Yoga Sutras Study – 2.17

Drastrdrsyayoh samyogah heyahetuh
The cause of pain is the association or identification of the seer (atma) with the seen (prakrti) and the remedy lies in their dissociation.
After explaining five afflictions in previous sutras, Patanjali now focused on the cause of the afflictions. He concluded that all pain are caused from false union of the seer, which is the consciousness, and the seen, which can be the objects, our mind, ego and intellect.
Recall your memorable movie experiences. Did you ever identify yourself with the characters in the movie? Did your heart rate increase while watching the exciting fighting scenes? Did you cry with the characters when tragedy happened? All the feelings we experience while watching a movie, be it joy or sorrow, are due to the false identification of our true Self. We are sucked into the movie and thus forget we are just the observer.
Similarly, our daily life is like a cosmic play. Everyday we experience “good” or “bad” things which make us “happy” or “sad”. This is because our intelligence, mind, and ego keep relating us to the external objects. If you feel you are suffering now, probably you should ask yourself, “Who is suffering?” “Why suffer?” Ask a few times. Then you may realize that it is not you and there is nothing to suffer from. You are just the observer. It is the ego which identifies your true nature with external objects and environment, and thus causes suffering. By observing all these happenings, or experiencing certain pain, we are actually here to understand the transparency between the seer and the seen.
Things are easier said than done. Although we understand the meaning of this sutra, it is not easy to put it into practice. Meditation is certainly a good way, which dissolves ego and realizes the true Self. It should be practiced daily.
Another recommended technique is to offer everything to the Supreme. Remember, nature sees that everyone has equal parts of pleasure and sorrow. When we merge with nature, we can accept joy and pain equally. Sit still and give both joy and sorrow to the Supreme. In this way, ego will finally be dissolved and we realize that we are simply Divine’s instrument.

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