|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 265 ]
Drishthi is a Sanskrit term that refers to the visible, the seen, or that which is perceived. When we speak of yoga drishthi, we are referring to a particular way of looking at things -- perception from a yogic point of view which intends to be a clear, unbiased and unclouded view -- a way that reveals the underlying truth of any given phenomenon.
But what are the underlying truths and how can we be sure that we are properly perceiving them? As a famous philosopher once remarked; "I know myself only as I appear to myself." We appear to ourselves through the filters of our cultural, religious and social upbringing. Remember that we have begun to understand the importance of awareness, along with the unfortunate truth of just how unaware most of us are. Awareness is an essential element in perception and truth.
As the saying goes, "my eyes have once again deceived me." Such is the nature of the five gross senses. Generally accepted to provide us with correct information, upon close scrutiny these senses often reveal themselves to be inaccurate and unreliable.
We have all see a mirage of water on the distant highway on a hot summer day, mistaken the sound of a goat for a baby's cry, or mistook the backfire of a car's engine for the firing of a pistol. Yes, our senses deceive us on a perpetual basis, yet we continue to believe them without question. Swami Gitananda counselled that we must be ever alert to the untruth of our senses and our perceptions.
In order to know 'truth', this problem of 'perception' must first be overcome. Our culturalization and socialization plays the major role in the biggest reality fraud.
As much as everyone likes to believe that they developed throughout life as an intelligent, independently thinking being, none of us have. Our mental state is primarily a product of the pictures, images, ideas, concepts, plans and designs that are presented to us within the structure of our family, society, religion and political environment, as well as personal biases which developed along the way as a result of our own experiences.
This mental frame is largely established in childhood where children, as they learn to walk and talk and engage actively in the surrounding world, take on the posture and attitudes of their parents or primary caregiver. The process continues throughout life as one contacts further elements of their culture in the form of teachers, social relationships, media, etc.
When perception, views and attitudes are programmed into one's head right from an early age, and re-enforced at every turn within the regional culture, the veil of deception becomes unnoticed and the programmed attitudes, judgments and ideas are invariably mistaken for reality itself.
Unless one makes a discerned effort to direct their inquiry beyond the scope of their life-long influences, then these attitudes, this state of mind, becomes difficult to break free from. "You can’t teach an old dog new tricks" is a perfect axiom to illustrate this unfortunate point.
Hence, there is a fundamental lack of impartiality or objectivity among nearly all who walk the face of this earth today, each believing whole-heartedly in his/her world view as crafted not from truth and actuality, but through conditioning and life circumstances.
To 'perceive' in yoga drishthi then, does not mean to see things as one has been conditioned to see them. It means, rather, to see things as they actually are. If our perceptive ability is clear and unclouded, then we have a ready capacity for knowledge.
The first step, however, is a ready admission that much of what one has thought to be true throughout their entire life may in fact represent only partial truths, or in some cases be entirely untrue altogether...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
"The Science of Yoga is a course worthy of
leather binding and an honored place in the
finest libraries in the world
... It is indeed a masterful work."
Dr. John Michael Christian
Learn More About
The Science of Yoga Course