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





Yoga Sutras 2.10-2.11: 
Dealing with Subtle
Impressions that Veil the Self
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.Now the subtle thoughts are dealt with: First, the mind was stabilized (1.19-1.22, 1.30-1.32, 1.33-1.39). Then, the gross colorings of the thoughts were attenuated (2.1-2.9). Now, the subtle colorings are dealt with, both in this section and subsequent sections of chapters 2 and 3.

Reducing colorings to mere potential: Once the gross coloring has been minimized through kriya yoga (2.1-2.2), and the intensity of the colorings have been attenuated (2.4), the thought patterns are brought back to the seed, or latent form by the process of meditation (2.11).

Eliminating those of mere potential: Once the colored (klishta/aklishta) thought patterns have been reduced to mere potential, or seed form, those seeds are eliminated when the mind itself temporarily recedes back into the consciousness from which it arose (2.10). This is likened to burning the seeds, and burnt seeds cannot grow.

What is the tool for doing this?: The actual tool of dealing with the subtle colorings is the eight rungs of Yoga (2.29), the purpose of which is discriminative knowledge (2.26, 2.28). The last three rungs form the subtle tool called samyama, which is used like a surgeon's knife to cut through the illusory false identities and colorings (3.4-3.6).

See also these articles: Each of these articles will add a complementary perspective on viewing and dealing with the coloring of the deep impressions of the mind:
Klishta and Aklishta Thoughts 
Witnessing Your Thoughts
Regulating Lifestyle and the Four Basic Urges
Training the Ten Senses or Indriyas
4 Levels and 3 Domains of Consciousness
The 5 Koshas or Sheaths


2.10 When the five types of colorings (kleshas) are in their subtle, merely potential form, they are then destroyed by their disappearance or cessation into and of the field of mind itself.
(te pratipasava heyah sukshmah)

  • te = these
  • pratipasava = involution, resolving back into the cause from which they arose
  • heyah = to be overcome, reduced, abandoned, destroyed, eliminated
  • sukshmah = subtle

Burning the seeds: Four stages of activity and attenuation were described in sutra 2.4. The subtlest of those four stages is when the deep impression (samskara) is in seed form. However, there is another step beyond the impression being a seed, which could re-grow under the right circumstances. That step is, metaphorically speaking, that the seed has been burned. A seed that has been singed can no longer grow, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of how much fertilizer and water is supplied. (See also the article on Karma and the sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts)

Resolving into the cause is like playing with clay: This sutra explains that the colorings (klishta) of thought patterns (2.3), and the mind itself are resolved back into the cause from which they arose. Imagine that you have a ball of clay from which you make a little statue of some animal. Then imagine that you roll the clay back into a ball, and that you then make a little cup from the clay. Finally, you roll the cup back into a ball of clay. When the animal and the cup are rolled back into a ball of clay, this is like the animal and the cup resolving back into their material cause. 

Thoughts and mind recede: The same thing happens with both individual thought patterns and the mind itself. When a memory arises, it plays around for a while, and then resolves itself back into the mind field from which it arose. Even the mind (manas) itself arises into an active form, and then settles back into the broader field of mind (chitta) from which it arose. This rising and falling happens everyday, as we move from waking to sleeping states of consciousness, usually without being fully conscious of the transitions. In the case of meditation, the difference is that this receding of mind is being done consciously, being fully aware of the transitions or receding process.

Like meeting a new person: Imagine that you meet some new person who has a very negative attitude that you find offensive. The memory of that person is stored in the basement of the mind (whether you think of that in terms of neurological storage in the brain or storage in the subtle mind beyond the physical brain). What is that memory made of? What is the stuff of which it is fabricated? Once again, whether you think of it as subtle mind or gross brain, the stuff of which the memory trace is formed was already there, before it took the shape or form of that person and the coloring of your aversion, somewhat like clay existing before you form it into a pot or a statue.

The coloring recedes back into the mind field: Now, imagine that through some process of actions in the world and meditation, you weaken the coloring of aversion. It is as if the mind goes back to its former state, prior to the imprinting of the memory. However, the difference is that you now have a mere memory, one that is devoid of the coloring. Previously, there was the memory and the coloring; now there is only memory. Where did the coloring go? It receded back into the mind stuff from which it was fabricated in the first place. 

When the mind itself recedes: What if, in addition to that, the mind itself (manas) receded back into the basement of the mind field (chitta) from which it arose. To understand the receding of the mind, it is important to first understand that the mind, as manas, is an instrument that has arisen or manifested out of the broader field of mind called chitta. The suggestion of this sutra is that, when the mind recedes in this way, the other colorings are also removed at the same time. If the mind is in this state, then it simply cannot experience any such colorings. The entire field of mind is stilled, at peace, non-existent, so to speak. It is from that stance that the deeper meditations are experienced.

The mind returns: When we speak of the dissolution of the mind, it does not mean that the mind (manas) has been permanently eliminated. From a practical standpoint, notice how difficult it is to meditate when the mind is noisy from many thought patterns. It is only when the noise subsides somewhat, and when concentration becomes very focused that meditation itself can come. Then, after that letting go and the focusing, the mind (manas), which is the instrument of thinking and operating the senses, can itself let go, subsiding back into chitta. This temporary receding of the mind has the effect of fully releasing any of the otherwise disturbing thought patterns in the mind. Afterwards, the mind returns to be able to handle the matters in the world by using the senses (indriyas).


2.11 When the modifications still have some potency of coloring (klishta), they are brought to the state of mere potential by meditation (dhyana).
(dhyana heyah tat vrittayah)

  • dhyana = meditation
  • heyah = to be overcome, reduced, abandoned, destroyed
  • tat = that
  • vrittayah = operations, activities, fluctuations, modifications, changes, or various forms of the mind-field

Bringing colored thoughts to mere potential: The previous sutra (2.10) described how the colored thought patterns, klishta vrittis (2.3), that have been reduced to merely potential or seed form are transcended by the temporary dissolution of the mind. Before that, in sutras 2.1-2.9, the means of weakening the gross level of colorings was described. Now, this current sutra describes the process of how those somewhat weakened klishta vrittis are further weakened into mere potential form by meditation.

The process works somewhat like this:

  1. Stabilize the mind (1.33-1.39)
  2. Weaken the gross colorings (2.1-2.9)
  3. Bring the colorings to seed form (2.11, the current sutra)
  4. Resolving the colorings back into the mind field (2.10, the previous sutra)

This sutra is a dividing line: The later sutras in this and the following chapters extensively describes this process of weakening the subtle colorings. In a sense, this sutra (and sutra 2.10) form a dividing line between the work with the gross levels of mind, and the subtler explorations. This is a very useful principle to be aware of, as it can greatly help one to grasp the overview of the Yoga Sutra. Take a look again at the Summary page from this perspective, and it will be clear how the forthcoming sutras are directed towards the weakening of the subtler klishta vrittis (2.3).


The next sutra is 2.12 

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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.