A few bits and pieces on ignorance from How To Know God, the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
"We all long desperately to be happy. But ignorance misdirects us… And so we start to search for this dimly conceived eternal happiness amidst the finite and transient phenomena of the external world… we stumble, we hurt ourselves, we endure endless hardships - but we never look in the right place.
Ignorance, says Patanjali, creates all the other obstacles to enlightenment… and so the obstacles grow automatically, through the power of desire, pride, rage and fear.
Ignorance, by Patanjali's definition, is false identification. It's a misunderstanding of one's real nature. Instead of true happiness, we clutch at what seems temporarily pleasant. But alas, our satisfaction is short-lived. The strongest tower falls, the most beautiful flower withers in our hands, the clearest water turns brackish and foul.
Ignorance has betrayed us, as it always must. Yet, as we turn sadly away, our eyes fall upon some new object of sense attachment and desire… and so the hopeless search goes on."
The Bhagavad Gita explains, "The Self-Realized man or woman is not motivated by personal desires - to any gratification of the ego or the senses that entangles us… Those established in Self-Realization control their senses instead of letting their senses control them. If the senses are not controlled, Krishna warns, the mind (or emotions) will follow wherever they lead. Eventually a person following the senses loses strength of will and unity of purpose; his choices are dictated by his desires. When the will is led astray by the desire for pleasure, the mind becomes confused and scattered." In essence, spiritual destruction. "When you keep thinking about sense objects, attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire, the lust of possession that burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement; you can no longer learn from past mistakes. Lost is the power to choose between what is wise and what is unwise." (P. 86)
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