‘ The mind is a storehouse of experiences, although distinct for each individual. In addition, its function is limited to the individual to whom it belongs. Thus, the mind becomes an isolated fortress resisting all entry… Relaxing this rigidity there is great potential for an individual to reach beyond the confines of himself. ‘
It is perfectly natural for each of us to feel comforted by our ability to have control over our lives. Naturally, we are autonomous beings and we are the agents of our own experiences. And yet, we all know how quickly our plans can be thwarted by outside influences. So to prevent this we micromanage every step we take and pre-plan each move we make, foreseeing any gusts of wind that might come and blow us off centre, we create plan B and even plan C. We do this without much conscious awareness that this is what we do. It is good to plan, to have goals, to set out steps in order to achieve tasks, however the problem arises when we think that our reality should look and feel exactly as it does in our pre-planned mind scape. Our ability to truly be present and experience the moment is thwarted by our own clutch on what we assumed it to be and feel like. Like concrete slabs poured over a patch of wildflowers, our need for control and absolute certainty leaves little room for spontaneity or the divine influence of serendipity.
‘ However good the eye, if the glass is clouded, the object is blurred. ‘
When we are not aware that our glass is clouded, or that our preconceived ideas influence our perception of reality, then we end up believing that we must control our external world in order to have peace in our internal world. We see the external world as a potential cause of our suffering and therefore we must manage it in order to be happy. The object is blurred. The yoga sutras teach us that it is not the external world that causes our suffering but it is our own perception of it that causes our suffering. We do not see clearly the world as it is, we see it as we want it to be and if it is not then we go about manipulating it to fit the world inside our mind. Now, this is not altogether a bad thing, this is how we create change where it is needed; how we transform a dark alley into a bright colourful street market; how we breathe new life into areas that have been left for dead; how we manifest a beautiful world. However, this is only the case when our intentions are aligned with the greater good of all and not our own individual desires. Our individual desires create a need for control, often at the expense of our precious energy and to the detriment of others around us.
‘ Anything can be understood. With each attempt fresh and spontaneous understanding arises. ‘
We have been doing things backwards. We have been trying to understand the external material world before we even understand what goes on inside of ourselves. We have been changing and rearranging the particles of the external material world in order to affect our internal mental and emotional worlds, when the contrary is the law of nature. The yoga sutras are telling us that our reality must change from within before we can create truly meaningful changes in the external world. And that true understanding is to move beyond what we think we know, which is conditioned from our past experiences, allowing spontaneous knowledge to arise in each moment. If we continue doing what we have always done we will never get anywhere or change anything. Isn’t it perfectly natural to wish to reach beyond the confines of our own minds? Isn’t this what we seek with our desire to innovate, start something new, reach out into unknown territory? Our sense of adventure is to feel a sense of freshness and spontaneity. We may not need to change our hair colour, travel to the Amazon, or move to another region, perhaps we just need to move our focus from our external material world into our internal world. Discovering the infinite mysteries of the mind that are alive inside. And when we open our eyes to the world outside we see that it is not ours to control but rather that we are part of it. We are wildflowers growing in the field, individually beautiful, collectively a divine symphony. We do not see our roots connected underground but they sing loud and clear without making a sound.
Commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras from:
The Heart of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar