So at my weekly Yoga Sutras discussion group we are moving through the aphorisms of Patanjali a little at a time. It's pretty fun, and I have a regular discussion buddy and another lady who shows up when she can, and another who plans to come back after her summer vacation - things promise to be pretty action-packed, and I'm pleased about it. So we just went through the types of "vrttis," the fluctuations of the mind, and I was thinking about "error." One translation says that "Error is incorrect knowledge based on misinterpretation of reality." And the classic example apparently is mistaking a rope for a snake - drawing a "hasty conclusion" whilst in the "grip of emotions." Sure, yes, I dig that. It's a nice articulation of the way errors are made. Our feelings in any moment can distort a perception away from its basic aspect.
This same translation offers an explication that I think is nice, and adds that "Not always negative, error can lead us to question ourselves once more and to progress. Truth is often a succession of corrected mistakes."
Pleasant, no? I really liked that last phrase a lot. What a nice way to view one's mistakes - as a path to truth. Then I got to thinking about how negatively we think about corrections and mistakes - and thinking about how, as I've said before, I view yoga mostly as one big helpful suggestion, and not really as a right/wrong thing. I'd like something more like, "truth is a succession of adjustments to perception," or "truth is a succession of refined attempts," or "truth is the accumulated result of recovery from blunder," or "the process and result of seeking truth is the accumulation of humility and curiosity" - well, I could go on and on. Just something a bit softer, maybe?