viparyayo mithyā-jñānam a-tad-rūpa-pratiṣṭham
- Misconception is false knowledge based on seeing something not as its true form. -CT
- Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form. – SS
- Error is false knowledge stemming from the incorrect apprehension of something. – EBF
a-tad-rūpa-pratiṣṭha— not based on the actual form of its object
Patanjali speaks of when we make a mental error. Errors here are misperceptions based on false or incomplete knowledge. This can be as simple as not having all of the information about something or someone. Error can also be when we do not see clearly because of the veil or coloring of our own citta. When left unrefined these errors in our perception can become delusions.
Mental error can lead to mistaking our own identity. We may feel like we are not as special as we actually are. We may limit our own potential by defining ourselves incorrectly. We may make our selves feel small. We can convince ourselves that we are not capable or worth. On another note, we may feel like we are more unique or more important than others. We may create a mental separation between ourselves and Prakṛti or Puruṣa, which is the ultimate cause for suffering.
Mental error can lead to making false assumptions about other people or reality. We may not give individuals the honor of seeing them as their self. We may speculate we know how others feel, what they are experiencing, or who they are truly are.
Mental error left unanalyzed can lead to egoism, preferences, aversions, and fears that affect how we interact with the world.
The Guṇa-s are the foundation for evolution in Sāṃkhya the cosmology that Patanjali’s philosophy is based upon. Guna means attribute or characteristic. The Guṇa-s are the qualities that make up all of Prakṛti. Everything is made up of three qualities; Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas Guṇa in different proportions. Tamas is the grossest and densest of the Guṇa-s. Tamas is matter, the five gross elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth) and the subtle elements ( sound, touch, form, taste, and smell) are of the tamas guna. Rajas is the energy of activity and transformation. Sattva is the quality of balance in the other Guṇa-s, it is light, intelligence, and wisdom. The outer mind, intellect, sense organs and motor organs are of Sattva.
The Guṇa-s relate to qualities of the manifest world and of the Citta. Our physical body is Tamasic, our energetic body Rajasic, and our spirit Sattvic.
When analyzing our mental activity we can sort them by determining their qualities. Sattvic thoughts are balanced and helpful. Rajas and Tamas thoughts harmful. Harmful thoughts are to be worked with, with the intention of loosening our mental grip on them and eventually replacing them with more brilliant ones. Tamas and Rajas can counteract one another, and in this way are used to balance our mental activity. If we find that we are stuck the fire of rajas can get us moving in new directions. On the other hand, if we are filled with anxiety we can embrace the earthiness of Tamas to help us relax into our being.
Watch for changes in the Pranayama/Meditation Section of Practice!
Guide me to that which is in my highest good. Help me to distinguish what nourishes my soul and what deteriorates my being. Lead me down the path of wisdom so that I may show up fully in each moment. Let my study be enlightening and fruitful. Allow my practice to benefit all beings. – Namaste
- Take a comfortable seat, one that feels both regal and relaxed.
- Turn your attention to your breath, closing your mouth inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
- Start to restrict the throat so that you feel the breath from the throat to the heart, and it makes and oceanic sound.
- Start to lengthen both the inhale and exhale so that they are balanced.
- Feel the sensation of the body expanding in all directions during the inhalation and the contracting sensation during the exhalation.
- Continue for 5 minutes, then allow the breath to return to normal.
- Allowing the body to breath, sit for 5 minutes and watch your thoughts. Make no effort to control your mind. Make no evaluation about your thoughts. Be kind to yourself! Do not identify with whatever happens.
- Reflect on the nature of your thoughts. Do any of my thoughts have the potential to be errors?
I feel like this sutra really points to our expectations in life. We think things should be a certain way and when they are not we are disturbed.
When our mind is limited, by the identification with the manifest world, we don’t have the potential to change or control everything in our experience. We are in the grips of cause and effect, karma. Karma doesn’t make a mistake, so what is experienced is exactly what we should be experiencing based on this universal law.
Making peace, surrendering to what is, seeing what is as what should be, is vital to releasing our need for control. Integrating this into our perspective gives us the opportunity to relax.
I use this constantly in my own life. When I think things are not as they should be I remind myself that things are always as they should be. Maybe not as I want them to be, but as they should be. For example, if I see trauma in the world, my natural inclination is to say it shouldn’t be, the world should be a loving and safe place. However, the world is not always “a loving and safe place” and by knowing this sutra I can see the state of the world as exactly as it should be. How do I know it should be? Because it is.
We can not change the present moment, it has already been put into motion through past action. Our power comes from how we choose to engage the moment, which determines what we will experience in the future. Our future experience is what we can control. This doesn’t mean that we lay down and say all is for not, it means that we do the hard work to change the future. We see the potential that we have. We see the power that we have. We see that the state of our experience is our responsibility and we get to it, doing the hard work of purifying our own inner landscape so that we project a more loving piece of the puzzle out into the future world of experience.
- What types of assumptions do I make about myself that could be errors?
- What types of assumptions do I make about others that could be errors?
- Can I easily admit when I am wrong?
- Can I easily let go of things?
- What expectations do I have that are not based in reality.
What does this remind me of? Other stories, scriptures, or teachings.