Worldly Success and the Yoga Sutras

This Sutra spoke to me today. It comes from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras Book Two, Sutra 15:


To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences: the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas (qualities), which control the mind.


परिणामतापसंस्कारदुःखैर्गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च दुःखमेव सर्वं विवेकिनःI

pariṇāma-tāpa-saṁskāra-duḥkhaiḥ guṇa-vṛtti-virodhāt-ca duḥkham-eva sarvaṁ vivekinaḥ


In Sri Swami Satchidananda's translation he goes on to explain this sutra in more depth;


“Even the enjoyment of our present pleasures is usually painful because we fear its loss.

All our so-called pleasures bring in the fear of losing them.

[I]t’s all right to have anything; as long as you don’t let those things bring you anxiety and fear. If they come to you, let them come; enjoy their presence. But when they go, enjoy their departure too. When they come, they come alone, so allow them to go alone without losing your mind along with the external object.

Real pleasure comes from detaching ourselves completely from the entire world, in standing aloof – making use of the world as a master of it. Only in that can we have pride.


I am not saying that because everything is painful, we should run from it. That doesn’t work. Wherever we go, the world follows. If I don’t understand the world and attempt to run away, you can never succeed.


I have seen people who cannot run their own homes or cooperate with their families say, “I’m disgusted. I renounce. I don’t want anything. I am going into the spiritual field to meditate and practice Yoga.

Where ever we are, we have to learn to handle things properly. We can’t always change environments, running here and there. But once we know how to handle one small family, we can handle a larger group. A family life is training for a public life.

The world is a training place where we learn to use the world without getting attached.

Pleasure and pain are but the outcome of your approach. The same world can be heaven or hell.

Before you learn to swim, water seems to be a dreadful place. “Suppose I drown? What will happen to me?” But once you learn to swim, you love the water. The world is like that. You have to learn to swim in this ocean of samsara – to become a master swimmer.”



How do you interpret this Sutra? Can you think of ways in which attachment to "good" and repulsion to "bad" limits you from success in your worldly and/or spiritual life? Comment below and let's start a discussion!

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