Notes from Sutra Discussion, 10/23

Sutra II-26 revisited:

“The continuous practice of discrimination is the means of attaining liberation”

Various translations of this sutra contain words such as “continuous / undisturbed / unbroken / persistent” and “discrimination / judgment / true knowledge”

Through the practice of persistent discrimination, we come to see what is real and what is not; we learn to separate “the seer from the seen”; we come to know our true selves, rather than the self we have grown to identify with.

To some group members, this sutra speaks to becoming the observer: there is nothing for our intellect to figure out, there is nothing to tame, nothing to control; simply observe what is. One needn’t quiet the mind to be free from the mind: becoming an observer of the mind, however busy or tranquil it may be, frees one from the mind. One needn’t “control emotions” to be free of emotions: if one simply observes emotions as they bubble up and run their course, these emotions have no power over the true self.

As one practices persistent discrimination, false knowledge is stripped away, and false paths fall away. One then lives and acts in truth.

Sutra II-28:

“As soon as all impurities have been removed by the practice of spiritual disciplines – the limbs of yoga – one’s spiritual vision opens to the light-giving knowledge of the Atman”

The limbs of yoga mentioned in this Sutra are listed in the Sutra which follows:

Sutra II-29:
“The eight limbs of yoga are:
yama: abstention from evil-doing
niyama: the varous observances
asana: postures
pranayama: control of the breath
pratyahara: withdrawal of the mind from sense objects
dharana: concentration
dhyana: meditation
samadhi: absorption in the Atman”

These eight limbs are expanded upon in Sutras which follow.

Sutra II-30:

“Yama is abstention from (a) harming others, (b) falsehood, (c) theft, (d) incontinence, and (e) greed”

Abstention from harming others (Ahimsa): this is often translated as non-violence, but it is much more than that. A broader translation is “causing no harm to others, through actions, words and thoughts.”

This is a very complicated topic. Does “doing no harm” mean “always being nice”? Haven’t we noticed that “being nice” doesn’t always get the desired result? Bhavani talked about the “sharp point” that punctures our ego, cuts to our core, so that we may truly see. Isn’t there such a thing as “tough love”?

Does the practitioner of ahimsa never swat a mosquito? never step on an ant? never harm burrowing animals when tilling a field?

Ahimsa has been described as “cultivating love for all, and trying to see the Atman in everyone.” Living a life from this place of love, it seems that doing no harm would follow naturally.

Next Sutra discussion:

Sunday, 9:45, at Global Blends on Castro street. Perhaps we will pick up where we left off in Sutra II-30.

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