Sutra 2.22: krita-artham prati nashtam api anashtam tat anya sadharanatvat
To him who has attained fulfillment, when the (un)real nature of the polarisation of experiencing is truly understood, the contact with pain ceases: the only way to avoid pain is never to be separated from it (as the experiencer)! Yet, the potentiality of polarisation (separation) and the consequent contact with pain exist in other, ordinary circumstances. Hence, even an enlightened person may still experience pain when not in the total awareness of non-separation. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Although [the Seen] has ceased [to exist] for him whose purpose has been accomplished, it has nevertheless not ceased [to exist altogether], because [it is still] common experience for others [who are unenlightened]. Translation by Georg Feuerstein
Remember the Kool-Aid from last week? Well, it’s not an all or nothing drinking game. You can gain perspective –“enlightenment”– and leave your buddy in the dark. Thus, “light” and “dark” both still exist, so that both of you can have your experience, whatever it is.
This also leaves room, as Venkatesananda suggests (above), for anyone who’s perspective is expanded to nonetheless still have human experience, including the separation of self from universal consciousness. In the practice of living, you can temporarily “go back” after Kool-Aid. You can know that your yoga practice will balance your mood and choose nonetheless to indulge in some extra couch time or plow through at work without taking the break that can reset you for greater clarity through the rest of the day.
Once you can make that choice, it can be difficult to see where others maybe can’t. I don’t often complain about minor muscle aches (or even major ones, for that matter) because I know they’re temporary and I have knowledge of how to bring some relief to those pains (and usually also the patience to do at least one thing that helps). I used to whine and groan about them. I used to feel, just as my husband does now, like there wasn’t anything to be done but let the pain interfere with my day. I gotta say, as resistant as I was then to seeking help, to looking beyond my comfort zone to make life better, this (living with more information, more knowledge, more awareness, more willingness to seek out help) is so much better!!!
So how do you get the knowledge to work through what life throws at you? Step back, cast a wider gaze, and take in more than just your immediate experience. Sometimes that means you go to The Google to get answers to questions preventing you from seeing bigger. Sometimes it means pausing before you speak. Sometimes it means taking a few deep breaths before you commit to the thought in your head. Sometimes it means turning your world completely upside down so that nothing is recognizable, if even only for a minute!!
Check in and ask: “what helps you see beyond yourself?” You may be surprised by how you answer.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.