June 09, 2022
The Sanskrit word klesha translates to mean “poison” or “affliction.” Early yogis believed that these poisons were the main cause of all human suffering. They are the obstacles to spiritual advancement and hinder the practise of meditation by creating mental turmoil and distraction.
The five Kleshas are as follows - Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism or I-am-ness), Raga (attachment), Dvesha (repulsion and aversion), and Abhinivesha (fear). With much work and through following the eight limbs of yoga one can work to overcome some of these afflictions.
Avidya extends beyond the term ignorance. The literal translation of the word vidya means knowledge, the prefix of "a" gives the word the opposite meaning. Avidya is usually translated to mean wrong knowledge. Wrong knowledge is very difficult to unlearn, as it is not always obvious that information provided is wrong, this could also be that something is misinterpreted, or that we have been taught something incorrectly, or that we have changed our perception so that the knowledge serves us better. Anything learnt in error or learnt wrongly is difficult to unlearn.
Sometimes the ego struggles to relax, although we associate the term ego with seeking recognition, sometimes the ego acts out of protection due to nerves or anxiety. The ego can be like an enthusiastic child desperate to answer a question, hand raised hoping someone will notice them.
Attachment can be a big distraction, consider everything that we can form an attachment too. The morning coffee, listening to the news, a favourite cereal, right through to people, recognition, lifestyle, money, the list is endless. The modern world is consumer driven and feeds on human attachment.
When considering repulsion, this can include anything that is not liked or favoured, such as behaviours, people, work, foods etc. It is important to note that raga and dvesha often work together and create a "push pull" affect. Often the things we are attached to turn into the things that repulse us. Sometimes we find ourselves repulsed by the very notion of being attached.
Fear has many disguises and can exist on many levels.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga provide different tools to help overcome these afflictions and enhance the practice of yoga and meditation.
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