Yoga dictionary. Vicara
And there are many levels of answer to this question. Can be called nationality, gender, profession, last resort, any personal quality. And most people are satisfied with this explanation, creating in their minds a certain image of themselves. And, it would seem, all is well, but the problem is that in the material world everything is changeable. And not only in the physical, but also in the psychological sphere. And when in a person’s life there are some radical changes and created in his mind the image of ” I ” is destroyed, it causes cognitive dissonance, and even plunges a person into depression and shock. Moreover, even without any serious upheaval, the personality of man is constantly changing, like a river — some tendencies of the mind fade, others, on the contrary, appear. Such changes are due to karma.
Personality, which, as a rule, a person perceives as his own “I”, is nothing more than a set of samskar — karmic” prints ” created by past experiences (past actions and impressions). And in order to understand the true ” I ” that is hidden behind these veils, there is a practice like Vichara, which allows you to immerse yourself in the contemplation of your true nature and divide the eternal and the transient. The eternal unchanging nature is possessed only by the soul of man, and the personality formed by the past experience of the soul is changeable. And it’s about change, not just for many lives, but even for one day. Thus, there is no need to talk about the permanence of the ego.
“Vichara” in Sanskrit means ‘reflection’or ‘ research’. Vichara is a meditation practice that allows you to know yourself not as a body formed by the five elements under the influence of karma, not as a person formed by past experience, but as a soul. The Vedas describe three unchanging qualities of the soul: sat, chit, Ananda, which means ‘eternity, consciousness, bliss’. And in order to understand the nature of one’s soul, one’s true Self, one practices Vichara. In Patanjali’s Yoga sutras it is mentioned in Sutra 17 of Chapter 1. Vichara is described as one of the stages of attaining the state of Samadhi. In Svensson’s version of the translation, the Sutra reads: “Cognitive meditation (Vichara) is accompanied by meditation, joy and the feeling of “I am.”
The order in which the attainment of Samadhi takes place is described in more detail in Swami Vivekananda’s translation: “Concentration, called true knowledge, is that which is accompanied by reasoning, discrimination, bliss, the uncertainty of the personal principle.” Thus, Vichara is the second step of the four on the path to Samadhi. In the translation version of Krishnamacharya, the Sutra reads: “the Object gradually becomes fully understood. First on a more superficial level. Over time, the attainment becomes deeper. Finally, it becomes all-encompassing. Achieving such a depth of understanding gives pure joy. The individual is so merged with the object that he does not notice the environment.” Pure joy is what has been said above, and thus one of the qualities of the soul, Ananda, or bliss, is manifested.
So vicara is one of the steps on the path to Samadhi. It is preceded by such a state as vitarka, which means ‘thought’. That is, focusing on a particular thought leads to a state of Vichara, a process of self-knowledge. The process of vicara leads to the state of Ananda, bliss. Because in the process of cognition all the original qualities of the soul are revealed, and one of them is bliss. And this state, in turn, leads to asmita, the state of awareness of oneself as an eternal unchanging soul.
Atma-Vichara is practiced in many areas of yoga. Atma means ‘soul ‘and vicara means’knowledge’. Thus, the goal of Atma-vicara is to know one’s true Self. This happens by constantly trying to see the Perceiver. Experiencing certain reactions to the environment, the practitioner concentrates on thinking about who is experiencing certain experiences, and who is the one who is experiencing it. By immersing himself in this meditation, the practitioner realizes the true nature of his soul.
As described in the Sutra of Patanjali 1.17, vichare precedes vitarka (the idea). It is about concentration on the idea of identity of the individual soul and the Supreme consciousness, this idea is reflected in the Vedic mahavakya (great saying) “Tat tvam ASI”, which translates as ‘that you are’. Concentration on this idea leads to vicara and then to Ananda-bliss and the complete destruction of the illusion of Ego.