17 Oct Patanjali Yoga Sutra Ch 1 Sutra 12 (Parisamvad)
Transcribed from Parisamvad at The Yoga Institute.
Chapter 1, Sutra 12
The difficult question is how to control the mind. Practically it is impossible. Every moment thoughts come, actions are carried out. So long as we are living, we are active, thinking. The proposition in yoga is that these thoughts are the cause of our pain. Either we suffer all our lives or we stop the suffering. Apparently we all like to stop the suffering, but the cost is heavy. The cost is to stop the mind which we can’t imagine. The mind not thinking, not worrying, not imagining – this can’t happen. A little while it is all right but immediately it gets busy. No sooner it is busy, pain is immediately there.
The solution is there in yoga – the entire techniques in yoga are to create that condition – Abhyasa and Vairagya. Abhyasa is perseverance and Vairagya is disinterestness. If a person can cultivate a disinterested attitude to life, if he can function in life but not terribly attached, not terribly desiring, carrying on what is required to be done, and stopping it there. Not continuously pursuing, not dreaming, which unfortunately we are doing. We have things but we can’t get apart from those things. We have a good fountain pen and we are thinking about it, talking about it, taking it out to see, write. This is our normal tendency. That is true of everything we have. If it is ours, we want to establish our right, we want to put it to use. That’s our mind. The unfortunate thing is that as soon as the mind starts, the whole phenomenon starts, senses are busy, perception, action and life in its multiplicity.
We have responsibilities, work to do – these are our arguments. The solution is suggested – Abhyasa and Vairagya. Vairagya doesn’t say throw the things away, run away – the attitude is the thing. We are dealing with everything but we are not so attached that we can’t be without it. We just can’t do that. We have stories of great Rsis. Janaka was one such person – totally unattached. He once goes for a bath, keeps aside his royal dress. An ordinary fakir is also in the water. Then there is a fire that starts. Seeing the fire the fakir runs out of the water, gathers his langot etc. Janaka doesn’t do anything. The fakir shouts, “The fire is coming this way, why don’t you come out?” But Janaka is unmoved. He has removed his clothes and forgotten. He is a king, if the clothes are burnt, he will be supplied others. The problem with us is we can’t let go, we can’t give up. Once we are attached to something, we are permanently attached.“
The second Sutra says, yoga is Chitta Vritti Nirodha. The subsequent Sutras tell us how the mind works – Pramana, Viparyaya, Vikalpa, Nidra, Smrti. This mind has to be brought to a good state – full control on the mind. The negative tendencies have to be stopped. If you have to think, think positive otherwise don’t. This firm decision has to come. All this requires training and so, Abhayasaand Vairagya. Slowly, steadily the mind has to be controlled. If we are too immersed in the world we will not be able to control the mind, so Vairagya is necessary. How many times have you eaten Gulab Jamun (an Indian sweet)? Do you get a feeling, that’s enough? Would you travel 20 kms to buy Gulab Jamun from a known shop?
Abhyasa and Vairagya are two sides of the same coin. Without Vairagya, Abhyasa is not possible. Vairagya is not something negative, it is understanding. If you keep your finger close to the eyes, you can’t see it, but if you take it away and keep it at a distance, you can see it clearly. When there is Vairagya, we can do our duties well.”
Want to learn more about The Yoga Institute? Click Here