Chitta in Yoga Meditation

QUICK EXPLANATION ON CHITTA

Chitta = unconscious storehouse or reservoir of all impressions, and the function or ability of the mind to store.
 
Chitta = one of the four functions of mind: manas, chitta, ahamkara and buddhi
 
Chitta = sometimes also used as Consciousness, for example in the Yoga Sutras
 
Sat, Chit, Ananda = The realization of the true Self is actually indescribable. However, for convenience sake it is sometimes described as being the nature of sat, chit, and ananda. Sat means existence itself. Chit means consciousness. Ananda means bliss.
 

 
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ON THIS PAGE:
CHITTA: PRACTICAL
MORE ON CHITTA
YOGA SUTRAS ON CHITTA
SWAMI RAMA ON CHITTA
SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON CHITTA
OTHER TEXTS ON CHITTA


 

CHITTA: PRACTICAL

Observe chitta
For a day or a week choose to be aware of chitta in everything you do that day. Observe how chitta relates to the thoughts, actions, and speech. Everything is stored within chitta; all your habits, desires, attractions, aversions, memories, and identities. To become aware of chitta will make you aware of how much stuff is stored in chitta or how busy the movements are within chitta; the mind-field is constantly moving. However, all that you are aware of right now is not yet the totality of chitta and its movements. Right now only a part of chitta is within your conscious awareness, most is stored in the unconscious part of chitta as dormant seeds. Therefore you want to gradually wake up all the dormant seeds that are stored in chitta. Also over time you want to increase being undisturbed, uninvolved, and unaffected by all the movements that happen within chitta, so that you are able to gradually remove the curtain of avidya as most movements within chitta occur behind the curtain of avidya. Thus inviting the seeds to come forward, and learning to be undisturbed by the increasing movements that come from inviting the seeds, go together. Together they will allow the conscious aspect of chitta to grow and the unconscious to decrease, until almost all is conscious and that which lies beyond starts to reveal itself. Therefore observe chitta and you will get many insights.
 

 

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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT

Eventually chitta will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of chitta 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 chitta relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to see that everything you witness lies within chitta, and this makes you think of leela, or this reminds you of abhinivesha as you need to let go of all that is in chitta. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you toward 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, you are not what is in chitta, you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore chitta itself will have to be transcended, who you really are is beyond chitta. This will increase the non-attachment toward chitta itself, while you can be in awe of the beauty of the Divine dance of Consciousness that appears to play as chitta. 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 chitta.

 

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MORE ON CHITTA

Chitta; a spoke in a wheel
The four functions of mind are described in the Upanishads as being like a wheel with four spokes. The center of the hub never moves, which is the Self, on which the wheel of the mind seems to rotate, therefore the Self seems to operate in the apparent manifestation through the four functions of mind. When I was young, I once rode a bike where the spokes where not of equal length, so the hub appeared not to be in the center. When I would ride it there was the experience as if you were riding over little hills, while the surface was flat. Which to me is a nice way to look at the way the four functions of mind need to work together, all are equally important, otherwise I would experience the world as a bumpy road!

 


 

Chitta is the ground out of which everything arises
In the above section chitta is explained as an equal spoke on a wheel. This is one way of looking at the four functions of mind. But another way to look at it is that all three functions (manas, ahamkara, and buddhi) arise out of chitta. Chitta being the ground out of which these three sprout. When we fall asleep at night all three functions merge back into seed form and are sleeping too, then when something stirs in the mind-field (chitta) all three functions will wake up and get active again. Both ways of looking at chitta is useful.
 
Chitta and nirodhah
The whole process of what to do with chitta is explained in the beautiful second sutra of the Yogasutra: Yogash chitta-vritti nirodhah. It tells us that all the vrittis have to go nirodhah. This means that all the movements in chitta have to go nirodhah. There is no direct translation of nirodhah into English. It is a process that will be fully grasped over time when experiences come, but I think, that within the many words that are used so far by people to attempt to translate nirodhah a big part of the process is explained. Namely nirodhah is translated as regulating, channeling, mastering, integrating, coordinating, stilling, quieting, and setting aside the movements of the mind field. First the movements in chitta have to be channeled, mastered, integrated, and coordinated so that a stilling and quieting of the movements can occur, so that the movements can be set aside. When there is temporary a complete nirodhah of the movements of the mind-field, the mind-field itself can be temporary set aside this too is nirodhah and then the Seer will finally rest in its own nature (yogasutra 1.3).
 
Chitta as Consciousness
Some scholars/teachers translate chitta in the second sutra as Consciousness, when mostly the word chitta is translated as mind-field. I am no Sanskrit scholar, but I do find it very useful to be able to hold both explanation. What if all the movements in Consciousness go nirodhah? Then the Seer rests in its true nature. If something appears to move, it appears as if it moves in a field… so suddenly because of the apparent movement an apparent field emerges, but without any movement a concept of a field is not needed. Therefore the mind-field called chitta only appears to exist as long as there appear to be vrittis. Or Consciousness called chitta (or Chit) appears to have movements in it and these vrittis need to go nirodhah. So you see… there is no conflict.

 

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YOGASUTRAS ON CHITTA

1.2 Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.
yogash chitta vritti nirodhah
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1.30 Nine kinds of distractions come that are obstacles naturally encountered on the path, and are physical illness, tendency of the mind to not work efficiently, doubt or indecision, lack of attention to pursuing the means of samadhi, laziness in mind and body, failure to regulate the desire for worldly objects, incorrect assumptions or thinking, failing to attain stages of the practice, and instability in maintaining a level of practice once attained.
vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdhabhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah
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1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam
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1.37 Or contemplating on having a mind that is free from desires, the mind gets stabilized and tranquil.
vita raga vishayam va chittam
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2.54 When the mental organs of senses and actions (indriyas) cease to be engaged with the corresponding objects in their mental realm, and assimilate or turn back into the mind-field from which they arose, this is called pratyahara, and is the fifth step.
sva vishaya asamprayoge chittasya svarupe anukarah iva indriyanam pratyaharah
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3.1 Concentration (dharana) is the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place, and is the sixth of the eight rungs.
deshah bandhah chittasya dharana
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3.9 That high level of mastery called nirodhah-parinamah occurs in the moment of transition when there is a convergence of the rising tendency of deep impressions, the subsiding tendency, and the attention of the mind field itself.
vyutthana nirodhah samskara abhibhava pradurbhavau nirodhah ksana chitta
anvayah nirodhah-parinamah

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3.11 The mastery called samadhi-parinamah is the transition whereby the tendency to all-pointedness subsides, while the tendency to one-pointedness arises.
sarvarathata ekagrata ksaya udaya chittasya samadhi-parinamah
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3.12 The mastery called ekagrata-parinamah is the transition whereby the same one-pointedness arises and subsides sequentially.
tatah punah shanta-uditau tulya-pratyayau chittasya ekagrata-parinimah
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3.19 By samyama on the notions or presented ideas comes knowledge of another’s mind.
pratyayasya para chitta jnana
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3.35 By practicing samyama on the heart, knowledge of the mind is attained.
hirdaye chitta samvit
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3.39 By loosening or letting go of the causes of bondage and attachment, and by following the knowledge of how to go forth into the passages of the mind, there comes the ability to enter into another body.
bandha karana shaithilyat prachara samvedanat cha chittasya para sharira aveshah
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4.4 The emergent mind fields springs forth from the individuality of I-ness (asmita).
nirmana chittani asmita matrat
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4.5 While the activities of the emergent mind fields may be diverse, the one mind is the director of the many.
pravritti bhede prayojakam chittam ekam anekesam
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4.15 Although the same objects may be perceived by different minds, they are perceived in different ways, because those minds manifested differently.
vastu samye chitta bhedat tayoh vibhaktah panthah
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4.16 However, the object itself does not depend on any one mind, for if it did, then what would happen to the object if it were not being experienced by that mind?
na cha eka chitta tantram ched vastu tat pramanakam tada kim syat
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4.17 Objects are either known or not known according to the way in which the coloring of that object falls on the coloring of the mind observing it.
tad uparaga apeksitvat chittasya vastu jnata ajnatam
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4.18 The activities of the mind are always known by the pure consciousness, because that pure consciousness is superior to, support of, and master over the mind.
sada jnatah chitta vrittayah tat prabhu purusasya aparinamitvat
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4.21 If one mind were illumined by another, as its master, then there would be an endless and absurd progression of cognitions, as well as confusion.
chitta antara drishye buddhi-buddheh atiprasangah smriti sankarah cha
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4.23 Therefore, the mind field, which is colored by both seer and seen, has the potential to perceive any and all objects.
drastri drisya uparaktam chittam sarva artham
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4.24 That mind field, though filled with countless impressions, exists for the benefit of another witnessing consciousness, as the mind field is operating only in combination with those impressions.
tad asankheya vasanabhih chittam api parartham samhatya karitvat
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4.26 Then the mind is inclined towards the highest discrimination, and gravitates towards absolute liberation between seer and seen.
tada viveka nimnam kaivalya pragbharam chittam
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SWAMI RAMA ON CHITTA

”Patanjali goes directly to the point, which is chitta, the thinking self. Though chitta is also translated as mind, Patanjali is not talking about what modern psychology calls mind, but about something far more comprehensive. He is talking about the totality of all mental functioning. Chitta is the field in which the rest of the mind functions. All aspects of chitta are modifications.”
~ Samadhi pg. 28
 
“Chitta: The pool of unconscious mind-stuff into which all the impressions gathered by the senses are thrown, as it were, and from the bottom of which they rise to create a constant stream of random thoughts and associations. According to Patanjali, the codifier of yoga philosophy, “Yoga is the cessation of change and modifications of chitta.” Yoga sutra 1.2”
~ the Royal Path pg. 123
 
“There are many levels of chitta, the reservoir of your unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is a storehouse for all the impressions you have been storing. As a river cannot flow without a bed, there also has to be a bed for the flow of thoughts. The unconscious mind is actually part of the conscious mind. You do not have conscious and unconscious dreams, or conscious and unconscious sleep. What you call the unconscious is really a part of – another level of – the conscious mind. But if it is a level of the conscious mind, then why are you not aware of it? You are not even aware of the conscious mind because you do not study and train it.”
~ Samadhi pg. 41
 
“If you train manas, and if you lead your ahamkara toward chitta and your manas toward buddhi, then you have accomplished something. Don’t do anything in life unless your buddhi, the counselor within, tells you to do it. You need to make internal experiments with yourself: you need to train your buddhi to give a correct, clear judgment to your manas. You also have to train your manas to take advice from buddhi. Perhaps you feel deprived of something of value and suddenly the idea occurs that you want to steal it. You know that it is wrong, you you want to do it. This is due to your mental habits. So you must train both your manas and your ahamkara, and that process is what we call polishing your ahamkara.”
~ The Art of Joyful Living pg. 82

 

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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON CHITTA

Read the whole article “Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind” on www.swamij.com
Coordinating Chitta; If Chitta is not coordinated with the other functions of mind, then the thousands, millions, or countless impressions in this bed of the lake of mind start to stir and arise. It is as if these many latent impressions, coming to life are all competing for the attention of Manas to carry out their wants in the external world. In the absence of a clear Buddhi, the competing voices of Chitta often drive Manas to take actions in the world that are really not so useful.
 
Read the whole article “Self-Realization in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters” on www.swamij.com
There is something between you and the Absolute Reality, and that is the mind. It is explored and witnessed as Manas (the mind as importer and exporter), Chitta (the storehouse of memory or karma), Ahamkara (the I-maker), and Buddhi (intelligence), along with the ten instruments of cognition and action, the Indriyas.
Those four functions of mind and ten instruments are explored at the Gross and Subtle levels where they operate, and then allowed to merge back into the Causal plane, where the formless is encountered, experienced, and also transcended so as to reveal the Self, the state of Turiya.

 


 

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OTHER TEXTS ON CHITTA

Vivekachoodamini, Adi Shankaracharya
Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
93-94. The inner organ (antahkarana) is called Manas, Buddhi, ego [ahamkara] or Chitta, according to their respective functions: Manas, from its considering the pros and cons of a thing; Buddhi, from its property of determining the truth of objects; the ego, from its identification with this body as one’s own self; and Chitta, from its function of remembering things it is interested in.

 

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Yoga Meditation, Contemplation, and Devotion for Self-realization

This site is an offering to those who deeply long to experience Pure Consciousness that is known as Divine Mother or Tripura (‘Tri’ means three, and ‘pura’ means city); She is the one that lives in the three cities of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. Temporary leaving behind the three cities and residing only in Pure Consciousness is called Self-realization. Another name for this realization is Yoga; the union of the individual self with the universal Self; the union of Atman with Brahman, or Shiva with Shakti; or the dis-union of Purusha and Prakriti. Some might think of Tripura as an anthropomorphic being but She is not, She is the Non-dual Reality in which all appearing manifestation seems to exist. All that is, is the Non-dual Reality.
 
On this site the teachings of Yoga, Vedanta, and Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra are offered to guide you in learning to meditate directly on Tripura by using modern ways of communication such as through animations, while preserving the ancient wisdom. These teaching have been given to us by an ancient lineage of meditation masters, lovingly called the Tradition of the Himalayan masters. These practices lead us to a space of stillness and silence where Yoga meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer converge into deep devotion and constant awareness of Tripura. At the end of the journey when all efforts are exhausted, grace will dawn. This is known as shaktipata, through which the final barrier is removed, which is the piercing of the bindu, and leads to the direct experience of Non-dual Reality. This finally reveals an unimaginable Joy from knowing the Non-dual Reality or Pure Consciousness!

 

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