In Yoga We’re Not Afraid of the Devil – Yoga Sutras 2.5

In Yoga, we’re not afraid of the Devil. Instead, we’re afraid of ignorance.

Watch my video on this topic here.

One of the biggest differences between Eastern spirituality and the Abrahamic religions is what is feared.

In the Yoga tradition, and later incorporated into Buddhism, the fear is of ignorance, of just getting things wrong and suffering because of it. It’s understood that if you get life wrong, if you don’t know who you really are and where you are, then naturally you’ll do the wrong things. Consequently, you’ll suffer or at least have the worst case of missing out on something much better.

In the spiritual practice of yoga, there is no concept of an opposite of God, a Devil or Satan to deviate you, or who will ruin your eternal life. Instead, we alone are responsible for our destinies and everything that happens to us is exclusively brought upon by ourselves, in this life or in previous lives.

The core issue is to avoid mistaking reality for illusion, especially regarding our identity and what we see around us. This means not mistaking our true eternal spiritual selves with our temporary material body, and not confusing the external reality we are now sharing with the ultimate spiritual reality of transcendence.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, “Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras Revolution: How Timeless Yoga Wisdom Can Revolutionize Our Lives Today” ( with Patanjali’s definition of ignorance.

2.5 Ignorance means to consider the non-permanent as permanent, the impure as pure, unhappiness as happiness, and the non-self as the self.

The nature of the soul is pure, joyful, and permanent. This is who we really are. We are eternally existing beings of pure heart and unlimited happiness. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, at this moment, due to our ignorance, we’re a bit confused. We’re not sure who we are. We think we’re the material body, something clearly not permanent.

Because we’re attached to this body, our hearts cannot be pure. We identify with the demands of the body, physical limitations, and a win-lose mentality born out of competition and survival. In the metaphysical, spiritual plane, there is no scarcity. The more love you give, the more you get. The more just you are, the more justice there is. But in the material dimension, if you give away an inch, you’ve got one inch less. If you share a bowl of rice, it’s one bowl less you’re going to get. The more we identify with matter, the meaner we become.

As our hearts become impure with selfishness, we become unhappy. It’s a curious, but inescapable fact of life: the more you concern yourself with your own needs, the more miserable you become.

As we blow away the fog of confusion, starting with some deep thought about who we really are, we change the way we go about life and naturally become increasingly joyous.


Look what they’re saying about my new book, Yoga Sutras Revolution: “Very helpful introduction to the yoga sutras. Fairly easy to comprehend for such a complicated discourse. Reading this book, I really appreciated the path that is laid out for spiritual growth, as well as the depiction of a yogic life along with the challenges and solutions along the way. All of the Sanskrit terms are defined throughout in a comprehendable manner.” – Cynthia G.

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