Yoga Sutra 2.16 heyam dukham anagatam
Future suffering is to be avoided.
At first blush this sutra can seem a bit simplistic. Of course we want to do what we can do avoid suffering in our future. As is the norm when it comes to Patanjali’s guidance in order to reap the wisdom of this sutra and actualize the teaching, we need to dig deeper. What is suffering? What are its causes? And how can we avoid it? And if we really want to avoid it, why don’t we ACT like it?
Dukha is the Sanskrit/Pali/Tibetan word that is often translated as “suffering” in English. It’s a part of being alive and comes in a myriad of forms ranging from irritation, dissatisfaction, disappointment and inconvenience to full on bone-shaking pain. This suffering traverses scale ranging from subtle to the gross and showing up in ways expected to completely out of the blue. As we move through life in this human body we are experiencing this on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. And many of us spend much of our time, resources and personal energy trying to avoid it – the suffering.
AVOID – this is key. We don’t want to suffer. We want to be happy. And if yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Ba’hai and most all belief systems are correct, the peace that affords us happiness – or at least contentment – is the very core of who we are. It’s the running from suffering that builds a wall of ignorance around the knowing of that true essence.
We can look at the bad things that happen to us as just that – happening TO us. Not of our own doing, just inexplicably coming our way. And in some cases we can acknowledge, OK, something I did has caused this to happen. But, it’s rare that we accept the notion that ALL of it is our doing. Yet this is an important lesson to learn and one that once we accept brings an empowerment of spirit that opens the door to purposeful action.
From the point at which we become capable of making decisions we begin generating consequences of those decisions. Our actions take on negative, neutral or positive direction. Words fail a bit here, but it’s basically, we do something and something happens as a result. That something can be of a character that is in harmony with our surroundings or not. When it’s not the result will be some sort of energetic movement in the direction of suffering.
So, a major takeaway for all of us could be to ACT better! Pause, consider, stop. We don’t need to be acting so much. And when we do we could certainly benefit from putting more positivity, compassion and mindfulness into it.
Being mindful, doing what we know is the “right” thing to do, maintaining discipline, overcoming peer pressure, overcoming our own greed, gluttony, jealousy, and so on is easier said than done. Intention, repetition, forgiveness are necessary components of this practice. Over and over again, stepping up to the plate and putting in effort to tap into the best part of all of us and then acting from there.
Recently my morning Buddhist practice included this statement: “So the present moment is our big opportunity. To have our wishes fulfilled in the future it’s crucial that we discard the seeds that result in suffering and instead sow the seeds of happiness right now.” – (Tara’s Triple Excellence, dharmasun.org)
I’m down. 😉