– Ravi Singh Choudhary
The fundamental difference between western psychology and yoga is that mind coupled with senses are the only instruments of experiencing the world and not something beyond. In Indian tradition of darshans, we blame mind only for not knowing the world as it is. We do not consider it as a true instrument to get the knowledge. As this lens has lots of distortions and disturbances.
Human is often described as mind-body complex. While body can be anatomically defined but defining mind seems more complicated and often lack satisfactory definitions. When it comes to yoga epistemology; The mind is viewed as consisting these components: manas, ahamkara, citta, buddhi, atman.
Manas is the part of mind which collects sense impressions. Its perceptions shift from moment to moment. This mind obtains its inputs from the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell. Without engaging mind with the senses, one will not get the experience received by the senses. E.g. someone was calling your name, but your focus (mind) was somewhere so you missed contemplating the sound.
Ahamkara is the sense of I-ness & ownership that associates some perceptions to a subjective and personal experience. Once sensory impressions have been related to I-ness by ahamkara, their evaluation and resulting decisions are arrived at by buddhi, the intellect.
Citta, which is literally memory bank of the mind. These memories(Smriti) + Past impressions (Samskars) constitute the foundation on which the rest of the mind operates. Our actions, desires, and expectations have roots in the Citta.
This Manas + buddhi + ahamkar + citta complex surrounds the innermost aspect of consciousness which is called atman. Although Manas, buddhi, ahamkar, citta can be absorbed in modern psychology. The atman will not be appreciated by any field of science. All our scientific explorations and whatever material well-being we wanted were fulfilled without even considering the meaning of true self (beyond body-mind complex).
Even artificial intelligence is not very much interested in consciousness, the way Indian Darshan Shastra, Upnishads are defining.
The chariot analogy in Katha Upnishad aptly defines how our mind functions. The Chariot is the body and horses are the senses. The reins, the driving instrument, symbolize the manas, the charioteer is the buddhi (intelligence), and the passenger is the atman. Now it appears as if horses (senses) or the charioteer is the cause for the moving chariot. For the wise, it is the passenger(atman) sitting is cause for the moving chariot.
In Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Citta is also encapsulating Manas apart from memory bank having smritis(memory) and Samskaras(Past impressions). So if yoga is to be defined precisely, it is the complete cessation of Disturbances and noises of Citta. Surprisingly, one of the disturbances of Citta is Pramaan i.e. valid means of knowledge. So even perception(Pratyaksh), inference(Anumaan) & testimony(Agama) are hindrance towards getting knowledge about true self(atman). Without realisation of atman, one cannot be called scientific explorer of the Universe e.g. Rishis.
So in today’s world to develop our capabilities, we focus more on improving our Pramaanas. Inventing Electron microscope or More powerful telescopes, we are focusing more on developing our capabilities of Perception (Pratyaksh). By using logical deductions through calculus, using graphs, data science or even machine learning we are improving our inference(Anumaan) capabilities. Through peer reviewed journals and more citations we develop testimonies. Although testimony here is used in sense of shastra pramaan. Shastra i.e. scriptures testified, verified through visualisations(darshan) by the rishis. That’s why Darshan Shastra are not just philosophies.
In yoga, although we have started with these three valid means of knowledge but at later stages, we are completely stopping the use of perception, inference & even testimonies as these cannot lead us to our true potential to get the knowledge. So logic, reasoning are losing their sense because it comes under the barriers of language. In Mundak Upnishad this is called apara vidya (limited knowledge).
Para vidya (Higher knowledge) will come through not using the senses or the cognitive skillset that we learnt through our distorted life experiences.
Our civilizational explorers were more interested in observational & experiential capabilities that can be enhanced only by stopping using our senses and realisation of atman(true self). While scientific communities of today’s world are more interested in refining the sensory perceptions and testimonies thus understanding the world in reductionist approach; considering world is made up of matter and fundamental particles.
Recalling the chariot example; Consciousness(passenger) influences senses. Now senses are the jada(material nature) and atman(true self) is of conscious nature. So is it possible consciousness influences other types jada i.e. matter.
sthūla svarūpasūkṣma anvayārtha vattvasaṃyamādbhūtajayaḥ .. 3.45
Without going into too much details. Above shloka mentions about Bhoot Jaya (mastery over matter).
What can be inferred by shloka. Increasing our awareness level, we can heal our body. Through meditation we can change the soil properties e.g. Shivyog cosmic farming. This farming technique is being practised in India. Our todays modern Science is based on causation theory which takes assumption of existence of matter only. No soul, spirit or atman. But many of the phenomenon is not explained by current branches of science. It appears mystical. You want to observe the world, first clean the lens. Don’t just rely on senses. Search for Who am I? Getting Pragya (Intuition, Intellect beyond conventional logic & reasoning) should be the first priority for any field expert.