Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Yoga Sutras 4.9-4.12: 
Subconscious Impressions
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.Memory and predisposition are in alignment: Because the process of remembering (smriti) and underlying predispositions (samskaras) are in alignment, when the right opportunities arise, those two, once again, begin to play out in the actions in the external world. It is as if there was no break, no gap, although there was. You simply pick up where you left off. (4.9)

No beginning to the process predispositions: The will to live is the primordial out-flowing of the urge to manifest. This eternal process of cause and effect means that there is also no beginning to the process of deep habit patterns (samskaras) springing forth into thoughts and actions, and their subsequent creation of memories and impressions. (4.10)

Impressions leave when the chain leaves: Since the deep impressions or predispositions are held together by the chain of cause, motive, substratum, and object, they disappear when these four disappear. (4.11) Recall that this is the very foundation of Yoga, that when these deep impressions are mastered (1.2), the Seer or Self rests in its true nature (1.3).

Past and future are in the here and now: All of the characteristics, forms, memories, deep impressions, etc., exist in the here and now, whether in active or potential forms. The appearance of past and future comes from the condition, path, or order in which they are sequenced. (4.12)

See also the article:
Karma and the sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts

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4.9 Since memory (smriti) and the deep habit patterns (samskaras) are the same in appearance, there is an unbroken continuity in the playing out of those traits, even though there might be a gap in location, time, or state of life.
(jati desha kala vyavahitanam api anantaryam smriti samskarayoh eka rupatvat)

  • jati = type of existence, state of life, category of incarnation
  • desha = of locality, space, place
  • kala = of time, moment, point
  • vyavahitanam = being distinct, separated, in between, gap
  • api = even, although
  • anantaryam = uninterrupted sequence
  • smriti = of memory
  • samskarayoh = deep impressions, imprints in the unconscious, deepest habits, subliminal activators, traces
  • eka-rupatvat = because of their sameness, similarity (eka = one; rupatvat = formless)

Memory and predisposition are in alignment: Because the process of remembering (smriti) and the underlying predispositions (samskaras) are in alignment, when the right opportunities arise, those two, once again, begin to play out in the actions in the external world. It is as if there was no break, no gap, although there was. You simply pick up where you left off.

Feeling of doing something before: It is very common for people to have deja vu experiences, where it seems like something is familiar, some place, people, circumstance, or activity. One of the ways this can happen is this process of memory and samskara matching, and of continuity in the playing out of the actions (karmas). The circumstances might not literally be the same, but the process of unfolding karma is unbroken in the way described here, thus leading quite naturally to the feeling of familiarity.

After your vacation: Imagine that you are working on some project at your job, but that it is interrupted by a vacation of a few weeks. When you return to work, you pick up where you left off. Two things were there. First, you had memory (smriti) of what you were doing, and second, you had a driving force (samskara) in you to complete the project. Both of these were similar to one another. Although there was a gap in time (the vacation), the project went on when you returned, just as if you had not been away.

After an change in your current life: Similarly, imagine that you were working on some project, such as building a new house, but that your whole life situation changed. You moved away from that city, went somewhere else, and started over. When you started to build a new house in that new city, you once again picked up where you left off, though in a different location and circumstance, and at a later time. You had a memory of what you were doing, and a predisposition to do it, and both of these matched one another.

After an incarnation: Similarly, imagine that you were living out certain predispositions in your life and there were a gap not only of time and location, but also circumstances and life form or incarnation. In other words, imagine that you died and were reborn in a new body, at some future time, and in a different place. You would have memories, though possibly vague or unconscious, and you would have latent predispositions. You would have both of these, memories and predispositions, just like with the vacation, or the building of the house.

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4.10 There is no beginning to the process of these deep habit patterns (samskaras), due to the eternal nature of the will to live. 
(tasam anaditvam cha ashisah nityatvat)

  • tasam = for these
  • anaditvam = no beginning
  • cha = and
  • ashisah = will to live, desire for life
  • nityatvat = eternal, permanent, perpetual

No beginning to the process predispositions: The will to live is the primordial out-flowing of the urge to manifest. This eternal process of cause and effect means that there is also no beginning to the process of deep habit patterns (samskaras) springing forth into thoughts and actions, and their subsequent creation of memories and impressions (4.9). 

The cycling process of deep impressions, actions, consequences, and storage of memories is without beginning.

Self-realization is not from regression analysis: Therefore, the approach to Self-realization is other than tracing back our individual personality development in some linear regression of cause preceding effect. In some approaches of psychological examination this might be a valid method, but not in the case of seeking enlightenment. In spiritual matters, it ultimately provides little fruit to try to figure out how we got to our present circumstances. It is far better to seek the direct experience of the eternal core of our being (1.3), regardless of the nature of the wrappings of false identities (1.4). With the removal of obstacles, that realization naturally flows (4.3).

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4.11 Since the impressions (4.10) are held together by cause, motive, substratum, and object, they disappear when those deep impressions disappear.
(hetu phala ashraya alambana samgrihitatvat esam abhave tad abhavah)

  • hetu = cause
  • phala = motive
  • ashraya = substratum
  • alambana = object resting upon
  • samgrihitatvat = held together
  • esam = of these
  • abhave = on the disappearance of
  • tad = them
  • abhavah = disappearance

Four parts interact: All of our false identities, attractions, aversions, or fears exist along with an interplay of the process between four parts. These four hold together the deep impressions or samskaras described in the last two sutras (4.9, 4.10). When these four are dissolved, the samskaras also dissolve. The four parts holding together the samskaras are:

  • Cause: One thought leads to another. An action brings a consequence. The consequence gets stored in memory. It later gets triggered into more active thoughts and actions. On goes the cycle, over and over. This is the process of causation.
  • Motive: Another part of the process, whether you conceptualize this in subtle ways, or gross ways, such as brain neurons, is that actions, speech, and thoughts come from a motivating process. This is somewhat self-evident; we are all aware of this.
  • Substratum: In all of these cases, however you may specifically conceptualize it, there is the fact that every action, speech, or thought has some other root entity or process. Again, with a bit of reflection, this is also self evident.
  • Object: In all of these false identities, attractions, aversions, or fears there are also objects, always, whether they are subtle objects of the mind, or their related gross objects of the external world. They are there, and the interplay with cause, motive, and substratum.

What if the substratum were gone?: Most of the time, we are caught up in the soup of this concoction of cause, motive, substratum, and objects. However, what if the substratum of samskaras were not there? Then, what would happen to these? They would simply not be there for the perception of the yogi. 

Then the cycle is broken: What would then happen to those deep impressions, if the four part chain of cause, motive, substratum, and object were broken? Then, the deep impressions would also cease to be repeatedly reinforced, which is what usually happens in the cycle of actions, consequences, actions, consequences, etc..

Then comes Self-realization: When all of that is set aside (1.2), even for a short time, the true Self comes shining through (1.3).

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4.12 Past and future exist in the present reality, appearing to be different because of having different characteristics or forms.
(atita anagatam svarupatah asti adhva bhedat dharmanam)

  • atita = past
  • anagatam = future
  • svarupatah = in reality, in its own form
  • asti = exist
  • adhva = of the paths, conditions
  • bhedat = being a difference
  • dharmanam = characteristics, forms

Past and future are in the here and now: All of the characteristics, forms, memories, deep impressions, etc., exist in the here and now, whether in active or potential forms. The appearance of past and future comes from the condition, path, or order in which they are sequenced. 

Arranging your photo album: Imagine that you have a huge box of photographs of people in a small community or extended family. Imagine that there are also photographs of numerous places. Now, imagine that you arranged all of these in a photo album, along with written captions. The way you arranged the photo album, and the words you chose for the captions would determine the nature of the past, as well as of the future. It is all a matter of arranging the here and now photo album. This is the way the mind sorts its memories and projects its perception of the future. To experience the absolute reality, Self, or center of consciousness, is to break the chain of identity with the whole process of photo album building.

 

The next sutra is 4.13 

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