The second level of wisdom according to Patanjali is the cessation of suffering. Once we turn our attention and awareness toward our own Self in the first stage, we are able to detach from the external disturbances and discard the things that are unnecessary in life.
“The causes of suffering having been identified, they are progressively weakened…When the craving to attain or to avoid anything begins its exit, we can be sure that ignorance is vanishing as well.” Translation by Reverend Jaganath Carrera
Two of the major afflictions we face in life are our attachment to pleasurable experiences (raga) and our attempt at avoiding things that are painful (dvesa). Both require attachment to experiences outside our own Self and require a waste of energy and mental focus that is disturbing and causes mental anguish.
BKS Iyengar gives the following translations of this second level of wisdom in his Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:
- “That which should be discarded is discarded” (Vyasa)
- “Right reflection” (Vasista)
- “knowledge of energy” (BKS Iyengar)
- “integration of senses” (BKS Iyengar)
As we are holed up within our smaller universes, we have to ask ourselves what exactly is it we need? To go out means we could cause actual physical suffering for ourselves or others. Initially this might cause some amount of mental anguish, not being able to do what we want in efforts to avoid the virus. Also, we may worry about the future, what will things look like when this is over, etc… However, real wisdom is taking this time to look at ourselves more closely, focus our energies close to home, and realize that all we have right in front of us and inside of us is enough.
This “right reflection” on what is needed is a way better use of our energy. Drawing our senses inward away from all the external distractions helps to bring a sense of peace and stability from deep within even as the whole world spins.