MODULE THREE : SUFFERING
Suffering is a big word. When you hear it, what comes up for you?
We have all experienced some degree of suffering in our lives. And we’ve witnessed and heard about suffering of all kinds in our families, communities, and the larger world. There is great suffering that happens in the form of violence, grief, hunger, poverty. And there is the more generalized suffering that happens every day in the form of anxiety, fear, and unhappiness.
From a traditional eastern perspective suffering is the reality of being stuck in a cycle of death and rebirth. In the yoga sutras, we’re told that suffering arises from ignorance of our true nature. We forget our True Self and get lost in the world of ever changing thoughts, senses, weather, circumstances, etc. From our ignorance sprout the seeds of ego, attachment, aversion, and fear (the kleshas). When these seeds are at the root of our actions we create negative consequences for ourselves. We create more suffering. We practice yoga in order to weaken these seeds and to avoid future suffering.
Because I’m a weaver of traditions I have to pause here and bring a bit of the western perspective into our conversation. The concept of suffering is a huge topic in Christianity and I’m not even going to dip my toes in it here. But I want to introduce something I learned from a Croatian-American man named Samir Selmanovic (he wrote a book called “It’s Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism, and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian.”) I had the privilege to study with Samir and loved a formulation he created:
The East asks: What is real?
The West asks: What is good?
Wisdom asks: What is whole?
The teachings of this module are designed to help you explore suffering in the context of your relationship to the world, to your habitual reactions to your own senses, and to the behaviors you regularly enact. It is my hope that as you dig deep into your own suffering (and the habits that keep you stuck in suffering) your eyes will open wider to the very real pain that exists in our world.
Through our personal practice I hope we ask “what is real, what is good, and what is whole?” I hope that through our practice we become people interested in reducing the seeds of suffering in our own life and in the lives of others. Remember we become what we practice becoming.
The teachings in this module cover the root causes of our own suffering, karma, and yogic metaphysics. This is a big module! Work a little everyday. And remember that you’re not alone in your study. You have a teacher. Ask questions.
MODULE 3 PACKET
Before you dive in, please print this packet. I will reference these handouts in the live teaching (I’ll actually have you use the first three).
- Overview of the 2nd chapter of the Yoga Sutras
- Glossary page (have this ready to fill out when you’re listening to the live teaching)
- Sutra 2.27 worksheet (I talk about this in the live teaching and in the lecture on sutras 22-27)
- Elements and Senses (This image will support your study of sutra 2.18 and will help you create your altar for the practice this module)
- Klesha art piece (hang this somewhere that you see regularly and use it as a reminder for your daily noticing journal)
- Daily noticing journal
- Personal reflection questions.
“Bringing Yoga to Life” by Donna Farhi chapters 10-14
Please print the module 3 packet (above) before listening to this jam packed teaching.
We are covering sutras 2-27 in the 2nd chapter this month. Here are four teachings to support your practice and study.
Sutras 2.2-11 The Kleshas
Sutras 2-12-17 Karma & Suffering
The Seer & the Seen
or Purusha & Prakriti
or Pure Awareness & Nature
Sutras 2.22-27 Metaphysics & The Path of Wisdom
MODULE 3 PRACTICE:
I lOVE THIS PRACTICE! And I hope you do to.
We start the practice lying down in a comfortable posture (knees can be bent). You will need a blanket and block. And an altar dedicated to the 5 elements. You’ll need something that represents the earth (something with a great, earthy smell!), a cup with drinkable water, a candle, and something that you like to touch for the air element (I use my mala/prayer beads for this). Here are a few of the lovely altars that were created in the live class: