Sutra 2.24: tasya hetuh avidya
Obviously, all this is due to the ignorance of the spiritual truth or oneness. Ignorance alone is the cause for the polarisation, the fictitious separation which is the sole cause for the desire to become aware of “another” and for the contact of “the other”. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
The cause of that [correlation] is ignorance. Translation by Georg Feuerstein
I am me. I am also a bunch of particles acting out the laws of physics.
I am individual in my mind. I am also part of the/a universal expanse. I am not different from it or separate from it, but of it. Thinking otherwise leads to avidya or ignorance of the concept and experience of Self.
Avidya is the belief that there is an outside entity that is something different from the particles that make you you. We are never separate from the universal movement except in our minds. In yoga, we seek to quiet our mind chatter long enough to experience this. Our awareness of this one and the sameness is ‘enlightenment’ (that word carries a lot of historical and cultural baggage, so I’m not crazy about it – I prefer ‘comprehension’). Our experience of this one and the sameness is yoga.
I prefer to contemplate this without analogy or metaphor, but in case that’s just me (and that would be ok!), let’s look at an analogous example of this in our everyday lives (those of us not meditating in the mountains all day long).
We’re social creatures and yet very individual creatures, too (I say that as an American –where individualism is often prized and prioritized). Many of us fall into a place in our minds of needing to be special and different, while at the same time, much of our behavior comes from an instinct to fit in and be part of our community. Each of us falls somewhere different on the spectrum of how important these two parts of ourselves are –unique individuality and belonging to a community– but I believe we all experience the pull of both. Sometimes we recognize this pull for what it is and figure out how to balance what we need from each. Sometimes we fight the pull and resent the time we need to give to care either for others or for ourselves. It’s when we see that in caring for our individual needs, we care for the whole community. And when we reach out and care for what’s around us, we heal ourselves as well.
Our understanding of union and self can be found in how we view our individuality –is it everlasting or transient? I think it is transient and this gives me great comfort. Others think it is everlasting and take comfort in that belief. Whatever belief lets you live fully will hopefully guide you to a deep connection with the universe around you and within you.
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.