March 13, 2021

Sutra 2.9: The End?

Sadhana Pada: Yoga in Action (Experience the Now)

    2.9 Svarasavahi viduso api tatharudho abhinivesah
    • svarasavahi = by its own essence / flowing on its own momentum
    • viduso = the wise / guru / learned
    • api = even / likely
    • tatharudho = firmly rooted / dominating / firmly established
    • abhinivesah = fear / clinging to life / fear of death / deep seated anxiety

There is a phrase that says "nothing is certain but death and taxes" I don't know if Patanjali had to pay taxes, but I know that in this sutra he is talking about death. Patanjali has spent the past sutras telling us about the kleshas or the obstacles that stand in our way and prevent us from seeing who we really are. So far he has told us about the obstacles of avidya (misperception), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment) and dvesa (aversion). Now, this final klesha is abhinivesah.

Abhinivesah can be softly translated as fear, but most specifically it's the fear of death. Now of course we think of death as the end of life, but death could also be about change and the loss of things that are important to us in our present reality. When we make changes in life, or change happens to us there is a danger of losing our way of life, lifestyle, identity, etc. A perfect example is the reality we are living in now. As we come to the anniversary of the day the coronavirus pandemic was declared, how has your life changed. What have you lost in that time? Reflecting back to the beginning, what fear came up as things started to close, and a way of life or activities you had become accustomed to suddenly ended? That is a drastic example, but in reality every moment of our life is about death - the death of the breath in our exhales, the death of our days when we go to bed, the death of the moment we are in right at this very minute. "Yoga is not some circus routine you do with your body. It's about aligning the mind, body, breath, intellect and soul. But, it's also about dying. We must die many times before we actually die - and that way we are forced to find calmness and experience rebirth." We end our asana practice in savasana (corpse pose). It is here were we find peace and calm before we rise up again. We learn that exhales make space for inhales, that the end of a day leads to a new day and that the death of this moment paves the way for the beginning of the next moment. In our practice and in nature, death is a sign of transformation, yet Patanjali says that as human beings (even the wise ones), we become so attached to our identities, thoughts, way of life, etc. that we can't clearly see that we are so much more than all of that.   

Some cultures around the world are very open about passing on. Some cultures see death as a celebration and birth as something to mourn. North American society/culture tends to be a bit more closed and avoiding of the topic. So, your challenge for this week is to simply reflect on endings and/or death in your practice and in life. What is your initial reaction to the thought of something ending? Can you see something past what you think you know? Is it possible to see the end as something beautiful?      

Sutra 2.9 Fear, by its own essence, is firmly rooted the same way in everyone (even the wise).

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