1.4 – Otherwise, the seer identifies with the fluctuations in consciousness.

वृत्तिसारूप्यमितरत्र ॥४॥

vritti sarupyam itaratra

  • vritti – fluctuations; modifications; activities; movements
  • sarupyam – conformity with; likeness; similarity of form; identification with
  • itaratra – otherwise; at other times; on the other hand; elsewhere

Commentary on Sutra 1.4:

    When not knowingly abiding in and as Awareness,
    our perceptions become distorted by the continuously morphing waves in consciousness (the vrittis). Out of those whirling thoughts, emotions, and appearances, we attempt to build a solid identity.

    Wrapped up in the idea that our bodies can become sick and die, we live with worry and anxiety. Imagining ourselves to be our career or social status, we become stressed and fearful when threatened with their loss.

    All the familiar feelings of jealousy, envy, frustration, and anger stem from our belief in a separate, independent self. And the majority of our life-force and creative efforts go into constructing and reinforcing that false-self.

    Behind the window dressing, a nagging feeling that something is missing claws at our insides. No matter how hard we try to distract ourselves from it, that raw pain continues to gnaw at us.

    We attempt to soothe it with entertainment, sensual pleasure, drama, and intoxicants. And while some of those pursuits bring us fleeting states of happiness, none offer lasting peace and contentment.

    The ache is deeper than any external sense of fulfillment can reach. It’s the ache of forgetting what we really are, the torment of not knowing our true nature. The irony is that the bliss we seek in the outer world is always already with us. We’re like a man begging on the street who has forgotten the million-dollar check in his back pocket.

    Awakening is not another goal to achieve or a possession to acquire. It’s the remembrance of our true identity.