Drawing for Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake, Utah, Robert Smithson, 1970
1.4 वृत्तिसारूप्यमितरत्र ।।४।।
At other times (itaratra), it takes the form (sarupyam) of the mental activities (vritti). or: Conformity to the operations elsewhere.
It is natural for our minds to identify with our thoughts and with the objects around us. This is the basis of avidya, or ignorance of our real Self — confounding all the changeable things around us with our own true nature. This true nature (atman, purusha, soul, the seer) is said to be eternal and unchanging, and is pure awareness.
This sutra tells us that when we lose touch with our own being, chitta (the mind, or thinking faculty) manifests itself in place of the seer. We then become bound by time and space.
When the mind is not resting in its own true being, it takes the shape of the vrittis. We think the thoughts we have are who we really are. This avidya, the source of all suffering, clouds our perception. When we ‘clean’ our minds our thoughts and actions are not colored and dictated by our misperceptions.
With practice, we can avoid behaving in ways we don’t intend, and can stop ourselves from saying things we regret. Practice allows us to make a habit of being true to ourselves. This intention becomes a habit of awareness. Though we will fluctuate back and forth, identifying ourselves with our mental activities, we can catch ourselves and let go.
Vyaas Houston of the American Sanskrit Institute has said:
“If I don’t remain the seer, continually aware of the field; if nirodhah is not occurring, there is conformity to the vritti. I never lose my original identity — I just think I do.
One or the other is taking place. Either yoga is taking place or there is identity with vritti.”
— Jenny Meyer + Barbara Verrochi