Yogic Theory The Enlightened Mind

Chapter 22 contained the description, summarized in Fig. 22.1, of the pre- or un-enlightened mind. At that extreme, mental activity is dominated by the cravings and conditioned belief systems. These influence and distort the more anterior processes—planful thinking, creativity, and speech. Still deeper psychological processes, those of Purusha, are non-functional. There is no witnessing, reflecting on or transforming any of the mental activities. In the unenlightened mind these mental activities proceed uninspected and unquestioned.

Chapters 23 and 24 presented the methods of change, the eight angas. The first two angas, the Yamas and Niyamas, foster the development of a new set of attitudes. The other angas, the asanas, pranic practices, and meditation, help one attain to deeper levels of immersion. According to yogic theory, these various methods serve to calm and clear the mind, and to realize the complex of activities that we refer to as Purusha. These effects, which characterize the enlightened mind, are illustrated in Fig. 25.1.

As with Fig. 22.1, information is shown coming in from the left. It impacts now on a very different configuration. First, the passions (A through D) are drastically reduced although not necessarily eliminated. They are reduced to the point where they no longer determine either inner pain, the mind's interpretations, or action. They nevertheless remain available for the mind's use.


Yamas Niyamas

Yamas Niyamas

FIG. 25.1 The yogic conception of mind after it is enlightened. The passions (A through D) and conditioned beliefs are diminished, and are replaced by the Yamas and Niyamas. The anterior processes of Purusha are functional.

This is a subtle but impor-tant point. For example, in Part IV on anger, it is suggested that anger can have positive funictions, so that anger may occur, but appropriately, with mindfulness. Similarly, we may feel grief at the loss of a loved one. The grief is genuine, but there is always a sense, deriving from that deep anterior place, of its appropriateness. Or consider ego needs. Partly out of a desire for fame a scientist may decide to devote his life to finding a cure for cancer. In such a case, the energy produced by that desire is well-directed. It functions in the service of a noble motive. The ego-needs, thus, can be useful. They are not so strong, however, that they overwhelm the attitude of truthfulness. In the interests of attaining fame the researcher does not plagiarize or distort the data. So, the passions are not lost although they are radically diminished. As I like to say: The passions no longer run the mind; the mind, instead, runs them.

The new attitudes, the Yamas and Niyamas, are now in place. It is primarily these, now, that receive the information and interpret it. These attitudes replace not only the energy of the passions but the older belief systems as well. These older systems (beliefs, attitudes, values, and so forth) have also been searched out, assessed and, for the most part, eliminated. The new attitudes predominate. These are reviewed in the Yama and Niyama columns of Fig. 25.1.

Earlier beliefs may be maintained but with important differences from the unenlightened state. First, the beliefs have been inspected and, so to speak, selected. In contrast to your previous automatic, unthinking acceptance of these beliefs, you now feel that you have chosen to maintain them. Thus, you may decide to stay with the religion of y our childhood. However, it would be with a better sense of its contribution to your life, and with a better understanding of its place in the community of world religions. Any arrogance ("My church is the only true church") would be gone. To take another example, you might choose to continue with patriotic beliefs. That is, you may appreciate the benefits of your country and work hard to improve the workings of your community and of your government. But again, arrogance, chauvinism, jingoism is gone. The beliefs that you choose to maintain are shown as the few small spirals in Fig. 25.1.

Except for these remaining few, the mind is clear. It is also calmed; it is no longer restless. Speech, creativity, and planful thoughts predominate. Also, the processes of Purusha are now linked to the rest of the mind. The full mind now sees and monitors itself, contemplates itself, and when necessary, changes itself. The essential self is revealed. The paradox of the (essential) self transforming the self has become a reality.


1. In our quest for enlightenment we may give up our older conditioned values, our ingrained sense of right and wrong actions. Give an example, either from your own life or from the newspapers or from a film, where these unquestioned values produced unnecessary suffering. If we have given up these conditioned values how do we now know what are right and wrong actions? Try to spell out the new values.

2. While anger is certainly among the agitations and cravings to be diminished, the suggestion was made that anger might have certain advantages. What in your experience are the advantages?

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