I’ve been a member of a book club for a couple of years now. It’s the first one I’ve ever been a part of. I had high hopes. At our first meeting, we went around the table and everyone had a chance to say what they wanted to get out of belonging to the club. Over time, I’ve noticed that I haven’t gotten what I wanted – that is, more enjoyment of reading because of the synergy and stimulation of the group. Instead, reading the monthly book selection feels like I’m doing homework, and the group discussions have felt like just a voicing of opinions. I hate to admit it but I keep wanting to blame certain individuals in the club for my disappointment. I know logically that each group has its own dynamic and an individual will either fit in or not. But, it feels to me like this group is bad because they haven’t met my expectations, and moreover, I want to make the offending parties wrong. I suppose making someone or something wrong is marginally better than making myself wrong, but what sort of contest is that? Chip Hartranft in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, has a compassionate commentary on human frailty that reflects back on my situation. He says:
The inner life of every human being is visited by unwholesome thoughts of all sorts. Patanjali doesn’t fault anyone for this, regarding it not as sin but as a natural state of affairs arising from cause and effect.
He suggests we use our intelligence to neutralise unwholesome thoughts by cultivating the wholesome in our lives. So, here I am sending my good will to book club and insuring I don’t contribute anything more to the cycle of suffering (especially my own).
Vitarka himsadayah kritakaritarnumodita lobhakrodhamohapurvaka mridumadhyadhimatra duhkhajnananantaphala iti pratipaksabhavanam
We ourselves may act upon unwholesome thoughts such as wanting to harm someone, or we may cause or condone them in others; unwholesome thoughts may arise from greed, anger, or delusion; they may be mild , moderate, or extreme; but they never cease to ripen into ignorance and suffering . This is why one must cultivate wholesome thoughts.* *The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, a new translation with commentary by Chip Hartranft.