Asmita (Egoism)


Sutra 2.6 introduces Asmita, or Egoism. This Sutra can be translated as 'egoism is the identification of Purusha with that of the instrument of the seeing.' What does that even mean??? Asmita stems from Avidya and sets the foundation for the remaining Kleshas. From ignorance I-ness arises. If we didn't consider our thoughts in terms of I-ness (or how they relate and affect us) there would be no distractions. Your past experiences create impressions and color the mind. The coloring of the mind is unsettling and causes you to forget that this is just an impression. These thought patterns are not who you are, but merely mind chatter. Meditation is a useful tool to change these patterns.


Think you have a pretty good idea what egoism means? This is a little different than conceit or merely thinking highly of oneself. In this context, and from a yogic perspective, egoism occurs when we look at the world in dualistic terms. Ego is identifying with your thoughts and desires and egoism is an attachment to these thoughts and desires.

Ego is necessary, it can be a powerful tool for growth and service if we can work with it effectively; however, egoism can often times distort our view of ourselves and reality.

How to overcome this obstacle on your mat?

Egoism can manifests itself as a desire to perform a pose perfectly or to compete with others around you. Are you a person that judges others or compares yourself to others? The lack of floor to ceiling mirrors in a yoga studio is no coincidence. This is purposeful to help you to focus on looking inward for what you and the Self needs, rather than comparing yourself to others.

How to overcome this obstacle off your mat?

Try a little humility. Be humbled by what you DON'T know. When we are willing to accept and release that we don't have the answers, our Truth becomes more clear. Go out of your way to open your heart and dedicate the fruits of your actions to something greater yourself.

By: Virginia Traylor