Samskaras

In Getting It Straight, I spoke of the process of clearing old habits of mind. The eastern perspective on this can add some further clarity.

“A thought or physical act once performed does not cease to be, but remains in the consciousness in a more subtle or “melted” form…”

This from Yogananda, in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. (best known for Autobiography of a Yogi)

This melted form is called a Samskara. He describes them as creating the inner urges, tendencies and propensities that cause us to repeat those original actions. They thus become habits. What I also describe as resistances or blocks in the energy flow. Also called karma.

One can have good samskaras that incline one to good actions. The issue is more with ones that are contrary to our journey.

He indicates samskaras are purified by wisdom. Wisdom purifies by being lived. He suggests spiritual realization, and thus wisdom,  occurs in three stages from the perspective of Vedanta:

1) listen to scriptural truth – shravanam
2) perceive it – mananam
3) be one with it – nididhyasanam

This illustrates the process of experiencing, then becoming that. When this is applied to our physical experience, we become identified with objects and lost to our spiritual self. When we identify with spirit, we reverse the process. From my perspective, meditation is the most important as it brings you in connection with spirit and thus allows you to experience and become it. This illumines one’s study as well, which can help make the process smoother.

As Yogananda notes, Yoga teaches the 8-fold path. Conduct, observances, postures, breathing exercises, turning within, focus, meditation, samadhi. Note that these are limbs, not sequential. They are done together and support each other.

It is interesting to see that what has caught us is also our means for release. What has taken us away will bring us home.
Davidya

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11 Responses to Samskaras

  1. Pingback: Heaps of Identification « In 2 Deep

  2. Share says:

    Is there an important difference between samskaras and vasanas?

  3. Davidya says:

    Yep. Just confirmed by definition. Samskaras are the residual crud that is blocking the flow. Vasanas are the tendencies or habits that result from Samskaras.

    For example, we have an unhealed relationship breakup. That’s the samskaras. That leads to a tendency to hate the opposite sex, avoid relationship, and focus on bad experiences around that. Those are the Vasanas.

    Together, this is what people often mean by their “karma” from the behaviour side of the equation. Although the thought forms that result will also tend to create corresponding experiences from the environment as well.

    What is quite curious is that there seems to be tendencies of the person that are not driven by samskaras. Ones designed to take us on our journey home. Ones that end the samskaras in the process.

    Great question, thanks Share

  4. Share says:

    Thank you so much, David. This is without a doubt the clearest explanation of samskaras and vasanas I’ve encountered. And you gave a bonus with the explanation of karma–which I had wanted to ask but did’nt want to be greedy! There should be a name for those samskaras that take us home.

  5. Share says:

    Re your example, what I’ve found helpful is the Sedona Method Inquiry:

    When I check here now, can I actually locate where love ends and hate begins? Where hate ends and love begins?

    I’ve found it very powerful to do this Inquiry on such seeming polar opposites. And hopefully no repressing or mood-making is happening!

  6. Davidya says:

    Hi Share
    Not samskaras that take us home, but we could call them vasanas. We could also describe them as vasanas of devata. When the journey reaches a certain point, we attract a different set of devata, or enliven ones already present. This brings out another class of vasana and the spiritual journey begins. I was surprised how many were involved in that.

    I’ve heard good things about Sedona. Feeling values have fields so tend to fade off rather than have “edges”. Strong ones can be quite large and inherently interact with other fields around us. A domino effect we could say.

    The opposites things is interesting. Another duality. Some emotions can seem opposite to others. But they’re all just emotions. Just different qualities of the same thing. What I call Love, with a capital L is a little different. Have written about that elsewhere here.

  7. Share says:

    Well, when I do that Sedona inquiry, it’s not so much a domino effect. More like an intermingling of fields. And at the deepest level, just the faintest of duality. Almost like an optical illusion. The perception shifts just a tiny bit and there is no duality.

    Vasanas of devatas–I love that, it resonates, new knowledge–yay!

  8. Share says:

    Just received wonderful validation about the level of faintest duality. It’s the meeting place of para and pashyanti, in Vedic knowledge, the 2 deepest levels of speech.

  9. Davidya says:

    Hi Share
    What I mean is that when we blast out big emotions, they domino out through other fields. When we stop doing that from a reactive place, we stop creating the big stuff whose resonance we don’t actually want.

    Inversely, when we clear big hunks, other bits tend to fall away of themselves. Same with ego concepts. Once the me is missing, the me supported constructs start to fall apart of their own accord. Some must still be seen though, if they are too deeply embedded. Too habitualized.

    You’re speaking from a much more subtle value, where everything comes together. Where intellect and intuition and sense are joined. There is just the observer and observed. You may even notice a value where there is the observer and the process of perception, the object is seen as the subject so there is just observer expressing. Shift your relationship with that perception and no duality.

    We could say the vasanas of devatas are devata dharma. They’re just doin’ their job.

    Cool – for me it’s more visual so I relate to visual terms better. But yes, I can “see” that. (laughs)

  10. Share says:

    Actually what happens more frequently is that both the subject and object fall away and only the process remains. And it’s not even a process. It’s more like a state. So, no lover or beloved. Not even any loving. Only lovingness.

    Maybe I should give my vasanas of devata a raise or bonus! (-;

  11. Davidya says:

    Hi Share
    What you describe is a different way of putting it, though probably better. The process takes place within the ‘observer’, Brahman. The separation of observer and observed ends but the observer remains. No longer a separate observer though as there’s nothing to be separate from.

    Rather than saying process, we could say flow within itself. Flow of love.

    Sure – the bonus is appreciation, gratitude 😉

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