Ignorance is the root
cause of Suffering

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 55

Contd. from knowledge sheet 54

Ignorance is the root cause of Suffering

“Tapaha-swadhya-ayaeshwara-pranidhana-kriya-yogaha”. (II Sūtra 1)

This is the kriya yoga or yoga of action. Even while doing an activity, see that you are not doing it. Be a silent witness. There is a depth in you, a silent corner in you, a silence in you and that is the truth. The whole space is silent. In that silence the whole activity is happening and every atom is revolving around the nucleus. The planets are going round the earth.

Samadhi-bhavana-arthahaklesha-tanukarana- arthascha’’(II Sūtra 2)

The purpose of this is kleshatanukarana, to reduce the suffering or misery in life. Samadhi  bhavanartha ha to bring about samadhi, harmony equanimity in life. What are the root causes of misery in life?

Avidya-asmita raga-dwesha-abhiniveshaha-kleshaha’’(II Sūtra 3)’

Avidya= ignorance;Asmita= oneness with outself; Raga = craving;Dwesha= hatred;Abhinivesha= fear of unknown; Kleshaha=difficulties. 

Ignorance is the root cause of suffering. What is ignorance? You think that which is not permanent as permanent. You think that, understanding that which is changing as not changing. That which is not joy as joy, which is not self as the self. I am not the body but thinking that “I am the body”. I am not the thoughts or emotions, but thinking that “I am my thoughts and emotions”.

You feel that the body is not changing, but the body is changing all the time. Everyday your body is changing. In 24 hours the blood changes. In five days the lining of the stomach changes. Doctors say that in a whole month the skin changes.In a year every cell in the body changes. You never thought or understood that your body is like a river. It is undergoing change all the time. Your body has completely different cells in one year.

 In a years’ time all the old things are dead and gone. You have new cells. Your body is new. Your mind is new. As you are awakened to this truth, you can identify your old fears or yourself.

Ignorance is holding on to the past. Holding on to this, to that. Having an idea of who you are. People think that it is a very complimentary sentence to know who you are and having an idea of who you are. I tell you, if you have an idea of who you are you are gone, finished, you are stuck.  You do not know who you are, that should be the right attitude. You are changing every moment and you have kept the possibility of change open. A fixed idea about who you are destroys you totally. It stops your growth and brings a limit to your possibilities.

Drig-darshana-shaktyor-eka-atmata-eva-asmita’’(II Sūtra 6)

Drig= the self, the intellect;Darshana= the instrument of perception;Shaktayoho= of both these powers;Ekatma= as the same;Iva = appearance; Eva - Asmita= ego. 

“Asmita or ego is thinking that the self or the intellect and the instruments of perception are one and the same.”

Asmita is oneness of the intellect and ourself. Have noticed that in a meeting some people say a point and stick to that point? They are totally stuck to that point. Most of the people go on arguing and arguing meaninglessly and it leads to senseless argument. This senseless argument comes because they are so stuck and think their intellect as themselves, their thoughts as themselves. “My thought, my opinion, me, me”, inability to see the self and the buddhi or the intellect and the instruments of perception as separate. This is asmita.

<<Without Love, Spiritual Path Becomes Dry Your Five Sources of Misery >>


(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)