Yoga Sutra 2.21

The World exists for you to find your Purpose.

Photo by Greg Rakozy

The World exists for you to find your Purpose.

Tadartha Eva Drśyātmā Atma, Yoga Sutra 2.21

Tadarthah: for the purpose
Eva: alone
Drsyasya: of the seen, nature — Prakrti
Atma: spirit, seer, Self

Translated literally, this sutra says, "The Knowable Material World Is Only For the Experience Of the Self." In other words, the entire universe exists solely for you to experience it. However, the surrounding context of the Yoga Sutras invites us to go beyond our singular, objective experience of existence and discover the underlying "WHY" — our purpose for being. If the universe exists for us, then why do we exist? The implied answer is that the world exists so that we can discover our purpose.

"They say that the knowable material world is only for the experience of the spirit. The point is that this whole world is for experience. So go through the world, understand what it is, face it. What I feel is that in our daily practical life, if we want suffering, we suffer, if we want wisdom from the world, do that. It is our choice. The world is there in front of you. The plate is put, now what do you want to do of it is up to you. So this thinking should continuously be there in our mind."
— Smt. Hansaji J. Yogendra

The Sanskrit language in general and the text Yoga Sutras in particular invites readers to speculate on many different interpretations. In Inside the Yoga Sutras, Reverend Jaganath Carrera explains Sutra 2.21 as saying "the purpose of creation — why life exists at all — is to serve the purpose of its Creator, which we know is the liberation of the individual."

B.K.S. Iyengar blended these two ideas. He said, "Nature and intelligence exist solely to serve the seer’s true purpose, emancipation." Intelligence is the tool that humans can use to free the consciousness from avidya or ignorance. The natural, phenomenal world is simply a mirror that human consciousness can use to see into itself. Yoga sadhana — spiritual practices — "allow the soul to reveal itself."

To say that the purpose of the phenomenal world is to reflect the true nature of awareness back to itself is heady stuff. In your meditations, spend some time with this. Jaganath Carrera warned that this will not be easy: "There is no simple, satisfying answer as to why life is this way. The response to this question lies outside the grasp of the mind. It is one of many spiritual puzzles, the solutions to which we will discover not by use of logic but by transcending ignorance."

Author: FearlessYoga Team


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