Yoga Sutra 1.8: Don’t Let a Misconception Ruin Your Day

A crocodile

VIPARYAYO MITHYĀJNĀNAM ATADRŪPA PRATISTHAM.
Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.

We humans have a hard enough time of things when we’ve got our facts straight. Even knowing the truth of a situation doesn’t mean we know how to make peace with it, but even worse (and harder to correct) is when our view of the world is based on misconception.

The other day, I was opening a package of crackers, and I was alarmed because I thought there were bugs inside. I saw these little black specks, and I thought they were the first wave of an infestation. But I opened the package, and as the plastic untwisted itself, I realized the specks were just numbers printed on the package. It was some meaningless bit of manufacturing that had confused me, and the problem I foresaw was totally in my imagination.

Very often, we see something strange or unclear, and we make an assumption about what it is or what it means. If I hadn’t finished unwrapping that package, I would’ve thrown out a perfectly good pack of crackers. It’s not the world’s greatest mistake to be sure, but how often do we repeat it in other areas of life. If someone honks at you in traffic, you think, “What a jerk!”  But maybe they weren’t even honking at you. Maybe they were trying to warn the person who almost merged into them. Not knowing the cause, you go on with your day thinking people are jerks. You arrive at the office ands say, “I’m having a bad morning.” Why? Because of a misunderstanding.

So, we’ve got two options in the case of misconception.

  1. Look closer. Find out that the bugs are actually just ink. 
  2. Let it go. Realize that even if that guy in traffice was honking at you (and you can’t always know for sure), it doesn’t have to ruin your day.

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