2.12 – The painful barriers are the root cause of the accumulation of karma, and the effects of that accumulated karma may be experienced in this or other life-times.

क्लेशमूलः कर्माशयो दृष्टादृष्टजन्मवेदनीयः ॥१२॥

klesha-mula karma-ashaya drishta adrishta janma vedaniyah

  • klesha – afflicting; pain causing; troublesome; distressing; the painful barriers to samadhi
  • mula – source; cause; origin; root
  • karma – actions; work; deeds; the fruits of actions
  • ashaya – seat of feelings and thoughts; of desires; receptacle; resting place; latent imprints of actions which lead to desires
  • drishta – the seen; experienced; perceived; visible
  • adrishta – invisible; unseen; not experienced; not perceived
  • janma – birth; rebirth; existence
  • vedaniyah – to be known or made known; to be felt; to be experienced

2.13 – As long as the root cause of karma exists, it will continue to influence the conditions of birth, life-span, and life-experiences.

सति मूले तद्विपाको जात्यायुर्भोगाः ॥१३॥

sati mule tat vipakah jati ayus bhogah

  • sati – being; existing; being present; has been achieved
  • mule – source; cause; origin; root
  • tat – that
  • vipakah – ripening; maturing; effect; result
  • jati – type of birth; genus; lineage; family
  • ayus – life-span; longevity
  • bhogah – experience; enjoyment

2.14 – Virtuous karma results in pleasurable life-conditions, non-virtuous karma results in painful life-conditions.

ते ह्लाद परितापफलाः पुण्यापुण्यहेतुत्वात् ॥१४॥

te hlada paritapa phalah punya apunya hetutvat

  • te – these; they
  • hlada – pleasure; delight; joy
  • paritapa – pain; grief; affliction
  • phalah – fruit; effect; result
  • punya – virtuous; righteous; good works
  • apunya – nonvirtuous; vice; unrighteous; evil deeds
  • hetutvat – causation

Commentary on Sutras 1.12—1.14:

Yogic philosophy acknowledges the cyclic nature of life. Fall and winter reemerge as spring and summer. Souls die and are reborn. Even universes explode into existence, dissolve back into their source, and rise again as new expressions of Spirit.

This cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth carries on throughout the millennia for the soul trapped in Maya’s mirage. The Great Illusionist spins her web out of the sticky substance of klesha-formed karma.

Like a spider web, the web of karma has a structure and pattern which forms our habitual thoughts, emotions, and actions. We may leave the physical body at death, but those patterns remain stored in the subtle body and follow us into the next life.

Those karmic patterns influence the conditions of our birth, such as what age and planet we will be born into and what family we will be a part of. Likewise, our potential lifespan and the ways we might depart the world are stored in our web of programming, as are the tendencies toward experiences we might have during that journey.

This line of thought brings up the free will vs. determination conundrum. And while Patanjali doesn’t hash this out for us, he makes it clear throughout the sutras that our life trajectory will continue to follow the programming of our subconscious until we erase its self-replicating viruses.

Any painful experiences we’re going through are due to our accumulation of non-virtuous karma. And if we want more pleasurable conditions in the near and distant future, we must create virtuous karma now.

Karma is not a reward/punishment system dolled out by a jealous and wrathful deity. It’s the natural law of cause and effect.

The ultimate aim of yogic practice isn’t to write better programming but to deprogram ourselves entirely so we may live as free expressions of Spirit.