There are only five sources of misery in Life

Avidya -Ignorance is the root cause of suffering. And what is ignorance? Thinking that which is not permanent, is permanent. To think or understand that which is not changing as changing, that which is changing as not changing. That which is not joy as joy, that which is not Self as Self. I am not the body, but I think I am the body. I am not my thoughts or emotion, but I think I am my thoughts, my emotions. Ignorance is holding on to those things of the past, this and that; having an idea of who you are. People think it’s very complimentary to know who you are, to have an idea about who you are.

 Asmita is oneness of our intellect and our Self. Have you noticed in meetings, people say a point and stick to that point? They are actually stuck with that point. Most of the people go on arguing meaninglessly, senselessly. These senseless arguments come because they are so stuck thinking that is their intellect. Intellect as themselves. Thoughts as themselves, “my thought, my position, my, me, me”. Inability to see the Self and the buddhi (or the intellect) and the power of the instruments of perception as separate, is asmita.

Raga(craving) –  Craving comes with a pleasant experience. You have a pleasant experience and that creates a craving in you. This craving makes you miserable. We try to control others’ mind, saying, “You should be this way, should be that way.” How is it possible? Someone may have loved you yesterday, but they need not today or tomorrow. Who knows? They themselves do not know.

You are not behaving in an enlightened way, but you expect everyone around you to be enlightened, to have unconditional love. You will get one in a million, who can be unconditional love. When you expect that from all the people around you, you become unhappy. Knowingly, unknowingly, consciously, unconsciously, this is what everybody is doing. Everybody is expecting unconditional love from people they meet, and they don’t even know what they’re expecting! But their expectation is something very big, they are seeking God in everybody. And they are seeking God without seeing that God could behave in any manner He wants! They are looking for a saintly God in everybody around them. How things should be make you more miserable. Do you see what I’m saying?

Hatred and aversion comes with an unpleasant experience. Aversion brings the same misery as happiness brings. Craving and aversion are both sources of misery.

Abhinivesha(fear), an unknown fear. Though intellectually you know everything, even in great scholars a little amount of abhinivesha [fear] exists. It has been seen as such. Nature has imposed all five things in everybody. How thin this can get or how thick it will remain, makes you either evolved or un-evolved. 

This is an excerpt from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – You can watch the entire commentary here –