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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union
16. Pain which is yet to come may be warded off.

The Sanskrit words here give a twofold idea. They infer first of all that certain types of coming "misery" (as some translations give it) may be avoided by a right adjustment of a man's energies so that through his changed attitude of mind, painful reactions are no longer possible, and through the transmutation of his desires old "pains" are impossible. It infers secondly that life will be so lived in the present that no causes will be set in motion along the line of pain-producing effects. This dual inference will cause in the life of the yogi a dual discipline involving a set determination to practise non-attachment, and a steady discipline of the lower nature. This will bring about a mental activity of such a nature that old tendencies, longings and desires no longer [151] attract, and no activities are indulged in which can produce later karma, or results.

That which is past can only now be worked out, and that type of karma, bringing pain, sorrow and misery in its train must be allowed to follow out its course. Present karma, or that precipitation of effects which the ego plans to disperse in the present lifecycle must equally play its part in the emancipation of the soul. It is, however, possible for the spiritual man so to govern the lower man that the happenings of karma (or the effects as they work out into the physical objective world) may cause no pain or distress, as they will be seen and met by the non-attached yogi. Nor will further pain-producing causes be allowed to be set in motion.

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