SUTRA 1.5: VRTTAYAH PANCATAYYAH KLISTA AKLISTAH

TRANSLATION: THERE ARE FIVE KINDS OF MODIFICATIONS OF THE MIND, WHICH ARE EITHER PAINFUL OR PAINLESS.

Patanjali does not say these modifications are either painful or pleasurable. He specifically states painful or painless. He words it in this way because pain and pleasure are relative. A seemingly pleasurable thought might in the end lead to pain and misery, while a painful thought may actually lead to pleasure and peace. For example: love can turn to jealousy and resentment and excitement can result in disappointment. On the other hand, anger can fuel positive change in another and bring peace. Patanjali goes on to further describe the difference between these two types of modifications  by saying painful= selfish and painless or inevitably also pleasurable= selfless. If you love something or someone because you expect something selfish in return such as financial comfort, status, physical pleasure, etc. these thoughts will eventually lead to pain in one form or another. In my book, figuratively speaking… I don’t have a book… yet…, selflessness pretty much= love. On the other hand, have you ever loved someone so selflessly that you are infuriated with them for not living up to their potential or the like? You want the best for them so purely that it’s makes you angry… This person may feel shitty at first because of your anger, but eventually comes to a higher understanding of themselves etc… Everyone needs a kick in the butt sometimes, right?  It’s the motive behind the thought, not so much the character of the thought that truly determines the outcome.

On our longgggg yogic journey towards mental clarity, Patanjali suggests we begin by filling our minds with positive/ selfless thoughts and toss out negative/ selfish thoughts. If we make others happy we will always be happy. He even says, ok, if you neeeeeeed to be selfish, be selfish in demanding your own peace and happiness… through selflessness. Haha, such a trickster! But it’s true. Can an act of service ever be truly selfless if you get something out of it in the end?? The verdict is: WHO CARES!? If you are making the world a better place and getting a kick out of it, more power to ya! As long as you don’t get a big fat ego about it… because frankly that’s just painful all around…. don’t be that guy… Through yoga we become better and better at sorting through our thoughts and deciding what stays and what goes out with the trash.

March 7, 2010. yoga.

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