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Yoga Sūtra II.33

वितर्कबाधने प्रतिपक्षभावनम्

YS II.33 vitarkabhādhane pratipakṣabhāvanam

When these attitudes are questioned, self-reflection on the possible consequences of alternative attitudes may help.

The Heart of Yoga, p 176.

Literally: when inappropriate thoughts arise, reflect on another possibility.  

During the summer, we were bothered by a neighbour’s cat who used to tip over our rain gauge so he could drink out of it. I tried putting netting over it to stop him, but my wife Linda put me to shame by placing a bowl of fresh rainwater next to the rain gauge. Not only had she adopted a more compassionate attitude, not only had she seen another possibility, another way of preventing our rain gauge from being interfered with, but she’d actually seen things from the cat’s point of view; he prefers rainwater! Patañjali’s advice comes with his Yama-s, the precepts he gives us for living with others. If we keep examining our attitudes, if we pause before doing or saying something we will later regret, if we think of other possible points of view, we will get along so much better with other people – and with cats!

Questions for reflection:

Srī Desikachar asks (in his translation in the back of Heart of Yoga):

  • How can we examine and re-examine our attitudes to others?
  • [Can I] find a way to examine … the different attitudes possible at a given time?
  • [Can we] … look before we leap?

Text and photograph contributed by Michael Hutchinson

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