Tag Archives: Ignorance

The 5 Kleshas: The Blindfold

To become aware of this union, the practice of Yoga teaches us to see past dualism and free ourselves from conditioning and preconceptions, from lower feelings and thoughts and to get over personal impurities that envelop our being. Yoga philosophers have, just as Buddhism, named a number of afflictions of our mind, the Kleshas, that distort or cloud our perceptions and effect how we think, act and feel. They are the reasons for our suffering, our impurity and our disconnection form the universal soul.

  • Avidya or ignorance as the root affliction. Avidya is the misconception of reality, seeing the temporary as eternal, the impure as pure.
  • Asmita or egoism is the identification of ourselves with the ego. We create an image of ourselves which we believe is true but which is not really us. We fail to see our whole being and our interconnection with other. We distinguish here particularly between, external (rich and poor) and internal (good and bad) perceptions of ourselves and others.
  • Raga or attachment is the attraction to the things that bring us satisfaction. The desire for pleasures creates mindless actions and we suffer when we can’t obtain. A good example are addictions simple as coffee or cigarettes.
  • Dvesha or repulsion is the opposite of Raga and means the aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. We suffer when we can’t avoid, for example a room full of smokers or a cold shower.
  • Abhinivesha is the deepest of all Kleshas, the fear of death and the fear behind all other fears, ingrained in us through our survival instinct.

There are many ways out of these afflictions, different paths of yoga just as there are different inclinations in different people. A commonly used image in Yoga says that there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view. However, the first step is always the acknowledgement and understanding of these impurities followed by self-reflection. And that is something that needs to come from inside, the desire to cleanse oneself from impurities and be free from suffering. If this desire is immanent and present, then we’re probably already on at least one of the many paths. The main four of these paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action, Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of knowledge and Raja Yoga, the Yoga of the mind or self-discipline.

The Self-Portrait

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. 
Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”  – Lao Tzu

Who am I and who do I want to be? That is probably a question we ask ourselves quite rarely in our daily lives filled with sensual sensations, movement, media, adverts, daily news, etc. Our restless mind is constantly looking for distraction because that is its nature and the only thing it is used to.

According to Lao Tzu, who we are today is the result of our actions done in the past. The actions we do are the result of our thoughts. So basically we are today what we thought yesterday and become tomorrow what we think today. Are we aware of what we think? Do we observe the processes in our minds? How many actions happen consciously? Is it our will directing us or rather our habit? Did we know that we shape our future self in every moment?

“I shouldn t have done this”, “I m such an idiot”, these are expressions of regret, ignorant of the fact that all of us are evolving being, making mistakes as we go and as we grow. We are constantly moving to the edge of our own being, pushing it, moving through friction to pass into new levels of consciousness. It is there where it happens often unwillingly, unconsciously and effortless. Often however we move away from our potential, into a world of more regret and suffering on different levels of our being. We fail to have our needs met, to identify our feeling and speak them out, to ourselves as well as to others.

Approaching the edge with mindfulness however makes us realise, move on and shape our next step, our next being that evolves out of ourselves. Regret is replaced with patience and effort, ignorance with intention and assertiveness. We know that a positive being evolves from positive thought; affirmative thinking is the force that is pushing the edge. We draw the picture of our new selves as we go with every thought that enters our mind, every word spoken by our mouth and every action done by our hands.