"In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali lists five classes of chitta vrtti (causes for the modification of the mind) which create pleasure and pain. The second one is:
Viparyaya (a mistaken view which is observed to be such after study). A faulty medical diagnosis based on wrong hypotheses, or the formerly held theory in astronomy that the Sun rotates round the Earth, are examples of viparyaya."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 25th paragraph of the Introduction.
I like to think that Mr. Iyengar's examples of Viparyaya are a poetic template for this modification of mind.
A faulty medical diagnosis based on wrong hypotheses
This first example shows how dangerous a faulty view might be. An incorrect medical diagnosis can either leave a real problem untreated, or it could lead to an unnecessary or harmful procedure. And when it is discovered that the diagnosis was incorrect, the doctor might feel guilty, or responsible for causing a patient undue suffering. Or perhaps feeling incompetent might also result from this situation. The doctor or patient might doubt future diagnoses. This can obviously cause mental distress.
And it seems like if we are doing things based on false hypotheses, that we are so lost. And isn't that so...
If we are sometimes acting based on faulty notions, it also means that we do not understand what we are doing. And maybe we can only see later that we were doing something based in false ideas. So are we, simply by merit of the human condition, condemned to hurt one another on order to learn that our thoughts are not always correct? Maybe so...
the formerly held theory in astronomy that the Sun rotates round the Earth
This example shows this concept as simply a matter of evolution. People once saw our experience as being the center of everything, worthy perhaps of having the light of the sun serve us. And now we see ourselves as being part of a larger solar system where planets travel around the sun. We depend on the sun with its light.
I can also see this applying metaphorically to the growth of an individual. When we are younger we are the center of attention, and as we age we might start to see that we are part of a larger social system. This leap in understanding might facilitate a desire to help out on a larger scale. Instead of being concerned only with the food that goes in our own mouths, maybe we start to care about whether others are being fed, too. Maybe it used to be that I was only concerned about my own happiness and safety, and now I also care about the happiness and safety of others as I see how connected we all are. My safety and happiness is related to your safety and happiness.
May you be safe and happy.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone