Introduction to Yoga Philosophy : Perception & Action - Vinyasatreats
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Introduction to Yoga Philosophy : Perception & Action

Yoga is one of the six fundamental systems of Indian thought; And in fact
all the great texts introduce us to ways to seeing that creates opportunities
for us to recognize ourselves better. We look deeper inside ourselves as we
come to terms with the teachings.
The word Yoga means “to be unite” meaning “to tight the strands of the
mind together” and is best defined by the father of yoga as “Yoga is the
stilling of the fluctuations of the mind” “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”

Perception and Action

An important concept from the ancient yoga Philosophy studies has to do
with the way we perceive things, and it explains why we are always getting
into difficulties in life. If we know how we create such problems, we can
also learn how to free ourselves of them.
How does our perception work ? We often determine that we have seen a
situation “correctly” and act according to that perception. In reality,
however, we have deceived ourselves, and our actions may thus bring
misfortune to ourselves or others. Just as difficult is the situation in which
we doubt our misunderstanding of a situation when it is actually correct,
and for that reason we take no action, even though doing so would be
This “incorrect perception” is an accumulate result of our many
unconscious actions, the actions and ways of perceiving that we have been
mechanically carrying out for years. As a result of unconscious responses,
the mind becomes more and more dependent ton habit until we accept
the actions of yesterday as the norms of today. These habits cover the
mind with “incorrect perception”, as if obscuring the clarity of
consciousness with a filmy layer.
If we are sure we do not clearly understand a given situation, generally
speaking we do not act decisively. But if we are clear in our understanding
we will act and it will go well for us. Such an action stems from a deep level
of perception. In contrast, “incorrect perception” is distinguished by
superficial perception. I think I see something correctly, so I take a
particular action and then later have to admit that I was mistaken and that
my actions have not proved beneficial. So we have two levels of perception:
One is deep within us and free of this film of “incorrect perception”, the
other is superficial and obscured by “incorrect perception”. Just as our eye
is transparent and clear and should not itself be tinted if it is to see colors
accurately, so should our perception be like a crystal-clear mirror. One goal
of yoga is to reduce this film of “incorrect perception” in order to perceive
and act correctly.

The branches of incorrect Perception

We seldom have an immediate and direct sense that our perception is
wrong or clouded. “Incorrect perception” seldom is expressed as “incorrect
perception” itself. Indeed, one of the characteristics of “incorrect
perception” is that it remains hidden from us. Easier to identity are the
characteristics of “incorrect perception” branches. If we notice that these

are alive in us, then we can recognize the presence of “incorrect
The first branch of “incorrect perception” is what we often call the ego. It
pushes us into thoughts such as “I have to be better than other people,” “I
am the greatest”, “I know I'm right”.
The second branch of “incorrect perception” expresses itself in making
demands. We want something today because it was pleasant yesterday,
not because we really need it today. Yesterday I had a glass of fruit juice
that tasted delicious and gave me the energy I needed. Today something
in me says: “I want another glass of this sweet juice,” even though I really
do not need it today and it may not be good for me.
The third branch of “incorrect perception”, is in a certain way the opposite
of making demands. Expresses itself by rejecting things. We have a difficult
experience and are afraid of repeating it, so we reject the people, the
thoughts, and the settings that relate to that experience, assuming they
will bring us pain again.
Finally, there is fear. This is perhaps the most secret aspect of “incorrect
perception” and its expression is found on many levels of our everyday life.
We feel uncertain. We have doubts about our position in life. We are afraid
that people will judge us negatively. We feel uncertain when our lifestyle is
upset. We do not want to grow old. All these feelings are expressions of
fear, the fourth branch of “incorrect perception”

Constancy and change

The way we see things today does not have to be the way we saw them
yesterday. That is because the situation, our relationship to them, and we
ourselves have all changed in the interim. This notion of constant change
suggests that we do not have to be discouraged by the existence of
“incorrect perception”. If things go badly, they can always change for the
better. Of course they could always get worse too! We never know what
may happen in life, and that why it is important to be attentive. Whether
things get better or worse depends to a considerable extent on our own
actions. The recommendations to learn to stay present in every moment,
and thereby achieve much that we were previously incapable of.
Deep within us, there is something that is also very real but, unlike
everything else, it is not subject to change. “the seer” “that which sees” or
“that which can see correctly” Its is the power in us that enables us to
perceive with accuracy. The practice of staying present encourages this
unhampered seeing to simply happen. As long as out mind is covered by
“incorrect perception”, our perceptions are clouded. It is when we feel
quietness deep within us that we know we truly understand, and it this
kind of understanding that can have a strong, positive effect on our lives by
leading us to right action. This true understanding, which results from
decreasing “incorrect perception”, does not usually occur spontaneously.
The body and mind are used to certain patterns of perception, and these
tend to change gradually through practicing being present.
In is a feature of life that we go through periods of clarity followed by times
in which our mind and perception are quite lacking in clarity. Over time of

practicing being present there will be less cloudiness and more clarity.
Recognizing this shift is a way to measure our progress.

How can we progress towards more clarity?

Three things are recommended in Yoga:
1. Keep ourselves healthy and cleanse ourselves inwardly, physical and
breathing exercises. These exercises can get rid of blocks and
impurities in our system as well as giving us other benefits. By
practicing physical and breathing exercises we are able to influence
our whole system.
2. Self-study and self-Investigation get to know ourselves. Who are we?
What we are? What is our relationship to the world? How do we
relate to other people?
3. Quality of action, pursue of passion, advancement of career,
knowledge and qualifications, and do everything else that is part of a
normal life, as greatly as possible. We can never be sure of the fruit
of our actions that is why it is better to become slightly detached
from our expectations and pay more attention to the actions
themselves and achieve them with the utmost quality we can
provide at the present moment.