drig darshana shaktyor ekatmata iva asmita ||6||
Confusing the immutable core with the transient shell is referred to as identification with the mutable (asmita). ||6||
dṛk = (nom. sg. f.) the perceiving self; the seeing self; the true self; Drashtu
darśana-śakti = (iic.) power of seeing; instrument of perception; the mutable self; chitta
eka = (icc.) one
ekātmatā = (nom. sg. f.) oneness; identity; identification
eva = (prep.) as if
asmitā = (nom. sg. f.) identification with the mutable; egoism
Apart from avidyā, Patañjali describes four other obstacles (kleśa) on the spiritual path, all of which result from a lack of insight arising from avidyā.
asmitā: identification with the mutable
For yogis, human beings comprise a unity that exceeds the scope of the body, energy, feelings and thoughts. But we have a tendency to identify with only a portion of ourselves, and in so doing focus solely on aspects such as our bodies. We thus feel threatened by aging and death, since we are blind to the other realms of the self and are unaware of our essentially immortal nature. Yoga teaches us that our physical manifestation is only one of the many states in which we occur.
While meditating one day I had one of my first experiences in this regard in that I suddenly experienced a state that was heretofore unknown to me and in which my perceptions of the physical world, i.e. my thoughts and feelings, simply vanished, and I was catapulted into a different form of human existence. Although at first I was frightened to find myself completely cut off from my usual frame of mind, this experience opened up for me the possibility that there are many different forms of being. Such experiences help to overcome asmitā.