Monkey mind and Ahaṃkāra

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The rest of the sutras only explain this one:
If the restraint of the mental modifications is achieved, one has reached the goal of Yoga.

Normally, the word Yoga is translated as “union,” but for a union there should be two things to unite. In this case, what is to unite with what? So here we take Yoga to mean the Yogic experience. The extraordinary experience gained by controlling the modifications of the mind is itself called Yoga.

The basic mind is called Ahaṃkāra, or the ego, the “I” feeling. This gives rise to the intellect or discriminative faculty which is called buddhi. Another stage is called manas, the desiring part of the mind, which gets attracted to outside things through the senses.

For example, say you are quietly sitting enjoying the solitude when a nice smell comes from the kitchen. The moment the manas records, “I’m getting a fine smell from somewhere,” the buddhi discriminates, “What is that smell? I think it’s cheese. How nice. What kind? Swiss? Yes, it’s Swiss cheese.” Then, once the buddhi decides, “Yes, it’s a nice piece of Swiss cheese like you enjoyed in Switzerland last year,” the Ahaṃkāra says, “Oh, is it so? Then I should have some now.” These three things happen one at a time, but so quickly that we seldom distinguish between them.

These modifications give rise to the effort to get the cheese. The want was created and, unless you fulfill it by peeping into the kitchen and eating the cheese, your mind won’t go back to its original peaceful condition. The want is created, then the effort to fulfill the want, and once you fulfill it, you are back to your original peaceful position. So, normally you are in the peaceful state. That is the natural condition of the mind. But these citta vrittis, or the modifications of the mind-stuff, disturb that peace.

Ahaṃkāra wikipedia
Ahaṃkāra is a Sanskrit term that is related to the ego and egoism – that is, the identification or attachment of one’s ego. The term “Ahaṃkāra” comes from an approximately 3,000-year-old Vedic philosophy.

Philosophical implications
To have an understanding of this term is to have a powerful tool for understanding the nature and behavior of ourselves and of others. Vedic philosophy teaches that when one’s mind is in a state of Ahaṃkāra, one is in a state of subjective illusion, where the mind has bound the concept of one’s self with an external thing. That thing can be a tangible, material object, or it can be a concept (such as the concept of the fight of peace). The ego is involved in constructing the illusion.

Citta Vrittis Yogapedia

Citta Vrittis is a term that refers to the thoughts that clutter the mind. The name comes from the Sanskrit, citta, meaning “consciousness” or “memory,” and vritti, meaning “waves.” It can be translated in English to mean “mind chatter,” and is sometimes called “monkey mind.”


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