SUTRA 1.7: PRATYAKSANUMANAGAMAH PRAMANANI

TRANSLATION: THE SOURCES OF RIGHT KNOWLEDGE ARE: DIRECT PERCEPTION, INFERENCE, AND SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONY.

Bringing peace to your mind is a little like spring cleaning. You get to a point where you know it’s time to downsize and get rid of some junk that you don’t need. But, you don’t just throw out or give away every single thing you own all at once. That would be traumatic! Ah! First, you begin to organize all your possessions into groups to determine what absolutely MUST go (the pink and yellow duck sweater from when I was 5… really scratchy, smells like moth balls…), what maybe can go (my ice-skates… I live in LA now..?), and what you are absolutely not ready to part with (my senior prom dress… even though it soooo doesn’t fit… and my BFF might have puked on it…). You start by tossing out the articles and objects that you are emotionally attached to the least. Once you have done some sorting and organizing, you stuff as much junk as you can handle into trash bags and haul it over to good will. Although you haven’t gotten rid of everything, you still feel a huge sense of relief, sigh… Most likely your next thought is: Wow! I have so much space, now I can buy more stuff!! Haha, that’s kinda not the idea we are going for here 🙂 We all know there is freedom in letting go of stuff, whatever that stuff might be. Sometimes we cling so desperately to our, forgive me,…. crap (whether personal items, or thoughts) that we are completely paralyzed and can’t move forward in our lives. When clearing out the vrttis of the mind, we don’t have to throw out everything all at once. We can start by relieving ourselves of the clutter that is most obviously in our way and causing pain to ourselves AND/ OR others.

One of the vrttis that Patanjali speaks of is: right knowledge, which can be attained through direct perception, inference, or scriptural testimony. Direct perception means that you decide something is true because you witness it firsthand, you see it. For example, I am watching you eat ice cream, thus I know you are eating ice cream. Inference means that you decide something based on something else, because of the way the world usually functions. For example, you see a rainbow, so you infer it has just rained. You see smoke, so you infer there is a fire. You haven’t actually seen rain or fire, but you assume your inference to be true and accurate based on your experiences in the world to date. And lastly, we come to scriptural testimony. This means that you believe something to be true, because you read it in one of the ancient scriptures and you trust the word of the saint/ sage/ or prophet who wrote it. Patanjali believes that any spiritual practice should be rooted in the ancient scripture of your choice. How modern! He believes that all ancients texts have a similar foundation and underlying truth, but merely present the facts in a different way. The truth is always true no matter what form it takes. Patanjali doesn’t really tell us the order in which we should detox our minds. But, I’d say that direct perception might not be the first to go…  What do you think and why?

March 21, 2010. yoga.

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