Sutra II.9 – Chapter II, Sutra 9

स्वरसवाही विदुषोऽपि तथारूढो भिनिवेशः

svarasa-vāhī viduṣaḥ-api samārūḍhaḥ-abhiniveśaḥ

Fear (abhiniveśaḥ) is deeply rooted (samārūḍhaḥ) and flows from its own source (svarasa) to every human being, even (api) the wise (vidusah).

PRACTICAL LIVING In this sutra Patanjali describes the fifth and last cause of suffering: fear (abhiniveśa). We encounter fear on a daily basis and it shows up dressed as emotions such as anxiety, insecurity, worry, apprehension…There is a spectrum here as well, ranging anywhere from mild worry to extreme panic.

Fear is a deeply rooted emotion that we are born with. Our instinct to live and thrive is strong, and fear insures we do so when faced with danger. The problem, however, is that we experience fear even when our lives are not in danger. We worry that our children won’t go to college, we feel anxious when we don’t know how things will turn out, we are insecure when we don’t feel we’re good enough…These are all human conditions, but most of them are not life-threatening. They all branch out from fear.

Fear is strongly connected to the other sources of suffering we discussed in the previous sutras: misperception, attachment, avoidance and the ego. We fear the ending of something (our lives, a relationship, a job), which leads to attachment. This attachment results in us avoiding certain things or people to ensure we keep that thing (our life, a person or a job). The ego thinks it is happy when we keep on grabbing onto that which we are attached to. Finally, all of this is a big misunderstanding of happiness: we have the potential for peace and joy within, yet like the musk deer (see Sutra II.8), we keep looking for it outside.

What do you fear? Start with external objects such as spiders, earthquakes and gradually go in deeper to things such as fear of being alone, fear of not being loved. A ritual I suggest to many people is:

1. Go to a safe and sacred place (anywhere and anytime) alone.

2. Write about your fears, the things that make you feel vulnerable. Allow your feelings to surface and just observe them as you write.

3. When you’re done writing, read them to yourself, aknowledging your fears.

4. Finally, ask life (or pray to God, whatever works for you) to help you let go of these fears as you either burn or tear the sheets of paper you wrote on.

Like peeling layers off of an onion, we become aware of our fears, a deep part of us that we usually avoid. The more we learn about these fears, the less scary they become. As we welcome them into our lives, we cultivate more self-love.

IN THE YOGA WORLD     In India, where most of the population believes in reincarnation, fear of death is said to be a learned emotion. Because we have died in our past lives, we fear it in this life. In Western psychology, however, it is said to be an inborn instinct. In a way, the Indian and the Western perspectives are opposite: one says fear is caused by ‘knowing’ what death means, which leads us to try and avoid it, while the other fears death because of the ‘unknown’ of what death actually leads to. Regardless of who we are, where we come from or our level of clarity, Patanjali states that fear exists in all of us. The key, as we will discuss in the following sutra, is how to reduce its dominance in how we live our lives.

The following is a summary of the 5 kleshas:

Lack of understanding leads us to perceive the external world from a warped angle, causing us to “love” or “hate” things. This love or hatred are attachments – objects, people or ideas that we attach to in order to feel like we “know” who we are – in order to give the ego (asmita) some calmness. These kleshas are all intertwined and work together in creating the lenses through which we experience life. Our job are yogis is to gradually look at the scratches that the glasses have and be aware of them. Once we’re aware of the scratches we can choose to polish the glasses so we can see clearer


Shenkeez is a man who seeks. He searches for meaning, for pleasure, for personal growth. In order to fulfill those searches, he spends 30 days in a desert carrying only a knife and the clothes he’s wearing, he walks across an entire country with a backpack, he brews his own beer and he is devoted to his family life like few do. He has a light yet deep vibe to him. People around him are laughing and enjoying life. He is exceptionally committed at whatever he does: love, work and play! Thank you Shenkeez for your fabulous friendship. Love you man!

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 discuss how to reduce the power of these kleshas!

One thought on “Sutra II.9 – Chapter II, Sutra 9

  1. Pingback: Sūtra II.52 – Chapter II, Sūtra 52 | weeklysutra

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