हेयं दुःखमनागतम् I
Suffering (heyaṁ) which has not yet been experienced (anāgatam) can be prevented (heyaṁ).
PRACTICAL LIVING The last sutra told us that suffering is just part of this journey we call life. But, Patanjali then tells us that there are ways to prevent further suffering from happening. He says that if we act before our kleśas (misperception, ego, attachment, avoidance and fear) kick in, then we can avoid future pain. Imagine our minds are like a field filled with seeds. Given the appropriate conditions, these seeds will sprout. As a farmer, there are seeds we want to sprout, and others that we really don’t. In the context of this sutra, knowing what conditions strengthens the ‘weeds’ is beneficial so that we can prevent them from growing. Though simple, it is a little trickier to practice. Having said that, this is Yoga: a practice (sādhanā). Every day, in every moment, we practice awareness, reflect and change whenever it is required.
How can we prevent future suffering exactly?
1. What are the behaviors or situations that cause you pain? Pause for a moment and reflect. Maybe write them down. It can be anything from discussing politics with Aunt Sue, overeating/over-drinking/over-exercising, excess attachment to a partner, excessive expectations of others (or yourself)…
2. What triggers those thoughts or actions? What makes you tick and cause you to scream or be passive aggressive towards someone else, eat too much chocolate or judge others for not doing what you think is right? Really, stop and think about what pushes your buttons. Is it lack of sleep? A certain time of the month ladies? Hunger? Going to visit Aunt Sue?
3. Once you are aware of the triggers, you can be more vigilant and therefore prepare for the seeds to sprout. For example, if lack of sleep is what does it for you, then be prepared that following day. Know that because you are tired, it will take less to push your buttons. That awareness makes all the difference. It makes is easier to reflect before you act.
4. Remember that these fluctuations are continuously happening inside of us, whether we notice them or not. In the last sutra Patanjali talked about the qualities of nature being agitation (rajas), heaviness (tamas) and balance (sattva). Since the body and mind fluctuate between those three, we need to cultivate a sense of acceptance that our physical-psycho-emotional states will be constantly changing. Trying to always be in a state of sattva is unrealistic, unless is happens naturally. The more we accept this concept, the less drama there is.
IN THE YOGA WORLD We have mentioned in previous sutras, karma or the Law of Attraction states that every action has a consequence. In relation to this sutra, there are 3 types of karma:
1. karma from the past with manifested consequences – actions that we took in the past which were rooted in ego, attachment, avoidance or fear that have already manifested their results. Since the consequences have been lived and we have experienced the suffering, there is nothing we can do about this.
2. karma from the past with unmanifested consequences – actions that we took in the past rooted in the kleśas that have no yet showed results. For a person who has the ability to self-reflect, these consequences can be avoided. As we change our actions and become more self-aware, we are able to change the course of the river of karma.
3. karma that is being produced now – this is where we can do the most work. By being aware of our actions today, in this exact moment, we are able to avoid future pain. Here lies the emphasis of this current sutra. Make your yoga practice extend throughout the day, not just for 60 minutes on a rubber rectangle.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON This man embodies so much of the Yoga Sutras! Daniel has embraced the study of Yoga and committed to self-growth in a truly inspirational manner! He is committed yet relaxed, flexible yet strong, serious yet goofy. His laughter fills up a room. His confidence leads him to chant the Gayatri mantra while holding a perfect handstand, to take a pre-natal teacher training program as the only man in the room, to travel the world and continuously looking to grow. He makes me laugh. The twinkle in his eyes emanates compassion. He is brutally honest and beautifully humble. Thank you Daniel for years of learning and laughter. 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 look at the Seer and that which is seen!
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Well, I am definitely attached to this website. A year and a half ago I started teaching Chair Yoga and at the same time decided to include one Sutra a week. I have been using 6 to 8 textbooks for various translations. Then I found your website. I find your translations are often the most understandable. I took a peak into Book 4 a few weeks ago and now can’t wait for that! But, what if you decided to stop the site! (Kinda kidding.) My class is on this one, II.16, now, so you guys keep up the good work. My great-grandmothers love it.
Hi Kate, I am so happy to hear that the blog is helpful. The objective is to keep it applicable to our lives. And the blog will keep going until we reach sūtra IV.34, the last one 🙂 Have fun with your ladies! They’re lucky to have such a curious and determined teacher like you!