This article consists of 6 chapters
- Introduction – let your seed sprout! – uncover your impurities!
- Avidya: ignorance
- Asmita: I feeling – the ego
- Raga: attachment to pleasure
- Dwesha: aversion
- Abhinivesah: fear of death + conclusion
Today you can read part 1:
For the last 2 weeks I have been in Arambol – in the state Goa. Arambol is a state in the south-west of India were human beings from around the world come to settle down. Some of them stay a couple of days and continue their journey; others stay the whole season (november- march) and live their life outside, close to the beach. Arambol is full of all types of people: locals, teachers, seekers, modern thinkers, pioneers, artists etc.
I love to talk with people and I do this a lot. A subject that’s passing through and comes back almost every day is: How can I deal with obstacles that come on my way?
In this article I’ll outline the kleshas: the so called: ‘causes of suffering’ that are written in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. As I am a human being myself, I also deal with kleshas:, therefore I’ll share my personal experience. Also I’ll add exercises that help me to become aware of my obstacles and free myself from them. I think they are worth to share; possibly they’ll be beneficial for you too 🙂
Let your seed sprout!
In yogic teachings, human consciousness is often visualized as a seed. A seed needs a proper ground, proper conditions, sun, light, water, proper soil for it to sprout and blossom. Right? With the right conditions the seed will grow and become a flower, a tree of leaves, a tree of fruits or a multiplication of them. 🙂
Guess what? Human consciousness and human mind are similar! Either the seed can be dormant for years together keeping its possibility within itself or it starts blossoming, sprouting. In yogic philosophy the sprouting of the seed of human consciousness is called: viveka, dicrimination. Freedom comes with viveka.
YS 2.26 . viveka khyatih aviplava hanopayah
Viveka: discrimination; khyatih: awareness; aviplava: without fluctuations, hanopayah: the means of avoidance (hana)
The unfluctuating awareness of the real (vivekakhyati) is the means of avoidance of avidya.
In his book, ‘Four chapters of freedom’, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, comments on this sutra, saying the following: ‘there are different types of knowledge, such as knowledge through the indriyas, through the intellect, reasoning, through personal contact, hearing, imagination, and past memories. If we want to realise the real nature of purusa (pure consciousness ) we cannot depend on knowledge from these sources. That range of knowledge is called vivekakhyati. It is a process of knowing, not through the senses, nor intellect, nor higher perception. It is not possible to weight the earth using scales, but you can do it through mathematical calculations. You cannot measure the distance between the sun and the moon using scales, but you can calculate it by the laws of physics. Similary, if you want to know the supreme self, if you want to dispel avidya, you have to employ the process called knowledge through viveka.
Viveka usually means discrimination, knowing the difference, but in this sutra it’s meaning is different. As a result of constant practice of self-knowledge, at a certain stage, awareness must develop in you that awareness is a dual awareness. In other words: human mind, human consciousness has possibility of freedom. Through viveka, a higher kind of awareness; ok….let’s call it wisdom – comes. Discrimination gives the mind freedom to remain where you are or progress.
And now! Let’s go back to the seed. How to make the seed sprout? How to make the sapling? Once the sapling has come it will need water. You have to pour water again and again till it grows. If a seed is not watered, the flower, tree of leaves or tree remains a possibility and does not manifest. For human mind it works the same. If you want to uncover your impurities and move beyond your obstacles, you need to practice. 🙂
Uncover your impurities
In Yoga Sutra 2.28 Patanjali says: “Yoga anga anushtanat ashuddhi kshaye jnanadi Apthiraviveka khyatehe’’
Yoganga: a part of yoga, anusthanat: by practise ; asuddhi: impurity, ksaye: destruction; jnana: spiritual knowledge; diptih: radiance; avivekakhyateh: till the awareness of reality.
By the practice of the parts of yoga impurity diminishes until the rise of spiritual knowledge culminates in awareness of reality.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, comments on this sutra as following. ‘In order to know the higher self, we have to develop a true awareness of the reality which is neither mental nor intellectual. That deeper awareness develops only by spiritual illumination, which goes on increasing with the gradual destruction of impurity. The impurity of the mind is destroyed by the practice of yoga. Different aspects of yoga must be practiced step by step, and then the impurities are destroyed, giving rise to spiritual illumination, which results in true, deeper awareness of reality. In this sense, therefore, yoga is not joining, yoga is disjoining.’
Hey! That’s interesting. By practicing yoga, impurities in mind are getting destroyed. When you want to ‘ disjoin’ from your impurities, different aspects of yoga must be practiced. These practices are the ‘so called’: eight limbs of Patanjali.
The eight limbs consist of eight parts that are used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena (or reality).“Yama niyama asana pranayama pratyahara dharana, dhyana Samadhi ashtau angani (II Sutra 29) “Restraint, observance, postures, regulation of breath, substitute food for the mind, ability of the mind to focus, meditation and higher states of consciousness are eight limbs of yoga.
However practicing the 8 fold path in daily life people are often disturbed by what we call in yoga philosophy; the kleshas: causes of pain. In Patanjali’s yoga sutra 2.3 the kleshas: impurities, troubles or afflictions are described as following:
- Ignorance (avidya)
- Ego – I feeling (asmita)
- Attachment – liking (raga)
- Aversion – disliking (dvesa)
- Fear of Death (abhinivesah)
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, comments on this sutra as following. ‘Klesha is a kind of agony which is inside our very being. Everyone feels subconscious pain, but our superficial daily activities do not allow us to be aware of it, otherwise we would see pain in all it’s vividness’
Yes! I agree with Swami Satyananda. If we would be conscious about subconscious pain all day long we wouldn’t be able to live our daily life. If we would be constantly aware of our angriness (because we feel it’s not fair people are suffering in the war in Syria) and be worried (because we feel sorry for the refugees who are living in bad circumstances) we wouldn’t be able to concentrate on work and taking care of our family.
Classical yoga texts do emphasis on avidya, or ignorance as the chief affliction of suffering. Therefore, often the kleshas are depicted as a tree. Picture this: imagine avidya as the trunk of a tree and the other four kleshas sprouting from it. Out of avidya the rest of the kleshas are born.
Whenever there is an obstacle in your life, they don’t allow Citta Vritti Nirodha.
yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ ||YS 1.2||
The sutra is a composition of four words: yoga, chitta,vritti and nirodha.
Chitta: conciousness; vrtti: patterns or circular patterns; nirodhah: blocking, stopping.
In his book, Swamii Satyananda Saraswati comments on this sutra the following:
‘Chitta is derived from the basic idea of chit, which means to see, to be conscious or to be aware. Hence chitta means individual consciousness, which includes the conscious state of mind, the subconscious state of mind and also the unconscious state of mind. The totality of these three states of individual mind is symbolized by the expression chitta. Here Chitta represents the whole of the individual conciousness, which is comprised of three stages: the sense of objective conciousness, the subjective or astral conciousness and the unconciousness or mental state of dormant potentiality. ‘
In other words: Yoga can help to stop or block circular patterns (in mind).
The next blogs I’ll talk about the kleshas, illustrated with personal examples and some exercises which are beneficial for me and whom I think are worth it to share.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Four chapters on freedom, Yoga publication trust – Bihar. India.
Address: Parimukti Yoga Center, Kanira Homes,
Girkarwaddo, End of Magic Park Road,