[ Chitta Vritti Nirodha]
Cessation of the modification of the mind, which establishes one in a state of yoga. Refers to one of the sutras by the great sage Patanjali, the father of modern yoga, in his Yoga Sutras.
▵ Chitta Vritti Nirodha
Patanjali defined and described yoga in many ways because he was more of a scientist than a saint. He went about it very mathematically. A sutra is like a formula. He simply said, “Chitta vritti nirodha.” This means if cessation of intellect happens, you will be in yoga. The fundamental nature of your intellect is, it is divisive. It is a knife-like instrument. The way for the intellect to analyze and know anything is to dissect, to cut up everything and look at it. If you keep dissecting everything, you will know one aspect of life, but you will not know the nature of life. By dissection, you can know the physicality – you cannot know the entirety of life. So Patanjali said if you cease your intellect consciously and you are still alert – not drugged out – if you bring your intellect to a hold and it is not cutting up anything, then it is in a state of nirodha. That means the intellect is not active, but you are fully conscious. Then you are in yoga, because if you do not divide the world, as you breathe, as you pulsate with life, you will know you are a part of everything.
Questioner: Sadhguru, Patanjali’s second Yoga Sutra says, yogash chitta vritti nirodhah, which could be translated as “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.” What does this really mean?
Sadhguru: This is called dharana. Dharana means there is you and an object, and you are entirely focused on that object. If you focus on it absolutely, after some time, only you will be there, or only the object will be there. This is called dhyana, which is the next stage of focus. If you can hold the state of dhyana, after some time, neither you nor the object will be there. There will be some other huge presence. This is called samadhi. These are progressive states of practice.
When we say, “Hold your attention on an object,” people think they have to worship a god or do something in particular. No, you can focus on a flower, a leaf, a grain of sand, a worm – it does not matter. But if you want to hold your attention on something, it must inspire a certain level of passion and emotion in you. Only then will your attention stay there. Why is it that it is so difficult for students to keep their attention on the textbook, but if there is a girl in the neighborhood that a boy is interested in, you do not have to tell him, “Think about her”? He anyway stays focused on her, because there is a certain emotion behind it.The idea is that unless you hold something really high, you cannot maintain your focus.
This is the reason why the various forms of gods came in. Focus on whatever you can relate to. Maybe you cannot relate to the existing god, so you take another one. If this is not working for you, take another one. If none of them are working for you, you create your own. This is called Ishta Devata. The idea is that unless you hold something really high, you cannot maintain your focus. If you concentrate on something that you are not interested in, it will exhaust you. The focus will enhance you only when you are really grabbed by something.
It is as simple as going to a movie or reading a book. Let us say you read a textbook – the textbook is written for an average intelligence. In spite of that, you read it ten times but still do not get it. On the other hand, you read a love story or a suspense thriller at seventy pages per hour, and you remember every word of it. The object of focus must inspire passion in you. Otherwise, concentration becomes a concentration camp within yourself. It becomes suffering.
▵ The True Nature of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Isha)
▵ Yoga – Being a Part of Everything (Isha)