Sadhana Pada: Yoga in Action (Experience the Now)
- 2.6 Drg darsana sakytor ekatmata iva asmita
- drg = true nature / consciousness / seer
- darsana = identity / intellect / way of seeing
- sakytor = power / ability / force
- ekatmata = in the same matter / oneness
- iva = appearing to be / as if
- asmita = egoism / sense of individuality
I'm working through confusion, and the truth is . . . I've been confused for awhile, and will most likely work though various forms of this confusion throughout my life. See, I was a yoga teacher. It was an identity that I had created, cultivated and was very proud of. Then, I relocated, lockdown happened, and for various reasons, I consciously made the choice to take a break from this identity. Unfortunately, this loss was exacerbated due to the pandemic which also caused other parts of my identity to fall to the wayside leaving me seriously contemplating and ruminating on the question . . . . who am I? Who or what is the REAL me?
I have come to realize that my practice (in yoga and life) has been blocked and hindered somewhat by the klesha (obstacle) of asmita. Asmita is roughly translated as egoism and refers to those times when you identify with and define yourself by those parts of you that change instead of realizing that your TRUE self is unchanging. Sure our appearance, job title, relationship status, habits, accomplishments, etc. are a part of us. Sure it's great to cultivate, value and appreciate these things. But, these things are only a small portion of who we are, and all of these things will eventually fade away - for various reasons we will not always have our current job, our relationship status will someday change, our accomplishments will eventually be forgotten, etc. But there is an unchanging part of us, who we really are at the core, that we sometimes take for granted because it is so subtle, more difficult to see/know, and there's nothing we need to do to be it.
In sutra 2.6, Patanjali says that being connected to our unchanging, authentic self is real power and peace. Though we contain both unchanging and changing pieces, our challenge is to not be carried away by the illusion that our changing self is our true self. The following example made this concept more clear to me:
The klesha of asmita is like the filament of a light bulb confusing itself with electricity. The filament is the finest, most essential part of the light bulb, but it still pales in comparison to the electricity that is the true source of the light coming out of the bulb.
I was a damn good yoga teacher, and I may or may not be one again someday. But, I have come to realize I had let this identity largely define who I was, who I thought I should be, and who I thought I had to prove to others I could still be to the point where at times I wasn't sure what my value or place was if I wasn't this. Fortunately, a few amazing friends and family, my practice and this text help direct me and point me in the direction of my unchanging "electricity" self. This obstacle of asmita will most likely ebb and flow creating various degrees of confusion (especially in these times we are living through), so my invitation for you this week is to either connect with those people who truly know your unchanging self (thus reflecting back to you who you really and truly are), contemplate and possibly journal on the words and idea of this sutra, or practice the "Who am I" meditation to see how it lands for you over the coming week. Happy shining friends . . . may we all have a lot more light bulb moments as we navigate through this experience/experiment of life.