Cit Happens # 54 August 21, 2018
Cit is the name yoga gives to awareness, to consciousness in its whole unbounded, vast and utterly free nature. Citta, is the name given to what the tradition refers to as the individual consciousness, more precisely the mind. Collectively it is the three levels of the mind: manas, ahaṃkāra, and buddhi. The manas, is our perceptual mind, our imagination and capacity to think; it’s job is to categorizes, name, offer distinction: causes harm or not? a source of food or not? The ahaṃkāra, is the ego, the way we personalize these experiences and the buddhi, is the seat of discrimination, the space of yes and no determining signification. It is also the storehouse of the samskaras, the imprint left of the sum total of all experiences we have ever had, positive, negative and neutral in nature. As such we can understand why yoga is concerned with clarifying this space.
Citta collectively is the lens through which we perceive the world, the relative plane and as such, it sits smack dab in the middle, between that absolute whole source from which light streams, and that relative world in all its diversity. It colors and tinges our vision.
Try as we might, we can only truly see through our eyes, from our perspective, which we understand is limited in its scope, shaped by our individual experiences, likes and dislikes, our values and beliefs, our present circumstances.
Still, I try to see from another’s perspective to understand my experience so that I might be more skillful in speech, action, effort, so that I might contribute to harmony even as I move to effect change. That is my desire. Yet, desire alone does not make this possible. It’s like trying on another’s glasses to see with their vision. If the prescription is identical to mine or close enough, I will see their point. If it is far from mine I will be given a headache, perhaps even blinded, and certainly want to tear them off, look away and go back to the comfort of my own vision.
In this sense, the only way to truly see an other’s perspective is to see from the highest, for that contains any and all perspectives. Thus we journey up the mountain to get a higher broader perspective. Consciousness is ‘self correcting’.
Meditation is the tool that we use, so that consciousness may perform this cosmic, “self corrective” benevolent surgery. Vyasa, in his commentary in the Yoga Sutras [II.16 heyaṃduḥkam-anāgatam] says the yogin becomes “sensitive as an eyeball” and to that end, it is imperative that all self deception be ended in order to reach the Self. For only the Self is the ultimate security; only the Self contains the ultimate vision. Standing beyond the perpetual change of the finite cosmos with its varied, diverse and limited perspectives, the Self alone is unaffected by any fluctuation, difference, sorrow, anguish or pain.
Our individual identity colors our perspective. It cannot be otherwise. The mind’s job is to categorize, to see distinction; the ego’s to personalize. It is the lens that is always between the light of source and the rest of the relative world. And sorrow, pain, anguish, explains the teachings, is the inevitable result of man’s mistaken identity, the ignorance of her true nature and therefore, the incapacity to know the sum total of wholeness, full unbounded, free and eternal. We must drop the lens at least momentarily.
If we truly “saw” through this lens, not by applying some pair of inadequate glasses, but with the vision of wisdom represented by the third eye of Śiva resting at the ajña door we would truly see, we would truly know. We would be the ‘Knower of Reality’ possessed of sattarka, the highest wisdom. We would naturally take possession of what is rightfully ours, has always been ours but forgotten, our true nature.
There is an incredible map that charts this movement from the absolute to the individual and her perception and movement through the relative world. It is called THIRTY-SIX REALITY PRINCIPLES AND SEVEN EXPERIENCERS IN TANTRIC ŚAIVISM. As such, it is also an incredible tool that assists that individual mind in understanding how to trace the journey back to source. But as we know, “map is not territory” meaning, it is helpful and even necessary but without experience a rather dry and brittle substitute for the real thing. Just like reading about Italy, the light and the food and the art, is wonderful; going there, immersing oneself in it quite another thing. In fact in experiencing we bring richness to the intellectual understanding; a richness that fills in the spaces in a way no mere picture or words ever could.
What is it we actually perceive in life? How can we refine our being, the entirety of it and how might we recognize that refinement as it progresses? Knowledge and experience is necessary in order to live fully, to take the world in, in all its diversity and to fully give all that we are, truly wholly and fully are, in joyful response.
Whenever I think of the mind, I hear Baba Muktananda’s prayer “Oh my mind, think well of me!” No matter your back ground, beliefs or desires, knowledge and experience of your full Self is your birthright. Let it bathe your world in light and see for yourself. Meditate.