Meditation benefits: The Source of Joy and Sorrow

The mind is the source of joy and sorrow.

Patanjali sutras

Patanjali sutras on the source of joy and sorrow

In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali explains, by cultivating a practice of meditation a student begins to develop a calm and clear mind, and as the practice evolves the still mind can focus on both the subtle and gross objects. The highest goal spirituality or meditation is to awaken to the true nature of things and discover the cause of suffering at the individual and collective level. To implement a cure for our suffering, Patanjali reminds us, we must awaken to our own true nature.

All sorrow lies at the core of our being, deep within us, and it’s here that the cure can only be found. Unless you can shine the light of awareness on the deepest parts of your inner being, your search for emotional freedom will be confined to external factors, where they can never be found.

Most of us know how precious and wonderful life is and that we should not waste it. Yet somehow we manage to pass each day lost in the fog of the unconsciousness. Sometimes events awaken and motivate us to participate, and even then despite our good intentions, we found ourselves slipping back into the unconscious and mundane.

Though we have the powerful spiritual teachings and the words of wisdom from the great seers and teachers, we find ourselves only looking to external causes for unhappiness and sickness, instead of placing our vision on the underlying subtle and more potent causes. As a result we hold someone or something in the outer world responsible for all our problems. Patanjali, in the sutras, ask and answers why.

The sutras teach that we are what we think, that the core of our being is made up of our belief system, our inner tendencies and habitual patterns that make up and define our personalities. It’s out of these personal tendencies and patterns that our mindset arises. While at the level of our soul we contain the essence of the Divine, in our everyday existence our mindset create our reality, good or bad, happy or sad, filled with suffering or imbued with joy. We perceive (and therefore create) our reality based on our mindset. It is from this perception that our patterns of likes and dislikes, our conditioned world, grows.

It’s through the repeated actions that our mental impressions grow stronger and stronger creating, what Vedanta describes as, deep groves in the mind-field, called samsara. This effect in the mind-field is also known as the wheel of karma. And once we are caught up in these perceptions the grooves deepen and the wheel spins faster and our only opportunity to disrupt this pattern is to bring awareness to our fundamental perceptions, our likes and dislikes. This is the level of true transcendence and transformation and the only way to bring fundamental and lasting change to all aspects of our lives.

This is why, according to Patanjali, the highest form of meditation is on self-awareness, and why enlightenment is understood to be self-realization. When we still our minds we have then have to power to become whatever and whomever we wish. We accomplish this when we transcend our judgments (likes and dislikes), our aversions and attachments. It’s from this place of transcendence, that the clear awareness of what lies at the core of our being allows us to discern what we need to release, and give us the courage to do it.

Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us that meditation on our real nature takes us into the subtlest realms of our being, the birthplace of all our suffering and with this knowledge we can end it. This clear, still and peaceful state of mind is called samadhi (the most subtle being sabija samadhi, meditation on prakriti), a state of total spiritual absorption.  

Yes, the mind is the source of joy and sorrow. Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us how to shine our inner light of awareness on the source allowing us to directly experience the truth and attain liberation.

One of my favorite translations and commentaries is,The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali by Alistair Shearer.” 

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