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The Five States of the Mind

Physical control is but the necessary preparation for control of the mind; it is only when mental agitation has been subdued that the process of identification really begins.

According to the state of development of the seeker the process of control differs.

There are five main states of mind described by Bhoja in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras.

(1) The state of dispersion (kshipta-avastha).

(2) The state of confusion, or stupidity (mudha-avastha).

(3) The state of imperfect stability (vikshipta-avastha).

(4) The concentrated state (ekagra-avastha).

(5) The motionless state (nirodha-avastha).

The five states are characterized by a difference in proportion between the three basic tendencies or qualities (gunas) ascending, expanding and descending (sattva, rajas and tamas), generally represented as enlightenment, activity and obscuration-inertia, which are the intrinsic nature of all things.

(1) The state of dispersion is that in which the mental substance (citta), although by its nature predominantly ascending (sattva), is yet impregnated with the other two tendencies; it is completely unstable, constantly thrown from one thing to another; it is thus attracted to the objects of the five senses, sound, form, taste, etc. and has a desire for the marvelous powers called the "attainments" (siddhis). This is the mental state of Genii (Danavas) and Daimons (Daityas).

(2) The state of confusion, or stupidity, is created when in the predominantly ascending mental substance only the opposite descending tendency, tamas, is mixed. It is stupidity because tamas creates inertia or drowsiness (nidra-vritti). The mental substance of Evil Spirits (Pishachas) and Demons (Rakshasas) is of this state.

(3) The state of imperfect stability is that in which the predominantly ascending mental substance is mixed with a certain amount of the expanding tendency only; this creates a certain amount of instability and the mind becomes inclined toward "conformity with eternal law" (dharma), towards knowledge, detachment, and divine glory (aishvarya). The "Embryo of Splendor" (Hiranyagarbha) and other Cosmic Entities, Deities or Angels pertain to this state.

(4) When the descending and expanding tendencies no longer remain even partially, but alone the ascending tendency stands, then only is the mental substance in its state of origin, or true state; this is the "concentrated state", also known as conscious identification (samprajnata-samadhi). In the scriptures of yoga it is called the state of "discriminate illumination" (vivekakhyati). In this state the real nature of things is perceived, the five troubles (kleshas) of man, ignorance, I-conceit, attachment, enmity and fear of death, disappear. All ties are loosened and the mind is prepared for the motionless state.

(5) When the mind realizes that the power of Consciousness (chittashakti) is without change, pure and limitless, and looks at discriminate illumination as to a yet changing, impure, limited state, then this state, freed from all bondage, is known as the motionless state (nirodha avastha), in which the seed even of a delimited form of conscious no longer exists. This state is known to yogis as the state of "seedless identification" (Nir-bija samadhi).

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