Patanjali mentions the causes of suffering in the Yoga Sutra
Suffering is caused by change, anxiety, impressions, and by opposing the activity of nature. Indeed, discriminating persons know that everyone is suffering.
The causes of suffering are ignorance [of our true nature], individuality, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.
Ignorance is the source of the others, whether they are dormant, weak, suspended or active.
Ignorance is perceiving the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, suffering as happiness, and the non-Self as the Self.
Individuality is identifying, as it were, the capacity of seer and seen. [the seer with the body-mind]
Attachment is the result of pleasure.
Aversion is the result of pain. [what I typically call resistance]
Clinging to life is spontaneous, thus arising even in the learned.
These afflictions, when subtle, are removed by returning to one’s original state.
When active, they are removed by meditation.
As long as the root exists, the storehouse of past actions will generate more births, more life spans, more experiences.
The seen – consisting of the elements and senses – has the qualities of luminosity, activity, and inertia [3 gunas]. Its purpose is to provide experience leading to liberation.
The seer is a perceiver only. Although pure, it is perceived (reflected) through intelligence.
The existence of the seen is solely to fulfil the purpose of the seer.
And that leads us to the end of the seen.
Because “Ignorance is the source of the others“, that is the key to the end of suffering. From the description, we know this is ignorance of our true nature. With knowing the Self, we know what is eternal, pure, and the Self. And we discover the reality of happiness.
As I discussed on Chasing Experiences, this relieves attachment and aversion. Self Realization ends identification with individuality and the seen. And cling to life winds down when we discover we are eternal life itself.
Thus spiritual awakening or Self Realization is an end to suffering. It is a great relief felt across the cosmos. Often there is some winding down to do. But it is winding down rather than growing and perpetuating.
The irony is that first verse. Many people see suffering as normal. Until they escape it, they don’t realize how caught they are. This is why it’s called ignorance.
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Wow. So beautifully and succinctly illustrated. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Dawn.
Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to remember that quote about ignorance and its cure for a while.