The Healing Power of Yoga: Five Shades Of Suffering

Debunking Pain.

This blog is a part of an ongoing discussion on the healing power of yoga. Previously, we’ve talked about why we should study yoga philosophy. We’ve discussed the goal of yoga, what happens when our mind is in the yogic state, and why we suffer when our mind is not in the yogic state of mind.

The pain can be physical or emotional.  It can be visible or hidden.

So, Let’s delve deeper into different shades of pain.


1) Lack Of Awareness is the Root of All Suffering.

Yoga Sutra 2.5: Anitya-Asuci-Dukha-Anatmasu-Nitya-Suci-Sukha-Atma-Khyatih-Avidya

Anitya impermanent, impermanent
Asuci impure
Dukha – suffering, pain, misery
Anatmasu – and the non-essential, the non-self
Nitya – eternal, everlasting
Suci – pure
Sukha – happiness, pleasure
Atma – of the essence, soul, Self, the fundamental Being
Khyatih – awareness, recognition, supposed to be
Avidya – ignorance, misapprehension, lack of understanding, false knowledge

Ignorance is to mistake temporary for eternal, suffering for pleasure, the trivial for the essential.

In other words, when we lack awareness, we tend to misinterpret our reality.  This ignorance or confusion spreads from big fundamental issues to the smallest details. What at one time was a great help, later turned out to be a problem. What we seek as a source of pleasure proved to have the opposite effect.

An example of confusion between pleasure and pain is greed, which makes us dig into a cookie jar because it tastes so good. As a result, we tend to forget about weight gain, disease, and everything that comes with overeating.


2) Confusion Manifests As Pride and Vanity.

Yoga Sutra 2.6: Drk-Darsanasaktyoh-Ekatmata-Iva-Asmita

Drk  the principle of Consciousness, the Self, the Observer, the Seer
Darsanasaktyoh that which is being observed, instrument of perception
Eka-atmata – identity in principle, having the same essence 
Iva appearing to be, as if
Asmita – egotism, sense of “I am.”

Egoism is the identification of the seer with that of the instrument of seeing.

The mind is an instrument of perception. However, there is something else, the one who is observing – the “Seer.” The principles of the mind and the observer are different. The mind serves the observer.

When we get caught up in our own life drama, we identify ourselves with our life’s situations:

“I am my job.”
“I am the number on the scale.”
“I am skinny.”
“I am fat.”
You can fill in the blanks.

What if you lose your job? What if your weight changes? This is when confusion manifests as pride and vanity. As a result, we suffer. Our life’s drama fluctuates according to our moods, habits, and surroundings. However, somehow we often assume that they are a constant, unchanging source of perception.


3) Chasing Pleasure

Yoga Sutra 2.7: Sukha-Anusayi-Ragah

Sukha pleasure
Anusayi – sequential attraction to, carefully following
Ragah – attachment, addiction

Excessive attachment to pleasure    

Immediate, external, and fleeting pleasures make us feel good in the short term. But these pleasures create a risk of negative long-term outcomes. As we delve into a cookie jar, go on a shopping marathon or have an extra drink – we form attachments and the desire to repeat these sensations. We mistake the fleeting want for happiness. However, as soon as a particular pleasure is achieved, we move to chase new passions. We are never satisfied.


4) Hatred Results From Pain

Yoga Sutra 2.8: Dukha-Aushayi-Dvesha

dukha – suffering, pain, aversion
anushayi – accompanying
dvesha – aversion, pushing away, avoidance

Exessive aversion to pain.

Aversion and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. Aversion has many faces: rejection, disgust, and hatred. It follows the same mode of operation as pleasure. Just as in the prior sutra, it creates bad feelings.


5) Fear 

Yoga Sutra 2.9: Sva-Rasa-Vahi Vidushah Api Tatha Rudhah Ahiniveshah

svarasa – innate, from its own nature
vahi – transported, carried
vidushah – learned, wise
api – even, also
samarudhah – deeply rooted
abhiniveshah – fear, fear of death, powerful desire to live

The fear of death is deeply ingrained, even in the wise.

Our fears can manifest from a simple worry to complete panic. Consequently, this fear is an inflated instinct of self-preservation. A desire to live is the essence of life. However, fear of death, fear of the future, and fear of the unknown prevent us from living in the present.


To summarize:

Five afflictions that cause suffering are ignorance or misunderstanding, egotism, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain, and fear. These affliction can also be subtle or dormant.

This blog completes the discussion of the causes of pain. In the upcoming blogs, we will discuss what actions we can take to end the cycle of suffering.

Thanks for reading.

What are your experiences with these five issues?

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