तस्य हेतुरविद्या I
The origin (hetuḥ) of that (tasya) misunderstanding is ignorance (avidyā).
PRACTICAL LIVING For the past many sutras we have discussed misperception and its sources. The deepest misunderstanding is that we think we are only a body that thinks and feels. We are so attached to our thoughts and emotions that the concept of having a pocket of profound peace and love within is inconceivable for many of us. Patanjali reminds us in this sutra that the reason we misperceive, and therefore suffer, is that we are surrounded by a cloud called avidyā. As a reminder of sutras II.4-II.9, this cloud is composed of:
1. asmitā (ego): we over identify with objects, people, belief systems and opinions in order to feel we know who we are. When we identify with these roles, we think we know who we are. Over identification either leads us to feel like a victim (‘poor me’ or ‘he is so much … than me’) or to arrogance (‘poor her’ or ‘I am so much more … than her’).
2. attachment (rāgaḥ): we think happiness is when we feel good. So we attach to whatever brings us that feeling of pleasure – a person, a cupcake, cigarettes, sex. But people change or leave, too many cupcakes give us a stomach ache, cigarettes make us sick and sex, though pleasureful, does not lead to happiness. We seek and grab onto external things in order to ‘feel good’ with the idea that that thing is what makes us happy.
3. avoidance (dveṣaḥ): we dislike feeling discomfort, whether it manifests as anxiety, fear, anger or frustration so we avoid it all cost. We begin to avoid social situations in order to avoid the discomfort of talking to new people, we avoid intimate relationships because they brought us suffering in the past, we avoid being alone because it brings uncomfortable feelings. So we live a life of avoidance and seek external pleasure instead.
4. fear (abhiniveśaḥ): let’s be honest, we are all scared of something ending. Whether it’s our own life, the life of loved ones, a relationship, our jobs or that someone will eat the communal fries before you get to them 😉 we are all scared of something. How often do we say (or don’t say) something because of fear that someone won’t like us? Fear dominates our lives in ways that often we are even aware of.
So this cloud, made up of over-identification, attachment, avoidance and fear changes the prescription of our glasses making everything blurry and causing us to misperceive. It’s through practice (any practice of your choice that leads to self-awareness) that we gradually fix the prescription of our glasses and begin to see more clearly and suffer less.
IN THE YOGA WORLD The constant attachment to the body, thoughts and emotions leaves imprints (samskāras) resulting in us living in a little sphere where we are surrounded by thoughts and emotions that have been glued to one another. When we try and look out of the sphere, we cannot because the thoughts and emotions are tightly packed onto one another. So we believe that the world is this globe and we live life inside of it, resulting in deep conditioning (vāsanas).
But despair not amigos. Patanjali has been telling us that there are many paths to reduce the density of the cloud that surrounds us. There are ways to unstick the sphere of thoughts and emotions around us. We just need to find something that works for us, commit to it and allow life to take care of the results!
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON I have such admiration for Shanna. Life brought us together a few years ago and there is no doubt that this relationship will only grow more and more. She has made a big life change that took immense courage and faith. Surrounded by nature and working hard organizing events that bring thousands of people joy, she does this with a smile on her face. She is fiery yet calm. She is assertive yet gentle. She is wise yet child-like. Shanna, I thank life for bringing us together and for having our paths cross again and again. Love you wonderful 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 look at the definition of freedom – kaivalya!