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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 1 - The Problem of Union
50. It is hostile to, or supersedes all other impressions.

Previous to attaining this true perception, the onlooker has been dependent upon three other methods of ascertaining truth, all of them limited and imperfect. They are:

  1. Sense perceptions. In this method the dweller in the body ascertains the nature of the objective world through the medium of his five senses. Objectivity or tangibility becomes known to him and he hears, sees, touches, tastes and smells the things of the physical world. He deals, however, with the effects produced by the subjective life, but has no clue to the causes or to the subjective energies of which they are the product. His interpretation of them is consequently false, [108] leading to wrong identification and an erroneous set of values.
  2. Mental perception. Through the use of the mind the onlooker becomes aware of another grade of phenomena and is put en rapport with the thought world, or with that condition of substance in which is registered the thought impulses of our planet and its inhabitants, and with forms created by those vibratory impulses which express certain ideas and desires, - primarily at present the latter. Owing to the erroneous perception brought about through the use of the senses and the wrong interpretation of the things sensed, these thought forms are in themselves distortions of the reality, and express only those lower impulses and reactions which emanate from the lower kingdoms in nature. Students should remember that it is only when man is really beginning to use his mental body (and is not used by it) that he contacts the thought forms created by the guides of the race and justly perceives them.
  3. The super contemplative state. In this condition perception is unfailingly accurate and the other modes of vision are seen in their right proportions. The senses are no longer required by the onlooker except in so far as he utilizes them for purposes of constructive work on their respective planes. He is now in possession of a faculty which safeguards him from error and of a sense which only reveals to him things as they are. The conditions govering this stage might be enumerated as follows: [109]
  1. The man is polarized in his spiritual nature,
  2. He recognizes himself and functions as the soul, the Christ,
  3. He has the chitta or mind stuff in a state of quiescence,
  4. The sutratma or thread is functioning adequately and the lower bodies are aligned upon it, producing a direct channel of communication with the physical brain,
  5. The brain is trained to serve only as a delicate receiver of truth impressions,
  6. The third eye is in process of unfoldment. Later, as the centers are awakened and brought into conscious control, they place the man en rapport with the various energy septenates in the seven planes of the system, and because the truth-perceiving faculty is developed, the man is thereby safeguarded from error and from danger.

This has been very clearly and ably stated by Charles Johnston in his commentary on this sutra as follows:

"Each state or field of the mind, each field of knowledge, so to speak, which is reached by mental and emotional energies, is a psychical state, just as the mind picture of a stage with the actors on it, is a psychical state or field. When the pure vision, as of the poet, the philosopher, the saint, fills the whole field, all lesser views and visions are crowded out. This high consciousness displaces all lesser consciousness. Yet, in a certain sense, that which is viewed as part, even by the vision of a sage, has still an element of illusion, a thin psychical veil, however pure and luminous that [110] veil may be. It is the last and highest psychic state."

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