Sadhana Pada: Sutra 2.3
avidyā = nescience, ignorance
asmitā= egoism, the feeling of I-ness
rāga = desire, passion
dveṣa = hatred
abhiniveśaḥ = clinging to life
kleśāḥ = pain-causing, givers of grief
Ignorance, I-ness, passion, hatred, and clinging to life are trouble givers.
Ignorance, egoism, desire, aversion, and attachment to life are impurities or stumbling blocks on the path to Samadhi.
The result of ignorance is always pain or grief. If you don't have the right knowledge, the other impurities get stronger and stop your progress. For instance, if you don't know that egoism is the cause of all your pains, trouble is always there.
With egoism, you take ownership of your actions. You become attached to the fruits of your actions. You desire a better outcome of your actions. Moreover, you feel hatred towards the impediments that are against the fruit. In total, you cling to life. If you are ignorant of these, they become stronger. They become stronger impediments on your path.
If you have ownership of your actions, if you feel you are the owner of persons or things, this is the big impediment on your path. According to Patanjali, egoism means the trouble of ownership. If you are ignorant of the trouble of egoism, all troubles are there on the path of Samadhi. The cause of egoism is ignorance. Hence, from ignorance comes egoism, from egoism comes passion and hatred, and from passion and hatred comes attachment.
The very idea is "to understand and get rid of egoism". With the right knowledge, you get dispassion and detachment.
Commentary by Maharishi Vyasa
Ignorance, egoism, passion, aversion, and attachment are the five distractions
The said five hindrances are the misconceptions (delusions). These when flowing out make the authority of the natural aspects (Gunas) more rigid. (They strengthen the aspects). They establish various mutations, swell the stream of causes and effects, and thus fructify the Karma being interdependent upon one another. Note: The commentator calls them misconceptions in the sense that they don't exist in reality.
Commentary by Swami Vivekananda
The pain-bearing obstructions are - ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life
These are the five pains, the fivefold tie that binds us down. Of course, ignorance is the mother of all the rest. She is the only cause of all our misery. What else can make us miserable? The nature of the Soul is eternal bliss. What can make it sorrowful except ignorance, hallucination, delusion; all this pain of the soul is simply a delusion.
Commentary by Sri Osho
MISERIES ARE CAUSED BY: LACK OF AWARENESS, EGOISM, ATTRACTIONS, REPULSIONS, CLINGING TO LIFE, AND FEAR OF DEATH
In fact, just the ego is the cause. All others which follow are just shadows of the ego. Lack of self-awareness is the ego. You feel that you are because you don't know. You are in darkness, you have never met yourself, and you think you are. This creates all sorts of miseries: egoism, attractions towards things that are useless, repulsions -- which is the other extreme of attraction -- clinging to life, and fear of death. You cling to life because you don't know what life is. If you knew, there would be no clinging; because life is eternal -- why cling? It is going on and it can never stop. You unnecessarily trouble yourself by clinging.
It is as if a river is flowing and you are pushing the river towards the ocean when it is going by itself. You need not push. You will unnecessarily create misery for yourself. You will think that you are a martyr because you are pushing the river and leading it towards the ocean. The river is going by itself; don't disturb, you need not do it. If you want to go to the ocean, you can just become part of the
river and the river will take you. But don't help the river; you have been doing that. Life is flowing by itself; nothing is needed.
What have you done to be born?
What have you done to be here?
What have you done to be alive? Is it something that you have done? If not, then why bother? Life moves on its own. Foolish people create miseries; the situation is like this.
I have heard: Once a rich man, a great King, was going somewhere in his chariot. He saw a poor villager, an old man, by the side of the road carrying a big burden on his head, and the burden was too much. The King felt compassion. He said, 'You come, old man; sit by my side in the chariot. Wherever you want I will drop you. The old man went to the chariot but he was still carrying his burden on his head. The King said, 'Are you mad? Why don't you put your burden down?'
The man said, 'I am on the chariot, and even that is too much of a burden for the chariot and the horses. My burden will be too much. Thank you, sir, but let me carry this burden. It will be too much for the horses and the chariot.'
Whether you carry your burden on your head or you put in the chariot, it is all the same to the horses; they have to carry all of it. Life is carrying itself.
Why don't you leave your burdens to life?
But you cling. And when you cling to life, the fear of death arises. There is no death and there is no fear of death. Clinging to life creates the fear of death, and the fear of death creates death. Otherwise, there is no death and no fear.
Life is eternal. Nobody has ever died; nobody can ever die. That which exists will exist, has always been in existence, cannot go out of existence. Nothing can go out of existence; nothing can go out, nothing can come in. Existence is total.
Everything remains; moods change, forms change, names change. It is what Hindus call Namarupa. Forms and names change; otherwise, everybody remains, everything remains. You have been here millions of times, you will be here millions of times -- you will be here forever. Life is forever. Of course, your name will not be the same. You may not have the same face again, you may not have the body of a man or a woman again, but that doesn't matter, that is irrelevant. You will be here just like the waves in the ocean - they go and come, they go and come. Forms change, but the same ocean goes on waving.
MISERIES ARE CAUSED BY: LACK OF AWARENESS, EGOISM, ATTRACTIONS, REPULSIONS, CLINGING TO LIFE, AND FEAR OF DEATH. WHETHER THEY BE IN THE STATES OF DORMANCY, ATTENUATION, ALTERATION, OR EXPANSION, IT IS THROUGH LACK OF AWARENESS THAT THE OTHER CAUSES OF MISERY ARE ABLE TO OPERATE.
There can be many forms of the causes of misery: they can be in the form of seeds. You can carry your misery in the form of a seed -- dormant. You may not be aware of it, but in a certain situation, if the soil is right and the seed can get the water and the sun, it will sprout. So sometimes for years, you feel that you have no greed, and suddenly one day when the right opportunity arises, the greed is there. Then the seeds are in a very feeble form that you are not aware of, so feeble that unless you search deeply within yourself, you will not be able to see that they are there. Or they may be in an alternating form: sometimes you feel happy and sometimes you feel unhappy. You feel happy with love, you feel unhappy with hate, but hate and love are two alternating phenomena of the same energy. Sometimes they will be in their perfect form: when you are depressed, so depressed that you want to commit suicide; or sometimes when you are so happy that you feel like going mad. All these forms have to be watched because Patanjali says, 'All these forms exist because of unawareness; you are not aware.'
First, become aware of the surface phenomena: greed, anger, hate; then go deeper, and you will be able to feel the alternating phenomenon -- both are connected. Go still deeper, become more aware, and you will feel a very feeble
phenomenon inside you, shadow-like, but any time it can gain substance. So it happens with a holy man -- who just a moment before was holy -- that a beautiful woman comes, and all holiness disappears; just in a single moment! It
was there in a feeble form. Or, it can be in a seed form. To know the seed form is the most difficult because it has not sprouted. It needs perfect awareness. But the whole method of Patanjali is awareness: become more and more aware. You will become more aware if you become austere, simple. You will become more aware and self-study will become possible. With self-study, self drops, and one feels surrendered. And to be surrendered is to be on the right track.