Discernment Comes From Studying Thought Patterns
Ethical discipline and spiritual progress cannot be cultivated without sufficient data to analyse the inner workings of our heart and mind. Without data, we have no way of knowing the quality of our consciousness at the moment we engage in perceiving something, in other words; the depth of our awareness.

Sutra 1:16 tat param purusha khyateh guna vaitrshnyam

Through careful analysis, and discernment of self-knowledge (khyateh) gained from studying thought patterns, its qualities, and attributes (guna), freedom from desire (vaitrshnyam), and union with supreme (param) consciousness (purusha) is realized.

We not only have to become aware of our negative attitudes, and psychological weaknesses, but also record how it manifests in our personal, professional, and spiritual lives. A thorough analysis of our feelings, emotions and intentions will reveal our sources of attachments, and aversions. It will become apparent which aspects of our life need spiritual healing. How much time we spend fighting or fleeing. And how much time wanting, and grappling.

The nature of the soul does not need to reason in order to see what is real. Reality is its nature since it is an exact image of the Divine Spirit. There is a veil of ignorance that distorts reality as it is, and this distortion is the result of our experiences that has given birth to our current mode of thinking - the mind. If our awareness falls on something we desire, the desire begins to stimulate our senses and thoughts, and these thoughts awaken our instinctive passionate, or repulsive tendencies associated with attachments and aversions. Then we get busy using our mind to scheme how we will obtain our desires, or run away from our fears. The means involved in the process of this pursuit degrades awareness and is the cause of all the darkness and suffering in our lives.

No innovative solution of any kind is possible with a conditioned mind. Einstein had pegged this well when he said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.” and "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result." What is interesting here is the fact that the same intellect that is used to create our suffering, is responsible for elimination of it through regular scrupulous analysis of our thoughts, emotions, and intentions. In this sutra, we come to realize the importance of non-attachment.

It is only when we are detached from our goals, objectives, and relationships, does clarity ensue. Clarity makes its entry because there are no negative thought patterns obscuring reality anymore. The veil has been transcended.

As the power of discernment dawns, where in the past the mind used to instinctively take the path of misery making desires, now with love in the heart, and light within the soul, the feet embarks on the path of compassion. We begin working on things that help others, as opposed our own self-centered wants. Just like that, what seemed impossible will come naturally, provided you persist. The important thing is to stay detached of all outcomes otherwise your efforts will become a toil and you will get discouraged.

Today this discouragement is known as compassion fatigue in the scientific community, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in emotionally demanding situations. Please become mindful here that real compassion never fatigues, it is our capacity to empathize that tires simply because empathy precedes compassion. When empathy fatigues, we do not want to hear and understand the suffering of others, we judge and we punish. A child is dying hungry in Somalia and the mind reasons, "None of my business, that's too far away, I have a family of my own to take care of..." on and on. Then we begin accompanying people who believe just like us never realizing that in such company, we fail from evolving. What happened to that imprint we at some point decided to change?

Question: Why is it important to carefully discern what is happening. For example, in the above case, the difference between compassion and empathy?

All states of emotion, intentions, and inclination have their own unique energy signature. If you misdiagnose the ailment, the remedy shall continue to elude you. This is especially true in the case of misdiagnosing energy. Self-study is an arduous, but the most rewarding undertaking one can ever embark upon. Initially, it is painful, but when one personally experiences an intentional transformation, they become hooked to the discipline of Yoga. Joy knows no bounds, and bliss overflows.

All energies have a certain feel. A Yogi, or a highly sensitive individual will not be able to spend five seconds in the same room that is filled with negative energy of envy, greed, hatred, and aggression without detecting it. If you are unable to discern lower energies such as anger, anxiety, and depression, you remain stuck in the slow vibration these emotions create. These vibrations is what determines what you get in life and how you feel.

If you desire for love and tranquility while surrounded by this negative energy, the Universe will not allow it. One cannot bring into existence peace and harmony out of hate, lack, and chastisement. You will need to know accurately what you are feeling, what thoughts lead to those feelings, and when did those get embedded in your psyche. This is the only way out of suffering and anguish.

  • Sutra-1.16 tat param purusha khyateh guna vaitrshnyam
  • tat - that

  • param - is higher, superior, supreme, transcendent

  • purusha - pure consciousness, Self

  • khyateh - through knowledge, vision, discernment

  • guna - elements, prime qualities, constituents, attributes; (three gunas of sattvas, rajas, tamas)

  • vaitrshnyam - state of freedom from desire or craving (for the gunas)