Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Vikalpa refers to imagination, the third whirlpool of the mind, as identified by Pantanjali.
What's the difference between Viparaya (Sutra 1.8 - Wrong Knowledge) and Vikalpa (Sutra 1.9 - Imagination?)
Wrong knowledge has some basis in reality - e.g. something we mispercieve or misunderstand.
Imagination has no basis in reality.
According to Pantanjali, all of five of these whirlpools can be painful and painless.
But how can imagination be painful? Isn't it a good thing to have an imagination?
Imagination can be amazing if it prompts our creativity - but it can be painful if we imagine needless suffering. If we get caught up in "what if x happens?" or worst case scenario thinking...this is painful imagination.
The trick is to keep coming back to the moment, keep doing our practice, to connect to what's real and what's not.
This is yoga.