heyaM=to be avoided; duHkham=misery; anaagatam=not yet come (future);
"The misery which is not yet come can and is to be avoided."
Can this misery which is inherent in human life (sutra 2.15) be avoided? An orthodox religious person may believe that all sorrows and suffering will get compensated in the life after death. They take suffering for granted and are thankful for the little pleasures in life but continue to bear the pain in life. They might just say "lead a good life now and hope for happiness after death". According to the yogis, death doesn’t solve your problem any more than night fall solves your financial problems.
Yogis claim that knowledge, bliss and Enlightenment can be attained here and now while still in this physical body. This is attained by following a definite scientific approach which has been verified by the experience of innumerable yogis, saints and sages through the ages.
"Pain which is yet to come is to be discarded".
Past suffering cannot be avoided as it has already been experienced. Present suffering is currently in operation. Only the pain which has not yet been experienced is the source of trouble for the yogi who is as sensitive as the eye-ball. That pain alone is avoidable.
"Suffering that has yet to manifest is to be avoided."
How can one give up suffering that has not yet come? By removing its cause – subject of the next sutra. Future suffering has its seeds in the present and the past. It is only through liberation that future suffering can be fully eliminated.
On reading the sutra the question that comes to mind is – to eradicate something, I must know what I am eradicating. In this sutra, we are talking of avoiding pain that lies in the future. Since I haven’t seen the future, how do I know what I should be eliminating. If I don’t know what kind of duhkha lies ahead of me, how can I plan for its avoidance? To understand this, we need to look at the philosophy of Samkhya and yoga which is based on the concept of Satkaryavada (cause and effect). According to this philosophy, all effect is inherent in its cause. So, if we can identify the cause of all types of pain and suffering, we can take steps to eliminate that cause. Patanjali has already given us the concept of Avidya (ignorance) which is at the root of all the kleshas that cause suffering. So, our objective in eliminating future suffering would be to uproot Avidya.