“The causes of suffering are not seeing things as they are, the sense of “I”, attachment, aversion and clinging to life.” – the Yoga Sutras
Understanding the causes of suffering offers us a pathway to peace. Awareness, acceptance and letting go of attachments and aversions are the important stepping stones on this pathway.
In my own understanding of yoga philosophy, life gives you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. It is perhaps the very reason that we are here.
With this as the basis for our existence, consider then for a moment, that any given situation or experience is not the cause of our personal suffering. Rather, every experience is in itself neutral and it is only our attachment or aversion to the experience that causes suffering. Staying attached to a belief or perspective is what keeps a person from a state of “peace” or non-suffering – not the particular experience or situation that we have convinced ourselves is at fault. We then perpetuate our suffering by keeping the story alive and reinforcing that perspective creating more and more form to that story until we come to believe it as the truth. We then defend that truth, stand up for that truth, fight for that truth, hate another for that truth and sometimes die for that truth. We have neglected to consider that perhaps that truth may be impermanent in its nature and therefore untrue or illusion.
How does suffering lead to non-suffering?
In the beginning we suffer while not actually realizing that we are suffering. This suffering begins to wake us up. Awareness occurs. This awareness leads us deeper into our suffering until the desire to relieve ourselves from this state motivates us to become teachable. The teacher is our life. In fact, our greatest teacher may indeed be the life we have chosen for ourselves. We decide to accept our life, the experiences we are having, and change our perspective in order to find a place of peace. We find connection, we begin to see glimpses of what is really happening. Our suffering lessens.
In Stephen Cope’s “The Wisdom of Yoga” he states that according to The Law of Karma, all effects have a cause and all causes have an effect. All actions are interrelated and interdependent (Pantanjali). We create our world through our actions. Every act has the power to change the entire field of mind and matter.
If indeed every act has the power to change the entire field of mind and matter and we are in fact all interrelated and interdependent then whatever I do to minimize my own suffering I do to lessen the suffering of the world.
Roberta Carr, Owner, Nanaimo Elements Holistic Centre, Yoga Instructor, Perpetual Student
She has operated her own business since she was 20 years old, and has spent her life in the search for peace and understanding. Studying yoga is the latest mile in her journey – spirituality and its interplay with one’s physical self has been her theme song.