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Patanjali, Yoga Sutra

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Yoga Sutra II-16

Heyam Dukham Anagatam - Future suffering should be avoided

Everyone wants to avoid suffering, right? Yet, we often suffer unnecessarily, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. This sutra warns us that the actions that we take today may lead to future suffering if we're not careful.

One of the main reasons that we suffer, is that we resist change. We like things the way they are and want them to stay that way. But, the nature of the material world is that it's always changing, so our desire to remain the same, in itself, causes us to suffer.

Another reason we suffer is through aversion. When we focus on what we don't want and don't like and push it away, it has a way of persisting and enveloping our attention, causing us to suffer.

We also suffer by being "stuck in our ways." We're all products of our conditioning, and this causes us to suffer when what we believe or how we see the world, conflicts with reality. We often doggedly fight to be right, even when the evidence around us points in another direction. We might react to someone who reminds us of a stern or unkind parent as though they were that parent, putting strain on current relationships. In other words, we bring our past into the present and then carry it forward into the future.

Patanjali offers ways to anticipate, prevent, reduce and accept the causes of suffering, and thus eliminate them. The very purpose of yoga is to increase clarity and reduce the obstacles that stand in the way of that clarity.

Everything that we need to acheive this clarity is outlined in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. The catch is, we have to practice!

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