This week we will take a look at Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.15. This is an important sutra and there is lots of commentary on it — I would encourage you to read any commentaries you have.
Here are some of the translations of the sutra and some limited commentary:
For one who has discrimination, everything is suffering on account of the suffering produced by the consequences [of action], by pain [itself], and by the samskaras, as well as on account of the suffering ensuing from the turmoil of the vrttis (fluctuations of the mind) due to the gunas (qualities of nature). (Bryant)
The wise man or woman knows that owing to the fluctuations (of the mind), the qualities of nature, and subliminal impressions, even pleasant experiences are tinged with sorrow, and he keeps aloof from them. (Iyengar)
To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences; the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the conflict among the activities of the gunas (qualities of nature), which control the mind.
This sutra explains the inner workings of disappointment, longing, and suffering. It presents essentially the same message as the first two [of Buddhism’s] Four Noble Truths: in life, suffering is inevitable; and second, there is a cause for that suffering. (Carrera)
The essence of this sutra… is that the cycle can only be broken by abandoning the pursuit of ego-based pleasure. Since the individual ego can do nothing but pursue pleasure and avoid pain, the only way to abandon the pursuit of pleasure is to control, abandon, or transcend the individual ego. And, ultimately, the only way to transcend the individual ego is to realize the truth about the eternal and infinite Self. This is know as discriminative wisdom and liberation (and are discussed in Sutra 2.25 -26). (Baba Hari Dass)
The wise see suffering in all experience, whether from the anguish of impermanence of from latent impressions laden with suffering or from incessant conflict as the fundamental qualities of nature vie for ascendancy…. We are wise, [Patanjali says] to realize that there is suffering everywhere, even in the experiences we enjoy and yearn for. There is no ultimate happiness to be found in external, impermanent things. For every transitory delight we can know, a painful attachment arises. Furthermore, nature’s constant transformations are subliminally stressful, relentlessly challenging the self’s idea of itself as an enduring entity. And at any time, latent impressions can become activated and emerge as wanting, fear, anger, or sorrow. (Hartranft)
Here, Patanjali gives a very important Sutra and a great truth in the spiritual field. If we could only contemplate this for at least a little while daily, our lives would be completely transformed. All experiences are painful for the person of spiritual discrimination. In this world, all experiences that come from outside through the world, through nature or material things, are ultimately painful. None can give everlasting happiness. They may give temporary pleasure, but they always end in pain. Even the enjoyment of our present pleasures is usually painful because we fear its loss……(Satchidananda).