सुखानुशयी रागः I
Excessive desire (ragah) results from (anusayi) pleasant experiences (sukha).
PRACTICAL LIVING Last week we spoke about one of the sources of suffering (klesa) called asmita, or the ego. The ego needs to identify itself with several external things to be able to say “this is who I am” – this is how the mind feels safe in the world. Related to the ego is what Patanjali talks about in this week’s sutra: attachment or desire (raga). We are attracted towards anything that makes us feel good. Duh. That is no big revelation. We all like to feel love, gratitude, excitement, passion, etc. The problem is not in having that wonderful experience, but lies in the consequence of that experience – we want to repeat it and not let it go. That ‘grabbing’ onto an experience, object, idea or person is what causes us to suffer.
The problem, according to Patanjali, is that we think happiness originates in that part of life which is always changing. Our clouded mind leads the: bachelorette to think that if she is married, then she will be happy; the drunk guy to think that the next drink will really be the best and last one; the millionaire that she needs one more house; the average person down the street that they need more money in order to be happy. We are attached to false values that may lead to pleasure, but not necessarily happiness.
Attachment can be found in more subtle layers as well. How attached are you to being vegan? How attached are you to your style of yoga? How attached are you to your nationality? How we define ourselves is also an attachment. One of the great stories I have heard about the ‘grandfather of Modern Yoga’ – T Krishnamacharya, is that even though he was a devout Hindu, we could argue from different religious perspectives. In other words, his personal choice did not close his mind to seeing the world from that unique perspective. Let us learn how to ‘hold’ onto our personal choices, as opposed to ‘grab’ onto them.
IN THE YOGA WORLD Our deepest misunderstanding (avidya), according to Patanjali, is that we do not recognize we have this magnificent potential within. We therefore rely on our bodies and minds to experience life. The body and mind are great at seeking pleasure. So we become confused and get addicted to having a good time. This pleasure-seeking race is used to cover the void that we have for not knowing our true nature. That void does not feel good, so the mind automatically searches for something ‘delicious’ to attach itself to. This can be anything from a movie to a candy bar to a full blown cocaine addiction.
Are you telling me to stop enjoying life??!! No! Not at all! Life should be filled with pleasureful experiences! But as the clouds part and we start gaining more clarity, we begin to understand that pleasure is not where our deepest potential for peace, joy and love lies. It’s deeper than in the next great job or the latest iPhone, much deeper…
I have witnessed beautiful transformations in this wonderful woman’s life. Jess tells stories of having once lived from a place of raga (desire) and how much that caused her pain. She now lives from a place of gratitude, of love, of trust and that is so much lighter, easier and more fulfilling. Your life story is inspiring Jess. You have created a life of love for yourself, with so much commitment, with so much faith. It brings a warm smile to my heart and tears of joy to my eyes thinking of the depths of reflection, the digging through some old stuff and the ‘holding’ instead of ‘grabbing’ onto things that you envisioned experiencing in your life. I feel so lucky to know you. Love you beautiful woman!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will explore dvesa – avoidance!