1.5 The fluctuations of the mind are fivefold and are either detrimental or non-detrimental.

Sutra 1-5 card

“Our thoughts and feelings are trained by habit to flow in predictable patterns, which determine whether our life fosters a sense of ease and happiness or turns from it.”

— Nischala Joy Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga

“Patanjali says there are five kinds of vrttis, and again these are grouped into two major categories. One variety brings us pain; the other does not. Notice that he does not divide the thoughts into painful and pleasurable. Why? Because even a so-called pleasurable thought might ultimately bring us pain. And, again, we cannot easily know in the beginning whether a particular thought will bring pain or not. Some thoughts begin with pain but end leaving us at peace. Others appear to be pleasurable but bring pain…. Instead of “painful” and “painless,” we might be able to understand this point better if we use two other words. Call them “selfish” thoughts and “selfless” thoughts. …we should analyze all our motives and try to cultivate selfless thoughts. That is our first and foremost duty. …say to the mind, ‘All right; if you want to create some thought forms, go ahead. But if you create thoughts that will bring you pain, you are the one who will suffer. If you are selfish, you will suffer later on.'”

–Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

“Note the words used in this sutra: “painful or painless.” Why not use the word pleasurable, the natural opposite of painful? We mistakenly think (sometimes subconsciously) that there is a philosophy or set of spiritual exercises that will put an end to suffering and bring pleasure. We believe this because we forget that the pleasure we seek is, in reality, who we already are. And although it is true that vrtti activity does have only two effects, they are not pain and pleasure. The truth is that vrtti activity can either obscure the happiness that is our true nature or leave that happiness undisturbed.”

– Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras

“The source of our pain is our own appointment or expectation. The mind, when no longer prodded by self-centered thought processes, gradually settles down, becoming clear and still. Operating the mind in a selfless mode does not directly bring pleasure; it simply leaves the mind alone so that the inner joy can shine forth.”

– Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras

“Now we know that selfish thoughts will bring misery and selfless ones will leave us in peace. How are we to know whether our thoughts are selfless or not? We have to watch carefully the moment a thought-form arises in the mind. We become analysts. This itself is Yoga practice — watching our own thoughts an analyzing them.”

–Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjal

“…Mental activities provoke suffering when they separate us from the yoga state. They reduce suffering when they draw us nearer to that state. Thus, we should not look upon mental activity as good or bad in itself.”

– Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga

“Each and every instance of meditation, prayer, selfless action, study of high ideals, or mantra repetition adds force to the momentum of painless vrttis, strengthening their influence in our lives. …No yogic act, no matter how small, is ever wasted and contributes to Self-realization.”

– Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras

“By seeing others happy, you can’t be unhappy. By making everybody unhappy, you can never be happy yourself. So, at least for your happiness, bring happiness to others. If you really want to be selfish, be selfish in the idea of retaining your peace.”

–Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali