Hānam esam kleshavad uktam
The greatest obstacle to practice is one’s own prejudices and preferences.
Sutra 28, Chapter IV
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
Translation by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati
When choosing a place to dine out, the key deciding factor often is, “Do they have a vegetarian option on the menu?” Which in itself is an improvement, an evolution of sorts from “Well how many vegetarian options do they have? Do I have a range of choices? Bottom line, do they have anything with mushrooms?”
While one may choose to be vegetarian or vegan for environmental reasons, for health reasons, for ethical reasons, or towards increasing one’s spiritual credentials, sadly it doesn’t automatically make you any less picky. While “I may not have an attachment to eating other living beings for x, y, z reasons, lets be clear, I still have to have it the way I want it.” A reality that when dining out often lends a dear friend of mine (who is not vegetarian nor practices yoga) to mockingly declare ” But you’re a yogi !? “, to which I respond ” It’s complicated! “
Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras cautions us of how as we abandon one preference we very quickly latch on to another, all the while our ease of being continues to remain impaired. In our hope to realize our innate state of freedom, he suggests we observe every nuance of thought, movement, and emotion, where our sense of self gets defined by our attachment to a preferred outcome.
Over time we begin to notice that perhaps its not the other person nor the nature of the circumstance, but rather our wanting things exactly as we want them by which the current state of agitation is being experienced. Through a better understanding of what is motivating our reactions, a gradual shift begins to occur in the direction of ultimate freedom from the ups and downs of our mind.