Notes from Sunday’s Sutra discussion

Sutra II-33: “To be free from thoughts that distract one from yoga,
thoughts of an opposite kind must be cultivated”

=> Bhavani spoke of ‘Samskaras’, which are the patterns imprinted upon
our consciousness. Some are good patterns, some are not so good. When
we observe a not-so-good pattern, it is not sufficient to simply notice;
we should actively replace/overwrite the old pattern with a new.

=> The act of replacing an undesired thought with a desired one seems
to resemble the practice of affirmations.

=> Modern psychology has shown that cognition affects emotional state and
that emotional state affects cognition. By consciously changing our
thought patterns, replacing undesirable thoughts with desirable
thoughts, we can bring about a change in our emotional state.

=> One interpretation of this aphorism is to “replace bad thoughts with
good thoughts”. Another interpretation would be to (a) notice the
counterproductive thoughts, (b) recognize the fallacy of those thoughts,
and (c) replace them with a truth. For example, if the negative thought
is “I’m never going to be able to do this asana!”, the first approach
might be to simply replace the thought with “I will be able to do this
asana”. The second approach mentioned above would be to notice the flaw
in the negative thought, and replace it with something that rings true
to you: “It doesn’t matter if I ever do this asana. I am simply here to
practice, and see where the path leads”. Or maybe your truth is “I am a
child of God, whether or not I am able to do this asana.”

=> Sometimes a particular sutra “doesn’t ring true” to a particular
student. Does that mean the sutras are flawed? should we toss them
aside and find another path? dig another spiritual well? One should
keep in mind that the sutras were written for all: the beginner, the
intermediate, and the experienced practitioner/voyager. If a sutra
doesn’t ring true for you, maybe it was meant for someone less
enlightened than yourself — or maybe you are not yet enlightened
enought to appreciate it!

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