Yoga Sutra 4.19 the mind is not self-illumining

Sūtra IV.19

It (mind) is not self-illumining, because it is itself something perceived

The other senses, and sound and so on, are not self-illumining. Just so the mind too is to be taken.

It is not self-illumining, because it is itself something perceived. The other senses like the ear, and their objects sound and so on are not self-illumining. Neither the senses nor again their objects like sound are self-illumining, because they are themselves things perceived. Just so the mind (manas) too is to be taken: the mind (citta) is to be understood as not self-illumining, because it is something perceived.

(Opponent) Let it be like fire, which is self-illumining and also illumines objects. Perceivables like jars do indeed look to an outside illumination to be revealed as they are, but not so a light. As a light illumines itself and illumines objects, so let mind too be an illuminer in the same way; what need of a Self (ātman)? When people have a light, they do not fetch another light (to illumine that one).

And if a further perceiver is assumed, it would simply be an infinite regress. For it would follow that the vijñāna-consciousness would be perceived by something separate from it, and then there would be perception of that perceiver too by some other, and of that other by yet another. Furthermore, as the vijñāna-consciousness would itself be illuminative, there could be no complementary relation of principal and auxiliary with its own perceiver, any more than in the case of two lights. As therefore any assumed perceiver of vijñāna–consciousness is pointless; let it be that knowledge illumines itself and illumines others.

(Answer) You cannot with this very poor example repudiate the Self which is supported by the accepted canons of behaviour of the whole world. Why not?

Fire is not an example of it. For it is not that fire illumines a self-nature which is not (already) light. And light is seen, when there is a conjunction of the thing illuminated with its illuminator; and there is no conjunction in the simple nature of a thing.

Fire is not an example of it, for it is not that fire illumines a self-nature which is not light. The example would be appropriate only if fire were not light, and if by itself alone, it were illumined like a jar. But it is not so, for fire is never not light.

And light is seen, when there is a conjunction of the thing illuminated with its illuminator; and there is no conjunction in the simple nature of a thing, for a conjunction is between two things, and a self-nature is not an illuminator unless there is some conjunction.

(Opponent) Still, fire does not need any other light, as does a jar.

(Answer) It is not something which can be illumined by another, and it has no form, like that of a jar, which could be so illumined. But it is not that thereby it is not seen by someone apart, for it is certainly perceived by the eye, which is apart from it in the same way.

A light will be brought to remove the darkness over an illuminable, like a jar; it is not that the jar is not illuminable. That the fire has no need of any other light has been declared by you yourself, when you said that there is no relation of principal and auxiliary between two lights. Though there is in fact a difference between the two lights, it is not because they are not illuminable that there is no relation of principal and auxiliary between them. So still less would there be any need for another light when there is no difference at all.

But the point of being perceptible to someone apart is not touched, because the two lights themselves are things seen, like a jar or other object. And thereby it is established that knowledge is known by something apart from itself, because it is something seen, like for instance the lights.

It is further established that knowledge is independent of any other instrument, because it is light by nature, as much as a lighted lamp. So there is no suspicion of any infinite regress.

(Opponent) If so, then as knowledge is inherently illuminating, and any perceiver of it will also be naturally an illuminator, there can be no mutual relation of principal and auxiliary between them, any more than between two lights.

(Answer) The point is not valid, because the Self (ātman) and knowledge are of different classes, as for instance the eye and a light.

(Opponent) But by the I-notion, the subject (pratyayin) knows the mind, in which case the very same thing has the character of both object and subject.

(Answer) Not so, because the mind consists of the three guṇa-s. In this case, the mind with tamas predominant depends on a distinct mental process consisting of sattva, like the body being scratched by the hand. In this case too, however, there is a separate perceiver of the object, a knower, which is Puruṣa. By the fact that the perceiver and perceived are of different classes, and that Puruṣa has no parts, we have refuted the contention that it is simply Puruṣa that is both the perceived object and the perceiver.

Furthermore, to say that mind is self-illumining would mean only that the mind is not a perceivable. As for instance: to say that space is self supporting means that it is not supported (by anything else). The whole activity of living beings arises from their awareness of the operations of their own mind: ‘I am angry’, ‘I am afraid’, ‘My desire is for that one’, ‘My anger is against that one’. Unless there were perception of one’s own mind, human activity would not be sensible.

Furthermore, to say that mind is self illumining would mean only that the mind is not a perceivable, because the meaning of the statement that it is self-illumining is that it is not illumined, is not perceived, by another. It is not being said that it perceives itself. So an original word can have applications which give an opposite meaning to it, As for instance, to say that space is self-supporting means that it is not supported, that becoming the sense of the words. In the same way, ‘Devadatta is sva-stha’ (literally, self-standing) means that he is healthy, not that he literally stands in himself.

He now declares that the phrase in sūtra 19: ‘because it is itself something perceived’ shows that what was proposed, for no valid reason, would contradict direct perception, would contradict general usage, and would put an end to the affairs of life. The whole activity of living beings arises from their awareness of the operations of their own mind: ‘I am angry’, ‘I am afraid’, ‘My desire is for that one’, ‘My anger is against that one’. Thus aware of, perceiving their own particular mind in operation, the discriminating are observed taking steps to get rid of anger, greed and so on. And in the same way, they perceive: ‘My mind is clear’, or perhaps impure, or bewildered. Unless there were perception of one’s own mind, human activity would not be sensible, for when the mind has calmed the agitation, it is not sensible to say that we are not aware of it.

(Opponent) Allowing that point, but let the mind be self-illuminating and also illumining objects.

(Answer) The refutation is this:

 

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