vṛtti sārūpyam itaratra

When we’re not resident in the Self, we reside in our fantasies.

This is really stating the antithesis of the prior sutra–if we’re not able to rein in our imagination, to distinguish it from reality, we cannot reside in our Self. It could literally be no other way–either we reside in truth, and can connect to our Self, or we reside in fantasy, and must necessarily be disconnected from our Self.

This idea, that yoga is the practice of seeing things as they are, of distinguishing between our desires and reality, can be interpreted in a way that suggests that our imagination–which is often an expression of our desires–are wrong. I take exception to that idea–the power of imagination has changed the world. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and with that dream he worked to change the world–but I believe he always remembered that the dream was not the way the world was, and when he acted, he acted from a place of being grounded in truth. I believe this is where he was able to find compassion even for those who tormented him.

Simply put, to be effective in realizing our desires, we have to distinguish between what is, and what we want. Without this distinction, we cannot succeed, because you cannot navigate from the place you are at to the place you wish to be–you’re reading the map incorrectly. You’re trying to get from Belgium to New York City, but you’re actually starting out in Weehawken.

But never abandon your imagination. This is the engine of desire, of transformation.

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By Michael Alan Dorman

Programmer, yogi, guitarist, drummer.