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Yoga Sūtra II.16

Sutra II.16 is a pivotal sutra. As Desikachar makes clear in the passage above, the whole of yoga is instruction on how to avoid future suffering. We cannot do anything about what has gone before but we can try not to make the same mistakes again and again. As humans we act all the time.  We make choices and decisions which create patterns, saṁskāra-s. These patterns become our modus operandi – we operate without reflecting because it feels comfortable. As Patañjali goes on to show us in Chapter IV the trouble with that is we build up deep patterns – grooves (think old fashioned records!) and it becomes really hard to get out of them. What served you well at one point does not help you any more.  What is more, these patterns are linked to memory. When a memory is triggered we react in the way we always have.

So Patañjali sets out in Chapter II a path to help us move from this place of suffering to a place of freedom. That is what yoga does – it  helps you to get rid of the bad saṁskāra -s and cultivate new helpful ones.  

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you have a habit of falling into the same trap each time?
  • Can you take time to reflect before you act?
  • What can you do differently this week to avoid causing yourself further hassle?
  • Where do you find a place of peace?

Contributed by Bea Teuten, Chair, TSYP

(Photo: Josh Sorenson, Pexels)