra or affirmations: It is common knowledge that the self-talk or
chatter we do internally has an effect on our mind. Negative inner talk creates negative
impressions in the basement of the mind (the level of Samskaras), which, in turn, play out
through the levels described in this article, once again leading to actions and speech, and more
karma. One of the finest tools for dealing with the chattering, negative self-talk is mantra. By
repeating mantra over and over and over, the cycle can be weakened, if not broken (not
meaning the suppression or repression of thoughts and emotions that need to be examined).
One might use a single syllable seed mantra, a longer mantra, a short prayer, or a simple
affirmation. Whichever is used, it becomes a constant companion, repeating itself, over and
over, like a song that becomes a mental habit, thousands of times a day. This extremely useful
practice can only be appreciated by experimenting with it for some time.


Actions/Speech & Samskaras


These two act together: Our actions and speech
bring us experiences or consequences in the world.
Those, in turn, lead to further creation of deep
impressions (Samskaras) in the basement of the
mind. Later, those latent impressions come to life
and create still further experiences.
The Goal: The goal of meditation and
contemplation is to know the pure Center of
Consciousness. To to do this we need to regulate
our actions and speech and reduce the Deep
Impressions or Samskaras. This process eventually
allows the light of the True Self to come shining
through.
Good decisions and practice: Two major keys in
this process are to make good decisions about our
daily life and spiritual activities and to then follow
through on the actual practices. Together, these are
like the left and right feet walking the journey of
Self-Realization.


Archery and the Art of Reducing Karma

Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.25:
Breaking the Alliance of Karma
Disconnecting seer and seen: The key to breaking the cycle of karma is that the
connection between "seer" and that which is "seen" is set aside (2.17). This allows
one to avoid even thefuture karmas that have not yet manifested
(2.16). Ignorance, or avidya (2.5), is the cause of this alliance (2.24), and
eliminating this ignorance is the means of ending the alliance (2.25). This, in turn,
breaks the cycle of karma.
Consequences of the colorings: The colorings (1.5, 2.3)(klishta/aklishta) lead to birth, span
of life, and experiences (2.13). These are painful or not painful (2.14), though the yogi comes to
see them all as painful (2.15), and thus wants to avoid these (2.16).
The subtler process of breaking the alliance: Descriptions of the nature of the objects are
given (2.18), along with the subtle states of the elements (2.19), and explanation of how the
seer cognizes them (2.20). It is explained that the objects exist for the benefit of the seer
(2.21), and that they cease to exist when one knows their true nature (2.22), though continuing
to be experienced by others. Even so, it is explained, the relationship between seer and seen
had to be there, so that the seer could eventually experience the subtler truth (2.23).
Foundation: The ability to break the alliance with karma as described in sutras 2.12-2.25 is
built on a foundation of prerequisites, including stabilizing the mind (1.33-1.39) and minimizing
the gross colorings (kleshas) of the mind (2.1-2.9).
Key is discriminative knowledge: The eight rungs of Yoga and discriminative knowledge are
the key tools in this process, and are described in the next section (2.26-2.29).
Summary of Yoga Sutras 2.12-2.25 on Breaking the Alliance of Karma:Latent
impressions that are colored (karmashaya) result from other actions (karmas) that were brought
about by colorings (kleshas), and become active and experienced in a current life or a future life.
As long as those colorings (kleshas) remains at the root, three consequences are produced: 1)
birth, 2) span of life, and 3) experiences in that life. Because of having the nature of merits or
demerits (virtue or vice), these three (birth, span of life, and experiences) may be experienced
as either pleasure or pain.
A wise, discriminating person sees all worldly experiences as painful, because of reasoning that
all these experiences lead to more consequences, anxiety, and deep habits (samskaras), as well
as acting in opposition to the natural qualities. Because the worldly experiences are seen as
painful, it is the pain, which is yet to come that is to be avoided and discarded.
The uniting of the seer (the subject, or experiencer) with the seen (the object, or that which is
experienced) is the cause or connection to be avoided.
The objects (or knowables) are by their nature of: 1) illumination or sentience, 2) activity or
mutability, or 3) inertia or stasis; they consist of the elements and the powers of the senses,
and exist for the purpose of experiencing the world and for liberation or enlightenment. There
are four states of the elements (gunas), and these are: 1) diversified, specialized, or
particularized (vishesha), 2) undiversified, unspecialized, or unparticularized (avishesha), 3)
indicator-only, undifferentiated phenomenal, or marked only (linga-matra), and 4) without
indicator, noumenal, or without mark (alingani).
The Seer is but the force of seeing itself, appearing to see or experience that which is presented
as a cognitive principle. The essence or nature of the knowable objects exists only to serve as
the objective field for pure consciousness. Although knowable objects cease to exist in relation
to one who has experienced their fundamental, formless true nature, the appearance of the
knowable objects is not destroyed, for their existence continues to be shared by others who are
still observing them in their grosser forms.
Having an alliance, or relationship between objects and the Self is the necessary means by
which there can subsequently be realization of the true nature of those objects by that very Self.
Avidya or ignorance (2.3-2.5), the condition of ignoring, is the underlying cause that allows this
alliance to appear to exist.
By causing a lack of avidya, or ignorance there is then an absence of the alliance, and this leads
to a freedom known as a state of liberation or enlightenment for the Seer.
2.12 Latent impressions that are colored (karmashaya) result from other actions (karmas) that
were brought about by colorings (kleshas), and become active and experienced in a current life
or a future life.
(klesha-mula karma-ashaya drishta adrishta janma vedaniyah)
• klesha-mula = having colorings as its origin (klesha = colored, painful, afflicted, impure;
mula = origin, root)
• karma-ashaya = repository of karma (karma = actions stemming from the deep
impressions of samskaras; ashaya = repository, accumulation, deposit, vehicle, reservoir,
womb)
• drishta = seen, visible, experienced consciously, present
• adrishta = unseen, invisible, only experienced unconsciously, future
• janma = in births
• vedaniyah = to be experienced,
Cycle of karma: The word karma literally means actions. Here, the wordkarmashaya is
the repository of the effects of those actions. Usually, those individual impressions in the
repository are called samskaras. There is a cycling process whereby the samskaras in the
karmashaya rise, cause more actions, which in turn lead to more (or stronger) samskaras in the
karmashaya.
Colorings or kleshas: The reason for the cycling process of deep impressions and actions is
the coloring or klishta quality described in sutras 1.5 and 2.3. It bears repeating and reflecting
on many times that it is this coloring or klishta quality that is the key to removing the blocks
over Self-realization (1.3).

Karmashaya or repository: This karmashaya or repository of deep impressions is in the latent
part of the mind, and later springs forth into the conscious part of the mind, as well as
the unconscious processing part of the mind. These impressions cause the mind as manas to
carry out the actions or karmas in the external world, doing so through the karmendriyas. (See
the article on levels and domains of consciousness.)
Actions come at any time: The timing of the playing out of these actions is varied. It may
come in the present or seen (drishta) birth (janma), or it may come in later or unseen (adrishta)
births. In the meantime, the coloring or klishta of the samskaras (karmashaya) may remain
completely dormant, or it may play out in the unconscious dream state.

2.13 As long as those colorings (kleshas) remains at the root, three consequences are produced:
1) birth, 2) span of life, and 3) experiences in that life.
(sati mule tat vipakah jati ayus bhogah)
• sati = since being here, being present, existing
• mule = to be at the root
• tat = of that
• vipakah = ripening, fruition, maturation
• jati = type of birth, species, state of life
• ayus = span of life, lifetime
• bhogah = having experience, resulting enjoyment
Colorings lead to three consequences: The entire principle of karma (which literally
translates as actions) is that the deep impressions (samskaras) that are colored (klishta) leads
to the further playing out of karma. That karma is of three kinds:
• Type of birth: First, those colored impressions lead you to this or that type of birth, in
this or that circumstance.
• Span of life: Second, there is a built-in span of life programmed in, though that span can
be altered by decisions and actions during life.
• Experiences: Third, you will quite naturally have many experiences related to those
impressions as they become active and play themselves out.
Altering the samskaras: Describing this process is setting the stage for the means of altering
these deep impressions. The point of this sutra is that these consequences play out only as long
as the root samskaras are there, and that they remain colored (klishta). If the coloring is
reduced or removed (aklishta), then the consequences are altered.
Remember, once again, the foundation principle of Yoga has to do with these colorings, as was
first presented in Chapter 1, in sutra 1.5)

2.14 Because of having the nature of merits or demerits (virtue or vice), these three (birth,
span of life, and experiences) may be experienced as either pleasure or pain.
(te hlada-paritapa-phalah punya apunya hetutvat)
• te = they, those (referring to those who take birth, as in the last sutra)
• hlada-paritapa-phalah = experiencing pleasure and pain as fruits (hlada = pleasure,
delight; paritapa = pain, agony, anguish; phalah = fruits)
• punya = virtuous, meritorious, benevolent
• apunya = non-virtuous, vice, bad, wicked, evil, bad, demerit, non-meritorious
• hetutvat = having as their cause (the punya or apunya)
There are three major parts in this short sutra, and each are important:
1. Three consequences of birth, span of life, and experiences come as a result of the
karmashaya (samskaras) mentioned in the previous sutra (2.13).
2. Those samskaras (karmashaya) were imbued with the nature of either merit or demerit
(punya/apunya), virtue or vice.
3. Resulting from that, the play out or actions (karma) from those impressions might be
experienced as either pain (paritaba) or pleasure (hlada).
Three consequences: The playing out of the kleshas (colored impressions or samskaras)
mentioned in the previous sutra (2.13) will lead to experiences of one form or another. They will
not just remain inert, and will not just go away. They will definitely lead to some experiential
effect. These deep impressions are so strong that they will also lead to birth. Thus, it has been
said that desire is stronger than death, in that it causes rebirth. A part of the play out of the
karmashaya is also that a certain duration comes along. This can make sense by simply
reflecting on the notion that stronger drives logically last longer than weaker ones.
Merit or demerit: Though not purely accurate, it has become commonplace to speak of good
karma or bad karma. In a broad sense, this is the meaning ofpunya and apunya. It means that
when our actions lead to deep impressions or samskaras, they are either of a type or nature that
leads in a positive, useful direction, or in a negative, un-useful direction. The nature of this merit
or demerit (virtue or vice) goes along with the samskara itself, in that the samskara leads to the
action, and this secondary quality comes along.
Notice that cultivating punya versus apunya is one of the stabilizing practices introduced in
sutra 1.33.
Pain or pleasure: Once the future action starts to play out as a result of the samskaras
(karmashaya), the issue of merit or demerit will cause the actions to be experienced as either
pain (paritaba) or pleasure (hlada).
Planning your karma: By understanding this process, it becomes clear that ones actions can
be planned in such a way that future karma is determined. This is described further in the next
few sutras.
2.15 A wise, discriminating person sees all worldly experiences as painful, because of reasoning
that all these experiences lead to more consequences, anxiety, and deep habits (samskaras), as
well as acting in opposition to the natural qualities.
(parinama tapa samskara duhkhaih guna vrittih virodhat cha duhkham eva sarvam vivekinah)
• parinama = of change, transformation, result, consequence, mutative effect, alteration
• tapa = anxiety, anguish, pain, suffering, misery, torment
• samskara = subtle impressions, imprints in the unconscious, deepest habits
• duhkhaih = by reason of suffering, sorrows
• guna = of the qualities, gunas of prakriti (sattvas, rajas, tamas)
• vrittih = operations, activities, fluctuations, modifications, changes, or various forms of
the mind-field
• virodhat = because of reasoning the contradictory
• cha = and
• duhkham = because of the pain, suffering, sorrow
• eva = is only
• sarvam = all
• vivekinah = to one who discriminates, discerns
Discrimination comes in time: Seeing all worldly experiences as painful is not a mere opinion
or belief system that one cultivates because of following some certain spiritual path. Rather, it
comes from the process of discrimination, and this takes time and practice. By repeatedly seeing
the process of the playing out of samskaras (karmashaya), leading to more deep impressions,
and again recycling, the Yogi comes to conclude for himself or herself that the entire process is
bringing nothing but pain in the long run.
Wisdom, not depression: To simply read this, that everything worldly brings pain, can seem
rather depressing or fatalistic. This is definitely not the case. This insight comes with wisdom,
with seeing clearly the nature of the temporal process. The Yogi feels a sense of joy in this
insight, as it causes an even greater drive towards Self-realization, the direct experience of that
eternal Self, which is not subject to change, death, decay, or decomposition.
Name and form of the prime elements: The Yogi comes to see that the primal elements or
gunas (sattvas, rajas, and tamas) just keep changing names and forms. It is that incessant
transitioning process that is seen to be not worthy of continuing unabated. Eventually, through
the practices of Yoga, the gunas themselves are resolved back into their cause, leading to
liberation (4.32-4.34).
Going in the wrong direction: The Yogi also comes to see that all of these activities are
outward bound, moving directly in the opposite direction from the eternal Self. Because of that
insight, he or she wants even more strongly to go inward, in pursuit of the direct experience of
pure consciousness, or Purusha(3.56, 4.34).

2.16 Because the worldly experiences are seen as painful, it is the pain, which is yet to come
that is to be avoided and discarded.
(heyam duhkham anagatam)
• heyam = to be discarded, avoided, prevented
• duhkham = pain, suffering, sorrow
• anagatam = which has not yet come, in the future
Currently manifesting: The three consequences of birth, span of life, and experiences (2.13)
may be playing out in the current time or life, and may be experienced as pain or pleasure
(2.14). One has to deal with these impressions and their actions (karmas) in the here and now.
Manifesting later: Other samskaras of the karmashaya (2.12) are not driven by their current
coloring or life circumstance to play out at the present moment. They remain in their latent form
in the latent part of the mind, destined to come to life and play out later.
Explore the latent: The Yogi comes to the point of practices where it is not only the currently
manifesting karmas that are dealt with. Rather, he or she intentionally explores the unconscious
processing part of the mind and the latent part of the mind, so as to uncover, attenuate, and
eliminate the coloring (klishta) (1.5, 2.3) of these deep impressions, as was described in
sutra 2.4. In this way, the effects (karma) of those deep impressions are discarded, avoided, or
prevented (hevam). Then the absolute or pure consciousness behind the veil can be
experienced.
As sensitive as the surface of the eyeball: In describing how the Yogi wants to avoid the
pain that is still to come, the commentator Vyasa says that the Yogi's perception has become as
sensitive as the surface of an eye-ball. It is because of this highly refined sense of self-
awareness that he or she discovers the future karmas in the karmashaya, and wants to deal
with them long before they have the chance to come to fruition.
The seer and the seen: The key to this process of avoiding future karmas is breaking the tie
between the seer and the seen (2.17), as described in the remaining sutras of this section.
2.17 The uniting of the seer (the subject, or experiencer) with the seen (the object, or that
which is experienced) is the cause or connection to be avoided.
(drashtri drishyayoh samyogah heya hetuh)
• drashtri = of the seer, knower, apprehender
• drishyayoh = of the seen, knowable
• samyogah = union, conjunction
• heya = to be discarded, avoided, prevented
• hetuh = the cause, reason
The seer engulfs the seen: Connecting the seer with the seen does not mean the physical
eyes looking at physical objects. It means the pure consciousness (1.3, 2.20) wrapping itself
around the subtlest of the traces in the deep unconscious. Those deep impressions (samskaras)
are engulfed (1.4) by consciousness, and then the forgetting process of avidya (2.5, 2.24)
becomes even more pronounced. The subtler nature of these seen objects is described in the
next few sutras, below. (Click here for more info on the process of the observer observing the
observed.)

The key is in loosening the alliance: The key here is that, in a moment when the seer is not
connected with any of those possible seen objects, there is freedom, and that is the higher state
of consciousness that is being sought (1.3,4.26). However, it comes in stages. Layer after layer,
object after object, the seer is loosened from its connection to the seen. This is why there is
progress on the inner journey, and it is a progress that comes from revealing and setting aside,
so as to uncover the true Self at the center.
Samskaras become mere memories: In the foundation principles of sutra 1.5, it was
described that thought patterns are one of five kinds, and that these are either klishta or
aklishta (colored or uncolored). One of those five kinds of thought patterns is that of memory.
Here, in this current sutra (2.17), the fulfillment of that process is being described, wherein the
colored thought processes become mere memories that are no longer colored by any of the five
kleshas (2.3).
The final alliance is broken: The rest of this chapter, and the sutras of Chapter 3 further
describe the process of breaking the alliances. After fully describing the process of how the many
alliances are progressively loosened, sutras 2.25 and3.50 (end of the next chapter) describe how
the final disconnect happens with the renunciation of avidya itself, and of the alliance between
buddhi and consciousness. This means that even the finest instrument of knowing is ultimately
set aside from consciousness itself .
2.18 The objects (or knowables) are by their nature of: 1) illumination or sentience, 2) activity
or mutability, or 3) inertia or stasis; they consist of the elements and the powers of the senses,
and exist for the purpose of experiencing the world and for liberation or enlightenment.
(prakasha kriya sthiti shilam bhuta indriya atmakam bhoga apavarga artham drishyam)
• prakasha = illumination, light
• kriya = of activity
• sthiti = steadiness, inertia, stasis
• shilam = having the nature of (illumination, activity, steadiness)
• bhuta = the elements (earth, water, fire, air, space)
• indriya = powers of action and sensation, instruments, mental sense organs
• atmakam = consisting of (elements and senses)
• bhoga = experience, enjoyment
• apavarga = liberation, freedom, emancipation
• artham = for the sake of, purpose of, object of
• drishyam = the seen, the knowable
Understanding the seer and the seen: It is essential to have some understanding of the
nature of the seer and of the seen if we are to be able to understand the nature of the alliance
between them, and how to break that alliance. Describing the nature of the seer and the seen is
the subject of this and the next few sutras. Here, in this sutra, that nature of the seen is briefly
described as being part of several categories or types. The seer is described in sutra 2.20.
Three broad types of seen objects: Based on the three gunas, or primary constituent
elements, objects have a tendency towards one or the other of three types. These are objects
predominantly of prakasha (illumination, light), kriya (activity), or stithi (steadiness, inertia,
stasis). The four states of these elements (2.19), the purpose of these knowable objects (2.18),
the reason for the seer's alliance with them (2.23), and the means of freedom (2.25) are
explained in the following sutras of this section.
Five elements as objects of meditation: The seen objects are composed of the five elements
(indriyas) of earth, water, fire, air, and space (bhutas). The many manifestations of these, as
well as the five elements as individual entities are examined with the razor-sharp discrimination
of samyama (3.4-3.6), and are set aside with non-attachment (1.16). Mastery over the five
elements comes through direct examination of their nature (3.45), with the fruits being
renounced (3.38). This process of examining the objects and the elements leads ever closer
towards the seer resting in its true nature (1.3).
Five indriyas as objects of meditation: Along with those many objects and the five elements,
there comes the five instruments (indriyas) of action (karmendriyas) and sensation
(jnanendriyas). After first training the senses (2.32,2.43), these ten means of expression and
perception are themselves examined as objects (3.48). Through samyama (3.4-3.6), the ten
senses themselves are also set aside with non-attachment (1.16), adding to the movement
towards the seer resting in its true nature (1.3).
Beyond conventional objects: At some stage of the subtler journey within, we examine not
only objects and mental impressions in the conventional sense. We also explore both the
components that build those objects (bhutas of earth, water, fire, air, and space), and the
senses themselves (ten indriyas). Through such subtle practice, awareness moves past all of the
objects in the conventional sense. It is starting the process of observing the observing process,
which is of critical importance in the journey to realization of the observer itself (1.3).
2.19 There are four states of the elements (gunas), and these are: 1) diversified, specialized, or
particularized (vishesha), 2) undiversified, unspecialized, or unparticularized (avishesha), 3)
indicator-only, undifferentiated phenomenal, or marked only (linga-matra), and 4) without
indicator, noumenal, or without mark (alingani).
(vishesha avishesha linga-matra alingani guna parvani)
• vishesha = diversified, specialized, particularized, having differences
• avishesha = undiversified, unspecialized, unparticularized, having no differences
• linga-matra = undifferentiated, only a mark or trace (linga = mark, trace; matra = only)
• alingani = without even a mark or trace, undifferentiated subtle matter
• guna-parvani = state of the gunas (guna = of the qualities, gunas of prakriti; parvani =
state, stage, level)
Elements evolve and involve in four stages: All of the objects and elements mentioned in
the last sutra (2.18) are constituted of the three primal elements (gunas). As the attention of
the Yogi goes deeper and deeper into the gunas, they are seen to evolve and involve in four
stages. Gradually the Yogi fathoms each of these very subtle processes. This allows the seer to
systematically break the connection with the seen, as described in sutra 2.17.
• Vishesha = diversified, specialized, particularized, having differences
• Avishesha = undiversified, unspecialized, unparticularized, having no differences
• Linga-matra = undifferentiated, only a mark or trace (linga = mark, trace; matra =
only)
• Alingani = without even a mark or trace, undifferentiated subtle matter
Supreme non-attachment: Practice and non-attachment have been introduced as two
foundations of Yoga (1.12-1.16). Supreme non-attachment (paravairagya) was described as
non-attachment even to the gunas, the subtlest elements, constituent principles, or qualities
themselves (1.16). These gunas are the subject of this current sutra.
2.20 The Seer is but the force of seeing itself, appearing to see or experience that which is
presented as a cognitive principle.
(drashta drishi matrah suddhah api pratyaya anupashyah)
• drashta = the seer
• drishi-matrah = power of seeing (drishi = seeing; matrah = power)
• suddhah = pure
• api = even though, although
• pratyaya = the cause, the feeling, causal or cognitive principle, notion, content of mind,
presented idea, cognition
• anupashyah = appearing to see
Understanding the seer and the seen: As was pointed out above (2.18), it is essential to
have some understanding of the nature of the seer and of the seen if we are to be able to
understand the nature of the alliance between them, and how to break that alliance. Describing
the nature of the seer is the subject of this current sutra, and of the seen is the subject of the
next few sutras.
Who makes the alliance?: If we are trying to break the alliance between seer and seen
(2.17, 2.12-2.25), then who is the seer who has made that false alliance? It is the pure
consciousness known as purusha, atman, or Self. It is that, which remains (1.3) after the
mastery (nirodah, 1.2) of the many impressions in the mind field.

Nature of the objects of alliance: If the seer is pure consciousness, then what is the nature
of those objects (1.4) with which the false alliance has occurred? The nature of those objects is
described in the next sutra (2.21).
2.21 The essence or nature of the knowable objects exists only to serve as the objective field for
pure consciousness.
(tad-artha eva drishyasya atma)
• tad-artha = the purpose for that, to serve as (tad = that; artha = purpose)
• eva = only
• drishyasya = of the seen, knowable
• atma = essence, being, existence
Relationship between seer and seen: While there are countless objects, it is useful to know
that all objects share one thing in common. They are all witnessed by the seer, the Self, or pure
consciousness. Thus, the nature of the relationship between consciousness and one object is
similar to the relationship between consciousness and any other object--they both share the
same observer or seer.
Breaking the alliance is similar: If the nature of the alliances is similar, then the means of
breaking those alliances is also similar. This means that there is a basic simplicity in the process
of discrimination (2.26-2.29) that leads to Self-realization. This doesn't make the process easy,
but it sure is useful to see the underlying simplicity in the process. Regardless of what object is
seen by the seer, and regardless of its coloring (klishta), the means of seeing clearly through
discrimination is similar in all cases. Thus, the Yogi keeps doing the same basic process of
examining, discriminating, and setting aside with non-attachment (1.12-1.16). Over and over,
through all the levels of concentration (1.17), and with each of the kinds of coloring (2.4), the
same means of razor-like discrimination occurs (3.4-3.6).
2.22 Although knowable objects cease to exist in relation to one who has experienced their
fundamental, formless true nature, the appearance of the knowable objects is not destroyed, for
their existence continues to be shared by others who are still observing them in their grosser
forms.
(krita-artham prati nashtam api anashtam tat anya sadharanatvat)
• krita-artham = one whose purpose has been accomplished (krita = accomplished; artham
= purpose)
• prati = towards, with regard to
• nashtam = ceased, dissolved, finished, destroyed
• api = even, although
• anashtam = has not ceased, not dissolved, not finished, not destroyed
• tat = that
• anya = for others
• sadharanatvat = being common to others, due to commonness
Objects cease to exist: As attention moves subtler and subtler through the layers of existence,
those objects that were there for the benefit of the seer (2.21) no longer exist for the seer. A
most simple example of this is when one's attention turns inward, even for the beginning
meditator. At first, the external world and its sounds are a distraction. Yet, suddenly, when
attention actually moves inward, it is as if the external world, its objects, and people cease to
exist. When attention moves inward, down through the levels of manifestation of earth, water,
fire, air, and space, for example, those levels also cease to exist for the seer.
Objects continue for others: While the objects cease to exist for the Yogi, they continue to
exist for others. For example, in case of the meditator mentioned above, the external world
ceases for that person, but continues for others. The same is also true for the subtler aspects
such as the elements and indriyas (2.18).
2.23 Having an alliance, or relationship between objects and the Self is the necessary means by
which there can subsequently be realization of the true nature of those objects by that very Self.
(sva svami saktyoh svarupa upalabdhi hetuh samyogah)
• sva = of being owned
• svami = of being owner, master, the one who possesses
• saktyoh = of the powers
• svarupa = of the nature, own nature, own form (sva = own; rupa = form)
• upalabdhi = recognition
• hetuh = that brings about, the cause, reason
• samyogah = union, conjunction
Alliance was necessary to know objects: If the alliance between the seer and the seen had
never happened, it would not be possible for the seer to have objective knowledge. Later, as
practices unfold, that so-called knowledge is seen to be based on ignorance (avidya, 2.5), and
thus, is seen to be not knowledge after all.
Alliance allows breaking the alliance: Furthermore, having that false alliance
between seer and seen allows one to seek, and to find the true Self (1.3). Had there been no
alliance, this journey would not have been possible. In other words, the alliance itself (between
seer and seen) was an essential prerequisite! Thus, it is sometimes said that the entire universe
is all lila, or play.
2.24 Avidya or ignorance (2.3-2.5), the condition of ignoring, is the underlying cause that allows
this alliance to appear to exist.
(tasya hetuh avidya)
• tasya = of that (of that alliance, from last sutra)
• hetuh = that brings about, the cause, reason
• avidya = spiritual forgetting, ignorance, veiling, nescience
How the alliance arose in the first place: All of the alliances between seer and seen, which
have been described in the previous few sutras (begin 2.17), were able to arise because of the
foundation klesha (coloring) (1.5, 2.3) of avidya, or ignorance (2.5). Without that primary
foundation, the other alliances simply could not have grown. It is somewhat like saying the walls
and roof of a house could not be built without a foundation, or that plants could not grow
without some form of soil or substratum in which to grow.
Neutralize the foundation: By neutralizing or eliminating the foundation of avidya or
ignorance (2.5), all of the would-be alliances are effectively dealt with. This is described in the
next sutra (2.25).
2.25 By causing a lack of avidya, or ignorance there is then an absence of the alliance, and this
leads to a freedom known as a state of liberation or enlightenment for the Seer.
(tat abhavat samyogah abhavah hanam tat drishi kaivalyam)
• tat = its
• abhavat = due to its disappearance, lack or absence (of that ignorance in the last sutra)
• samyogah = union, conjunction
• abhavah = absence, disappearance, dissolution
• hanam = removal, cessation, abandonment
• tat = that
• drishi = of the knower, the force of seeing
• kaivalyam = absolute freedom, liberation, enlightenment
Causing an absence of ignorance: There is an important subtle point here that is very
practical. By removal of the ignorance (avidya) (2.5), there remains a void, absence, or lack of
avidya. It is this absence of avidya (ignorance) that is desired, not just the act of eliminating it.
If we say that our goal is eliminating avidya, it sets the stage for the mind to continue to
produce ignorance or misunderstanding, so that we can fulfill our goal of eliminating it. If we
want to take on the false identity of being an eliminator of ignorance, then more and more
ignorance will be produced, so that we may fulfill the desire of eliminating. However, if we have
the stated goal of the absence of ignorance, our mind will become trained to seek that state of
absence of avidya. The elimination of ignorance becomes the process along the way towards
that eventual final goal (4.30).

Freedom beyond ignorance: With avidya or ignorance (2.5) seen as the foundation or soil out
(2.24) of which grows the many alliances of seer and seen (2.17), we see one of the key points
of all sadhana (spiritual practices), that of moving beyond the misperceptions of avidya, of which
there are four major forms (2.5): 1) regarding that which is transient as eternal, 2) mistaking
the impure for pure, 3) thinking that which brings misery to bring happiness, and 4) taking that
which is not-self to be self.
Discrimination is the tool: Over and over, with our razor-like discrimination, we set aside the
alliances between seer and seen (2.17), seeing beyond the four forms of avidya (2.5). This
constitutes breaking the alliance of karma. This process of discrimination is described in the next
(2.26-2.29) and later (3.1-3.3,3.4-3.6) sutras.

Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39:
Stabilizing and Clearing the Mind
Preparing for subtler practices: Stability and clarity of mind are
necessary before being able to experience the subtler meditations or samadhi
(1.40-1.51, 2.12-2.25, 3.4-3.6).
One-pointedness brings fitness for meditation: The specialized training of an
olympic athlete rests on a solid foundation of generalized physical fitness.
Similarly, generalized training in one-pointedness is necessary so that meditation
practices can advance. The particular methods suggested in these Sutras relate to the removal
of obstacles through one-pointedness, as suggested in the previous sutras (1.30-1.32). Here are
suggestions of Sutras 1.33-1.39:
• Four attitudes with people: The first method deals with meditation on four types of
attitudes towards people, including friendliness or lovingness, compassion or support,
happiness or goodwill, and neutrality or acceptance (1.33).
• Five suggestions for focus: Five specific suggestions of objects for focus of attention
are given, including breath awareness, sensation, inner luminosity, contemplation on a
stable mind, and focusing on the stream of the mind (1.34-1.38).
• Whatever you choose: Lastly, you might practice one-pointedness on whatever you find
pleasing and useful (1.39).
Don't skip the basics: Skipping such basic training of the mind is tempting, but is a serious
mistake for a student of meditation, and might result in meditation becoming nothing but a fight
with your mind.
Few will go beyond these: Many schools of meditation emphasize only one method, such as
meditation on kindness (1.33), breath (1.34), or some other object (1.39), failing to note that,
while extremely useful, these are only preparatory practices for the subtler meditations and
samadhi, as described in later chapters (Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4). Most people will settle for the
calming benefits of the preparation, and will not pursue the subtler meditations that lead to Self-
realization.
Stabilizing versus discriminative knowledge: It is very important to note that these
contemplations are used to stabilize and clear the mind. The later practices are used for
discriminative knowledge (2.26-2.29. 3.4-3.6). For example, if you are contemplating on
friendliness (1.33), this is not being done to discriminate that it is a part of avidya or ignorance
(2.5), and thus, set aside. In the later practices, you are discriminating and setting aside (3.4-
3.6) what is due to avidya or ignorance (2.5).
Meditation Practice: There is a meditation practice described in the Bindu article, which draws
upon the nine practices outlined in Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39:
1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards
those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are
virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
(maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta
prasadanam)
• maitri = friendliness, pleasantness, lovingness
• karuna = compassion, mercy
• mudita = gladness, goodwill
• upekshanam = acceptance, equanimity, indifference, disregard, neutrality
• sukha = happy, comfortable, joyous
• duhka = pain, misery, suffering, sorrow
• punya = virtuous, meritorious, benevolent
• apunya = non-virtuous, vice, bad, wicked, evil, bad, demerit, non-meritorious,
• vishayanam = regarding those subjects, in relation to those objects
• bhavanatah = by cultivating habits, by constant reflection, developing attitude,
cultivating, impressing on oneself
• chitta = mind field, consciousness
• prasadanam = purified, clear, serene, pleasant, pacified, undisturbed, peaceful, calm
Each attitude is a type of meditation: Each of these four attitudes (friendliness, compassion,
goodwill, and neutrality) is, in a sense, a meditation unto itself. While it is actually a preparation
practice, it has become popular to use the word meditation in a very broad way, rather than as
the specific state of dhyana (3.2), as normally used by the yogis. Some schools of meditation
base their entire approach on one or more of these four attitudes. However, to the seeker of the
absolute reality (1.3), these are practiced as valuable steps along the journey, but not the end
itself.
Getting free from negativity with other people: In sutra 2.33-2.34, the question is posed as
to what to do when one does not act or think in accordance with yogic values such as non-
violence, but rather, has negative emotions. What is one to do with such strong negative
thought patterns? The suggestion is made in those sutras, that we cultivate an opposite attitude
by reminding ourselves (through internal dialogue) that holding onto this negative attitude is
going to do nothing but bring unending pain and misery (2.34). It also points out that, in terms
of the inner reaction and effects, there is really no difference between three kinds of actions:
1. We, ourselves carrying out such a negative act
2. Soliciting another person to do it for us, or
3. Approving of the act when it happens, but without our effort.
To work with these four attitudes of friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and neutrality
specifically, we can make much easier progress with the practices of the yamas (2.30) and the
instructions to cultivate the opposite when we become negative (2.34).

Four perceptions of other people to cultivate: Here, in this practice, four specific types of
people are mentioned (happy, suffering, virtuous, non-virtuous), how we perceive them, and
what attitudes we might cultivate to stabilize, purify, or calm our own mind (attitudes of
friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and neutrality).
These four encompass most of our relationships: By memorizing these four, and actively
observing them in daily life, and during daily quiet time, it is much easier to see the vagaries of
the mind, and to regulate them. Having a short list of four makes the process pretty easy to do.
Many, if not most or all, of our relationship challenges with people encompass one or more of
these four.
Have a specific antidote for each: Having a specific attitude to cultivate for each of the four
also makes cultivating change much easier to do. It does not mean that you replace all of your
other fine ideas about how to have good people relationships, but these four sure do make a
useful practice.
Towards those who are happy or joyful
We might feel: Better to cultivate:
Resistance/distance: Remember how it is
that sometimes when you are not having such a
good day, you might resist being around other
people who are feeling happy or joyful. It is
very easy to unintentionally have a negative
attitude towards them at such a time, even if
they are your friends or family members. This
is not to say that your mind is being 100%
negative, but it is the tendency, however small,
that we want to be mindful of. It is not about
setting ourselves up for an over expectation of
perfection, but a gradual process of clearing the
clouded mind so that meditation can deepen.
Friendliness/kindness: If you are mindful
about this normal tendency of the mind, then
you can consciously cultivate an attitude of
friendliness and kindness when you are around
these happy people, or when you think about
them. This conscious act of being mindful of the
negative tendency of mind, and actively
promoting the positive and useful has a
stabilizing effect and brings inner peace and
calm. It is being mindful that the mind often
holds both sides of the attraction and aversion,
positive and negative. Here, we want to be
aware of both, but cultivate the positive and
useful.

Towards those who are in pain or suffering
We might feel: Better to cultivate:
Imposition/frustration: You might normally
think of yourself as being a loving, caring,
compassionate person. Yet, notice how easy it
is to feel the opposite when someone around
you is sick. You have other plans and suddenly
some family member gets sick, or there is an
extended illness in the family. Surely you care
for them, but it is also a habit of the mind to
feel somewhat imposed upon. Again, we are
not talking about some 100% negativity or
psychopathology. These are normal actions of
mind that we are systematically trying to
balance and make serene.

Compassion/support: It is good to observe
that inclination of the mind, however small. It
just means to be mindful of it, while at the
same time consciously cultivating compassion
and support for others who are suffering. It
does not mean acting, or suppressing the
contrary thoughts and emotions. It does mean
being aware, and lovingly choosing to act out of
love. Again, we want to be mindful of the habits
of mind. Unawareness leaves disturbances in
the unconscious that will disturb meditation.
Awareness allows freedom and peace of mind.


Towards those who are virtuous or benevolent
We might feel: Better to cultivate:
Inadequate/jealous: We all want to be
useful, to be of service to our families, friends,
and other people, whether in our local
community or across the world. Often we
privately may feel there is more we could do,
but that we are just not doing it. Jealousy and
other negative emotions can easily creep in
when somebody else is sincerely acting in
virtuous or benevolent ways. We can
unconsciously push against such people,
whether we know them, or they are publicly
known people.

Happiness/goodwill: Better that we cultivate
attitudes of happiness and goodwill towards
such people. It is not always easy to cultivate
such positive attitudes when, inside, we are
feeling negative. But something very interesting
happens as we become a neutral, non-attached
witness to our inner process. That is, humor
comes; the mind is seen to be a really funny
instrument to watch, in all of its many antics.
Then the happiness and goodwill seems to
come naturally.

Towards those who we see as bad or wicked
We might feel: Better to cultivate:
Anger/aversion: Most of us have some limits
of what we find as acceptable behavior. We
might sincerely hold the belief that all people
are pure at their deepest level. Yet, are there
not some individuals you think to be dishonest,
cruel, mean, or even wicked, or evil? Are there
not some behaviors that you consider so
outside of acceptable conduct that it strongly
causes you to feel anger and frustration? Even
if you really feel strongly about some other
person in this way, is it not also true that you,
yourself, carry the burden of this? How to be
free from that is the question.

Neutrality/acceptance: To counterbalance
the negative feelings toward someone you feel
is bad, wicked, or lacking in virtue, the antidote
is to cultivate an attitude of neutrality,
indifference, acceptance, or equanimity. It can
be difficult to cultivate this attitude, since it
might make us think we are approving of their
bad behavior. We seek the neutrality
ofinner balance and equanimity, which does not
mean approving of the person's actions. In fact,
cultivating attitudes of neutrality might go a
long way in being able to cause change. It
surely helps to stabilize and clear the mind for
meditation.
Intentional meditation on these four attitudes: During daily meditation time, it can be very
useful to spend some time reflecting on these four attitudes. You might do them all, or you
might practice with only one of them for an extended period of time. Simply choose one of the
four attitudes and allow some person or persons to arise in the mind field. You will notice your
reactions, the coloring mentioned earlier (1.5). As your attention rests on that inner impression
of that person, allow yourself to cultivate the positive or useful attitude. Gradually, the
negativity or coloring weakens or attenuates (2.4). This is part of the preparation for meditation.
Talk to yourself: When you notice any of the negative attitudes above, it is very useful to
literally remind yourself that this is not useful (2.33). You might literally say to yourself, "Mind,
this is not useful. This attitude is going to bring nothing but pain. You need to let go of this." It is
also good to remind yourself, "I need to cultivate friendliness with this person" (compassion,
goodwill, or neutrality).
What to do with really "bad" people: It is common for meditators to question these four
attitude meditations in relation to really "bad" people such as certain political or religious
leaders, present or historical. How can I feel friendliness, compassion, goodwill, or acceptance
towards someone like "him?" I'll not mention any names here, but you can easily think of some
of them yourself. It can sound like Yoga is suggesting that we agree with, or validate the
behavior of such people, which is not the case. The questions of approving of behavior and
dealing with our own internal states are very different issues.
Sometimes I find that shallow understanding is a good tool for deeper understanding. Without
using examples of known historical or present public figures, instead ask yourself how useful it
would be to continue to hold animosity towards some childhood friend who did something to hurt
you. That person is far in your distant past, yet here is the mind continuing to hold on to that
coloring of aversion. We each get to decide whether holding on to this kind of mind impression is
serving us, or whether we would prefer that the coloring drift away, leaving the mere memory to
be neutral. Choice rests with each of us. The uncoloring approach is a part of yoga. (For more
info on the uncoloring, see sutras1.5 and 2.1-2.9, as well as the article on Uncoloring Your
Thoughts.)
How these attitudes are mastered: While these four practices are used from the very
beginning to stabilize and clear the clouded mind, the practice becomes far more subtle in later
stages of meditation. Once there is an ability to perform samyama (3.4-3.6), then each of these
four become objects themselves for examination with the razor-sharp focus and absorption of
samadhi. This later practice, done with this subtler, finer intensity brings the perfection of that
attitude. This process is described in sutra 3.24.
1.34 The mind is also calmed by regulating the breath, particularly attending to exhalation and
the natural stilling of breath that comes from such practice.
(prachchhardana vidharanabhyam va pranayama)
• prachchhardana = gentle exhalation through the nostrils
• vidharanabhyam = expansion or regulation, control
• va = or (or other practices in 1.34-1.39)
• pranasya = of prana
Awareness of breath: One of the finest methods there is to stabilize and calm the mind is
breath awareness. First, be aware of the transitions between the breaths, and allow them to be
smooth, without an abrupt transition, and without pausing between breaths. Consciously
practice seeing how delicately smooth you can make the transitions. Allow the breath to be
quiet, and to have no jerkiness.
Elongation of exhalation: Second, after establishing sound and steady awareness of the
breath, allow the exhalation to gradually elongate, such that the amount of time spent exhaling
is longer than the amount of time inhaling. The air will move outward more slowly with
exhalation than with inhalation. Gradually allow the ratio to be two to one, where the exhalation
is approximately twice as long as the inhalation. Pranayama is often translated as breath control.
The rootayama actually means lengthening. Thus, pranayama more specifically
meanslengthening the life force.
Not rechaka, puraka, and kumbhaka: There are other breathing practices that include
rechaka (exhalation), puraka (inhalation) and kumbhaka (intentional holding of the breath).
These practices are not the intent here in this sutra, particularly not the practice of breath
retention. Though these may be useful practices at some stage of practice, they are not the
subject of this sutra in relation to stabilizing the mind and making it tranquil.
1.35 The inner concentration on the process of sensory experiencing, done in a way that leads
towards higher, subtle sense perception; this also leads to stability and tranquility of the mind.
(vishayavati va pravritti utpanna manasah sthiti nibandhani)
• vishayavati = of the sensing experience
• va = or (or other practices in 1.34-1.39)
• pravritti = higher perception, activity, inclinations
• utpanna = arising, appearing, manifesting
• manasah = mind, mental, manas
• sthiti = stability, steadiness, stable tranquility, undisturbed calmness
• nibandhani = firmly establishes, causes, seals, holds
Meditation on the means of sensing: This practice is on becoming aware of the
inner process of sensation (not merely the objects), using the five cognitive senses (indriyas) of
smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing. It does not mean pursuing the object that you
are experiencing, such as the sound you are hearing or the image you are seeing. Rather, it
means trying to become aware of sensing itself. Initially, the sensing is at a more surface or
gross level. Ultimately, the intent of the practice is to witness the higher or subtler inner senses.
1.36 Or concentration on a painless inner state of lucidness and luminosity also brings stability
and tranquility.
(vishoka va jyotishmati)
• vishoka = state free from pain, grief, sorrow, or suffering
• va = or (or other practices in 1.34-1.39)
• jyotishmati = the bright effulgence, lucidity, luminosity, inner light, supreme or divine
light
Concentration on painless inner luminosity: The easiest way to practice this is to place your
attention in the space between the breasts, the heart center. Simply imagine that there is a
glowing luminosity there, about the size of the palm of your hand. Whether or not you literally
see with your inner eye is not important; the practice works either way. Maintain an inner
attitude that it does not matter what other thoughts, images, impressions or memories might
arise in the mind field; you will hold that stance that these will not disturb or distract you. Stay
only with that glowing inner luminosity in the heart.
1.37 Or contemplating on having a mind that is free from desires, the mind gets stabilized and
tranquil.
(vita raga vishayam va chittam)
• vita = without, devoid of
• raga = attachment, desires, attraction
• vishayam = objects of the senses
• va = or (or other practices in 1.34-1.39)
• chittam = of the consciousness of the mind-field
Imagine a mind free from desire: One way to do this practice is to think of some great sage,
yogi, or spiritual person you respect. Simply imagine what their mind would be like if they were
sitting quietly for meditation. Then, pretend that your own mind is as quiet as you think his or
hers would be. It is a trick of your own mind to imagine in this way, but it is an extremely useful
practice for stabilizing your own mind.
Imagine your own mind free from desire: Another method is to imagine what your own
mind would be like if it were temporarily free from any desires, wants, wishes, attractions,
aversions, or expectations. It is like a game you are playing with yourself, wherein you see if
you can pretend that your mind is in this tranquil state. With a little practice, this works
amazingly well.
1.38 Or by focusing on the nature of the stream in the dream state or the nature of the state of
dreamless sleep, the mind becomes stabilized and tranquil.
(svapna nidra jnana alambanam va)
• svapna = dream (focusing on the nature of the state of dreaming itself, not the content of
dreams)
• nidra = sleep (focusing on the state itself, as an object)
• jnana = knowledge, study, investigation, awareness, observation
• alambanam = having as support for attention, object of concentration
• va = or (or other practices in 1.34-1.39)
Meditation on the states of the unconscious: Focusing on the stream of the dream state or
the nature of dreamless sleep will stabilize the mind and make it stable. It is extremely
important to note that this is not meaning dreaming or dream analysis. To learn to allow these
streams to flow, and to witness that stream is very calming. To witness the stream is a
stabilizing influence, not a deep meditation or samadhi beyond the mind.
For more information about the dream state in relation to the waking state and the deep sleep
state, see these articles:
1.39 Or by contemplating or concentrating on whatever object or principle one may like, or
towards which one has a predisposition, the mind becomes stable and tranquil.
(yatha abhimata dhyanat va)
• yatha = as, according to
• abhimata = one's own predisposition, choice, desire, want, like, familiarity, agreeableness
• dhyanat = meditate on
• va = or (or other practices above in sutras 1.34-1.39)
Meditate on the object of your predisposition: This sutra is making it very clear that the
key principle in the stabilizing of the mind and the removal of obstacles is one-pointedness.
Obviously, saying that one may focus on any object or principle that one feels predisposed
towards is a broad statement. Wisdom should guide the choice of object for concentration.
We already know this: Virtually everybody already knows this principle of focusing on
something enjoyable as a means of stabilizing the mind. However, the relative usefulness of the
object chosen is a very different matter. Watching television, playing a game, listening to music,
having a conversation, or many other activities may concentrate the mind enough to partially let
go of the mental chatter from the activities of the day. While the principle of one-pointedness is
in all of these, and may have some benefit, the meditator will learn to choose more refined
objects to stabilize the mind for meditation. Remember, in this section and sutra we are talking
about stabilizing and clearing the mind, not about deep meditation itself. This level of one-
pointedness provides the stable foundation for the subtler meditation practices.
Mantra: One of the finest means of focusing, training and stabilizing the mind is through
mantra.
Online practices: There are several online practices that are beneficial for one-pointedness.
Particularly useful from the standpoint of experimenting with onlinepractices are the Soham
Mantra and the Gazing practices.
Meditation Practice: There is a meditation practice described in the Bindu article, which draws
upon the nine practices outlined in Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39:

Bindu: Pinnacle of the Three Streams
of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra
By understanding the end of the journey,
it is much easier to understand and
practice the steps along the way.

Symbols of the Bindu, Dot, or Point
Understanding the end of the journey: Bindu means Point or Dot, is sometimes
likened to a Pearl, and is often related to the principle of a Seed. This is not just a
poetic choice of words or philosophy. There literally is a stage of Yoga Meditation in
which all experiencescollapse, so to speak, into a point from which all experiences
arose in the first place. The Bindu is near the end of the subtlest aspect of mind
itself, after which one travels beyond or transcends the mind and its contents. It is near the end
of time, space, and causation, and is the doorway to the Absolute. To understand this principle is
extremely useful, if not essential to Advanced Meditation.
Convergence of practices: Awareness of the nature of Bindu helps tremendously in seeing
how all of the various practices are complementary, not contradictory, with each, in its own way,
leading in the direction of the Bindu. The Bindu is the convergence point of Meditation,
Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra, and is part of the mystical, esoteric aspect of many, if not
most religions and meditative traditions. The experience of Bindu is an actual, internally
experienced reality, which is the convergence point of the highest principles and practices of
Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. Seeking to experience and then transcend the Bindu serves as an
organizing principle and focal point for all of those spiritual or yogic practices that are intended
to lead one to direct experience.
All other Yoga practices can be seen
as support or preparation leading toward
Bindu, this higher convergence point.
Thus, it is an organizing principle for all practices.
Other practices are support for this convergence: By understanding the convergence point
(Bindu) of these practices (Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra), all of the other practices of Yoga and
Meditation (Karma, Hatha, Bhakti, Jnana, Kundalini, Laya and Kriya Yogas) can be done in the
context of their being supportstructures or preparation for the higher practices, experiences, and
revelations.
This simplifies the other articles on SwamiJ.com: By keeping in mind this highest
perspective on the Bindu (the convergence point), all of the other articles on SwamiJ.com (as
well as many other writings) can be understood more clearly. Each of those articles, in its own
way, points in the direction of the Bindu. Otherwise, it can seem rather confusing at times. By
remembering the focal point of Bindu, it is easier to explore the depth of all of the practices,
while not getting lost along the way.
The Bindu is literally and directly
experienced, pierced, and transcended
in Advanced Meditation.
The guru or teacher within: This point of convergence works in conjunction with Guru Chakra
(Jnana Chakra), which is the center for the shakti diksha (initiation) that opens the conduit to
the teacher or guru within. While this is a universal process, it is also the channel used for the
direct, internal transmissions of wisdom and experience given by the tradition of the Himalayan
masters. Guru Chakra is also explained further below in this article.
For those who read the
last page of a book first.
Reading the last page first: These teachings and trainings on this highest perspective are for
those people who insist on reading the last page of a book first. Such people are not satisfied
with incomplete representations of Yoga and Meditation, such as those limited to physical
fitness, stress management, or medical treatment. They want to see the big picture of
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Meditation with a clear vision of the path and the means
of attaining the final goal. While delving into explanations of the depth of Advanced Yoga
Meditation, the focus of this article is on the very practical and down to earth.
Keeping it simple: A funny thing happens with Meditation--it is both very complex and utterly
simple at the same time. Both the Beginning and Advanced stages have their own forms of
simplicity to the process.
It is the middle ground, the Intermediate stages, where it can get confusing. In the very
Beginning one simply sits, does a few basic practices, and experiences some degree of peace of
mind. It seems pretty simple. Then, we start learning about philosophy and many other
practices; it gets complicated, or so it seems.
The good news is that at the Advanced end of the spectrum, we return to simplicity, but of a
much higher order. We come to see that all material objects are made only of fundamental
elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space (and the more primal elements or gunas of sattvas,
rajas, and tamas). We come to see beyond the vast contents of mind, to the fact that
the instruments of mind and senses are not really so complex after all.
Soon, we come to see that all of the complexity comes down to a few simple principles, which
merge into the Bindu or point of convergence. We come to see that the point of convergence is
one and the same with the original point ofdivergence. Pretty simple. Not easy to do, but simple.
Leaving something out: While we are speaking of a simplicity to this process of experiencing
the convergence at the Bindu, it is useful to keep in mind that whenever we try to explain this in
simple terms, we quite naturally leave out some other parts of the explanations. If we know this,
and keep this in mind when we are looking for the simplicity, then we can have the benefits of
that straightforward view, while keeping it in the proper context of the sometimes more complex
whole.
Remembering the Bindu, the Mustard Seed,
is a focal point and organizing principle
for all of the other practices
of Yoga and Meditation.
This makes the entire journey much more
straightforward and understandable.
Symbols of the Bindu: The point of divergence and convergence is called Bindu, which
means Point or Dot, and is also related to a Seed. The Sanskrit root ofBindu is to break
through or to burst through. The symbol has been used in a variety of ways, including the
following:

The Dot as a symbol: The Point or Dot has been widely used as a symbol for the
way in which the unity or unmanifest coexists at all times and places with the gross,
external, or manifest worlds.

Cross: The Point or Dot has also been used as a symbol of unity emerging through
four lines to form the appearance of two lines crossing. The journey inward is
merging back into the point.

Yin-Yang: The Dot shows two fundamental forces of static and active, with the
seed of one permeating the other, manifesting as the symbolic 10,000 things, while
ever remaining one.

Dot and Crescent: The Point and the Crescent is an ancient symbol of the
unmanifest point and the manifest reality, later seen as a five pointed star and
crescent.

Light and a Tunnel: People having near-death experiences may report seeing light
at the end of a Tunnel. The Tunnel is the subtle channel called Brahma Nadi and the
light emerges from Bindu.

Hub of a Wheel: The ever still Hub of the Wheel symbolizes the Self (Atman) and
the spokes are the Four Functions of Mind (Manas, Chitta, Ahamkara, Buddhi)
engaging the outer world.

OM Mantra: The dot at the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the Absolute Reality,
or Pure Consciousness. OM is suggested in both the Yoga Sutras and Vedanta.
(Described in greater detail below)

Sri Yantra: The highest, most advanced symbol of Tantra has a Dot or Bindu in the
center, which also symbolizes this point of divergence and convergence. (Explained
further below)

Mustard Seed: The mustard seed has been widely used as a symbol of the
smallest point, out of which the largest emerges, and to which that largest returns.
(Discussed below)
[Note: These descriptions of Bindu and various symbols are not attempts to
universalize the world religions and meditative traditions, which may have quite
different practices and views of reality, particularly in the exoteric faces of religion.
However, there is a seemingly universal human experience of the Bindu itself on
the inner journey, just as the inner experiences of light and sound seem to be
common and universal. While the reality is universal, the way ofinterpreting the
experience of Bindu may be different for people of different cultures and religions.
See also the article, Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion.]
Bindu and the Mustard Seed: Here are a few interesting examples of the mustard seed being
used as a symbol of seeking experience of the smallest point, out of which the largest emerges,
and to which that largest returns:
"Atman [Self], residing in the lotus of the heart--is smaller than a grain of paddy, than a barley
corn, than a mustard seed, than a grain of millet or than the kernel of a grain of millet. This,
my Atman residing in the lotus of the heart is greater than the earth, greater than the sky,
greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds. (Chandogya Upanishad)
"The one I call holy does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf or a mustard seed on
the point of a needle. (Dhammapada)
"Seek first the kingdom..." (Matthew) "The kingdom of heaven is like amustard seed, which a
man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows,
it is the largest..." (Matthew)
"The gate of liberation is narrow, less than one-tenth of a mustard seed. The mind has become
as big as an elephant; how can it pass through this gate? If one meets such a True Guru, by His
Pleasure, He shows His Mercy. Then, the gate of liberation becomes wide open, and the soul
easily passes through." (Guru Granth Sahib)
Bindu is beyond the senses and thoughts: It is very important to understand that the
actual Bindu is far beyond the senses and thoughts in the conventional sense of thinking
processes involving strings of words, images, or other such impressions. This means
transcending not only the senses as operating through the physical organs, but also
the inner or mental experience of sensation. For example, one not only closes the eyes, but also
goes beyond all manner of inner visualization. When attention on all of the Gross and Subtle
objects and processescollapses, so to speak, and thus, moves inward towards the Bindu, there is
a convergence on a point, which is the finer meaning of one-pointedness of mind. There may be
an extremely intense awareness of the nature of pure sound and light, but this is very different
from what we experience by mental visualization or imagination. The journey to the Bindu starts
to become the experience of thesource of light (Jyotir Bindu / Tejo Bindu) and the source of
sound (Nada Bindu), as well as being the source out of which other sensation, mental processes,
and the instruments of mentation emerge.
Earlier and later stages of practice: In the earlier stages of Meditation and Contemplation,
inner sensory experiences and mental processes are intentionally explored so as to attenuate
the colorings of attachment, aversion and fear (for example, see Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.9). It is
later, building on this solid foundation of purifying and balancing the mind, that the aspirant
seeks to transcend these experiences so as to enter the inner cave with the intent of
encountering and piercing the Bindu. By being aware that the inner thoughts and sensing
either areor are not present at the different stages of Meditation and Contemplation, the process
is predictable, comfortable and not confusing. There is a true art in finding the times, the
moments when it is just right to seek to enter the stillness, darkness, and silence so as to
pursue the Bindu. Like all arts, it refines with practice.
Integrating with your regular practices: It is not the goal or intent of this article to
significantly alter or replace your existing method of Meditation or other practices. Rather, it is
to describe the nature of Bindu, and how this is a convergence point that is a unifying force for a
variety of practices, as well as an experienced stage in the inner journey. Whatever your current
focal point of Meditation, whether breath, mantra, sensation, stream of insights, deity, visualized
image, or any other form of Meditation, you will hopefully find that some of the focus here on
the nature of Bindu will serve that practice, which you are already doing. Please read the rest of
the article in that light.
Three Streams: Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra
Bindu is the convergence: While the Bindu, Mustard Seed, Dot or Point are widely used
symbols, the focus here is on the convergence of Bindu in the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta,
and Tantra. In particular, it focuses on the convergence point of the highest principles and
practices of Raja Yoga as codified in the Yoga Sutras, Advaita Vedanta as summarized in the
Mandukya Upanishad, and the highest Tantra, which is Samaya (Internal) Tantra and Sri Vidya.
These are briefly outlined below, and then further described in the remainder of the article:
Yoga: Meditation on OM Mantra is recommended in the Yoga Sutras (1.23-1.29) as a direct
means of removing the obstacles to Self-Realization and to that Realization itself. As noted
above, the Bindu at the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the Absolute Reality, Purusha or Pure
Consciousness that is to be realized.
Vedanta: Contemplation on the four levels symbolized by OM Mantra is at the very heart of
Vedanta practice leading to Self-Realization, the pinnacle of which is outlined in the Mandukya
Upanishad. Here again, the Bindu at the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the Absolute Reality,
Purusha or Pure Consciousness that is to be realized.
Tantra: Meditation in Tantra is on the convergence of all energies, with the highest of those
inner practices being in Samaya Tantra and Sri Vidya, which is represented by the Sri Yantra.
The Bindu at the center of the Sri Yantra symbolizes the final union of Shiva and Shakti (the
static and active), the Absolute Reality that is to be realized.
Each stream leads to the convergence called Bindu: Each of these three streams of Yoga,
Vedanta, and Tantra leads to the convergence point calledBindu. To the sages of the Himalayan
tradition, these three streams converge to form the most direct route back to the Reality from
which all of the streams have first emerged.

The lower curve represents the Gross, Conscious, and Waking state level, called Vaishvanara.
The center curve represents the Subtle, Unconscious, and Dreaming level, called Taijasa.
The upper curve represents the Causal, Subconscious, and Deep Sleep level, called Prajna.
The dot, point, or Bindu represents the fourth state, the absolute consciousness, which
encompasses, permeates, and is the other three, and is called Turiya.
The arc below the dot symbolizes the separateness of this fourth state, standing above, though
ever remaining part of the other three.
The four levels symbolized in OM Mantra are universal: It is extremely important to
understand that the levels of consciousness mapped out by the OM Mantra symbol are universal
and not just within the domain of any particular traditions, lineages, schools of Meditation, or
religions. While one might argue that the visual symbol of OM Mantra has this kind of exclusive
relationship (though it really doesn't), these three levels and the fourth, the Bindu, do exist in
reality, entirely independent of the symbol itself. It doesn't matter whether you do or do
not "believe in" the OM Mantra.
The fact of the matter is that there really are Gross, Subtle, and Causal planes, along with the
Absolute beyond (the four parts of OM), regardless of what symbol or names you use to describe
them, though different people might describe these somewhat differently.
The fact is that there really are Conscious, Unconscious, and Subconscious levels of functioning,
and the Consciousness permeating them (the four parts of OM), though people might also
describe these somewhat differently.
The fact is that there really are states of Waking, Dreaming, Deep Sleep, and Turiya, the Fourth
(the four parts of OM), or some other term to acknowledge that beyond the first three states.
None of these require "belief" in the visual symbol of OM, chanting its vibration, or remembering
its sound. The underlying realities are still there. What is most important to know is that the
shortest route to Self-Realization is directly through these few levels of reality. Most people will
settle for experiencing only the first two levels, that of the Gross world (Vaishvanara) and
the Subtle plane (Taijasa). Very few are interested enough or motivated enough to know
the Causal plane (Prajna) or to seek the direct experience of the Pure Consciousness, the
Absolute that is the Fourth state (Turiya) symbolized by the Dot or Bindu on the OM symbol. For
the few who are so inspired, the path is directly inward to the core of his or her Being. It is the
path of the Saints and Sages.
The Bindu of Sri Yantra is also universal: It is very useful to be mindful of the commonly
reported experience of people having near-death experiences and the reports of people from a
wide range of Meditation and other spiritual practices. In each of these ways, there have been
numerous reports of seeing light at the end of a tunnel. This does not require following any
particular religion, spiritual teachings, or Meditation methods. People having such experiences
may have no such Meditation practices in their lives and may not be followers of any religion.
Yet, the same experience is reported. This is so because of the fact that the descriptions are
of Subtle and Causal body anatomical realities, rather than being opinions stemming from mere
belief systems (though some people are obviously operating more from belief rather than
experience). To say that there is a tunnel with a source of light at the end is more like the
statement that all people have lungs and a stomach than it is like a statement that falls in the
domain of religiousbelief; it is a factual reality. Though the Sri Yantra is discussed in greater
detail below, it is important to note that the Bindu in the center is symbolic of the source of that
point of light as it is viewed when looking through the energy channel (tunnel) leading to it. It
doesn't matter whether one does or does not"believe in" the Sri Yantra or Tantra. The
symbolized reality is exactly that, a reality, regardless of whether or not the Bindu has yet been
consciously experienced.
Beyond the Rat Cage: In the Gross and Subtle realms (which are mapped out on
the OM Mantra symbol) there is no end to the interplay of time, space, and
causation. While this never ending activity is part of the beauty of
these manifested worlds, it is also the trap (See Yoga Sutra 2.5 on Avidya). It is
common for people to say that Meditation is an ongoing process, which has no final
goal, as one encounters experience after experience. However, this is true only for those who
choose to remain in the relatively shallow waters of the Gross andSubtle planes, where there are
countless combinations and permutations of objects and events, perceptions and conceptions.
There are very few who seek to go beyond all of this activity in the Gross and Subtle, to
the Causal andAbsolute from which all of this emerges and into which it returns. For the few who
do, Truth or Reality is found. It is to be found on the other side of the Bindu, through an
experience known as Piercing the Bindu (Bindu vedhana). All of the other practices lead one in
the direction of this. It happens at the end of the mind, through what one may call God, grace,
guru, shakti, or luck, depending on one's perspective. It is the job of the aspirant to do all of the
preparation practices, while being ever mindful of the convergence point toward which he or she
is headed. To understand this is to have a higher understanding of the principle and practice
known as surrender.
1st Stream: Yoga
OM Mantra and the Yoga Sutras: It has been widely acknowledged that one of the finest
summaries of the entire process of Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, which contains some 196 sutras
(verses, or literally, threads). Contained within the Yoga Sutras is the instruction that one of the
most direct routes to Self-Realization is through the use of the OM Mantra. Those sutras on OM
also explain that the key is to focus on the meaning of the OM Mantra, not to just sit around
mindlessly chattering or jabbering the mantra like a parrot (although, even that will train the
mind in one-pointedness, which is useful).
Bindu and the symbol of OM Mantra: One of the most useful principles is that the dot
or Bindu at the top of the symbol represents the doorway to the final goal of Yoga. Yoga
means union, and the Bindu is the symbol of that union. To remember this visual principle alone
can be of tremendous help in keeping all of the many practices of Yoga in a simple light, while
still acknowledging that the meaning of the OM Mantra is profoundly deep. (It is useful to keep
in mind that there is not universal agreement about the meaning and use of OM Mantra, as
seems to be the case with virtually all yogic or spiritual principles and practices.)

Exploring and transcending the Subtle: Remember that we are here talking about Bindu,
which is beyond both the Gross and Subtle processes. It is beyondthe withdrawal of the senses
and all of the imagery or thought patterns that might be seen or heard in either the Gross or
Subtle realms. This is not to say that exploring these processes is bad, or should not be done. It
is just that this is not the subject of discussion with Bindu. In fact, much of Yoga has to do with
encountering the many thought impressions of the Conscious and Unconscious mind. A brief
review of Chapter 3 of the Yoga Sutras will reveal many of the subtleties that are encountered,
including the energy flows called Vayus and the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and
space. All of these are preliminary practices that might ultimately lead one to encounter, pierce,
and transcend theBindu, so as to realize the Truth or Absolute beyond. Remember, OM Mantra
was introduced in the earlier stages of the Yoga Sutras as a direct route through the various
levels (Yoga Sutras 1.23-1.29). In this way, all of those exploratory practices can easily be seen
as support or preparation practices for the realization of That beyond the Bindu.
OM Mantra is a direct means in Yoga Sutras: Meditation on OM Mantra is recommended in
the Yoga Sutras (1.23-1.29) as a direct means of removing the obstacles to Self-Realization and
to that Realization itself. As noted above, theBindu at the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the
Absolute Reality, Purusha or Pure Consciousness that is to be realized.
Yoga Sutras 1.23-1.29: From a special process of devotion and letting go into the creative
source from which we emerged (ishvara pranidhana), the coming of samadhi is imminent. That
creative source (ishvara) is a particular consciousness (purusha) that is unaffected by colorings
(kleshas), actions (karmas), or results of those actions that happen when latent impressions stir
and cause those actions. In that pure consciousness (ishvara) the seed of omniscience has
reached its highest development and cannot be exceeded. From that consciousness (ishvara) the
ancient-most teachers were taught, since it is not limited by the constraint of time. The sacred
word designating this creative source is the sound OM, called pranava. This sound is
remembered with deep feeling for the meaning of what it represents. From that remembering
comes the realization of the individual Self and the removal of obstacles.
Practical exercise with OM Mantra: Below is a practical exercise you can do to get a feel for
the principle of concentrating on a point. However, we first need to explain several stabilizing
Meditations from the Yoga Sutras. Then, the exercise itself is presented and explained. These
practices are from Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.40.
Ten stabilizing Meditations are recommended: The science of Yoga is a complete Meditation
system. In the later stages, one systematically explores the nature of his or her own
construction so as to discriminate (viveka) between that which is false identity or not-self and
that which is the True Self (Atman, Purusha, etc.). However, the Yoga Sutras recommends ten
specific Meditations that are first done to clear and stabilize the mind (Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39).
Once this has happened to some degree, then the deeper, subtler Meditations can be done.
Those ten Meditations include:
Four Attitudes: Meditation on the four attitudes of friendliness or love, compassion, gladness or
supportiveness, and acceptance or neutrality.
Five Alternatives: The remaining five Meditations are on breath awareness, sensation, inner
luminosity, Contemplation on a stable mind, and focusing on the stream of the mind.
Tenth option on whatever is pleasing: There is also a tenth suggestion given, which is to
meditate on whatever one finds pleasing so as to stabilize the mind. This allows tremendous
diversity and flexible within Yoga Meditation. Once again, this Meditation is done for stability and
clearing so that the later self-exploration can be done.
Developing the ability to focus on the
smallest and the largest
is a sign that the mind is under control.
(Yoga Sutra 1.40)
Skill of focusing on the smallest and the largest: It is pointed out in the Yoga Sutras that
the measure of a mind being under control is the ability to be aware of either the smallest or the
largest (Yoga Sutra 1.40). The exercise below touches on this process of meditating on a small
point, transitioning from a larger object. This helps train the mind in the skill of one-pointedness,
a skill that can then be used in ever deeper levels of Meditation.
Yoga Sutra 1.40: When, through such practices (as previously described in 1.33-1.39), the
mind develops the power of becoming stable on the smallest size object as well as on the
largest, then the mind truly comes under control. (Yoga Sutra 1.40)
Exercise #1
Meditation on the Smallest: This exercise gives a feeling of what it is like to have the
awareness focus on a very small space as compared to a larger. The smallest point used in
this exercise is not the Bindu itself, but is a small point, the size of a mustard seed. Cultivating
the skill of focusing in this way is quite useful in being able to do the concentration that
eventually reveals the actual Bindu. In the exercise, attention is brought to the first of those
nine Meditations from Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39 described above. Then attention is brought to a
mustard-seed-size point in the space of the heart center. One after the other, attention is
brought to each of those nine practices from Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39 and that mustard-seed-
size point.
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
First: Sit comfortably, with your head, neck and trunk aligned, with your eyes closed, as if
prepared for your regular Meditation.
Friendliness and love: Think of some person you know who is very friendly and loving.
Allow your own feelings of friendliness and lovetowards this person to be there in the field
of mind. Allow your love for this one person to expand to a feeling of universal love itself.
Do this for a minute or so.
Mustard seed: Then shift your attention to the space of the emotional heart, the space
between the breasts, letting go of the Meditation above. Allow your attention to be on a
very small point, which is the size of a mustard seed. You may or may not see this with
your inner eye. As the memory of the person fades, concentration intensifies on this point.
Allow the sound of OM to silently drift through the inner mind, with the silence (symbolized
by the Bindu) after the A, U, and M, merging into the point.
Compassion: Gently let go of the point and allow attention to expand, remembering
some person who is not feeling well, such as one who is physically ill. Hold that person in
your mind, and intentionally allow feelings of compassion to arise. Meditate on that feeling
ofcompassion itself, expanding beyond the one person. Do this for a minute, or as long as
it takes to get absorbed in the experience.
Mustard seed: Gently let go of that feeling and return to the mustard-seed-size space in
the heart center. Meditate on that pointfor a while, in the silence after the OM.
Beneficence and gladness: Again expand attention, but now to a person who is virtuous
or benevolent. Cultivate and meditate on your own feelings
of beneficence and gladness for that person. Meditate on that feeling or attitude in an
expansive, universal way.
Mustard seed: Again return gently to the heart, noticing how it feels to concentrate on
that point once again, allowing the silence after OM to merge into the point.
Acceptance or neutrality: Similarly imagine a person you think of as bad or evil, and
meditate on your own feelings of acceptance orneutrality (accepting the reality, not
approving of the behavior). Allow this to expand to a broader spirit of acceptance,
meditating on this attitude.
Mustard seed: Return to the point at the heart, with OM merging into silence.
Breath: Be aware of the feel of the flow of breath in the nostrils, and how that breath
expands and contracts. Especially allow the exhalation to be a little slower than usual. Do
this for a minute or so.
Mustard seed: Return to the point at the heart, allowing OM to go to silence.
Sensing: Meditate on the process of sensation, collectively on the ability itself to see with
the inner eye, to hear within, to smell, to taste, and to touch. It does not matter whether
you actually, literally experience these. It is the effort that is important to the exercise.
Mustard seed: Gently bring attention once again to the point at the heart.
Luminosity: Imagine a luminosity in the inner realm, whether in the mind field, the space
of the heart, or pervasively in that inner field. Whether or not you literally see is not so
important. Allow this luminosity to expand to the whole of the universe, to whatever limit
your mind is able to hold that.
Mustard seed: Return to the point at the heart, noticing the feel of shift to concentration
on the mustard-seed-size point at the heart.
Steady mind: Return to the field of mind and imagine that your mind is a very stable,
steady mind, like the mind of some great Meditation master you may know of. Imagine
that your mind is like his or her mind in its steadiness.
Mustard seed: Return to the point at the heart.
Stream of the mind: Again be aware of the field of mind, as if you were a completely
non-attached witness to whatever objects come before the mind. Like watching a flowing
stream, all thoughts are allowed to come and go.
Mustard seed: Once again, return to the point at the heart.
Meditation on a point: If it feels comfortable, and if you want, continue to meditate on
this mustard-seed-size point in the inner chamber of the heart, as if that Meditation would
lead you throughthe point, on to the actual Bindu, and then to the highest Truth.
This exercise is meant as that, an exercise. This sequence, in its entirety is not meant here to
be a permanent Meditation. You may find that one of the Meditations feels particularly
resonant for you, and that may be a core Meditation for you for some time, but that is your
personal choice. Again, this exercise is suggested here so that you can get a better feel of
what it is like to meditate on the smallest, as described in Yoga Sutra 1.40. This, in turn, gives
some insight into the nature of Meditation on Bindu, although the actual Bindu is much deeper
and comes when Meditation advances.
Practical exercise with the evolutes of matter: Below is a practical exercise dealing with the
evolutes of Prakriti, or primal matter. The exercise is pretty easy to do, even with minimal
understanding of the philosophy behind it. However, you may enjoy it more by reviewing the
principles of Sankhya philosophy. In general, the exercise is similar to the one above, although
the objects of Meditation include the inner elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space), mental
processes, and sensory experiences of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing.
Sankhya is the foundation of Yoga: The philosophical foundation of Yoga is known as
Sankhya. Because of this, Yoga is sometimes known as Sankhya Yoga. In Sankhya there is a
process of something emerging out of something else (material cause). The classic examples are
of ornaments being formed from gold or pots being made from clay. In the inner world, our
senses emerge out of the field of mind and the mental objects we experience emerge out of
earth, water, fire, air, and space (similar to the fact that physical objects emerge from atoms
and molecules). Sadhana (yogic spiritual practice) is thus a process of reversing this, of tracing
consciousness back to its source. It would be most useful to also read through the article on
Sankhya, which is linked below. This will give a more detailed understanding of the evolutes.
The juncture Point in Sankhya: Notice how earth, water, fire, air, and space emerge from a
point of a subtler reality. For example, there first has to be space before there can be anything
existing in that space. There has to be a fine substance, or air, before it can manifest as fire,
water, or earth. Similarly, the senses operate from a point bursting forth in the mind. Even
trains of thought burst forth in this fashion from the lake of the mind. Eventually there is the
point of divergence and convergence of the finest Prakriti, or primal matter, as contrasted with
Purusha, or pure consciousness. While scholars might argue philosophically that Purusha and
Prakriti never actually meet, we can see the way in which the Bindu is a juncture point being
sought and transcended in these practices, so as to experience that True Consciousness standing
alone, in its own true nature (Yoga Sutras 1.3, 3.56).
Exercise #2
Meditation on Evolutes of Matter and Bindu: In this exercise the attention
is alternated between the evolutes of matter (from Sankhya Yoga) and the mustard-seed-size
space in the cave of the spiritual heart (or the space between the eyebrows if you prefer). This
helps to give direct experience into the nature of Meditation on a point. While this point is not
the Bindu itself, which is much subtler, it does give a feel for the process. Also, each of the
evolutes on which you concentrate here can be a Meditation unto itself, though this is not what
is being suggested here. As you go through this exercise, a key is to allow attention to
becomeabsorbed before moving on. This should not take long with a little practice.
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
First: Sit comfortably, with your head, neck and trunk aligned, with your eyes closed, as if
prepared for your regular Meditation.
Five Elements:
Earth: Be aware of the whole of your body, experiencing its solidity asearth. Do this until
your attention becomes absorbed in this experience.
Mustard seed: Gently let go of this, and shift your attention to a mustard-seed-size point
in the space at the cave of the spiritual heart (or inside a tiny circle at the eyebrow
center). Become absorbed in this point.
Water: Then, gently let go of that point and be aware of the flow or fluidity within the
body, which is water, becoming absorbed in this.
Mustard seed: Again, gently become absorbed in the mustard-seed-size point at the cave
of the heart (or the circle at the eyebrow center).
Fire: Similarly, be aware of fire in the body.
Mustard seed: Then return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Air: Be aware of air in the body.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Space: Be aware of space that the body occupies.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Karmendriyas -- Means of Expression (See Indriyas):
Elimination: Shift attention to the nature of elimination throughout the whole of the body
and mind, and how that which is no longer needed is cast off.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Procreation: Be aware of the nature of procreation and how that manifests throughout
the whole of the body.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Motion: Be aware of the many ways that motion manifests through the vehicles of body
and mind.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Holding: Be aware of the many ways in which grasping or holdingmanifests through the
vehicles of body and mind.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Speaking: Be aware of speech and the intent of communication as it manifests through
body and mind.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Jnanendriyas -- Means of Cognition (See Indriyas):
Smelling: Become absorbed in the sense of smelling.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Tasting: Be aware of the sense of tasting.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Seeing: Be aware of the sense of seeing.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Touching: Be aware of the sense of touching.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Hearing: Be aware of the sense of hearing.
Mustard seed: Return to the point, becoming absorbed in it.
Four Functions of Mind (See Four Functions of Mind):
Chitta: Shift awareness to the field of mind (chitta), allowing all of the thoughts to flow
without interruption, not engaging them, but witnessing them as a stream.
Mustard seed: When well established in this, return to absorption in the point.
Manas: Shift awareness to the mind itself (manas), as the instrument that is operating
the senses and the means of expression such as moving and grasping. Be aware of mind
as an instrument, not just the thoughts flowing in the mind.
Mustard seed: After becoming absorbed in this awareness, then gently return to
absorption in the point.
Ahamkara: Be aware of that strong wave of I-am-ness known as ego (ahamkara), not as
egotistical, but as the one who declares, "I am!" Become fully aware of, and absorbed in
this; meditate on this I-am-ness, independent of any of the false identities of who you
think you are, but rather, only the I-am-ness.
Mustard seed: Then, let go of it and return to absorption in the point.
Buddhi: Shift awareness, as best you can, to that deep aspect of mind that is
individuation itself, the witnessing aspect that knows(buddhi), in the higher sense of
what knowing means, which is neither cluttered with false identities nor that strong wave
of I-am-ness. It just is, and knows.
Mustard seed: Finally, shift awareness again back to that mustard-seed-size point,
becoming completely absorbed in it.
Meditation on a point: If it feels comfortable, and if you want, continue to meditate on
this mustard-seed-size point in the inner chamber of the heart (or inside a tiny circle at
the eyebrow center), as if that Meditation would lead you to that which is beyond all of
this manifestation, as if it would lead you through this imagined point, on to the
actual Bindu, which is the doorway to the Truth beyond.
As with the previous exercise, #1, this exercise is meant only as an exercise, not as a
permanent Meditation. Meditation on these evolutes, however, can be quite useful in
discriminating between what is "I" versus "not I," which is a most important part of later
Meditation (See Yoga Sutra2.5 on avidya). Hopefully, this exercise will provide an easy way to
experience Meditation on a point, which can help lead to an understanding of Bindu and a
greater mental openness to approaching that subtle most point.

Integrating the various schools of Yoga: As you hold in mind the nature
of Bindu as described above, and as captured in the two practical exercises, it is
pretty easy to see how it is that the various Yogas are not merely
alternative choices about which Yoga to practice. Rather, the Yogas are actually
support practices that each, in its own way, leads toward the experience and
transcending of Bindu into the higher Truth, however you personally name or conceptualize that
Truth. For purposes of reflection on this, here are a few brief reminders of some of the various
Yogas:
The Classical Yogas:
Bhakti Yoga: Cultivating love, reverence, devotion, surrender, and absorption in the Divine,
however one may hold It, He, or She, transcending all of the lesser, as that lesser collapses into
the Bindu.
Jnana Yoga: Learning through listening, reflection and deep, Contemplative Meditation,
systematically setting aside that which isnot-me, so as to experience the fourth, Turiya,
symbolized by Bindu.
Karma Yoga: Attenuating the colorings of attraction and aversion while living in the world,
weakening karmas by dedicating actions to others, shrinking the false identities, opening the
door to Bindu.
Raja Yoga: Meditating on and systematically training all of the aspects of one's being, including
body, senses, and the many nuances of energetic and mental processes, so as to reveal that
beyond Bindu.
Complementary Yogas:
Hatha Yoga: Balancing of the energies of ha and tha, sun and moon,ida and pingala, with the
intent of awakening Kundalini and the pursuit of higher Meditation through Raja Yoga, which
leads to Bindu.
Kundalini Yoga: Balancing and awakening the manifestations of primal energy flowing through
chakras in the channels called nadis, the most important of which is sushumna, which leads
to Bindu.
Laya Yoga: Transcending through dissolution all of the levels of false identity that have
manifested through the energy systems, tracing back, one after the other through the levels, to
the Bindu.
Tantra Yoga: Merging the static and all of the active manifestations of consciousness, through
the countless forms of light and sound, retracing all of the energy to and through the point
of Bindu.
2nd Stream: Vedanta
Vedanta and the Bindu of OM Mantra: Contemplation on the four levelssymbolized by OM
Mantra is at the very heart of Vedanta practice leading to Self-Realization, the pinnacle of which
is outlined in the Mandukya Upanishad. Here again, the Bindu at the top of the OM symbolizes
Turiya, the Absolute Reality, Purusha or Pure Consciousness that is to be realized.

Contemplation on four levels and Bindu: Vedanta or Jnana Yoga is more of
acontemplative process, or what we might call Contemplative Meditation. The descriptions and
examples below deal with OM Mantra, as did the Yoga stream above, but with a slightly different
focus. Here, we will be exploring the four levels of OM with emphasis on realizing
the meanings of the levels contained within OM. This is not just a one-pointed focus to transcend
the levels, but a process ofinsight into the nature of those levels. This will become more clear
through diligently doing exercises such as those suggested below.
Integrating Contemplation and Concentration: This Contemplative Meditationis a bit more
refined practice than basic one-pointed concentration on a point. This is not to say that
perfecting one-pointed concentration is easy, but rather, to say that a moderate amount of skill
in that one-pointedness is needed to move into this kind of Contemplative Meditation practice.
The fact that one-pointed concentration is needed, and that the Contemplative Meditation may
be somewhat more refined, is not to suggest that one is better than the other. These two move
together in the dance of sadhana (practices). To practice these streams of practice separately
from one another, and to later allow the streams of practice to flow together into the Bindu is a
very high order of sadhana.
Contemplation on only a few principles: There are extensive writings on the principles and
practices of Vedanta, which can seem pretty complicated. One of the ways in which swamis and
advanced sadhakas (practitioners) are taught to simplify these practices while moving in a
straight line towards the highest direct experience, is to contemplate on only one or a handful of
principles. This usually involves Contemplation on one or several Mahavakyas or great
utterances, which are aspects of the reality mapped out in OM Mantra (See the article
onMahavakyas). This is used as a foundation for all other practices.
OM of Mandukya Upanishad is the juice: By putting a good bit of effort into understanding
the framework of consciousness mapped out here by the OM Mantra (the four levels), all of the
other studies of the vast Yoga and Vedanta literature can be seen in a more straightforward and
practical light. This improves the ability to use these principles as actual practices that will lead
in the direction of Self-Realization, rather than being mere intellectual study, however
stimulating such study may be. It is because of this that it has been said that the juice of the
Vedas is the Upanishads, and the juice of the Upanishads is the Mandukya Upanishad, which is
on OM Mantra.
Twelve instructions on OM Mantra: Following are the twelve verses of the Mandukya
Upanishad. The entire subject of the Mandukya Upanishad is the four levels of the OM Mantra,
including the Dot or Bindu, which is the height of the practices. It might be best to read through
these verses gently and patiently, though persistently, allowing the deeper insights to unfold in
time, particularly through the practices of Meditation and Contemplation, such as the two
exercises that follow.
Mandukya Upanishad - OM Mantra
The Self and the Absolute (1-2):
1) All is OM : Hari Om. The whole universe is the syllable Om (symbolized by the three curves
and the Bindu). Following is the exposition of Om. Everything that was, is, or will be is, in truth
Om. All else which transcends time, space, and causation is also Om.
2) Atman has Four Aspects: All of this, everywhere, is in truth Brahman, the Absolute Reality
(symbolized by the three curves and the Bindu). This very Self itself, Atman, is also Brahman,
the Absolute Reality. This Atman or Self has four aspects through which it operates.
Four Levels of Consciousness (3-7):
3) First is Waking / Gross: The first aspect of Atman is the Self in the Waking state,
Vaishvanara (symbolized by the lower curve). In this first state, consciousness is turned outward
to the external world. Through its seven instruments and nineteen channels, it experiences the
gross objects of the phenomenal world. (See the articles on the Indriyas and the Four Functions
of Mind)
4) Second is Dreaming / Subtle: The second aspect of Atman is the Self in the Dreaming
state, Taijasa (symbolized by the middle curve). In this second state, consciousness is turned
towards the inner world. It also operates through seven instruments and nineteen channels,
which engage the subtle objects of the mental realm. (See the articles on the Indriyas and
the Four Functions of Mind)
5) Third is Deep Sleep / Causal: The third aspect of Atman is the Self operating in the Deep
Sleep state, Prajna (symbolized by the upper curve). In this third state, there is neither the
desire for any gross or subtle object, nor any dream sequences. In deep sleep, all such
experiences have receded or merged into the ground of undifferentiated consciousness. Here,
one is filled with the experience of bliss, and can also find the way to clearer knowledge of the
two preceding states.
6) Find the Experiencer: The one who experiences all of these states of consciousness is the
omniscient, indwelling source and director of all (symbolized by the Bindu). This one is the
womb out of which all of the other emerge. All things originate from and dissolve back into this
source.
7) The Fourth Aspect is Turiya: The fourth aspect of Atman or Self is Turiya, literally the
fourth (symbolized by the Bindu). In this fourth state, consciousness is neither turned outward
nor inward. Nor is it both outward and inward; it is beyond both cognition and the absence of
cognition. This fourth state of Turiya cannot be experienced through the senses or known by
comparison, deductive reasoning or inference; it is indescribable, incomprehensible, and
unthinkable with the mind. This is Pure Consciousness itself. This is the real Self. It is within the
cessation of all phenomena. It is serene, tranquil, filled with bliss, and is one without second.
This is the real or true Self that is to be realized.
Four Aspects of AUM (8-12):
8) Those Four are the Same with "A-U-M" and Silence: That Om, though described as
having four states, is indivisible; it is pure Consciousness itself (symbolized by, and permeating
the three curves and the Bindu). That Consciousness is Om. The three sounds A-U-M (ah, ou,
mm) and the three lettersA, U, M are identical with the three states of waking, dreaming, and
sleeping, and these three states are identical with the three sounds and letters. The fourth state,
Turiya is to be realized only in the silence behind or beyond the other three.
9) The Sound "A" is Waking / Gross: Vaishvanara is the consciousness experienced during
the waking state, and is A, the first letter of Om (symbolized by the lower curve). That simple
sound of A is first and permeates all other sounds. One who is aware of this first level of reality
has fulfillment of all longings and is successful.
10) The Sound "U" is Dreaming / Subtle: Taijasa is the consciousness experienced during
the dreaming state, and is U, the second letter of Om (symbolized by the middle curve). This
intermediate state operates between the waking and sleeping states, reflecting some qualities of
the other two. One who knows this subtler state is superior to others. For one who knows this,
knowers of Brahman, the Absolute Reality, will be born into his family.
11) The Sound "M" is Deep Sleep / Causal: Prajna is the consciousness experienced during
the state of dreamless, deep sleep, and is M, the third letter of Om (symbolized by the upper
curve). It contains the other two, and is that from which the other two emerge, and into they
recede or merge. A knower of this more subtle state can understand all within himself.
12) Silence after "A-U-M" is the True Self: The fourth aspect is the soundless aspect of Om
(symbolized by the Bindu). It is not utterable and is not comprehended through the senses or
by the mind. With the cessation of all phenomena, even of bliss, this soundless aspect becomes
known. It is a state of nondual (advaita) reality—one without a second. This fourth state, Turiya,
is the real Self or true Self. One with direct experience of this expands to Universal
Consciousness.
Exercise #3
Contemplative Journey through the Three Levels: This exercise involves three parts. The
first part is done with your eyes open, and includes being aware of your external world of
objects, and your abilities of action and sensing. The second part is done with your
eyes closed, and includes being aware of your inner world of memories and images, as well as
your inner process of sensing. The third part is also done with your eyesclosed, and involves
being aware of the blank field on which the unconscious activity flows, like being aware of the
blank canvas on which paintings are created, or the blank screen on which movies are
projected. This three part process gives an inner simulation of the nature of the three stages
of the OM Mantra that are described above. This three part process is then repeated two more
times, for a total of three cycles of the three part process.
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
A of AUM: Be aware of each of these as aspects of Vaishvanara, the Gross world, your Waking
state, and your Conscious mind:
Eyes OPEN: Sit comfortably with your eyes open.
External objects and people: Be aware of objects or people in the room, around your
home, at work, in the city. Explore them all as being in the Gross world, part of your
Waking state, and your Conscious mind.
Outer means of expression: Be aware of the processes of elimination, procreation,
moving, grasping and speaking (the karmendriyas of verses 3 and 4), also exploring these
as being in the Gross world, part of your Waking state, and your Conscious mind. Explore
these five systematically, one at a time, becoming absorbed in the experience before
moving on to the next one.
Outer means of cognition: Be aware of the processes of smelling, tasting, seeing,
touching and hearing (the jnanendriyas of verses 3 and 4), also exploring these as being
in the Gross world, part of your Waking state, and your Conscious mind.
Outer five elements: Be aware of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space
(the five elements of verses 3 and 4), also exploring these as being in the Gross world,
part of your Waking state, and your Conscious mind.
U of AUM: Be aware of these as aspects of Taijasa, the Subtle world, part of your Dreaming
state, and your Active Unconscious mind:
Eyes CLOSED: Now sit with your eyes closed. (Note that the process below is the same
as the one above, only here, you are attempting to gain insight into the nature of the
Subtle, Dreaming and Active Unconscious, whereas the section above dealt with the Gross,
Waking, and the Conscious mind.)
Inner stream of thoughts and dreams: Be aware of streams of thoughts in the mind,
allowing them to flow as you might in a dream, or a day dream. Be mindful of these all as
if being in the Subtle world, part of your Dreaming state, and your Active Unconscious
mind. (Note that this is an experiential exercise, even though you are not actually in the
Dreaming state.)
Inner objects and people: Be aware of many objects, people and places, intentionally
allowing the stream of these to continue to flow. Explore these all as being in the Subtle
world, part of your Dreaming state, and your Active Unconscious mind. (Note that this is
an experiential exercise, and you are not actually in the Dreaming state.)
Inner means of expression: Be aware of the inner processes of elimination, procreation,
moving, grasping and speaking, also exploring these as being in the Subtle world, part of
your Dreaming state, and your Active Unconscious mind. Explore these five systematically,
one at a time, becoming absorbed in the experience before moving on to the next one.
Inner means of cognition: Be aware of the inner processes of smelling, tasting, seeing,
touching and hearing, also exploring these as being in the Subtle world, part of your
Dreaming state, and your Active Unconscious mind.
Inner five elements: Be aware of the inner experience of the five elements of earth,
water, fire, air and space (the five elements of verses 3 and 4), also exploring these as
being in the Subtle world, part of your Dreaming state, and your Active Unconscious mind.
M of AUM: Be aware of these as aspects of Prajna, the Causal plane, part of your Deep Sleep
state, and your Latent Unconscious or Subconscious mind:
Next: Continue to sit with your eyes closed.
Blank canvas: Be aware of an inner field of mind that is like a blank canvas, on which all
of the many paintings of actions and sensation are drawn. Be aware of this field as the
screen on which the movies are projected. Allow your attention to become fully absorbed
in the nature of this field, which is sometimes called kutastha, which means anvil, as in
the unchanging anvil on which the blacksmith fashions so many objects.
Rising and falling impressions on the canvas: While maintaining full awareness of this
field, canvas, screen, or kutastha, allow random images, memories or impressions to
intentionally rise, and then to intentionally fall back into the field from which they arose.
Receding of people and objects: In this way, be aware of individual people, places,
objects, activities or ideas, allowing them to arise and fall, while being ever mindful of the
field, canvas, screen, or kutastha.
Receding of means of expression: Allow each of the active expressions of eliminating,
procreating, moving, grasping, and speaking to arise in this way, yet fall away, returning
to the field, continuing to focus on the field itself.
Receding of cognitive senses: Similarly, allow each of the cognitive senses of smelling,
tasting, seeing, touching and hearing to rise and fall, remaining aware of the field
throughout.
Rising and falling of the five elements: So too, allow awareness of the five elements of
earth, water, fire, air and space to rise and fall from, and return into the field, canvas,
screen, or kutastha, once again remaining constantly aware of the field itself.
Silence after AUM: Be aware of Silence, as if you are experiencing the permeating
Consciousness, Turiya:
Aware of the permeating consciousness: Allow your intelligence to be aware of the
fact that consciousness, the Fourth, Turiya, is permeating each of these states of Waking,
Dreaming and Deep Sleep. Reflect on this in stillness and silence.
Permeating actions, sensations and thoughts: Be mindful of how that consciousness
permeates all of the actions, sensations and thought processes of the states of Conscious,
Active Unconscious, and Latent Conscious (or Subconscious).
Permeating the five elements: Be aware of how that consciousness permeates all of
the five elements as they exist or express in the Gross, Subtle, and Causal planes.
Aware of the glimpse: Be aware of how it is, that these are so, even though this is but
an exercise, and experiment, not the direct experience itself of Turiya. Be aware of how
even a little glimpse can be the inspiration to seek that direct experience.
Repeating the process:
Three times: The process above moves through the three stages, to the fourth. Repeat
this entire cycle two more times, for a total of three times.
It becomes easier: Each cycle will become easier than the previous. As with many
practices, the insights and benefits come with repetition.
Meditation on a point: If it feels comfortable, and if you want, continue to meditate on
this mustard-seed-size point in the inner chamber of the heart (or inside a tiny circle at
the eyebrow center), as if that Meditation would lead you through the point, on to the
actual Bindu, and then to the highest Truth.
This exercise, like the previous ones, is meant only an exercise, not as a permanent
Meditation. However, you might want to practice this several times over a handful of weeks to
gain further insight (or later, from time to time). In time, this kind of witnessing and
introspection, or inspection within, becomes a very easy self-awareness habit. It becomes a
natural process to do. This opens the door to the depths of Contemplation or Contemplative
Meditation, and this is part of the process leading to theBindu, and That beyond these
experiences. (See also Witnessing.)
Twenty-six principles: The twenty-six principles mentioned in verses 3 and 4 of Mandukya
Upanishad are explored through introspection or Contemplation, as in the exercise above. The
seven instruments (verses 3 and 4) are the moremacrocosmic instruments, while the nineteen
channels relate more to themicrocosmic, individual person.
These are explored in Meditation and Contemplation: All of these seven instruments and
nineteen channels are the means by which the Self or Atman operates in the external world,
which is Vaishvanara, the subject of this third verse of the Mandukya Upanishad. It is extremely
useful, if not essential, to understand and remember these twenty-six principles, instruments, or
channels. This is not just intellectual information, but rather, is a real key to the self-observation
and self-awareness practices that lead to the transcendence of all of these, and the realization of
the Self. If they are not conscientiously witnessed, one can be deprived of the depths of spiritual
awakening.
Seven Instruments: First, Consciousness manifests outward as space, air, fire, water, and
earth, along with the individuation from the whole and the flow of energy (which we know as the
pulsing impulse towards breath).
Nineteen Channels: Then, the individual operates through the four functions of mind (aspects
of antahkarana, the inner instrument), which are manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi. Those
four operate through the five pranas (prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana), the five active
senses or indriyas (karmendriyas of eliminating, procreating, moving, grasping, and speaking),
and the five cognitive senses (jnanendriyas of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing)
Most Important: The Four Functions of Mind and the Ten Indriyasare the most important to
witness. This may take some experimentation, although it is not as difficult as it may seem. Like
many things, it just takes a little practice.
Exercise #4
Contemplation on "I am" and the Bindu: This Contemplation deals with the question,
"Who am I?" Attention is brought to one aspect of body, followed by an inquiry of whether this
is "who I am," and then attention is brought to that mustard-seed-size point in the space of
the heart center. One after the other, attention is brought through the various aspects of
body, breath, senses, and mind. With each, there is reflection on "who I am," whether this is
"I," with attention brought to that point of Bindu with the remembrance that what is true is
that, "I am That," or "I am that I am."
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
First: Sit comfortably, with your head, neck and trunk aligned, with your eyes closed, as if
prepared for your regular Meditation.
Am I my Body?
Whole Body: Be aware of your body, the whole of the body, as if you can be aware of all
of the parts of the body in one, complete glance.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this body really me, at the deepest level of my
being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond the body: to,
into, and through this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is
beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am. I am That."
Arms/Trunk/Legs: Systematically be aware of the physical parts of the body, in
whatever way is comfortable and natural to you. One at a time, be aware of: head, face,
neck, arms, hands, fingers, trunk, abdomen, legs, feet, and toes.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this part really me, at the deepest level of my
being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond this single
aspect of this body, this part. Who I am is to, into, and through this point, this mustard
seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am
That. I am that I am that I am."
Systems/Organs: Be aware of the physical systems and inner organs of the body,
however you may do that. One at a time, be aware of the muscular, skeletal,
cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, lymphatic, and nervous systems. Be aware of the
individual inner organs, whether stomach, eyes, or the many other organs.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this system or organ reallyme? Is it who I am?
Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond this single
physical system or organ, however beautiful and functional it, and the whole of the body
may be. Who I am is to, into, and through this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who
I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am."
Am I my Breath?
Breath: Be aware of your breath, as the physical function that exhales and inhales, filling
and emptying the lungs with air.
Question internally: "Is this breath who I am? Is this breath really me, at the deepest level
of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond even the
breath. I am on the other side of this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is
that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am."
Spine: Be aware of your breath, as if flowing up the spine with inhalation and down the
spine with exhalation.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this body really me, at the deepest level of my
being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond the body: to,
into, and through this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is
beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am."
Nostrils: Be aware of your breath at the nostrils, as the flow moves in and out; cool
coming in, and warm going out.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this focused breath really me? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond the breath at
these nostrils: to, into, and through this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who
I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am."
Energy: Be aware of breath as energy, which flows at both gross and subtle levels of the
body, in many ways throughout the subtle energy system.
Question internally: "Is this who I am? Is this level of energy, though subtler, really me, at
the deepest level of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is beyond even this
subtle flow of energy: to, into, and through this point, this mustard seed called Bindu.
Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I am that I am."
Am I my Thoughts?
People: Allow the memories of people to drift through your mind. Think of family, friends,
coworkers and other people you've never met, but see around your community from time
to time. Remember people from your past, whom you no longer see, as well as people you
currently know.
Question internally: "Of all these people, wonderful as they may be, who amongst them is
really a part of me, at the deepest level of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Though I relate to them all, who I
am is beyond these relationships. I am of that beyond this point, this mustard seed
called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am that I
am that I am."
Places: Think of the many places you visit in your daily life: communities, buildings,
roads, stores, lakes, mountains, beaches and other places of nature or mankind. Allow
streams of these places to flow through the mind.
Question internally: "Are these many places really related to me? Or are they locations
that I've visited, which now only appear to have something to do with me? Of all these
places, beautiful as they may be, are they really a part of me, at the deepest level of my
being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. Though I am familiar with them
all, none of these places are really related to me. I am of that place on the other side of
this point, this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth,
Turiya, Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
Objects: Think of the many objects in your personal world; in your home, your place of
work, your community. Think of the things you handle daily, or see in your travels here or
there. They are small things and large things, this diversity of objects.
Question internally: "Which of the objects are mine? Are any of them really mine, or do I
just use them? What do these objects have to do with me, at the deepest level of my
being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am That. I am that I am that I am. None of these objects are mine;
none are really related to me; that is all appearance, and nothing more. I am beyond all
manner of objects, truly dwelling only on the other side of this mustard seed called Bindu.
Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am That. I am that I am
that I am."
Am I my Mind?
Manas: Be aware of the thinking mind, which calculates, plans, and sorts out this or that;
the part of mind the brings in the sensory experiences, and which causes motion and
expression. It is the thinking mind, which is sometimes seen as disturbing and noisy, while
it is also a most useful instrument.
Question internally: "This mind, this wonderful instrument of mind--is itme? Is it who I
am? Am I this personality, which is animating through this mind? Is this mind who I am at
the deepest level of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "No, I am not this mind. It is my tool, a very useful too. I am that I am
that I am. I am That. I am beyond all of the activity of this mind, and truly dwell only on
the other side of this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the
Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
Chitta: Be aware of an inner field of mind that is like a canvas, on which all of the many
paintings of actions and sensation are drawn. Or, be aware of mind as lake or ocean, on
which the waves of thoughts are stirring. Or, be aware of this field as the screen on which
the movies are projected. Thoughts and impressions are coming and going, but all of this
is happening in, and on that field, canvas, lake, ocean or screen.
Question internally: "Is this field or lake of mind who I am, however vast it may be, and
however those memories may have come to be stored there? Is even this grand totality of
mental process who I am at the deepest level of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am that I am that I am. I am beyond all of this vast field, on which
the mental and sensory dance plays. My real home, my true identity is on the other side of
this mustard seed calledBindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya,
Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
Ahamkara: Allow this powerful "I" to declare itself, the part that says with great strength,
"I am this or that. It is 'I' who owns these things. It is 'I' who is the doer of these actions.
Allow that wave of ego to be there, to stand firmly in awareness in this moment.
Question internally: "Is this ego, this powerful ego who I really am? Is this one who claims
both identity and ownership who I am at thedeepest level of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "I am that I am that I am. I am beyond even this, which makes the
strongest of all claims, by its declaring "I am." My true identity is subtler still, residing on
the other side of this mustard seed called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the
Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
Buddhi: So clearly now, all of this is seen. This Buddhi, this one who knows, decides,
adjudges with clarity and discriminates decisively now stands seemingly alone. Be aware
of this seemingly finest instrument of knowledge and wisdom. At rest, this high
intelligence stands in quiet contentment.
Question internally: Yet, ask again, "is even this seemingly finest intelligence who I really
am? Or, does this subtle, fine being still draw its essence from some still finer
consciousness? Is this Buddhi, this highest aspect of mind, who I am at the deepest level
of my being? Who am I?"
Answer internally: "Still subtler than this, is who I am. I am that I am that I am. I am that
pure consciousness that is to be found only on the other side of this mustard seed
called Bindu. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am That. I
am that I am that I am."
Who am I?
"Oh, mind, oh, mind, oh, mind. Sing the song of stillness and silence. Surrender; let go,
mind. I am that I am that I am. Who I am is that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya,
Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
Rest in That for some time, as if there is no time. Rest in that point called Bindu, as if
there is no space in which to rest. Allow body, breath and mind to be still, as if they are
not even there, nor ever were.
"I am that I am that I am. I am that beyond the mustard seed calledBindu. Who I am is
that, which is beyond: the Fourth, Turiya, Atman. I am That. I am that I am that I am."
"I am That."
"OM," and silence....
As with the previous exercises, this exercise is meant only as an exercise,not as a permanent
Meditation or Contemplation. However, you might want to adapt this practice in some way so
that you personally spend some of your practice time doing this type of introspection,
inspection within, or Contemplation. In time, this kind of witnessing and introspection, or
inspection within, becomes a natural self-awareness habit. It opens the door to the depths of
Contemplation or Contemplative Meditation, which is part of the process leading to the Bindu,
and That beyond these many other experiences.
Go gently with these practices: These practices systematically reveal the underlying nature
of oneself and the broader universe, both manifest and unmanifest. It is wise to balance these,
and all other practices, in light of one's personal life in the world and dedication to the inner
journey. To walk the middle road, not going too extreme in either direction, seems to be the
ideal for most people. Gently, smoothly, lovingly are the ways to peace, insight, and realization,
staying within ones comfortable capacity.
Integrating the Great Contemplations: The Mahavakyas are the Great Sentences of Advaita
Vedanta, and are contained in the Upanishads. Maha is Great, and Vakyas are sentences, or
utterances for Contemplation. They provide perspective and insights that tie the texts together
in a cohesive whole. The Contemplations on the Mahavakyas also blend well with the practices of
Yoga Meditation, Prayer, and Mantra, which are companion practices.
Converging Four Practices on Bindu: By practicing each of the practices of Meditation,
Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra, these four converge into a unified force of clarity, will, focus,
and surrender.

Meditation:
Gross objects: May start with gross objects or words.
Subtle: Becomes subtle, such as the light or sound.
Bliss: Leads to the joy-producing essence of the object.
I-ness: Rests in the still being-ness or existence itself.
Bindu: Meditation merges into and beyond the Bindu.

Contemplation:
Thought: May start with a verbal thought process.
Reflection: Deepens to quiet reflection.
Intuition: Later brings intuitive wisdom.
Knowing: Then leads to a formless knowing.
Bindu: Contemplation merges into and beyond the Bindu.

Prayer:
Repetition: May start by repetition in a traditional way.
Relationship: Shifts to a spontaneous inner relationship.
Feeling: Becomes a non-verbal feeling of love and devotion.
Communion: Transforms into a still deeper communion.
Bindu: Prayer merges into and beyond the Bindu.

Mantra:
Spoken: At first it may be spoken externally or internally.
Heard: Later it is heard or attended to internally.
Feeling: Later it experienced as a syllable-less feeling.
Pervasive: Then experienced as pervasive awareness.
Bindu: Mantra merges into and beyond the Bindu.
The four begin to merge: The practices of Meditation, Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra
begin to merge into one another. The state of deep, inner Stillness and Silence from which the
higher knowledge (Paravidya) begins to come, is called Samahitam. It is the final launching pad,
or jumping off place for the direct experience of the Absolute Reality. What at first seemed like
very different practices are now seeming to be only most subtly differentiated. They converge
into one laser like force-field of concentrated awareness, which then pierces the final barrier
of Bindu, into the Realization of the Self, the Absolute Reality.
3rd Stream: Tantra

Bindu in Sri Yantra: Meditation in Tantra is on
the convergence of all energies, with the highest
of those inner practices being in Samaya Tantra
and Sri Vidya, which is represented by the Sri
Yantra or Sri Chakra. The Bindu at the center of
the Sri Yantra symbolizes the final union of Shiva
and Shakti (the static and active), the Absolute
Reality that is to be realized.Vidya means
knowledge, and Yantra is visual form. Thus, Sri
Yantra is the visual form of Sri Vidya, which is the
knowledge.
Simplicity in the higher view: Those who practice Sri Vidya Tantra at the lower levels find
that there are a vast number of practices, rituals, and mantras that one might do. It is as if
there is no end to these practices, just as there is no end to the diversity of objects and
experiences that to are be had at the Gross (Vaishvanara) and Subtle (Taijasa) levels of reality,
which are mapped out on the OM Mantra. For those who seek the higher ground, the subtlest
realities that eventually reveal the Absolute that is represented by the Bindu, there is an
increasing simplicity (simple does not necessarily mean easy).
Piercing the Bindu: In the case of Sri Yantra and Sri Vidya, this means going through the
chakras so as to experience merging into and piercing the Bindu at the center, just as there is
seeking of the Bindu in the OM Mantra. Passing through the Bindu leads to the convergence and
union of Shiva and Shakti, the static and active forces of the universe, also known as the
masculine and feminine divine, which were never really divided in the first place.
A circle inside a circle: Imagine that you were to hold out a ring about five or six inches in
front of you, and that you are looking through that ring. Imagine that you held a similar size ring
a little further in front of you, past the first ring, and that you looked at one ring through the
other. What would you see? You would see one ring inside the other. If you were to draw this
view on a piece of paper, you would draw a circle inside of a circle.
Looking upward through sushumna and the chakras: If you were to lookupward, from the
base of the spine, through the sushumna channel (sometimes called silver cord), the central
channel of the subtle body, through one after another of the chakras, what would you
see? Chakra means wheel, and the chakras are like spherical fields of energy radiating from the
energy convergences of the nadis (channels), of which sushumna is the main channel (chakras
solidify to form the physical body, contrary to the usual notion that chakras are merely objects
contained inside the physical body).
What would you see?: What you would see when looking upward through the fine tube,
channel, or stream of sushumna would be a series of concentric circles. Inside of the smallest
circle, at the far end, you would see the point of Bindu, which is the gateway to the highest
Reality. This is a part of the symbolism of the Sri Yantra. This is why the practitioners of the
higher Tantra, the Samaya school of Sri Vidya seek to go beyond, if not completely ignore, the
lower chakras.
Inward and upward, to and through Bindu
View of the chakras within Sri Yantra, going from outer to inner,
lower to higher, culminating with the piercing of the Bindu.
(Look at the graphics below from left to right, top to bottom.)



Need to balance the energies: To be able to see through, to enter and journey upward
through sushumna channel and the chakras, it is necessary to balance the energy in the
chakras, so that sushumna can be traversed, and the Binduexperienced.
Going past the lower chakras: There are many methods of working with the chakras, and
there are many people teaching these methods for a variety of purposes. However, when the
purpose one is interested in is the highest of direct experience, the goal is to balance the energy
systems of the subtle body so thatthe lower chakras can all be transcended in deep practices.
The most important energy channel: Of the thousands of energy channels, it really comes
down to three important parts, of which one is really the important one. Energy tends to flow on
the left or right sides of the body, and those energies are known as ida and pingala. The central
channel is called sushumna. What is important is balancing the left and right, so that the central
channel is predominant and open, flowing clearly (described in the Kundalini Awakeningarticle).
Five elements, the chakras, and Bhuta Shuddhi: The five elements of earth, water, fire, air,
and space are the material substance of the first five chakras. These five elements are
called bhutas. Thus, one way of describing the desired goal of preparing the chakras is
to purify the bhutas. Bhuta refers to the five elements, and shuddhi means to purify.
Thus, Bhuta Shuddhi is a the practice of purifying the elements in the chakras, so that
sushumna can be traversed, so that the Bindu may be encountered, pierced, and transcended. It
should be self evident through common sense that by the nature of the two words (bhuta and
shuddhi), there would be a variety of methods for attaining this purity and preparation of
sushumna. The exercise below is one such practice, which is very effective, yet simple and
straightforward.

Exercise #5
Bhuta Shuddi, Purifying the Chakras: In the Bhuta Shuddhi practice below, you are
moving attention systematically upward, one chakra at a time, from the Root Chakra to the
Crown Chakra. Then you reverse the process, moving attention downward one chakra at a
time. Attention is focused on the location, while the mantra is remembered in the mind.
Attention is also directed to be mindful of the expression and cognitive sense that is associated
with that chakra (as in the table above). In doing the practice, you might at some point
naturally experience sound or light, which is associated with the chakra. The sound and light
are not visualizedor imagined, as it is more preferred to experience them directly, as they are,
than to create false impressions of them.
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
First: Sit comfortably, with your head, neck and trunk aligned, with your eyes closed, as if
prepared for your regular Meditation.
Muladhara Chakra: Bring your attention to the perineum, the flat space between the anus
and the genital area. Take several seconds to allow your attention to find the space, and to get
settled into it.
Mantra Lam: Allow the mantra Lam to arise repeatedly in your mind field, silently. Allow
it to repeat at its own natural speed. You may find that it comes 5-10 times and wants to
pause, or you might find it wants to come continuously. If it pauses, allow it to return in
its own time. The mantra may move quickly or slowly. In any case, keep your attention on
that space; this is very important. That space might be tiny, such as a pinpoint, or it might
be several inches across. Follow your own inclination about the size of the space.
Element Earth: Allow your mind to naturally be aware of earth, solidity, or form, while
remaining aware of Lam. That awareness may come a little or a lot; either way is okay.
Indriyas of Elimination and Smell: Allow to come through your mind field the
awareness of the karmendriya of elimination (which operates throughout the body), and
the jnanendriya of smell, while remaining aware of Lam (best to become familiar with the
nature of theindriyas). Gradually, over time with the practice, it becomes more clear how
it is that the indriyas operate from these centers, along with the five elements. You may or
may not also find that colors and sounds naturally come to the inner field of mind.
Svadhistana Chakra: When you move your attention upwards towards the second chakra, be
mindful of the transition, of the motion of attention and the nature of the shift of energetic,
emotional, and mental experience. Allow your attention to naturally find the location of the
second chakra. Your own attention will find, and settle into that space. It is important to note
that the actual chakra is in the back, along the subtle spine called sushumna, although we
usually experience it in the front. Allow the attention to rest where it naturally falls, probably
in the front, but be mindful from time to time that the chakra is actually in the back. Gradually
attention will find this central stream running up and down through all of the chakras
(sushumna is actually subtler than the chakras).
Mantra Vam: Allow the mantra Vam to arise and repeat itself, at its own speed, naturally
coming and going. Hold your attention in the space, whether a pinpoint or a few inches
across.
Element Water: Allow the awareness of water to arise, and come to see how this has to
do with allowing forms of flow or fluidity, whether relating to energy, physical, emotional,
or mental. Remain aware ofVam.
Indriyas of Procreation and Taste: Explore the awareness of the karmendriya of
procreation and the jnanendriya of tasting, while remaining aware of Vam (once again,
become familiar with theindriyas). Again, colors or sounds may or may not come and go.
Manipura Chakra: Be aware of the transition as you move to the third chakra, at the navel
center, which is also actually along the sushumna channel.
Mantra Ram: Allow the mantra Ram to arise and repeat itself, at its natural speed. Keep
attention in the space, whatever size at which it is experienced.
Element Fire: Be aware of the element of fire, and the many ways in which it operates
throughout the gross and subtle body from this center. Remain aware of Ram.
Indriyas of Motion and Sight: Be aware of the karmendriya of motion, and how motion
itself happens in so many physical, energetic, and mental ways. Be aware of the
jnanendriya of seeing, which you will easily see as related to fire and motion. Colors and
sounds may or may not come and go. Remain aware of Ram.
Anahata Chakra: Observe the transition as you move your attention to the fourth chakra, the
space between the breasts. Allow attention to become well seated there.
Mantra Yam: Remember the vibration of the mantra Yam, allowing it to repeat at its own
speed, while being mindful of the feeling it generates.
Element Air: Be aware of the element of air, and notice how that feels with the mantra.
Remain aware of Yam.
Indriyas of Holding and Touching: Notice how the element of air relates to the
karmendriya of holding or grasping, whether physically, energetically, mentally, or
emotionally. Observe how these relate to the jnanendriya of touching, and how that
touching is very subtle in addition to being a physical phenomenon. Colors and sounds
may come and go. Remain aware of Yam.
Visshuda Chakra: Bring your attention to the space at the throat, the fifth chakra, which is
the point of emergence of space (which allows air, fire, water, and earth to then emerge).
Mantra Ham: In that space, be aware of the nature of space itself, allowing the
mantra Ham to arise and repeat itself.
Element Space: Notice the mantra Ham reverberating many times through the seemingly
empty space in the inner world (a space that is really not empty, but is of potential).
Indriyas of Speaking and Hearing: Awareness of the karmendriya of speech (actually,
communication of any subtle form) is allowed to be there, experiencing how that vibrates
through space, while continuing to remain aware of Ham. The jnanendriya of hearing is
allowed to come, also seeing how it naturally aligns with space, speech, and the vibration
of mantra. Notice the fine, subtle feelings, which come with the experience. Colors or
sounds are allowed to come and go, if they happen to arise.
Ajna Chakra: Gently, with full awareness, transition awareness to the seat of mind at the
space between the eyebrows, Ajna Chakra.
Mantra OM: Allow the mantra OM to arise and repeat itself, over and over, as slow waves
of mantra, or as vibrations repeating so fast that the many OMs merge into a continuous
vibration.
Beyond the Elements: Be aware of how mind has no elements, but is the source out of
which space, air, fire, water, and earth emerge. Remain aware of OM.
Beyond the Indriyas: Be aware of how this space, this mind, itself, does no actions, but
is the driving force of all of the karmendriyas of speech, holding, moving, procreating, and
eliminating. Remain aware ofOM. Be aware of how this chakra, this mind, has no senses
itself, but is the recipient of all of the information coming from hearing, touching, seeing,
tasting, and smelling, whether the source of this input is the sensations from the external
world, coming through the physical instruments, or coming from the inner world of
memories or subtle experience, presenting on the mental screen through the subtle
senses. Gradually, come to see how OM mantra is experienced as the source or map of
manifestation itself. Many senses, images, or impressions may come and go, but they are
let go, as attention rests in the knowing beyond all senses, in the Ajna Chakra and the
vibration of OM.
Sahasrara Chakra: Allow attention to move to the Crown Chakra, which is the doorway to
pure consciousness itself.
Silence after OM Mantra: The “mantra” (in its subtler, silent form) is that silence (not
mere quiet) out of which the rest have emerged. It is experienced as the silence after a
single OM, merging into objectless, sense-less awareness. Allow attention to rest in that
pure stillness, the emptiness that is not empty, which contains, and is, the pure potential
for manifestation, which has not manifested.
No Elements and No Indriyas: Awareness here has no element (bhutas), no cognitive
sense (jnanendriyas), no active means of expression (karmendriyas), as it is the doorway
to pure consciousness itself. Experience how this is the source out of which mind
emerges,after which emerge the five elements, the five cognitive senses, and the five
means of expression. Continue to be aware of the silence after OM.
Returning through the chakras: Reverse the process, moving attention downward one
chakra at a time, from the Crown Chakra to the Root Chakra. Attention is focused on the
location, while the mantra is remembered in the mind.
Ajna Chakra: Briefly bring your attention back to the sixth chakra, allowing the vibration
of OM to return, which starts the journey of attention back into the body and world. A few
seconds, 30 seconds, or maybe a minute should be comfortable, though it may be longer
if you wish.
Visshuda Chakra: Bring your attention down to the fifth chakra, the throat,
remembering Ham, as you enter into the realm of space, hearing, and speaking. Again, a
few seconds or a minute is good.
Anahata Chakra: Transition to the fourth chakra, the heart, as you allow the
mantra Yam to arise, remembering the element of air. Awareness of holding and touching
may or may not arise.
Manipura Chakra: Be aware of the third chakra, the navel center, and the vibration
of Ram, along with the element of fire, with awareness of motion and seeing coming or
not coming.
Svadhistana Chakra: Bring your attention to the second chakra, and allow the vibration
of the mantra Vam to arise and repeat itself, remembering the element of water, with
awareness of procreation and tasting coming or not coming.
Muladhara Chakra: Transition attention back to the first chakra, at the perineum,
allowing the mantra Lam to come.
Meditation: After completing the Bhuta Shuddhi practice (above), you might want to continue
with your regular Meditation, benefiting from the balancing qualities of the practice. One useful
practice to do next is to simply breathe up and down the spine, as if you are inhaling from the
base of the spine (first chakra) up to the crown of the head (Crown Chakra), and exhaling
down to the base of the spine. You may want to inhale and exhale with Soham Mantra (See
the article on Soham Mantra). Then continue with your regular Meditation, such as in the heart
or eyebrow chakras. Inside of that space, it is useful to be mindful of the ever-existentBindu,
which, although not yet experienced, will one day be found and pierced, so as to experience
That beyond.
Spinal breath and sushumna: One of the simplest of all methods to purify the chakras and
open sushumna is the spinal breath practice. While the Bhuta Shuddhi exercise presented above
is very useful, this spinal breath practice is very straightforward and does not require
memorizing any steps or relationships with the chakras (the two practices are quite compatible,
and both can be done).
• This practice is so utterly simple that it seems to many people that it is not a good enough
practice. Because of this simplicity, it is seldom done often enough or regularly enough to
consistently experience its profound effects.
• Lie on the back in shavasana, the corpse posture, and literally try to be as still as a
corpse, and gently inhale up along the spine to the crown of the head, and exhale down to
either the base of the spine or out into the space beyond; a tremendous effect will come
in time.
• The pause between the breaths is completely eliminated (gently), and as it becomes
smoother and smoother, the breath will naturally slow.
• When breath slows to around four to five breaths per minute (10-15 seconds per breath),
mind will become calm and the body will quite nicely relax.
• When the breath slows to around two or three breaths per minute (20-30 seconds per
breath), mind will become very still, without any words forming, and body awareness will
become subtle.
• As breath naturally (not forced) slows to anywhere near about 45-60 seconds per breath
or slower, one is at the doorway to experiencing pure energy of prana, and the sushumna
channel will most assuredly be flowing smoothly.
• From here, the stage is set for deeper experiences. To do this practice effectively takes
patience and getting past the inclination of the mind or ego to have some complex or
technically difficult practice.
Tripura: Tri means three, and pura means city. Tripura is the consciousness that operates in
the three cities of Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep, as well as the Conscious, Unconscious,
and Subconscious aspects of mind.
Tripura in Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep:

Sometimes conceptualized as the divine feminine (Shakti), compared to the divine masculine
(Shiva), she permeates the three cities of the Gross world, the Subtleplane, and
the Causal reality.
Tripura in Gross, Subtle, and Causal:

Tripura also permeates the many other trinities such as the being ness inherent in past, present
and future. This is a Tantric rendering of the three levels of consciousness mapped out by the
OM Mantra symbol, and its levels of Vaishvanara, Taijasa, and Prajna (described above).
Dedication, devotion, love, and surrender into this creative source or divine Mother is one of the
finest aspects of Tantra as a direct route to Realization. Some conceptualize Tripura as an
anthropomorphic deity, while the subtler practices are directed towardsTripura as formless,
that fourth state beyond the other three cities. The Bindu of Sri Yantra is the symbol of this
highest transcendent Reality. The quality of thethree cities is an aspect of OM Mantra, Gayatri
Mantra, and Mahamrityunjaya Mantra.

Guru Chakra: Beyond the first six chakras, between there and the Crown
Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra), many other chakras, levels, or layers of reality are
experienced. For the aspirant who is willing to do so, the Guru Chakra is used to
purify the mind and to bring down spiritual truths. "Gu" means darkness and "ru"
means light. Guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Guru is not
any person, although guru may operate through a person. Guru is actually the
higher knowledge itself.
Also known as Jnana Chakra: Guru Chakra is the doorway to that knowledge, to the wisdom
and guidance of the teacher within. The sixth chakra, at the eyebrow center, is called Ajna
Chakra, which includes "a" and "jna", which means the center without knowledge or
with little knowledge ("a" is without and "jna" isknowledge). Guru Chakra is experienced in the
forehead, and is also called JnanaChakra, or the center with knowledge. The knowledge of Ajna
is lower knowledge, while the knowledge of Jnana is higher knowledge.
Offering thoughts to the fire: The Yogi invites all of the thoughts and samskaras to arise in
the mind field of Ajna Chakra and offers them into the higher knowledge, the triangular shaped
fire of Guru or Jnana Chakra (Ajna and Guru Chakras are also
called drikuti and trikuti respectively). Like ice melting back into its form of water, the colorings
of attraction, aversion and fear fall away in the inner fire. It has also been likened to gold being
purified in a fire, whereby the dross burns away, allowing the gold to become purer. From that
process the pathway is cleared, and higher wisdom and teachings come down to the Ajna.
Eventually, awareness itself travels upward, receding through and beyond, to That which is the
final abode, the Absolute, the union of Shiva and Shakti.
Visualizing and inner realities: Initially, it may seem that this practice is only one of inner
visualization. It is actually a literal practice dealing with the energy levels of the colorings
(kleshas). Like all discussions of practice relating to energy, the energy itself might not be
experienced as such initially, though it will in time. In a sense, it really doesn't matter how you
conceptualize the practice; it is effective in any case.
Direct rather than indirect: Many methods help to balance, stabilize, and purify the mind,
though most of these are indirect. Working with the body and training the breath
have indirect effects on the mind, and this is very useful. The practice with Guru Chakra or
Jnana Chakra works directly with the impurities of mind, including the colorings (kleshas) of
attraction, aversion and fear. These aredirectly surrendered back into the field of higher
knowledge from which they arose. Utilizing this direct method of purifying the mind does not
negate the value of the indirect methods. Both are useful and work quite well together.
Exercise #6
Purifying the Mind through Guru Chakra: Mana-Prakshalanam is the purifying of the mind.
The highest form of this purifying process is todirectly allow the impurities of thought patterns
to revert back into the source from which they emerged. It is like purifying gold by burning
away the dross in the fire. Here, however, the fire is the inner fire of knowledge and the dross
is the colorings of attraction, aversion, and fear. In systematic Meditation, first be aware of
and relax the body, and then train the breath to be smooth and serene. Before Meditation in
the field of mind, do the practice with Guru Chakra so as to calm, stabilize and clear the
colorings. Then, move on to your regular Meditation.
• Body
• Breath
• Guru Chakra
• Meditation
The lengthy descriptions might make these exercises sound difficult or complex. They are not.
They are really quite simple and straightforward; it just takes understanding what to do, and
this comes by reading and experimenting. Then, the insights come.
First: Sit comfortably, with your head, neck and trunk aligned, with your eyes closed, as if
prepared for your regular Meditation.
Body: Be aware of the body, the whole body, as one, complete physical being. Explore the
body, as if you are really curious. Survey the head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers
and finger tips. Return up the arms to the shoulders, to the chest and the abdomen, slowly
moving attention at a comfortable rate. Be aware of the hips, thighs, knees, lower legs, feet,
toes, and the tips of the toes. Return back up the legs, through the abdomen, chest,
shoulders, arms, hands, fingers and finger tips. Then return up the arms to the neck, face and
head. Explore the whole body in this way, or some other way that is comfortable and familiar
(See the article on Relaxation).
Breath: Be aware of the breath at the diaphragm, establishing smooth, even, diaphragmatic
breathing, which is slow and has no gaps or pauses between breaths. Continue with your
regular breathing practices, such as mindfulness of breath along the spine, inhaling upwards
and exhaling downwards. (See the article on Breathing).
Guru Chakra / Jnana Chakra: Bring your attention to the forehead, as if aware of a
triangular size space. The base of the triangle is slightly (about 1/2 inch) above the space
immediately between the eyebrows (Ajna Chakra), and the peak of the triangle is above. Be
aware of the inner fire of Guru or Jnana, regardless of whether or not you can literally see it
there in the space.
People: Allow some one person to come to mind for whom there is some coloring, such as
anger or aversion. Allow the memory of the person to be there, but not turn into a mental
train of thinking, worrying, planning or scheming. It is just the memory, as if in pause on
a video player. It does not matter whether you can or cannot literally see the person in
your inner eye, nor does it matter if you can literally see the inner fire of pranic energy in
the triangle. Allow the impressions to go into the inner fire, as if the coloring will burn or
wash away, without destroying the memory itself. It is as if the coloring itself (attraction,
aversion, fear) is being removed. Hold the image or memory in that way for some time, in
the fire. Notice that the feelings related to the coloring gradually soften and attenuate.
More people: Repeat this again, allowing some different person to come to mind. Once
again, allow the memory to burn in the fire of Guru or Jnana, removing the attraction,
aversion or fear, gradually resulting in there being only a mere memory left, which is
uncolored. Continue this with whomever you wish, for as long as you wish (being mindful
to stay within your comfortable capacity).
Objects: Think of some object with which there is a coloring of attachment, aversion or
fear. Allow that object to go into the inner fire of Guru Chakra. As with people (above),
don't allow it to turn into a train of thoughts, but remain only the memory of the object
itself. Hold it in that way for some time, as the coloring starts to attenuate.
More objects: Repeat this again, with different objects coming into the mind field and
being put into the inner fire of Guru Chakra. Allow each object to remain in the fire, as it
gradually weakens its colorings of attraction, aversion or fear.
Opinions, attitudes, emotions: Similarly, allow individual opinions, attitudes and
emotions, which are negative or not useful to burn in the inner fire of Guru Chakra. The
practice is to allow the not-useful colorings of attachment, aversion and fear to weaken
and fall away (The practice is definitely not about suppression or repression of thoughts
and emotions in some way that would bring lethargy).
Finding stillness: After doing the practice for several minutes or longer, the mind will
gradually come to some degree of stillness. Ideally, it will be quite still, as Meditation now
comes quite easily and naturally. As with all practices, it may take some time to attain the
benefits. Gentle, loving and persistent practice is the key.
Meditation: After some time, when it feels comfortable, continue with your regular
Meditation, such as Meditation in the space between the breasts (Anahata Chakra) or the tiny
circle between the eyebrows (Ajna Chakra), being mindful of either the source of light, or the
source of sound, depending on your predisposition (or whatever is your regular method).
During your Meditation, if colored thoughts (attachment, aversion, fear) should arise,
do not return to the Guru Chakra. Just allow the thoughts to come and go, while staying
focused on your Meditation. With practice, the amount of time at Guru Chakra will be sufficient
that the rest of Meditation will be smooth and calm. It's better to take the weeks and months
to become comfortable with the timing at Guru Chakra than to go on too quickly with your
Meditation in a given Meditation session. If it is comfortable, meditate with full conviction that
you will encounter that mustard-seed-size point leading to Bindu, the doorway Beyond.
After Guru Chakra (Mana-Prakshalanam), do Meditation: After this phase of the practice
dealing with purifying the mind, it is time in the Meditation sequence to shift to pure one-
pointedness, completely leaving behind any of the images or impressions, which may have been
there during the Guru Chakra practice. Concentration and Meditation may become much deeper
now, as a result of this purifying practice. With this preparation, it is now more within reach to
truly clear the mind, so as to move towards experiencing deeper Meditation, as well as towards
the levels of samadhi or the fourth state, turiya.
Heart or eyebrow center; light or sound: If you don't have a particular method to follow,
you may find that after the Guru Chakra practice your mind is more willing to focus on either a
point in the inner cave of the spiritual heart (Anahata Chakra), a space experienced as being
about the size of the palm of your hand, or on a point within the tiny circle of the eyebrow
center (Ajna Chakra). While focusing on that small point, resting in the stillness, silence, and
darkness, you may find a predisposition to Meditation on either the source of light or the source
of sound, and this inclination is useful to honor and follow. Remember that the various practices
converge on the Bindu, and this will naturally incorporate your personal spiritual or religious
perspective.
Approaching the Bindu: From this quiet state, after the Guru Chakra practice, there may be
even a moment of transcending the active mind, leading towards or into the experience of
the Bindu itself, and that which is beyond the Bindu. This is not said to prescribe for you the
particular object on which you, personally should meditate. That may be different for different
people, who follow a variety of traditions or Meditation methods. However, the process of
purifying the mind with Guru Chakra, and then following this with your Meditation is valid for
virtually all practitioners of Meditation.
Meditation on Bindu: Recall that the discussion in this article started by acknowledging that
the Bindu is encountered in the later or advanced stages of Meditation. Meditation on Bindu is
not merely a visualization exercise whereby you imagine some mental object (though that may
be useful). To find the Bindu takes a great deal of effort and patience, after having purified the
mind. While it takes great effort, it also takes great surrender. In the inner field of the subtler
aspects of mind, a circle, space, pit, hole or tunnel will eventually be experienced (it doesn't
matter what you call it). Eventually, the Bindu is encountered beyond that. It is approximately
like the stories we hear from time to time of some person having a near-death-experience, and
seeing light at the end of a tunnel. The tunnel entrance is at the chakra, the tunnel is called
Brahma Nadi, and the point of light is Bindu (Recall that Bindu means point or dot, and has been
likened to amustard seed). Note that in the stories about seeing light at the end of a tunnel, the
witness has not yet gone up the tunnel, merged into the point, or transcended it. It can be a bit
frustrating to read about encountering the Bindu, but not be able to do it at this very moment.
Until it comes, it is common to sit there in the dark, not only not finding the Bindu, but not even
finding a circle or tunnel. Patience and practice are the keys, as exasperating at it may be.
Piercing the Bindu: At some point the Bindu is encountered and transcended. It is like entering
the circle or tunnel, traveling up the tunnel (Brahma Nadi), encountering and engaging
the point or Bindu, and then piercing the Bindu, so as to experience that beyond, which is That
out of which the Bindu and individuality originally emerged (In the Himalayan tradition, this
occurs through the process of grace called shaktipata). The precise process defies description,
but it can be described in approximate terms. The word that seems to best capture the nature of
piercing the Bindu is that it is like an explosion, as the mind and the sense of individuality and
time seem to be transcended. The word explosion is not used in a destructive sense, but only
an experiential sense. Another way of describing the piercing of Bindu is that it is
like crashing through walls in very rapid succession. This process may happen in stages over
time, like piercing a series of Bindus, or may be experienced at once, in rapid succession.
Finally, there is a merging of individuality, light and sound into its unified, undifferentiated
source, which was never really divided in the first place, but only appeared to be so. It is an
experience not of going into and out of Meditation, but one of going into andbursting through to
the other side. It leaves insights that are only somewhat captured by phrases like "All of this, is
that Absolute Reality (karvam khalvidam brahman)," "I am that Absolute Reality (aham
brahmasmi)" "I am that I am; I am That (sohamasmi; soham)."
Summary

Experiences collapse into the Bindu: There is a stage of Advanced
Meditation in which all experiences collapse, so to speak, into a point from
which all experiences arose in the first place. It is near the end of the mind
itself, after which one travels beyond or transcends the mind and its
contents. It is the doorway to the Absolute or Truth (by whatever name you
call it). The Bindu is an actual, directly experienced reality.
Bindu is the convergence: The Bindu, Mustard Seed, Dot and Point are widely used symbols.
The Bindu is the convergence point of the highest principles and practices of Raja Yoga as
codified in the Yoga Sutras, Advaita Vedanta as summarized in the Mandukya Upanishad, and
the highest Tantra, which is Samaya (Internal) Tantra and Sri Vidya.
Yoga: Meditation on OM Mantra is recommended in the Yoga Sutras (1.23-1.29) as a direct
means of removing the obstacles to Self-Realization and to that Realization itself. The Bindu at
the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the Absolute Reality, Purusha or Pure Consciousness that is
to be realized.
Vedanta: Contemplation on the four levels symbolized by OM Mantra is at the very heart of
Vedanta practice leading to Self-Realization, the pinnacle of which is outlined in the Mandukya
Upanishad. Here again, the Bindu at the top of the OM symbolizes Turiya, the Absolute Reality,
Purusha or Pure Consciousness that is to be realized.
Tantra: Meditation in Tantra is on the convergence of all energies, with the highest of those
inner practices being in Samaya Tantra and Sri Vidya, which is represented by the Sri Yantra.
The Bindu at the center of the Sri Yantra symbolizes the final union of Shiva and Shakti (the
static and active), the Absolute Reality that is to be realized.
Bindu allows practices to be seen as compatible: It is extremely useful to have a means of
holding in mind all of the many practices of the various aspects of Yoga and Meditation, as well
as of Contemplation, Prayer, and Mantra. By seeing that each of these leads towards the Bindu,
the different practices can be held as compatible and parallel with one another, rather than
contradictory or of uncertain relation.
Consciously, intentionally remember the Bindu: One of the most beautiful aspects of this
focus on Bindu is that all people can do this, whether or not you have absolutely or finally
decided on your own conceptions of the nature of yourself, your Self, the universe, God,
Absolute or Truth, etc. If you already have your own concepts, you can use your awareness of
the existence of Bindu as a guiding light. Or, if not, you can focus on the practices and processes
that areleading towards the Bindu, and then allow your own direct experience of whatever is
discovered beyond the Bindu to speak for itself. Both ways work quite well when remembering
that the practices along the way all converge on the point called Bindu, which leads to That
beyond.