Samskara is an important Sanskrit word. Yoga, the union with the Higher Self, is said to be achieved when the last samskara has been worked out. Therefore the primary objective of all yogas, or paths of self transformation, is to eradiacte the samskaras of the mind.
Samskaras are imprints left in the psyche by emotionally-charged experiences.
The general principle
- “You have a car accident at a particular place. Then, for a long while, each time you drive past that place you feel uneasy; a wave of fear arises. You may even feel uncomfortable just by thinking of the episode. The traumatic imprint left in your mind after the accident is called a samskara. The malaise that subsequently appears each time you drive past the place is called a reactional emotion, or more simply an emotion.” (Sagan, Samuel, Regression, Past-Life Therapy for Here-and-Now Freedom 1.1)
- Now imagine that you have had an intense trauma when you were a young child. So intense that you have blocked it from your conscious memory. You may not have any conscious memory of the event but the samskara remains hidden and active in your psyche which pulls you one way or another in your emotions, beliefs and the choices you make.
- “Samskaras are the tracks left in the mind by previous traumatic experiences. Roughly speaking, samskaras are the ‘scars’ of the mind. (The association samskara-scar is easy to remember…)
- Samskaras do not remain silent. They have to express themselves, either consciously or unconsciously. Whether you realize it or not, in the depth of yourself your samskaras are perpetually cyring out. This is the same for all samskaras.
Pain vs Suffering
A clear distinction needs to be made between pain and suffering:
- Suffering is associated with reaction mechanisms and emotional entropy.
- Pain is what is left of suffering when samskaric reactions are silenced.
(Sitting on the beach…) “Suddenly, you feel a stabbing pain in the left side of your chest. It is so intense that your breath is taken away and you have to sit down. Immediately you start thinking of a heart attack or some other terrible disease, and a chain of associations follows – hospital, health insurance, and so on. Despair takes over! Then one minute later, you suddenly realise that a wasp was trapped inside your shirt, and that the pain came from having been stung. This brings instant relief! The ‘injury’ is exactly the same, but your suffering drops by more than half. The reason is simple; a few seconds ago you had a heart attack, and now you have just been stung by an insect. Even though the physical pain is exactly the same, your suffering is greatly diminished.” (Sagan, Samuel, Regression, Past-Life Therapy for Here and Now Freedom 7.1)
Taking this into the field of our emotions, beliefs and attitudes, as soon as the source of the intense emotion, the samskara, is recognized through IST then the suffering can never be as intense as before.