Sūtra II.34 – Chapter II, Sūtra 34

वितर्का हिंसादयः कृतकारितानुमोदिता लोभक्रोधमोहपूर्वका मृदुमध्याधिमात्रा दुःखाज्ञानानन्तफला इति प्रतिपक्षभावनम् I

vitarkā-hiṁsā-ādayaḥ-kṛta-kārita-anumoditāḥ-lobha-krodha-moha-pūrvakāḥ mṛdu-madhya-adhimātrāḥ duḥkha-ajñāna-ananta-phalāḥ iti pratipakṣa-bhāvanam

When our thoughts are clouded (vitarkā) we often act while ‘drunk’ with greed (lobha), anger (krodha) or infatuation (moha). Regardless of whether our actions are mild (mṛdu), moderate (madhya) or strong (adhimātrāḥ), and regardless of whether the act was done by us (kṛta), or we caused it (kārita), or even approved of it (anumoditāḥ), the consequences (phalāḥ) are unlimited (ananta) suffering (duḥkha) and ignorance (ajñāna). Therefore (iti), we should cultivate a different (pratipakṣa) mental attitude (bhāvanam).

PRACTICAL LIVING     This sūtra expands on what we discussed last week: the concept of being open to different perspectives when we find ourselves tightening up. Here Patañjali goes into more detail and explains the chain of reactions that happens when we are not actively practicing the yamas (kindness, honesty, moderation) and niyamas (gratitude, reflection and surrender) (see sūtras II.30, II.31 and II.32). We will break down this detailed sūtra as follows:

What we do: we have an incorrect perception of who we are (vitarkā), which leads us to solely identify with the ego – that part of us that feels separate and is always comparing and competing, causing us to harm others and ourselves (hiṁsa).

How we do it: we either hurt others with words, actions or thoughts (kṛta), or we permit the harm to be done (kārita), or we enjoy while others are being harmed (anumoditāḥ) – remember when we secretly loved the fact that our ex-boss, our partner’s ex (or someone you have trouble with) had their car scratched?

Why we do it: the sources of this harm are greed (lobha), anger (krodha), delusion (moha) or other underlying issues (pūrvaka). Greed leads us to think that we need more – more money, more love, more power, more more more. And whenever we have more (which is an endless spiral), well, then life will be ok and we will feel complete. This links to our delusion, a distorted view of life, happiness and ourselves where we think that if we have more our problems and suffering will disappear. Anger completes this topic of greed and delusion. Some of us believe that we don’t feel anger! It’s so bottled up inside that we cannot even access it and it manifests in physical illness or emotional explosive moments. Others are the opposite and cannot control it. Anger is an emotion we all feel that is rooted in fear – the fear that we don’t have enough and are not enough.

The intensity: we can cause harm subtly (mṛdu) by being passive aggressive or giving someone else the silent treatment or telling ‘white lies’. A step up (madhya) and we are causing more harm by actually being rude, being physically or emotionally aggressive, stealing from someone etc. And step it up a notch (adhimātraḥ) and we are killing others.

The result: causing harm to ourselves and others only leads to more suffering (duḥkha) and even more ignorance (ajñāna). Confusion leads to harm and harm leads to more confusion!

The solution: anything that we do that causes harm to others needs some reflection. Patañjali tells us, once more, that we need to step back and re-think things. The concept of pratipakṣa bhāvanam begs us to make some space between the observer in you and your emotion, and take a different path. Try something different! It’s like going to the optometrist and being told we need a new prescription.

IN THE YOGA WORLD     Self-reflection is a topic that we have seen over and over again throughout the first two chapters of the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. Reflection requires us to stop the auto-pilot emotional chain reaction that we’re usually in and look elsewhere. Like we mentioned last week, that may involve seeking the help of someone else, it may be through a book or it may be done alone. Many commentators of the Yoga Sūtras emphasize causing harm to others in this sūtra. I would like to point out, though, that a lot of the harm that we do is towards ourselves.

How often do we call ourselves “stupid”, “ugly”, “pathetic”, “dumb”, “fat”, etc. Would we ever call a young child all of those names? Most of us would not. Viewing ourselves as an innocent child may be your meditation for this next week. Can you see yourself as this beautiful loving child? Because we are! The more loving we are towards ourselves, the more love we give to everyone around us.

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     This man is a beautiful example of generosity, SUTRA II.34-TEAGUEkindness and love. From his job to his personal relationships, Teague is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. His desire to be a man of peace, a good human being is one he achieves really well. Life presented him with some challenges (which we all have our share of), and he has dealt with them in a really admirable non-violent way. Thanks Teague for being a wonderful role-model of kindness and love. Love you my gringo brother!

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 discuss the power of kindness and the people who have mastered that art!


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