Understanding of modifications of the mind

For those intellects out there, this is a sutra for you from Patanjali, the great sage of yoga.

In the 6th Sutra, he states that “Right knowledge, wrong knowledge, imagination, sleep and memory – these are the 5 modifications of the mind which may lead to suffering or joy, anguish or non-anguish.”

The revelation is right knowledge can lead to suffering or joy! Even though it is right knowledge, it is still a modification of your mind which is bondage. The mind leads you to bondage or freedom, you mind can make anything out of anything. Any situation can be experienced in any way. The mind can enjoy a certain happening or suffer due to it. It can experience joy or suffering in the same situation, it can comprehend pleasure or pain in the same situation, it can make you experience anything out of anything! That is the power of the mind.

Have you seen people creating guilt out of right knowledge? With the right knowledge, when you misunderstand it and apply it in the wrong way or when you misuse it, you can create agony, guilt and doubt inside you and other people. In the hands of wrong people, even the right knowledge can create suffering!

Next, all of us know that wrong knowledge can also lead us to suffering or joy. This is because wrong knowledge comes from our emotions, mood swings which are nothing but the function of liver and hormones. Do you notice how your mood changes during morning, at noon and at night? Your thought patterns and moods are all based on your liver function which is wrong knowledge. Another example, when you are hungry, your idea about food is very different, after you finish your meal, suddenly your idea about food is different. This also applies to lust: when you want the experience, your idea about the other person, your idea about beauty, your idea about the act, everything is different. When you are finished with the act, suddenly everything is different! Hence, Patanjali says any knowledge based on your senses, your hormones which changes from time to time, is wrong knowledge. That’s why Paramahamsa Nithyananda (fondly known as Swamiji) who is a living incarnation, emphasized that during the hormonal hijack, one should never make any important life decision.

You may ask – How can wrong knowledge create joy? According to Swamiji, wrong knowledge can lead one to joy for only a short period, but it is not permanent joy. It is joy that leads to bondage, to more suffering. So even if it gives you temporary joy, wrong knowledge is still wrong knowledge.

There are only 2 things your mind can do – it can either continuously condition you or it can continuously liberate you. Your imagination can either go this way or that way, it cannot stay still. You either progress or you go down, in the inner world there is no such thing as being stuck. If your imagination is used by you to liberate yourself, to remove all conditioning, it is called meditation. If your imagination is used by you to bind you more and more, to create more and more bondage for you, it is called mind. Imagination can either lead you to hell or heaven. People can either move completely away from the spiritual path or completely get enlightened.

Even with this great knowledge of Yoga, I’ve seen people create one more bondage – like feeling depressed due to misuse of this knowledge or misinterpretation of this great truth. That is why these great truths should be heard directly from an enlightened being. The enlightened being knows how to interpret Patanjali and from what context the truths are expressed.

Here Patanjali emphasized the importance of a cognitive shift by a master. The moment we experience a cognitive shift, our comprehension is illumined. We will be able to directly relate with the truth without difficulties or complications, without torturing ourselves. This cognitive shift happens with the initiation of an enlightened master. For instance, the science of unclutching is the direct initiation (energy transmission) by Patanjali where he spoke about in the 2nd sutra – “Mind is an action, you can stop it”. In the entire Yoga Sutra, Patanjali did not mention about initiation because he already knew that enlightened beings will continue to come down to planet earth to remind humanity of this science as a form of initiation and keep this tradition alive for future generations. It is only with a living master who can take you to the right imagination and lead you beyond the mind, the no-mind state of ecstasy!

In sum, the right knowledge, wrong knowledge and imagination are different modifications of the mind which only lead us to the extremes of joy or suffering, anguish and non-anguish. Beware of them! Namaste. 😀

  • Source – 108 truths of the Yoga of Enlightenment by Paramahamsa Nithyananda.