Life and Existence
It is interesting to notice that the words of ancient sages are still valid in modern times. It’s because we are walking the same path that takes us from our human level to a higher level of spiritual realization.
Patanjali is one of these sages that collected his lectures in the book “Yoga Sutra“. In the second chapter (Sadhana Pada) he describes which are the afflictions that disturb our awareness (read below).
It is clear that ignorance is at the base of our afflictions, as it continuously misguides us towards false ideas. And it also clear that the search for pleasure and the aversion towards sufferance make our body needs more relevant than our spiritual aims.
But I had more difficulties to grasp the concept of “attachment to life”, that (as Patanjali said) not even the sage is capable to avoid.
At first, I thought it meant the attachment to our being alive (and refusing the death), but I was not quite satisfied by this idea. Recently, intuition came indicating a subtler solution.
The point is that in the moment we get our birth, immediately, we start knowing the world through our senses. Whatever we learn through our experience, becomes part of us or better… becomes us. We are identified with our life: what we have done, what we have learned, what we do and will do. In other words, this is the way our ego and superego are built.
So, the main obstacle for us to abandon this attachment is the identification with something that we can see, touch, remember; while we do not generally have idea what becoming the spirit is.
So the idea of struggling for something so unreliable doesn’t look realistic. What we see is sure and safe, what we don’t see is unpredictable and unsafe.
Well, at this point, there is a missing link. Let’s see what Patanjali wrote: “The experiences accumulated in the past lives and that take their origin from afflictions will be re-lived in the present life and in the future ones. As long as the roots of the actions linger on, the cycle of rebirths will not have end and the experiences will repeat in the course of life“.
Practically we believe that our existence spans from the birth to the death of this one life, but in reality this life is just a chapter of a big book.
The protagonist of the book is the spirit that play a part in every life.
The spirit is the true, pure essence of ourselves, the bliss, but we cannot feel it, because we believe to be the character of the play, not only the actor. We are fully identified to the character, in other words we are bound to the afflictions of our human life.
One moment we are sad and next moment happy; one moment we are lethargic and next moment we are overactive. And we have no idea what makes us this way. We have no idea why our mood can be so changeable and we cannot always be serene and enjoy our life.
So the aim of yoga is to deliver us from these afflictions, those clouds that cover a shiny sunny life long day.
Excerpts from the chapter Sadhana Pada:
1. The yoga of action is formed by the self-discipline,
by the seeking of our self and by the abandonment to God.
2. The practise of yoga alleviate the unhappiness and
bring us to samadhi (state of complete realization).
3. The afflictions that disturb the balance of the conscience are five:
the ignorance, the egocentricity, the attachment to pleasure,
the aversion towards sufferance and the attachment to life.
4. The ignorance is the source of every sorrow and unhappiness and
can exist in latent form, in attenuate form, in wobbling form or in its whole form.
5. The ignorance consists in confusing what is permanent with what is transitory,
what is pure with what is impure; the joy with the pain and the self with what is not the self.
6. The egocentricity consists in identifying the observer with the observed object.
7. The desire and the attachment derive from the search pleasure.
8. The unhappiness and the pain lead to an attitude of refuse.
9 .The subtlest of the afflictions is the attachment to life: even the sage is touched by it.