I’ve been feeling a little down, I think it’s partially a reaction to the change in season, which can sometimes be a psychological and physiological struggle. Anyway, after some moping and TV bingeing, I’ve decided to turn to the Sutras again and see if it helps.
After we talk about the kleshas in chapter two, the things that cause suffering (ignorance, ego, attachment, dislike/hate, and fear of death), we eventually get on to the straightforward path, the 8 limbs. We know that ignorance can only be reversed by knowledge. How do we get knowledge? The 8 limbs of course. It’s the meat and potatoes of the Sutras: restraints, observances, poses, breath, withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation, and complete absorption. These 8 things are pretty much the path of yoga, and I’m hoping my key to feeling better and getting back on the path.
The Yamas: nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, moderation, and nonattachment. The three non’s are ahimsa, asteya, and aparigraha, and it’s not a coincidence that they all start with A. The A in Sanskrit, which we take to mean as “non” actually means “freedom from.” Which is the same but different. Non-attachment, or freedom from attachment are the same but different. It’s not a command, like thou shalt not form attachments. It’s the liberation of you from the inclination to become attached.
We were out hiking the other day and got kind of irritated about dirt bikers driving around. There were only a couple, but it really gets me that they’d drive around on really nice trails and we both got mad and things went downhill. I don’t have to tell you that us being mad didn’t stop the dirt bikers from driving around on trails, trying to kill us, wrecking the trails, reeking of gas, and generally being very loud. Us being mad didn’t affect the bikers at all. But it affected us. That’s the whole thing about ahimsa, you know? It hurts you first. That’s the whole thing about any of the yamas.
2.33 When afflicted by ideas contrary to these observances, one should adopt an opposing method of thought.
2.34 Such an opposing mode of thought consists of regarding perverse tendencies such as harming others as producing unlimited misery and ignorance. This applies to all such tendencies, whether they are performed directly, performed through others, or simply approved of, whether they are based on greed, anger, or delusion, or whether they’re adopted slightly, moderately, or with intensity.
So we’re hiking in silence, both all agitated and pissed. Tim stops and is like, am I causing this? And then we talked it out. Yeah we could be mad at these guys but it’s ruining our day. Can’t we just let them go and move on from it? Yes, okay, let’s move on from it. I said, “I sure do hate them though.” And that spurred a whole other thing, as that came out of my mouth, I remembered that thing Matthew McConaughey says about how he doesn’t allow the word hate to be used in his house. Tim says, “It’s a really harsh word.” And I thought, so it is. It is a really harsh word. It is violent. That’s the whole thing about nonviolence, and the whole thing about sutra 2.34, that it doesn’t matter if I hate them a lot or a little, if I think it or say it or so something about it. I’m hurting myself first, and in this case Tim second, and I’m certainly not doing anything good in the world.
We actually came back from it in style. I’ve just finally started a gratitude journal (although there’ve been times in my life when I put a lot of effort into cultivating an attitude of gratitude, I’ve never managed to do a daily gratitude journal until now, and I’m totally loving it) so my thought to contest the negativity of the motorcycles was to think about the things that we were grateful for. It totally worked! It changed everything. Which is what you’d expect, right, but it’s still hard to get from negative to positive sometimes.