There are nine forms of obstacles in developing clarity: disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to develop in practice, slipping from ground gained.
Here's a scene from the Clifford/Joanou household YESTERDAY. Find the Nine Obstacles as listed by Sri Patanjali.
5:30 AM: Laying in bed. My leg has residual ache from a recent bout of sciatica. My left molar hurts from grinding my teeth. It throbs painfully even though I wear a mouth guard that will protect me from a left hook by Mohammad Ali. I feel old and crabby. I wonder if my feet will hurt when I bear weight on them.
5:35. I take note of my aches and pains but cannot think positively without my coffee. I tell myself that I will work harder today than yesterday to use a gentle tone of voice with my girls as often as possible. I might even be gentle all day.
5:45 Coffee consumption begins to allow for more complex functioning, such as making the girls' lunch.
6:00 I don't want to make lunch. I am bored with lunch making. Instead of making lunches I calculate how many lunches I have made since I've had children. (aprox 4745).
6:30 Lunches have been prepared. I drift into a day dream of life with a personal chef who knows how to make a really artful cappuccino. And school lunches.
6:45 I hear rustling in the children's bedroom and then voices that turn quickly into shouts. I rush in ready to admonish the girls not to begin their day quarreling, seething that my children bicker at the slightest provocation. Make note to drink more coffee.
6:46 Realize that the girls are in fact laughing hysterically at the fact that Misha (5) has thrown dirty underpants onto the ceiling fan and they are now whirring precariously over Lucy's (8) head.
6:50 Praise the girls for being nice to each other. Admonish them (gently) to put dirty pantalones in hamper when Helicopter Undies game is over.
7:00 Return to kitchen to make breakfast (aprox 4745 breakfasts prepared) Hear more shouts. Believe them to be shouts of joy, but soon realize that Misha is screaming at Lucy "Quit ANNORING me!!" —Misha's confusing compound word for annoy and ignore. Lucy is telling Horsey, her favorite stuffed animal, a secret which maddens and hurts Misha. Misha's screaming maddens and hurts Lucy.
7:01 Calmly, I tell girls to work it out with kind words
7:18 Breakfast is served. Cream of Wheat. I tell them it's the kind their heroes "The Little Rascals" love.
7:19 Misha sticks finger in bowl of said Cream of Wheat and pronounces "I don't like it."
7:19 I say "Try it."
7:20 She says 'NO"
7:21 I say, "You don't know if you don't like it until you try it."
7:21 "I can smell it. That's how I know."
7:22 "You must try it before I serve you any other food."
7:22 I notice a fever rising within, but leave it unchecked. Side-bar:wondering why this is so annoring to me. Who cares if she doesn't like Cream of Wheat?
7:23 I say, "You must eat some. That's all there will be for breakfast if this turns into a drama."
7:23 Misha puts spoonful in her mouth and spits it back into bowl.
7:24 Fever is reaching a boiling point
7:25 "Never spit food out at the table!" and then yes, I did say the following words: "THERE ARE CHILDREN ALL OVER THE WORLD WHO ARE VERY HUNGRY RIGHT NOW AND YOU ARE BEHAVING LIKE THE SPOILED GIRL IN THAT SHIRLEY TEMPLE MOVIE THE LITTLE PRINCESS. (You may now be wondering if I ever show my children any movie made after 1942. Not if I can help it.)
7:26 Misha runs from table
7:27 I shout "COME BACK HERE!!"
MISSION TO USE GENTLE WORDS ABORTED AT 7:27
I believe my children and I managed to encounter each of the 9 obstacles before we'd even had the calamitous putting on of shoes and trying to get out the door on time for school episode 45 minutes later.
As an addendum, later that day upon picking up the girls they announced that I had mixed up the lunches and given Misha two sandwiches and nothing else, while Lucy received two kiwis, a whole bunch of grapes and two pieces of banana bread which lead to a very emotional encounter with Misha about the inequities of life. All due to my carelessness.
Sutra 1:30 brings to mind Newton's First Law of Motion which states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. The struggles we encounter are opportunities for growth when we can see them that way. Or we can rest in doubt and doubt it will remain. Another way of dealing with doubt is to perceive it and acknowledge it and commend ourselves to the practice of confidence or seek advice when we don't know what to do. (Though I DO NOT recommend parenting books if you are doubting your parenting skills; these books will lead you into a spiral of self doubt that soon you'll be too scared to say "No" when your 8 year old wants a martini. We can experience disease or injury as an obstacle and stay there yielding to the discomfort and actually become the disease or we can proactively and positively find ways to heal and gather ourselves around the natural circumstances of having a body that is both fallible and beautiful.
This guy Patanjali is really smart, because if you sit with this sutra for a while, there isn't a mental process named in these nine "obstacles" that doesn't encompass some part of your life that has seriously derailed you. More importantly the "nasty nine" are not listed to point out our failings, but rather enumerate the universal bumps in the road so we can navigate more skillfully toward clarity and joy. I know that you know that I say all this in the most gentle way imaginable.
Out of these 9, which do you think is the most imposing obstacle?
How do you intend on dealing with it?
Can you think of an obstacle that has turned out to be a doorway?