Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fancy or Imagination





"In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali lists five classes of chitta vrtti (causes for the modification of the mind) which create pleasure and pain. The third one is:
Vikalpa (fancy or imagination, resting merely on verbal expression without any factual basis). A beggar may feel happy when he imagines himself spending millions. A rich miser, on the other hand, may starve himself in the belief that he is poor."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 26th paragraph of the Introduction.

What do you believe yourself to be?

I am an astronaut or a movie star...

Really I am just me, and I happen to be really into Yoga, and I am blessed that I can spend time teaching and practicing it.

Fancy or imagination has given me so much pleasure in this life. When I enjoy a book, movie or a story told by someone else my faculties of imagining must be engaged to vicariously experience other possibilities. And before I had any training or conscious intentions about teaching yoga, I would think about how I might lead a class. And I don't think that I am the teacher I had in my minds eye at the time, but it did give me emotional fuel to say yes to opportunities to learn more. So I guess this was really a dream--one that came true.

But when imagination does not line up with forseeable reality sometimes we might do best by understanding that it is just mental enjoyment, rather than confusing it for something that needs to happen. Let's say I was in love with someone, and they were unable to return this love in the way I wanted. Well, if I was really stuck in the sensibilities of my own mind, this could be an absolutely devastating situation. After all, according to me we should be together because I love this person. My imagination is holding the story for what "should" be happening when what is actually true is different from my fancy. Clearly, this puts me into conflict. And what is it best to believe: my minds story or evidence in the world? I guess it's obvious, but it is really hard to let go of something that I believed in. Woulda' been nice...

Another example of Vikalpa: A lonely person feels happy when she imagines herself to be in love.

2 comments:

YogaforCynics said...

Kinda like that old Motown song "it was just my imagination runnin' away with me"...no question, imagining finding that perfect one can be a great pick-me-up when lonely, but there's always a hangover, and the more blissful the fantasy, the rougher it is...

YogaforCynics said...

That's a really fascinating bit of artwork at the top of the post, by the way...I really enjoy your ongoing inquiry into the "self-portrait"...which, of course, complements the contents of your posts beautifully...