Introduction to Sanskaras
Sanskaras are impressions (or “imprints”) left on the subconscious mind by past experiences (in current and past lives) which determine one’s current and future behaviours and actions (karma).
The mental processes are partly dependent upon the immediately given objective situation, and partly dependent upon the functioning of accumulated sanskaras or impressions of previous experience. From the psychogenetic point of view, human actions are based upon the operation of the impressions stored in the mind through previous experience.
– Meher Baba
Perspective Through Distorted Lenses
Sanskaras, once acquired and accumulated, create what can be compared to a lens through which the subjective aspects of our experience arise. Thus when we perceive (either thoughts or external objects) we see those objects through the lens of past experience.
Sanskaras are actually a hindrance because they distort our experience of things as they really are. Therefore, the goal is to completely dissolve them—through the practices of yoga and meditation—thereby revealing the true nature of reality, freeing ourselves from the cycle of samsara (moksha), and achieving the bliss of nirvana.