Yoga-Sutra

The second Chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras - contains instructions for our Practice - Sadhana Pada.

Sadhana-Pada

Sentence 8

duhkha-anushayi dveshah ||8||

दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः ॥८॥

duḥkha-anuśayī dveṣaḥ ॥8॥

The notion that pain and suffering are caused by external circumstances is referred to as aversion (dvesha). ||8||


duḥkha = pain; suffering; unhappiness
anuśayī = faith in; resulting in; assume; presume
dveṣaḥ = (nom. from dveṣa) dislike; misconception; aversion; hatred

Dveṣa – the opposite of rāga

Dveṣa, which is essentially the opposite of rāga, is a manifestation of avidyā which affects many people.
I am constantly amazed at the difference in various people’s take on outer circumstances. For one person a given situation may be hell on earth, whereas another person may be unaffected by it or be very happy about it. In other words, the nature of external circumstances is determined not so much by the circumstances per se, but rather on how we deal with them.

Many years ago someone told me the following story:

One hot summer day a man wearing shorts and a t-shirt got into a freight car. After the doors were closed, he realized that he was actually in a refrigerated car. Unable to open the doors, he screamed at the top of his lungs and pounded on the walls of the freight car, but to no avail. He then tried to keep himself warm by wrapping himself in pieces of cardboard boxes that were laying around the freight car. The man was found dead in the freight car the next morning. The doctor said the cause of death was hypothermia, despite the fact that the freight car’s refrigeration system was not even switched on. In other words, the man froze to death simply because he imagined that the freight car was refrigerated.

This story sheds lights on certain aspects of the yoga philosophy of sūtrāni yoga philosophy as described by Patañjali. First of all, we see the power of vr̥tti, which as previously mentioned are physical, energetic, emotional or mental elements that alter our perception by engendering misconceptions. In this story, the protagonist’s erroneous perception that the freight car was refrigerated was strong enough to bring about his death. Hence this vr̥tti can be regarded as an example of dveṣa (the belief that outer circumstances are responsible for unhappiness). The protagonist’s belief that the circumstances he found himself in were deleterious had disastrous consequences.

Happiness and unhappiness are relative

A cardiological rehabilitation patient once said to me right at the beginning of his therapy that his main goal was to go back to his job x as a road construction worker, which he said he loved. When he told me this, I had difficulty concealing my amazement, because whenever I drive by road construction sites, I thank my lucky stars that I don’t have to work under such trying conditions, exposed to the elements and with noisy traffic going by all the time. But my patient didn’t see it that way at all. Eyes shining with excitement, he hold me how much he liked working outdoors and seeing the fruits of his labors before his very eyes, in real time, and how he couldn’t imagine doing any other job. But just imagining this type of work immediately triggered dveṣa in me.
In practicing yoga over the years, I have always tried to work on seeing the positive side of every situation.

My co-workers often ask me how I manage to remain so calm and relaxed all the time, and whether this tranquil state of mind is attributable to yoga. My answer: “Of course – because yoga occurs here.”

In keeping with the famous quotation from my teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (“Yoga is 99 percent transpiration and only 1 percent explanation”), my own motto is: “Yoga is 99 percent practice off the mat, and only 1 percent on the mat.”

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