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Patanjali vs. the subconscious

Patanjali's Sutras refer to the pain (klesas) produced by the psychomental states (citta-

vrtti).  In fact, human experience in its essence is painful.  He says that yoga alone

makes it possible to suspend the vrtti (psychic matrices) and abolish suffering.  Because

other 'whirlwinds' would immediately arise to take the place of any ones eliminated,

(emerging from the huge reserves of vasanas {subconscious latencies}), the mere aboli-

tion of metaphysical ignorance is not sufficient to end the 'states of consciousness'.  The

concept of vasanas (subconscious latencies) is of prime importance in yogic psychology. 

They unceasingly feed the infinite series of cittavritti, and they are imperceptible and

difficult to dominate. They actualize themselves in the form of acts of consciousness. 

Eliade states "...Thus - even if he has behind him a long practice and has covered many

stages of his ascetic journey - the yogi is in danger of being overwhelmed by the inva-

sion of a powerful torrent of psychomental 'whirlwinds' precipitated by the vasanas...

These subconscious forces determine the lives of the majority of men.  It is only through yoga that they can be known, controlled, and 'burned out'."


The part played by the subconscious is important in yogic psychology and technique.  It

becomes useless to seek to modify the states of consciousness (cittavrtti) before the la-

tencies (vasanas) have also been controlled and dominated.  If the destruction of the

cittavrtti is to be succesfull, it is indispensable that the subconscious-conscious circuit be broken.  This is what yoga attempts to do by putting to work a complex of techniques intended to annihilate the psychomental flux, in other words, it attempts to dominate/conquer the subconscious by asceticism. 



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