Yesterday was an exciting day, because I was going to have 2-3 free hours to practice and work on the Yoga Sutras class I’m taking. Those of you who know me know that the 2-3 free hours whittled down to 2 hours, then 90 minutes, then 45 minutes. That’s life and I tried not to let it frustrate me, because the parts of the class that I did touched me deeply enough that I am happy to sit with some of those thoughts and ideas.
This morning I found myself with free time. Happily, I brought out my crystal bowls, did some pranayama, practiced, did some homework. And as always, in re-reading the Sutras I found something that struck me deeply.
Sutra 1.2 reads “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” Those who have studied the Sutras, and know far more than I, know that this is the big Sutra, this is the explanation of Yoga. The other Sutras explain 1.2. Were I an accomplished yoga student I could begin and end here. “Pantanjali has given the definition of Yoga and at the same time the practice.” If you can control the mind-stuff, you have achieved yoga.
Ha! Just like that, right? No, for me I need the definitions and the practice. I am not in a state of yoga, not today anyway.
Here is what struck me. Swami Satchidananda says, in his commentary on this Sutra: “The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your own projection. Your values may change within a fraction of a second. Today you may not even want to see the one who was your sweet honey yesterday. If we remember that, we won’t put so much stress on outward things.
That is why Yoga does not bother much about changing the outside world. There is a Sanskrit saying “Mana eva manusyanam karanam bandha moksayoh” “As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.” If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude towards them does.”
I’m not going to give a long-winded commentary on the words of Pantanjali & Swami Satchidananda because they’ve done the deed. What I would like to say is I hope that some of you will sit with this idea, that the outside world is based upon your point of view, your perspective. The liberation of your mind comes from the freedom from the outside world and influences. It is what is inside you, what is deep inside you, what you see when you are meditating or it is very quiet in your mind – that is you. The outside world is not heaven or hell. It is your mind that determines what you are feeling and how you perceive the rest of the world. You can see your world as difficult and complicated and complain for the negative attention. You can open your eyes and remove some clutter from the mind and as you do, the way you experience your world will too.
As you sit with these ideas, perhaps we can think about we can shift our perspective to see the beauty, the hope & the happiness in the world. When love, peace, happiness and hope are in your mind, they will be reflected in your world, too.