Viparyaya in Yoga Meditation
QUICK EXPLANATION ON VIPARYAYA
Viparyaya = one of the five kinds of thoughts or vrittis; there are five kinds of movements in the mind-field and one of them is viparyaya (yogasutra 1.6)
Viparyaya = movements in the mind that are “incorrect knowledge and incorrect perceptions”
5 kinds of thoughts are: pramana, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidra, smriti
We want to understand the meaning of viparyaya, but not merely by knowing its definition; we want to be able to observe it in our daily life. Thus choose for a day or a week to be aware of this movement of mind, called viparyaya, as you go through activities, situations, and conversations. Observe how viparyaya relates to actions, thoughts, and speech. You want to find your own examples of viparyaya, so that you have direct knowledge of this concept of viparyaya.
One way to start is to catch a thought, any thought… since there are only 5 kinds of thoughts, five kinds of vrittis, this thought has to be one of these five. Is this a thought based on incorrect knowledge or perception (viparyaya)? If it is not viparyaya; then find out by using buddhi, which of the other four kinds of thoughts it is. But if it is viparyaya; inspect why it is incorrect and what caused this incorrect perception. It is extremely useful if you are able to catch yourself when you do not perceive correctly, because it almost immediately will lead you to right knowledge, or at least to admit that you do not know what is right at this moment. Viparyaya is most powerful when it is done unconsciously, when we are not aware that it is incorrect, but we think it is correct… oops! Therefore to have buddhi alert and sharp when the perceptions come into the mind (to manas) will lead to less and less viparyaya and more to pramana. Examples of viparyaya are: thinking you hear someone say something about you, which is not true. You may perceive someone as angry; while this is your own projection. You think it is a grape, but when you eat it, it doesn’t taste like a grape… oops it was an olive.
Internal dialogue about viparyaya
One way to increase your awareness to viparyaya is to literally ask to mind to help. Mind can we be aware of viparyaya, and can you help me to remove the coloring that causes these incorrect perceptions?
Unveiling the colorings will bring you to a state of vairagya (non-attachment). The less ragas and dveshas (and other kleshas) your mind-field has, the more you will be able to perceive things as they are, and not through colored glasses through which perception is altered. Which will diminish viparyaya and increase pramana. When you learn to talk to your mind, the mind will become a great friend that can help you on the path. Then the mind starts to help you to overcome viparyaya, isn’t that amazing!
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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT
Eventually the concept of viparyaya will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of viparyaya will have the effect that you will increase your use of this word in your daily vocabulary to express yourself and you will discover how viparyaya relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to see that viparyaya is related to avidya, or you find a relationship between rajas and viparyaya. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you towards that which is beyond all the concepts. This is because as you increase your self-awareness, you will discover that everything you can observe is not who you truly are, your true Self has nothing to do with viparyaya, you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore viparyaya itself have to be transcended, who you really are is beyond viparyaya. This will increase the non-attachment towards viparyaya itself, while you can be in awe of the beauty of the Divine dance of Consciousness that appears to play as incorrect perception, as viparyaya. Therefore practicing self-awareness is actually practicing not-self-awareness by which the True Self will eventually reveal itself.
Look at the self-assessment PDF (assessment-yymmdd.pdf) and a PDF that includes daily internal dialogue and daily observation (sumseven-yymmdd.pdf) on the website of www.abhyasaashram.org (when you are on this page scroll all the way down to find the downloadable PDFs) These PDFs can be used as tools to explore and expand your understanding on viparyaya.
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MORE ON VIPARYAYA
Cultivate pramana instead of viparyaya
Gradually we want to move to a state of alertness and non-attachment were all of our perceptions are correct (pramana), and leaving viparyaya behind. As long as this is not the case just be aware of your perceptions and lovingly remember that you are not always seeing things clearly. This will leave the door open to revise your perceptions and make you flexible when they turned out to be incorrect. Be in a state of ahimsa, both to yourself and others around you. Learning = experimenting = allowing yourself to make mistakes; when something was incorrect then correct it, or acknowledge it and move on with the determination not repeat it the next time… no worries… you just learned and grew a bit in awareness!
Pramana, vikalpa, or viparyaya can all happen at the same time
When you look at an object and you perceive its characteristics, you can judge which object is it. If you look at a doll, you know it is a doll, it is right knowledge (pramana). At the same time it’s easy to also see that it is merely a piece of plastic and fabric. Depending on how you look at it you can say it is pramana (it is a doll), or you can say it is viparyaya, as it is nothing but plastic and you superimpose on it that it is a doll. Or seeing the doll in the plastic is merely vikalpa, you imagine it to be a doll. Another example; this is a a screen you are looking at, right? This is right knowledge, called pramana. But if you start to understand that all of the manifestation is a dance of shakti, or the illusion of maya, then you can fairly say that anything that can be observed is vikalpa or viparyaya. Because to think it is a screen is not correct, it is shakti, maya, or the dance of leela! Therefore it depends on how you look at a vritti, and realize that by changing your point of view it can be pramana, vikalpa, or viparyaya. But to not lose the beautiful practical application of these five vrittis, it is useful to know when something is perceived correctly, and thus is called pramana. And when something is an imagination or incorrectly perceived, and thus is called vikalpa or viparyaya.
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YOGASUTRAS ON VIPARYAYA
1.6 The five varieties of thought patterns to witness are: 1) knowing correctly (pramana), 2) incorrect knowing (viparyaya), 3) fantasy or imagination (vikalpa), 4) the object of void-ness that is deep sleep (nidra), and 5) recollection or memory (smriti).
pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smritayah
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1.8 Incorrect knowledge or illusion (viparyaya) is false knowledge formed by perceiving a thing as being other than what it really is.
viparyayah mithya jnanam atad rupa pratistham
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SWAMI RAMA ON VIPARYAYA
”When you do not see something in its proper form, and you cannot give any definite name to it, then it is wrong knowledge, or viparyaya. Wrong knowledge is that knowledge that is not supported by anything. If I’m thirsty while driving a car in a desert and I think I see water, but when I go there, there is no water, this is wrong knowledge. A mirage is viparyaya. There is some substance in your mind and the basis of that substance you see water. Distorted knowledge is viparyaya. Many people do not understand the difference between viparyaya and fantasy. You know what a snake looks like. If you see a rope in the darkness and take it to be a snake, that is viparyaya. Viparyaya is that knowledge that is based on some substance, though it is not right knowledge. Fantasy is entirely different. Fantasy is the creation of a crazy mind.”
~ Samadhi pg. 143
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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON VIPARYAYA
Read the whole article “Witnessing” on www.swamij.com
Viparyaya/incorrect, unreal, wrong, inaccurate, misconceived, unclear: unrealcognition, wrongor incorrect knowledge, inaccurate perception, indiscriminate thoughts, clouded thinking
Read the whole page “Yoga Sutras 1.5-1.11 Un-coloring Your Thoughts” on www.swamij.com
A classic example of the shifting perception is the Rubin Vase, which is both a picture of a vase and a picture of two faces at the same time. Two classic examples are given by the Yogis for the misperception called viparyaya. First is the mistaking of a rope for a snake when the light is low, such as the twilight hours between day and night. The rope is always a rope, although the mind misperceives it in the moment. The second is similar, and is mistaking a post in the distance as being a man standing in the shadows.