While it can be useful to study individual lines from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, it is also helpful to contemplate some sutras grouped in the order they are written. This is the case with understanding the kleshas, a sanskrit word which translates as obstacles, afflictions, or “causes of suffering”. According to Patanjali there are five kleshas that sidetrack you in your quest for attaining the state of yoga.
The following is my composite of various translations of the sutras 2.1 – 2.9. For those of you interested in learning more, I encourage you to read various translations and use the versions that speak to you.
2.1 Kriya yoga (yoga of action) is comprised of discipline, self study, and dedication to a “higher power”. These are the practical steps on the path of yoga
2.2 The practice of yoga brings samadhi (meditative absorption) and weakens the kleshas (obstacles) which are the causes of suffering.
2.3 The obstacles are lack of knowledge (or understanding), egoism, attachment, aversion, and fear.
2.4 Lack of true knowledge is the source of all the other obstacles. They may exist in a dormant, weak or fully active form.
2.5 Lack of knowledge or wisdom, is mistaking the transient for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pain for pleasure, and the non-self for the self.
Lack of wisdom leads to errors in understanding the nature and effects of perceived objects.
2.6 False identity (ego) results when we regard out thoughts at the source of our perceptions.
2.7 Attachment is clinging to pleasure. Excessive attachment is based on the assumption that it will contribute to future happiness.
2.8 Aversion is dwelling on pain. Unreasonable dislikes are usually the result of painful experiences in the past.
2.9 Fear or clinging to life is the inborn feeling of anxiety for what is to come. It affects both the ignorant and the wise.