For the yoga challenge that inspired this blog series (check out @purplevalleyyoga on Instagram for more info), we're skipping the following sutras, but I still wanted to share a quick reflection on this portion, as it directly relates to my previous post on Sutras 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6. I highly recommend reading through the previous sutras for more context, and if you're interested in my personal commentary on this classic yoga text you can find more of that in the other posts in this blog category ~ Exploring the Sutras.
Sutra 1.7: Pratyaksānumānāgamāh pramānāni ~
"The sources of right knowledge are direct perception, inference, and scriptural testimony."
Sutra 1.8: Viparyay mithyājñānam aradrūpa prastistham ~
"Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form."
Sutra 1.9: Śabdajñānānupātī vastu śūnyo vikalpah ~
"An image that arises on hearing mere words without any reality [as its verbal basis] is verbal delusion."
Sutra 1.10: Abhāva pratyayālambanā vrttir nidrā ~
"That mental modification supported by cognition of nothingness is sleep."
Sutra 1.11: Anubhūta visayāsampramosah smrtih ~
"When a mental modification of an object previously experienced and not forgotten comes back to consciousness, that is memory."
*all translations by Sri Swami Satchidananda*
To be honest, I struggle with this portion somewhat, as I don't fully share the opinion that scriptural testimony is the same as absolute truth, nor do I share Sri Swami Satchidananda's opinion that "dreams are memories that come to the surface when we sleep". Sleep and dreaming have always fascinated me, and I think there may be more to it than what's expressed in this commentary of Patanjali's sutras (if you have another resource on the Sutras that you think I might resonate with or appreciate, please do share it with me!)
I think it's safe to say that verbal delusion and misconception are the most potent of these modifications, and keen self-study of these thought patterns should help to curb some of the misguided stories we create in our minds.
What I particularly found interesting in this section of commentary on the sutras, though, was the idea that we can be cognizant of a lack of thought, (as in "I know I slept well because I recall nothing") which in itself is a thought - the awareness of vacancy, essentially. As Sri Swami Satchidanada goes on to explain, "All other thoughts are temporarily suspended except this one thought of emptiness in the mind, which leaves its impression upon waking."
What I also take from Sutras 1.7 - 1.11 is that these mental modifications (right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep and memory - from Sutra 1.6) all take up space and energy in the mind-field, which inevitably leads to more mental chatter or static, and so the nobility, iniquity, or banality of these modifications is irrelevant - it all just adds to the dissonance.
Where this becomes confusing or disorienting for most of us is in the challenge of reconciling our thoughts to create more harmony, while increasing our awareness of the activity and patterns of our mind-scape, but without becoming attached to any of these thought forms. It's a tall order, to say the least - but don't worry: Patanjali offers some guidance in the following sutras...