Yoga Sutra 1.11

Translation and Commentary

May 23, 2013    BY Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Translation

Not being disconnected from the objects of previous experiences is called memory.
Yoga Sutra 1.11 Recitation
Audio Recitation by D.C. Rao, PhD

anubhūta previous experience
viṣhaya object

asampramoṣhaḥ = a + sam + pra + moṣhaḥ
a not
sam completely
pra specifically
moṣhaḥ stolen; hidden; not available; outside the pale of conscious awareness

Therefore asampramoṣhaḥ is that which is not specifically and completely outside the pale of conscious awareness; in part you know what it is, in part you do not.

smṛtiḥ memory

Remembrance of things past

Form a healthy relationship with the power of memory and both your meditation and your everyday life will blossom.

Anything we experience through the senses and the conscious mind is deposited in the mind-field (chitta) and creates a subtle impression.

Anything we experience through the senses and the conscious mind is deposited in the mind-field (chitta) and creates a subtle impression. At the level of our conscious awareness, everything in the world is fleeting. Nothing exists here for more than a moment. The present is constantly falling into the domain of the past and the gap is replaced by the future. Thus, at every moment the future is turning into the present. If our mind is filled with hopelessness, the present is being swallowed by the past, but if we have a hopeful mind, the present is being followed by the future.

In either case, none of our experiences ever disappear into oblivion. According to the yogis, information gathered from the external world through the senses or information gained from the center of consciousness through revelation is never lost. Information/knowledge is indestructible. At the individual level it is deposited in our personal mind-field (chitta), and at the cosmic level it is deposited in the collective mind (hiranya-garbha). As we try to meditate, the experiences of the past slip into our conscious mind from these realms, causing our meditation to be disturbed. At other times, we fail to recollect the information stored in either our individual or collective minds even though we try our best. In the first instance we suffer from involuntary recollection of what we do not need; in the second, we suffer from our inability to recollect what we do need.

But through practicing meditation and other yogic techniques we train our conscious mind to become still, one–pointed, and penetrating. Through meditation we train the mind to go inward, enter the realm of the vast field of the unconscious mind, make an inventory of what is deposited there in the form of subtle impressions, and distinguish what is useful from that which is useless. In the yoga tradition this process, known as viveka khyati, is possible when our conscious mind is endowed with one–pointedness and retentive power (memory). Cultivating retentive power, therefore, is considered to be one of the most important elements in spiritual practice. It is called working with memory.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, Pandit Tigunait is the successor of Swami Rama of the Himalayas. Lecturing and teaching worldwide for more than a quarter of a century, he is the author of fourteen books, including his recently-released The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, and his autobiography Touched by Fire: The Ongoing Journey of a Spiritual Seeker. Pandit Tigunait holds two doctorates: one in Sanskrit from the University of Allahabad in India, and another in Oriental Studies from the... Read more>>