Sep '08 Yoga Sutras

By Lara Lauchheimer

What the yoga sutras have to say about truth and how that can help us to live happily in our current culture of fear.

The first sutra “Atha Yoaganushansam” says: herein lies the sub-authority on yoga. Why does Patanjali call himself the “sub-authority” when he is the author and would seem main authority of this work? The answer has to do with truth. Patanjali is immediately acknowledging that truth is not owned by one but is instead recognizable to all. He has tapped into universal truth and recorded it for others, but in fact, anyone could find the same truth through his or her own route.

In order to come to our own truths, we must work at increasing comprehension and decreasing the pain-bearing tendencies of mis-comprehension, verbal delusion, and dullness. The more we comprehend, the clearer situations will become, allowing us to know absolutely the correct way to act.

What this has to do with preventing unnecessary fear is actually quite simple. All fears are versions of the “big fear” -- death. Fear of death is, at its root, a result of lack of comprehension. We think that we are separate from each other and from the matter in the world but really there is no separation. All energy is part of one big unit which finally cannot be divided and therefore reveals itself as Truth or Potential or G-d or whatever you want to call it. This singular energy cannot die. And you are it.

Unfortunately, even though we may be able to understand this on an intellectual level, very few can get over the fear of death at the deepest level. Therefore, I offer an alternative to reducing fear in your life without having to overcome the “big fear”. Patanjali explains that one can find truth through direct experience, logic, and reference. If something is true it should pass all three of these tests. There is a common example of a friend who tells you to be careful when you go to a certain park at night, because there are snakes there. You go to the park, catch a glimmer of something in the grass, and run scared claiming to have seen a snake. Upon further investigation, you discover that what you saw was merely a piece of rope.

This is a perfect analogy for what is occurring in our world today. Many “friends” (politicians, media, family members, etc.) are warning us daily to watch out for that “snake in the grass”. We say we will not fear and continue to travel, love all people, and protest in our ways. We step into the park, but many of us still jump at the rope. Counter your unnecessary fears first by being honest about what they are, and then by increasing comprehension. When you truly know the snake, you will never see the harmless rope as its twin.

Lara Lauchheimer received her Vinyasa certification from Yoga Sutra in NYC. As a continuation of her studies she worked as an apprentice and assistant to Christopher Hildebrandt who is a long time authorized Ashtanga teacher and practitioner. She has just returned from her second trip to Mysore and will continue on this year to Rwanda where she will teach yoga to HIV positive women and children through an organization called WE-ACTx. You can email Lara directly at if you would like to make a donation to this very important cause. To learn more about the Yoga Sutras sign up for Lara's four week lecture course on Tuesday nights in October at the Reebok Sports Club in New York City.

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