The five modifications of the mind are correct knowledge, wrong knowledge, imagination, memory, and sleep. For a more detailed description of those, read my article here.
Now I want to talk about the causes of these modifications of the mind.
Basically, we have all this “monkey mind” or “mind chatter” going on. What I want to do now is help you understand why this monkey mind and mind chatter takes places.
Here are the five causes for the five modifications of the mind:
When I say ignorance, I am talking about ignorance of your true self. We have a tendency as people to identify ourselves with our names, with our possessions, with our experiences, and with our form, our mind and our body.
But what we have to realize is that we are not our names. We are not our possessions. We are not our experiences. And we are not our forms. We are not our mind, and we are not our body. Because all of these things are tenuous and transitory, susceptible to decay and destruction.
Egoism is quite simply the feeling of individuality which limits a person and distinguishes the person physically, mentally, intellectually, and emotionally from the group.
Almost everyone has at least a subtle form of ego. Almost everybody does things deliberately in order gain a sense of separateness and significance. Maybe your ego most clearly evinces in your style of dress, or the jewelry you wear, or the tattoos and piercings on your body. Or maybe your ego most clearly evinces in the university in which you enroll or the career in which you work or the number of workshops or trainings you attend.
Fear is our survival instinct. Fear is our deeply rooted inclination to cling to life. Whenever we have the thought, “If x happens, what will I do?” we are experiencing fear. Whenever we obsess about survival strategies, we are experiencing fear. When we raise concerns over our self-preservation, we are experiencing fear. Fear tends to habituate our mental patterns with the phrase, “What if.”
Attachment is desire to obtain or maintain things. Attachment is the tendency to grasp for things. Attachment tends to arise anytime you possess something that you like, but refuse to let it go, even if a situation demands you to do so. Your attachments could include any number of people, places, experiences, or things.
Aversion is desire to avoid or abandon things. Aversion is the inverse of attachment, but an equally tempestuous affliction. Aversion tends to arise anytime you oppose something that you dislike, resisting its presence and influence within your life. Your aversions could include any number of people, places, experiences, or things.