Mana means mind and Manamaya (or Manomaya) kosha is the sheath responsible for processing thoughts, feelings, mind and emotions. It is in direct control of the operation, through the prana, of the physical body and senses. Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati says of this kosha: “It is like a supervisor in a factory, in that it gives instructions, but is not supposed to be the manager of the factory of life. Because of this, it naturally has doubts, and created illusions. When it receives clear instructions from the deeper level, it functions quite well. However, when it is clouded over by its illusions, the deeper wisdom is clouded over.”
During meditation, we become aware of Manamaya kosha, we can then explore it, and then go inward, to and through the remaining two koshas. This is what we commonly call the “monkey mind” and it is through the lens of this dimension that we perceive the world and our likes and dislikes (raga and dvesha) through the agency of our five senses.
Patajajali tells us in the yoga sutras: “Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah. Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam”. (“Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind-field. Then the seer rests in its true nature.”)
The Manamaya Kosha forms the mental body. The primary way to impact this kosha is through meditation. It is affected by the 5 kleshas as follows:
- Avidya (Ignorance): When the Manamaya kosha or mental body has mistakenly identified the Atman with the thinking mind it is easy to get “stuck” in this sheath feeling like we’re abducted by our mind. In order to break this spell, practices like pranayama (breathing) and pratyahara (mental withdrawing of the senses), are quite efficient and effective.
- Asmita (Ego): When the ego becomes aware of the Manamaya kosha and identifies with all the constant mental chatter, this becomes an obstacle to meditation, forbidding us to evolve to the point where we can work on the remaining two koshas.
- Raga (Attachment): Thoughts animate the Manamaya kosha and pleasant thoughts inhibit deep meditation. To prevent this we need to go beyond the fluctuations of the mind and master its activities. This is the basis of the Yoga Sutras.
- Dvesha (Aversion): Just the opposite of the Raga klesha, unpleasant thoughts are repulsive and being stuck in dealing with them also inhibits the deeper stages of meditation. Regular meditation practice settles these disturbing thoughts and lets us advance toward our goal of a mind at peace.
- Abhinivesha (Clinging to Life): This klesha increases our identification with our mental body, and this causes us to fear that if our thought activity stops, so do we. Our thoughts are unable to accept or deal with our mortality or the immortal aspect of the Self. To overcome this, the life of the spirit must be recognized as transcending this bodily life.
As noted in my last posts as these kleshas are recognized and dissolved (or cleared) from the Manamaya kosha, we move on to the remaining koshas enabling them to be cleansed of these afflictions, then the Atman (or Self), which is indescribable, is gradually recognized and eventually realized by direct experience; this is the goal of Yoga, meditation, Advaita Vedanta, and certain Tantra practices.
Stay tuned, next: Further exploration of each Klesha and how it colors the Vijnanamaya kosha.
Rae Indigo is ERYT 500