Yoga is the stoppage the mind from making modifications.
yogah = Yoga
chitta = mind stuff, thought
vritti = ripples, modifications
nirodhah = to stop
When a stone is dropped in the water, it makes ripples in the outer surface. Likewise, through the sensory organs, an input is fed, a series of thought waves are generated one after another. These thought waves are the cause of actions. Based on the pattern of the thought waves, reactions come. The sum total of reactions are the character that creates one's destiny. The destiny puts one into the ocean of Samsara, the cycle of birth and death. To escape from this vicious cycle, stopping of the thought wave is the only solution. This is yoga. Yoga is defined here as the stoppage of mind making modifications.
Commentary by Sage Vyasha
Yoga is the suppression of the functions of the internal organ
Yoga is Samadhi which pertains to the internal organ, the mind stuff. The stages of the internal organ are
Ekagra: single pointed
Nirudha: completely stopped functioning
Samadhi in the first three stages is not treated as yoga. Samadhi in the fourth stage with single pointed mind stuff with true and agreeable object destroying the troubles, loosening the bonds of action and bringing yogi face to face with proper control is called Samprajnata Samadhi (conscious yoga where yogi is conscious of self, joy, deliberation and argumentation). In the fifth stage, the cessation of all mind stuff constitutes the Asampajnata Samadhi or unconscious yoga.
The Internal organ is made up of three attributes: Sattva (Good, constructive and harmonious), Rajas (active, passionate and confused) and Tamas (lethargic, destructive and chaotic). Sattva when intermixed with Rajas and Tamas, tends to be attached to the power and the objects of sensory organs. When mixed up with Tamas, tends towards sins, ignorance and attachment. When mixed with Rajas, tends towards virtue, knowledge, dispassion and power. The same sattva when going beyond Rajas, shining in its own form tends towards the contemplation and discriminate knowledge of matter and spirit. It is the supreme meditation recognized by the yogis.
The discriminate knowledge is modifiable, mobile, non-intelligent, finite and impure whereas the intellectual mind stuff is fixed, immobile, intelligent, infinite and pure. For this reason, the intellectual mind stuff suppresses the discriminate knowledge. It centres in the residuum known as Sanskara. It is the asamprajnata samadhi or seedless mediation. Nothing is cognised in this state, it is the abstract or unconscious meditation. There is a complete absence of objects. It is the true nature of Purusha.
Commentary by Swami Vivekananda
Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrttis)
A good deal of explanation is necessary here. We have to understand what Chitta is, and what are these Vrttis. I have this eye. Eyes do not see. Take away the brain centre which is in the head, the eyes will still be there, the retinæ complete, and also the picture, and yet the eyes will not see. So the eyes are only a secondary instrument, not the organ of vision. The organ of vision is in the nerve centre of the brain. The two eyes will not be sufficient alone. Sometimes a man is asleep with his eyes open. The light is there and the picture is there, but a third thing is necessary; the mind must be joined to the organ. The eye is the external instrument, we need also the brain centre and the agency of the mind. Carriages roll down a street and you do not hear them. Why? Because your mind has not attached itself to the organ of hearing. First, there is the instrument, then there is the organ, and third, the mind attachment to these two. The mind takes the impression farther in and presents it to the determinative faculty—Buddhi—which reacts. Along with this reaction flashes the idea of egoism. Then this mixture of action and reaction is presented to the Purusa, the real Soul, who perceives an object in this mixture. The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the determinative faculty (Buddhi) and egoism (Ahamkara), form the group called the Antahkarana (the internal instrument). They are but various processes in the mind-stuff called Chitta. The waves of thought in the Chitta are called Vrtti (“the whirlpool” is the literal translation). What is thought? Thought is a force, as is gravitation or repulsion. It is absorbed from the infinite storehouse of force in nature; the instrument called Chitta takes hold of that force, and, when it passes out at the other end it is called thought. This force is supplied to us through food, and out of that food, the body obtains the power of motion, etc. Others, the finer forces, it throws out in what we call thought. Naturally, we see that the mind is not intelligent, yet it appears to be intelligent. Why? Because the intelligent soul is behind it. You are the only sentient being; the mind is only the instrument through which you catch the external world. Take this book; as a book, it does not exist outside, what exists outside is unknown and unknowable. It is the suggestion that gives a blow to the mind, and the mind gives out the reaction. If a stone is thrown into the water the water is thrown against it in the form of waves. The real universe is the occasion of the reaction of the mind. A book form, or an elephant form, or a man form, is not outside; all that we know is our mental reaction from the outer suggestion. Matter is the “permanent possibility of sensation,” said John Stuart Mill. It is only the suggestion that is outside. Take an oyster for example. You know how pearls are made. A grain of sand or something gets inside and begins to irritate it, and the oyster throws a sort of enamelling around the sand, and this makes the pearl. This whole universe is our own enamel, so to say, and the real universe is the grain of sand. The ordinary man will never understand it, because, when he tries to, he throws out an enamel, and sees only his own enamel. Now we understand what is meant by these Vrttis. The real man is behind the mind, and the mind is the instrument in his hands, and it is his intelligence that is percolating through it. It is only when you stand behind it that it becomes intelligent. When man gives it up it falls to pieces and is nothing. So you understand what is meant by Chitta. It is the mind-stuff, and Vrttis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These Vrttis are our
The bottom of the lake we cannot see because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible when the rippled have subsided, and the water is calm, for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom. If the water is muddy, the bottom will not be seen; if the water is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If the water is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Chitta, and the waves are the Vrttis. Again, this mind is in three states; one is darkness, which is called Tamas, just as in brutes and idiots; it only acts to injure others. No other idea comes into that state of mind. Then there is the active state of mind, Rajas, whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. “I will be powerful and rule others.” Then, at last, when the waves cease, and the water of the lake becomes clear, there is the state called Sattva, serenity, calmness. It is not inactive, but rather intensely active. It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm. It is easy to be active. Let the reins go, and the horses will drag you down. Anyone can do that, but he who can stop the plunging horses is the strong man. Which requires the greater strength, letting go, or restraining? The calm man is not the man who is dull. You must not mistake Sattva for dullness, or laziness. The calm man is the one who has the restraint of these waves. Activity is the manifestation of the lower strength, calmness of the superior strength.
This Chitta is always trying to get back to its natural pure state, but the organs draw it out. To restrain it, and to check this outward tendency, and to start it on the return journey to that essence of intelligence is the first step in Yoga, because only in this way can the Chitta get into its proper course.
Although this Chitta is in every animal, from the lowest to the highest, it is only in the human form that we find intellect, and until the mind-stuff can take the form of intellect it is not possible for it to return through all these steps, and liberate the soul. Immediate salvation is impossible for the cow and the dog, although they have mind, because their Chitta cannot as yet take that form which we call intellect.
Chitta manifests itself in all these different forms - scattering, darkening, weakening, and concentrating. These are the four states in which the mind-stuff manifests itself. First, a scattered form is activity. Its tendency is to manifest in the form of pleasure or of pain. Then the dull form is darkness, the only tendency of which is to injure others. The commentator says the first form is natural to the Devas, the angels, and the second is the demoniacal form. The Ekagra the concentrated form of the Chitta, is what brings us to Samadhi.
Commentary by Sri Osho
YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND
I told you that Patanjali is just mathematical. In a single sentence, NOW THE DISCIPLINE OF YOGA, he is finished with you. This is the only sentence that has been used for you. Now he takes it for granted that you are interested in yoga, not as a hope, but as a discipline, as a transformation right here and now. He proceeds to define:
YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.
This is the definition of yoga, the best. In many ways yoga has been defined; there are many definitions. Some say yoga is the meeting of the mind with the divine; hence, it is called yoga – yoga means meeting, joining together. Some say that yoga means dropping the ego: ego is the barrier; the moment you drop the ego you are joined to the divine. You were already joined, only because of theego it appeared that you were disjoined. And there are many, but Patanjali’s is the
most scientific. He says,
YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.
Yoga is the state of no-mind. The word ”mind” covers all – your egos, your desires, your hopes, your philosophies, your religions, your scriptures. ”Mind” covers all. Whatsoever you can think is mind. All that is known, all that can be known, all that is knowable, is within mind. Cessation of the mind means cessation of the known, cessation of the knowable. It is a jump into the unknown. When there is no mind, you are in the unknown. Yoga is a jump into the unknown. It will not be right to say ”unknown”; rather, ”unknowable”.
What is the mind? What the mind is doing there? What it is? Ordinarily, we think that mind is something substantial there inside the head. Patanjali doesn’t agree – and no one who has ever known the insides of the mind will agree. Modern science also doesn’t agree. Mind is not something substantial inside the head. Mind is just a function, just an activity.
You walk and I say you are walking. What is walking? If you stop, where is walking? If you sit down, where the walking has gone? Walking is nothing substantial; it is an activity. So while you are sitting, no one can ask, ”Where you have put your walking? Just now you were walking, so where the walking has gone?” You will laugh. You will say, ”Walking is not something substantial, it is just an activity. I can walk. I can again walk and I can stop. It is activity.”
Mind is also activity, but because of the word ”mind”, it appears as if something substantial is there. It is better to call it ”minding” – just like ”walking”. Mind means ”minding”, mind means thinking. It is an activity.”
I have been quoting again and again Bodhidharma.
He went to China, and the emperor of China went to see him. And the emperor said, ”My mind is very uneasy, very disturbed. You are a great sage, and I have been waiting for you. Tell me what I should do to put my mind at peace.”
Bodhidharma said, ”You don’t do anything. First you bring your mind to me.” The emperor could not follow he said, ”What do you mean?” He said, ”Come in the morning at four o’clock when nobody is there. Come alone, and remember to bring your mind with you.”
The emperor couldn’t sleep the whole night. Many times he cancelled the whole idea: ”This man seems to be mad. What does he mean, ’Come with your mind; don’t forget?’” The man was so enchanting, so charismatic that he couldn’t cancel the appointment. As if a magnet was pulling him, at four o’clock he jumped out of the bed and said, ”Whatsoever happens, I must go. This man may have something; his eyes say that he has something. Looks a little crazy, but still I must go and see what can happen.”
So he reached, and Bodhidharma was sitting with his big staff. He said, ”So you have come? Where is your mind? Have you brought it or not?”
The emperor said, ”You talk nonsense. When I am here my mind is here, and it is not something which I can forget somewhere. It is in me.” So Bodhidharma said, ”Okay. So the first thing is decided – that the mind is within you.” The emperor said, ”Okay, the mind is within me.” Bodhidharma said, ”Now close your eyes and find out where it is. And if you can find out where it is, immediately indicate to me. I will put it at peace.”
So the emperor closed his eyes, tried and tried, looked and looked. The more he looked, the more he became aware there is no mind, mind is an activity. It is not something there so you can pinpoint it. But the moment he realized that it is not something, then the absurdity of his quest became exposed to himself. If it is not something, nothing can be done about it. If it is an activity, then don’t do the activity; that’s all. If it is like walking, don’t walk.
He opened his eyes. He bowed down to Bodhidharma and said, ”There is no mind to be found.” Bodhidharma said, ”Then I have put it at peace. And whenever you feel that you are uneasy, just look within, where that uneasiness is.” The very look is anti-mind, because look is not a thinking. And if you look intensely your whole energy becomes a look, and the same energy becomes movement and thinking.
YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.
This is Patanjali’s definition. When there is no mind, you are in yoga; when there is mind you are not in yoga. So you may do all the postures, but if the mind goes on functioning, if you go on thinking, you are not in yoga. Yoga is the state of no-mind. If you can be without the mind without doing any posture, you have become a perfect yogi. It has happened to many without doing any postures, and it has not happened to many who have been doing postures for many lives.
Because the basic thing to be understood is: when the activity of thinking is not there, you are there; when the activity of the mind is not there, when thoughts have disappeared, they are just like clouds, when they have disappeared, your being, just like the sky, is uncovered. It is always there – only covered with the clouds, covered with thoughts.
YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.
In the West now, there is much appeal for Zen – a Japanese method of yoga. The word ”zen” comes from dhyana. Bodhidharma introduced this word dhyana in China. In China the word dhyana became jhan and then chan and then the word traveled to Japan and became zen. The root is dhyana. Dhyana means no-mind, so the whole training of Zen in Japan is of nothing but how to stop minding, how to be a no-mind, how to be simply without thinking. Try it! When I say try it, it will look contradictory, because there is no other way to say it. Because if you try, the very try, the effort is coming from the mind. You can sit in a posture and you can try some japa chanting, mantra – or you can just try to sit silently, not to think. But then not to think becomes a thinking. Then you go on saying, ”I am not to think; don’t think; stop thinking,” but this is all thinking.
Try to understand. When Patanjali says, no-mind, cessation of mind, he means complete cessation. He will not allow you to make a japa, ”Ram-Ram-Ram.” He will say that this is not cessation; you are using the mind. He will say, ”Simply stop!” but you will ask, ”How? How to simply stop?” The mind continues. Even if you sit, the mind continues. Even if you don’t do, it goes on doing.
Patanjali says just look. Let mind go, let mind do whatsoever it is doing. You just look. You don’t interfere. You just be a witness, you just be an onlooker not concerned, as if the mind doesn’t belong to you, as if it is not your business, not your concern. Don’t be concerned! Just look and let the mind flow. It is flowing because of past momentum, because you have always helped it to flow. The activity has taken its own momentum, so it is flowing. You just don’t cooperate Look, and let the mind flow.
For many, many lives, a million lives maybe, you have cooperated with it, you have helped it, you have given your energy to it. The river will flow awhile. If you don’t cooperate, if you just look unconcerned – Buddha’s word is indifference, upeksha: looking without any concern, just looking, not doing anything in any way – the mind will flow for a while and it will stop by itself When the momentum is lost, when the energy has flowed, the mind will stop. When the mind stops, you are in yoga: you have attained the discipline. This is the definition: YOGA IS THE CESSATION OF MIND.