285Yoga Sutra 2.7: The nature of attachment
- May 28, 2004Yoga Sutra 2.7: The nature of attachment
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2.7 Attachment (raga) is a separate modification of mind, which
follows the rising of the memory of pleasure, where the three
modifications of attachment, pleasure, and the memory of the object
are then associated with one another.
(sukha anushayi ragah)
* sukha = pleasure
* anushayi = sequential attraction to, closely following, secondary
accompaniment, resting on
* ragah = attachment, addiction
NEXT ARISES ATTACHMENTS: Once there is the primary forgetting called
Avidya (2.5), and the rising of individuality called Asmita (2.6),
there is now the potential for attachment, or Raga.
WHO IS ATTACHED?
It is not that "I" am attached.
Rather, the thought is colored.
"I" then identifies with the thought.
ATTACHMENT IS AN OBSTACLE, BUT NOT "BAD": Raga is not a moral issue;
it is not "bad" that there is attachment. It seems to be built into
the universe and the makeup of all living creatures, including humans.
DEGREE OF COLORING: Where we get into trouble with attachment, is the
degree of the coloring. If the coloring gets strong enough to control
us, without restraint, we may call it addiction or neurosis, in a
GAINING MASTERY: In spiritual practices, we want to gain mastery over
the attachments. At meditation time, we want to be able to let go of
the attachments, so that we might experience the Truth that is deeper,
or on the other side from the attachments.
ATTACHMENT IS A NATURAL HABIT OF MIND: However, in the process of
witnessing, we want to be aware of the many ways in which the mind
habitually becomes attached. If you see this as a natural action of
the mind, it is much easier to accept, without feeling that something
is wrong with your own mind. The habit of the mind to attach can
actually become amusing, bringing a smile to the face, as you
increasingly are free from the attachment.
WITNESSING IS NECESSARY FOR MEDITATION: In relation to individual
thoughts, attachment is one of the two colorings that is most easily
seen, along with aversion. To witness attachments and aversions is a
necessary skill to develop for meditation. The ability to let go of
the train of thoughts is based on the solid foundation of seeing and
labeling individual thoughts as being colored with attachment.
NOTICE THE MOMENT JUST AFTER PLEASURE: Think of times just after you
experience something pleasureful. A good example is some snack food
that you enjoy, such as a sweet. Notice what happens when you put a
small piece of the sweet in your mouth. There is a burst of that
delicious flavor, which brings an emotional joy. But then, remember
what happens a second or two later. There is another emotional burst
that comes right behind the enjoyment, and that is to repeat the
experience. This is the meaning of attachment, or raga. In the
definition above, anushayi is explained as being sequential, or
closely following. It is this second wave of emotional experience, or
desire, that is the attachment. It is different from the enjoyment
from the first piece of candy.
ATTACHMENT AND MEMORY: Just like eating the sweet or candy (above), a
memory of that experience may suddenly arise at some other time. In a
flash, that memory is experienced as enjoyable. If that pleasant
memory were to simply arise and then drift away, back into the mind
field from which it arose, there would be no problem. However, just
like with the original piece of candy, it does not stop there. There
is this second wave, closely following the rising memory, in which an
active desire starts to grow. This second wave is the attachment. Once
again, it is not the original enjoyment of the sweet that caused a
problem. Even the memory of that experience arise is not, in itself,
such a big problem. The problem is in that second burst, or wave, and
that is called attachment.
WITNESSING THIS SECONDARY PROCESS: To witness this secondary process
during daily life and at meditation time is an extremely useful
practice to do. It provides great insight into the subtler nature of
raga, attachment. In turn, it allows a far greater level of skill in
learning non-attachment, vairagya, which is one of the two foundation
practices of Yoga (1.12-1.16). By learning to witness the thinking
process in this way, the colorings (klesha) gradually attenuates, as
was introduced in sutra 2.4 and elsewhere.
BREAKING THE ALLIANCE: Three types of modifications of mind are
mentioned in this sutra: attachment, memory, and sequence or memory.
To break the alliance between these, and between seer and seen is the
key to freedom from the bondage of karma in relation to attachment.
Breaking of such alliances is discussed in upcoming sutras