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Sanskaras (also spelled Samskaras)
In Hinduism sanskaras (singular: sanskara) (Sanskrit for impression; under the impulse of previous impressions) are the imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one's nature, responses, states of mind, etc.

Sanskaras are impressions derived from past experiences that form desires that influence future responses and behavior (karma). Extensive writing on the impressional sanskara has been done by the Indian author Meher Baba, who discusses the concept in depth in his books God Speaks and Discourses. According to him sanskaras are imprints left on the subconscious by experiences in past lives, or the present life, and which determine and condition one’s desires and actions. They are not entities with substance or shape, nor are they forces, but are understood in psychological terms only. In Discourses Meher Baba writes:

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.

Sanskaras, once acquired and accumulated, form 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 appercieve those objects through the lens of past experience. We perceive through the imprint or conditioning of past impressions or sanskaras.

According to Meher Baba, in the course of evolution sanskaras play a vital role in that they aid in the formation of conscious experience, and thus eventually bring about self-awareness in the human form, but then serve no further purpose. According to Baba they are actually a hindrance once full consciousness is achieved in the human form because they slant our experience of things as they are. The goal for the human being then is to be rid of them by "unwinding" them or through "shakings" caused by progressive variously opposite life experiences over many human lives in reincarnation, thereby eventually unveiling and revealing the true nature of reality and the true identity of the self. According to Meher Baba the ridding of sanskaras can be quickened by the help or guidance of a perfected master or satguru.

The idea of the sanskara holds implications for metaphysics, psychology, and process philosophy by offering a verb-like or dynamic way to account for experience rather than a purely substance or entity-based model. In this view the 'what' of the object of perception is the result of the 'how' of the act of perceiving. What one sees is determined by the condition of one's mind influencing how one is seeing. In this view experience supervenes to produce objects; objects do not supervene to produce experience - the current western view.

[Author's note: We have a whole book on this from the West now about this way we create our reality. It is The Book of Not Knowing by Peter Ralston, martial arts master and ontologist.]