My interest in and love of the Yoga Sutras ebbs and flows like the rising and falling of tides– sometimes the tide is so low, I can’t see any water at all. But I really do think that each time a salty wave slaps down, a little more water (wisdom) makes it down into the bed of sand that is me. (Hm, is there a poem in that?)
To use another metaphor, yoga wisdom (not just the Sutras, there is a LOT of wisdom out there) is like a huge spiral that I am constantly going round and round on. There is no question, now, of ever leaving the spiral– I’m on it ’til I die, and probably even after. Yoga has saved my life, this time around, more than once. Anyway, this huge spiral is really made up of an infinite number of tiny spirals, each an interlocking idea, or truth.
There are many translations of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras out there. Right now, in front of me, I have “Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras,” by Reverend Jaganath Carrera (this is the one I had to get for teacher training), “The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras,” by Nischala Joy Devi and “threads of yoga: a remix of patanjali-s sutras with commentary and reverie,” by matthew remski. These are the three that I refer to over and over, though there are long stretches of time when they sit gathering dust on the shelf.
This morning I’m thinking of the idea of non-attachment, a very thorny subject for me, and one that I was seriously resistant to at first. I could not accept that liking something, taking pleasure in something, whether material or not, was in any way bad. Just could not get my head around it. Nothing anyone had to say on the subject helped me understand or change my mind.
Then one morning, after days of really batting around the idea of being joyful because Patanjali (among others) claim that joy is our innate state, I looked out the window and said, “Today, I feel joyful, but I would feel more joyful if the sun were shining.” Oh. And oh. Light bulb.
It’s not that enjoying something is bad, it’s the fact that you let yourself be miserable even when you can’t have what you want. Not letting your happiness depend on getting something you want. I’m sure I probably read those exact words, but it didn’t mean anything to to me until my brain figured it out all on its own. I can be real stubborn like that.
Sadly, understanding it doesn’t stop it from happening.
Example: I want another dog, real bad. I just do. I love dogs, I love my dog, another one would make both of us happy! Well, Bob is dead set against another dog. (Indi, if she could understand and articulate, would probably be against it as well. But never mind that, I know what’s good for her.) As if that weren’t enough, there are other considerations– financial ones (dogs are expensive, especially when you insist on feeding them well) and my poor health chief among them. I know that. But still. I WANT another dog.
I’m not getting one.
An opportunity for practicing non-attachment arises. I’m working on it. I’m making progress. I guess that all you can ask.
The Indian saint Avaiyar said, “If you can’t get it, immediately forget it.” My book suggests you repeat this to yourself often.
I imagine I’ll revisit this spiral again. And again. And again. Which is, I think, exactly the definition of samsara, whether you believe in reincarnation or not.