Yoga Sutras Study – 2.10

2.10

Te pratiprasavaheyah suksmah

 

Subtle afflictions are to be minimized and destroyed with the dissolution of mind.

 

In verses 2.3 to 2.9, Patanjali enumerates five afflictions (klesah) which prevent self-realization, namely avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment), dvesa (aversion) and abhinivesah (clinging to life). These five klesah can exist on the gross or subtle level. On the subtle level, they exist as samskaras, i.e. subconscious impressions, in the mind.

 

According to Ramana Maharshi, to control the mind, one needs to create a second mind. Similarly, to destroy the mind, one needs a second mind. Our mind is eternal and beyond destruction, therefore it is not appropriate to interpret this sutra as destroying the subtle state of afflictions by destroying the mind. Further, destroying the mind is similar to torturing the body, both are against the concept of “yoga” and increase ego.

 

Subtle afflictions start with attachment to life, move in the reverse order and eventually end with gross afflictions; therefore, Sadhakas must eliminate their roots at their very source before they can lead to great trouble. Only when the seeds are parched, the afflictions will not sprout. Since samskaras are not accessible to us through ordinary consciousness, or even meditation, the seeds cannot be parched through technique or emotion based approaches. Here Patanjali suggested that the root can only be eliminated by repeatedly identifying one with the true Self.

 

As we know, the father of the subtle afflictions is the mind. And it is the ego that keeps the mind busy. In daily life, we think, talk and act base on “I”, “my”, and “mine”. The ego thinks it is doing the practices and thinks it is itself releasing us of our ego. The ego thinks it is the doer and it is in charge of our lives. By focusing on the true Self, Sadhakas start to see that in fact it is the nature (prakrti) does everything, and the ego never did anything.

 

When the ego is silenced, the seed will no longer sprout. The subtle forms of afflictions will eventually be destroyed by the disappearance of the mind of the yogi.