A moment before I picked up this book, I was suffering. Not surprisingly, I was the cause of my own suffering. True to form, my mind had taken over. Sitting in the airport watching people passing by, I posed thoughtful questions such as “I wonder what it would be like to walk in her shoes?” figuratively and literally as I witnessed one woman fall down while walking to her next gate of departure- the result of choosing platform boots and spiky stiletto heels so high that safe mobility was clearly an issue. Enough with focusing on each passerby that caught my eye, it was time to focus on my own life, one which I avoided with all its grumpiness. As I initiated this action with the lifting of my arm and the movement of my hand to unhook and unzip, I had a thought. What was the likelihood that this book would provide solace to my woes, comfort to my mind, and guidance in my search for that lasting inward smile. I reached into my backpack and pulled out The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I flipped through the first few pages and began to read. Immediately, I connected to the words in the second sutra that says “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” Suddenly, something shifted in my bones and the core of my very being. The words of Sri Swami Satchidananda in this teaching reached up and out from the page. “The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your own projection. Your values may change within a fraction of a second. Today you may not even want to see the one who was your sweet honey yesterday. If we remember that, we won’t put so much stress on outward things.” Lately, I felt unhappy in my relationship and I quickly placed blame on the other. I felt stuck and confined to a small space. A feeling of liberation escaped me. Hadn’t I been here before? My karma reared its ugly head. The person and place had changed, but the feeling was the same. Swami Satchidananda continues with a Sanskrit saying, “As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation is in your own mind.” He says, “If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.” Clearly, what I needed was an attitude change.
“At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of the mental modifications.” This is sutra number four. Here Swami Satchidananda teaches that we are all one and the same. Separation begins within the mind when one identifies with some aspect of themselves. However, if we could let go of these identifications, we can reconnect with the pure “I”. Swami Satchidananda teaches that on the outside we all appear different. However, behind these changing differences is the One which never changes, but remains the same. It is this One that unifies us all. The One only appears to change due to the modifications of the mind. All that appears wrong in the outside world is actually the result of the mind. It is our perception and way of thinking about someone or something that creates harmony or strife. Swami Satchidananda states, “By correcting our vision, we correct things outside…however much we scrub the outside things, we are not going to make them white or blue or green; they will always be yellow. In Nichiren Buddhism, this correcting of one’s vision is referred to as polishing your mirror or performing your human revolution. It is the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to change your life. When we work to improve ourselves and become better people, the world then becomes a better place too. It is as Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
This book is thought provoking and full of wisdom. I highly recommend it!