The Simple Truth

Yoga is based on a simple truth…when a person misunderstands reality they suffer. When reality is understood the response to suffer is one of your own making. You will still feel both pleasure and pain.

Please realize that it is within your own power to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and emotions-- to train your mind to create a reality that allows for a calm peaceful experience-- a mind set that readily translates to a reality that you are excited to live in.

As both Yoga and the Buddha would have it pain is an inevitable part of living but suffering is optional. The Yoga Sutras cut straight to the heart of the human dilemma as they analyze how we know what we know and why we suffer. Patanjali provided a meditative program to help each of us fulfill the primary purpose of consciousness--to see things as they are and how to achieve freedom from suffering.  

SUTRA 1.2 YOGAS CITTA VRTTI NIRODHAH*
"Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind."

SUTRA 1.3 TADA DRASTUH SVARIPE VASTHANAM
"When that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature."

SUTRA 1.4 VRTTI SARUPYAM ITARATRA
"Otherwise, at other times, [the seer] is absorbed in the changing states [of the mind].

 

Nowadays, there are many different theories around the meaning of the term "Seer" from the "soul" to "pure awareness"... be that as it may. I prefer to use Edwin Bryant's interpretation: "By seeing he [Patanjali] does not intend the gross power of sight as manifested through the physical organ of sight but as a metaphor for consciousness itself, which sees in the sense of exhibiting awareness."*

It is a complex concept that while fascinating--the simple truth is that it doesn't really matter what you think a "Seer" might be--what truly matters is a steady practice that clears out the "mind stuff". Making room for a clearer picture to emerge, one that is genuinely based on what is actually happening right now.

My goal for my yoga students is a calm peaceful mind that is free of negative rumination. A mind that is not worrying about the future or replaying the past---a mind that is just dealing with what it finds in this present moment.

During your life experience you will cross from equanimity to pain to suffering if you become exhausted, your confidence is shaken, or your way of coping experiences frequent disturbances, rigid rules, demoralizing remarks, a lack of emotional support or complications.

SO….

If you understand why you hurt, you have access to supportive people, your environment is peaceful and safe, you are not bound by rigid rules and you know healthy ways to respond to criticism and intolerance—then pain gives way to mastery, confidence and a sense of well-being. This allows one to cope with one’s life experience and not suffer for it.

Yoga teaches that if one commits to the Yogic path then it will mean the end of your suffering. But you must accept that most of your suffering is not society-based, it is a construct of your own mind.

You look in for the source of your suffering, you stop transferring the blame to the outside world. Your body and the vast majority of your brain would like you to take careful note of that simple truth.

Mental suffering is a side-effect of a normal bodily function, the conscious thoughts produced by your mind are not a sign of damage, injury…these thoughts do not represent the actual damage or injury.

They are your thoughts, rumination and speculation about the damage or injury. One hopes that the other parts of your brain have already stepped in and assured your safety and have gotten you appropriate care.

If you truly understand this then you will stop using your thoughts to increase your pain. You will directly deal with the circumstance at hand and then you will move on.

Mindlessly churning your mind through frustrating often pointless feedback loops is wasted time, wasted life, once you know the reason for your mental suffering you immediately feel better.

The simple action of exposing a fear, expressing it, causes fear to lose it’s hold on your mind, enabling you to take a reality based look at its source.

Decide right now to stop listening to the stories in your head that cause you suffering and mental anguish.

Yoga teaches that mental modifications (the mind stuff) are restrained through practice and non-attachment to the cause of the modifications.

SUTRA 1.5 VRTTAYAH PANCATAYYAH KLISTAKLISTAH
"There are five kinds of changing states of the mind, and they are either detrimental or nondetrimental [to the practice of yoga].

SUTRA 1.12 ABHYASA VAIRAGYABHYAM TAN NIRODHAH
"[The vrtti states of mind] are stilled by practice and dispassion."

If you apply right knowledge then perhaps you will come to realize that your fears have nothing to do with the world around you, instead they stemmed from what you believed about your surroundings. If your thoughts are filled with wrong knowledge then believing those thoughts will cause you to suffer.

When you stop believing those thoughts you stop suffering and that is true for everyone, not just aspiring Yogis.

Knowledge replaced my fear of pain and my suffering diminished.

Freedom from suffering is as simple as that.

*All Sanskrit and translations by Bryant, Edwin F. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary; 2009; North Point Press; New York

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