Yoga Sutra 2.48 NONDUALISM

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Japanese Fern - Fredonia NY

SUTRA II.48 tatah dvandva-anabhighatah Tatah: then, at this point dvandva: opposing pair or couple, duality, dualism Anabhighatah: invulnerability, undisturbed

As a result, one is invulnerable to dualism. (Bouanchaud)

Then one is no longer assailed by pairs of opposites (D.Brooks)

When these principles are correctly followed, asana practice will help a person endure and even minimize the external influences on the body such as age,climate, diet, and work. (Desikachar)

From then on, the sadhaka is undisturbed by dualities. (Iyengar)

Can our yoga practice truly free us from the ambivalent feelings and thoughts that pervade our lives? Is there a Middle Path? And do we seek it?

If we practice faithfully, do we have faith that yoga will take us there as this aphorism asserts? Does svadhyaya (self-study) help us master this aphorism? In my mind, this is the most important teaching of yoga; this is the most important lesson of asana. It is the hardest to learn and takes the longest time–usually many years–for most of us.

Is all life, including our personal qualities and gifts a double-edged sword? One side of every gift positive, the other side negative?

Can we develop the ability to see ourselves this way, thereby helping us walk an invulnerable path? A middle way?

Can we see others in this light?

What is the effect on self-confidence when one looks at the world through a nondualistic lens?

What does invulnerable mean in terms of one’s everyday life and relationships?

Is there a relationship between being invulnerable and acceptance, or between invulnerable and contentment?

Are opposing pairs intrinsic to the universe, or are they a construct of the human psyche?

Do we consciously seek out relationships with people who accept the world’s dualities? Do relationships enable a nondual existence?

This aphorism tells us that our asana practice will result in a “yoking” of our world on all levels. Making a conscious decision to practice seeing the world in all of its duality will take us a long way toward achieving a non-dual mentality. Here is the ironic duality: Through a lens of the duality inherent in life, one can achieve a non-dual state. Perhaps here is the crux of the classical yoga/tantra argument regarding dualism!

The foremost yoga scholar of our time, Georg Feuerstein writes about this sutra in his book, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali:

This drives home the all-important point, usually overlooked by western Yoga enthusiasts, that asana is not just a physical exercise, but has a strong psychic component as well. Relaxed posture is the foundation of the practice of sense-withdrawal. When the body is perfectly relaxed, a pin-prick and, at a more advanced stage, even the dentist’s drill fail to cause the familiar sensation of pain.


What are the effects of yoga and-or- meditation in your life? Are they inward? Outward? Can you handle pain in a softer manner? Do you feel life’s challenges and the global suffering more deeply, but with more equanimity perhaps? Do others remark upon how you’ve changed? We’d love to hear how!

deer skull on a castle wall in Poland
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