Yoga Sutra 2.09 self-preservation is instinctive even in a Knower

Sūtra II.9

With spontaneous momentum, instinctive even in a Knower, is self-preservation

The lust for life in every living being is in the form ‘Let me not experience death’, ‘may I live’.

With spontaneous momentum instinctive even in a Knower, is self-preservation. Spontaneous because of what it is, pure Ignorance in the mind; momentum: ceaselessly operating to bear along, as a river is said to bear things along itself when it is seen that nothing is being done by any human agent. Or else, it is spontaneous because its very essence is to bear along perpetually. And this spontaneous momentum is instinctive even in a Knower (vidvat), even in one of right vision (samyagdarśana). The force of the word even is, that fear of death is logical only in the ignorant, who think of the self as destructible. It is illogical in those of right vision, who think that the self is indestructible. Just as this fear of death, proper in the more deluded minds which see the self as destructible, is instinctive, held to by them, and firm, so also it is instinctive even in the Knowers, though illogical in the light of their vision of the self as indestructible.

How is this fear of death instinctive in its sheer spontaneous momentum? From this fear of death, there is in all beings always the longing for life in the form ‘Let me not experience death’, ‘let me not come to destruction’, or lust for life in the form ‘May I live’, ‘May I meet fortunate circumstances’ and ‘May I not be separated from them’. What the foolish always yearn for is, that they be not cut off from the chance of happiness.

This lust for life would not exist in one who had never experienced death; thereby experience of former lives is confirmed. The taint of self-preservation is seen in its spontaneous momentum even in a worm just born. The fear of death, not arising from present direct perception or inference or sacred authority, is essentially a vision of being destroyed, something causing destruction of self and its experience. It implies experience of the pangs of death in a previous life. This taint is instinctive in the least intelligent creature, and so too even in the knower of the first and last states. Why? For equally in the skilled as in the unskilled, there is this complex (vāsanā) of saṃskāra-s from past experience of death pangs.

What do we conclude from the fact of this lust for life? This lust for life would not exist in one who had never experienced death; thereby by the fact of its existence experience of former lives is confirmed. What is being said is this: unless happiness had been experienced, no one would pray for it; without past experience of pain, there would be no desire to avoid it. Similarly though the pangs of death have not been (in this life) experienced by a man either directly or by inference, the fact of his lust for life points to experience of death previously, just as there can be no experience of birth unless there has been a birth. This is why the experiences of birth and death are taken to be without beginning. This taint of self preservation is found even in a worm just born.

Now as to the cause of this awarness of death: the fear of death, not arising from present direct perception or inference or sacred authority, is essentially a vision of being destroyed, with destruction of self and its experience, something causing destruction of self and its experience, and implies experience of the pangs of death in a previous life. This taint is seen in the least intelligent creatures such as worms and so too even in the knower of the first and last states, the first state being bondage and the last state being release (mukti), or else the states of birth and death. It is instinctive. Why? Why should it be instinctive in the Knower as in the unintelligent? He explains: For equally in the skilled as in the unskilled, the Knower and the ignorant, there is this complex (vāsanā) of saṃskāra-s of the fear of death from past experience of death-pangs.

It is going to be said, ‘Rooted in taints is the karma-stock’ (II.12) and ‘While the root exists, it will bear fruit’ (II.13). Therefore these taints are to be got rid of; they have been described with that in view. He will explain the means to diminish them: ‘Their mental processes are got rid of by meditation’ (II.11).

(Opponent) We do not know in which cases meditation applies. Is it when karma-s and taints are (already) scorched seeds, or does it apply in all cases?

(Answer) (The question is taken as answered in the next sūtra following:)

 

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!