Understanding the Role of Five Kleshas on the Path to Yoga

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Continuing with the five other kleshas (afflictions) of ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to bodily life maybe so ingrained in us that we cannot even see these exist. One way to get rid of these five afflictions, according to most yoga sages is allow, acknowledge, pay attention and accept. You should try not to struggle with it too much. Navodita, our Yoga expert, gives insight into the issue, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

You go through different emotions in different phases of your life. Yoga helps just put that in place with the help of meditation and mindful thinking. Every time you work on yourself, you are actually working to kill your ego. One of the richest paths of your awakening is the contraction and suffering felt with the death of the ego. You may feel dry, barren and exiled, to begin with, the death of the ego can begin to open new avenues for you. Although you might not see it, the seeds of your new self, are sprouting beneath the soil of your awareness.

This is the time when often the klesha avidya (ignorance and delusion) is stimulated; you usually can’t see what you’ll grow into. You sometimes have trouble recognising the stage of your transition from the egoist self to the egoless self. Often the klesha avidya propels you to restructure your life, build a new ego, and this seemingly endless period of waiting. You need to develop patience for your egoless life to take shape. After all the waiting, the klesha called raga (attachment) gets stirred up. A spiritual initiation is like a carved knife that pierces and cuts through the soul. Initiations allow you to reinvent yourself completely, to give yourself over to something greater. They are windows through which you can glimpse who you really are. As you learn to recognise and accept the extraordinary power of change and develop the art of surrender, you’ll be rewarded with an awakening of the natural alignment within the body, mind, and soul that exists within you.

So we can identify five kleshas or afflictions that can knock you off balance or sidetrack you in your quest for spiritual evolution:

Avidya, your inability to see things for what they are; this causes you to mistake ego-related matters as permanent ones.

Asmita, the tendency to over-identify with your ego; this keeps you from connecting you with your soul.

Raga, the flame of desire that causes addiction to pleasure; this discourages you from leaving your comfort zone for more evolved territory.

Dvesha, aversion to pain; this creates a quicksand-like cycle of misery and self-hatred that sucks you under and suffocates your will to evolve.

Abhinivesha, the fear of death or a clinging to life; this dilutes your focus and interferes with your ability to experience the spiritual freedom that is the goal of yoga.

The first stage of working with the kleshas is to just acknowledge that they exist and observe them. Reflection promotes self-awareness, wisdom, self-knowledge to unleash what lies inside you. By ridding ourselves of the kleshas you can see the reality of the world and your own true nature. Thus, these five afflictions of ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to bodily life may be so ingrained in us that we cannot even see these exist. One way to get rid of these five afflictions, according to most yoga sages is allow, acknowledge, pay attention and accept. You should try not to struggle with it too much. Imagine that your mind has an indoor and outdoor and keep both doors open for these to come and go. The idea is not so much to be free of them as to coexist with them and yet not let them control or define you.

The Yoga Sutras explain in detail how can such thoughts and negative perceptions be overcome. The mind field is bubbling with activity and that activity is ‘thoughts’. Our thoughts range from direct perception of information to inference and logical reasoning to misconceptions. Our thoughts also consist of our conceptual frameworks and imaginations as well as thoughts that operate during dreamless sleep. The key to gaining control over the mind is not to try to figure out what kind of thought we are having. Rather, it is to understand that regardless of what kind of thought might be rolling around, what lies underneath is what matters.

According to the Sutras, kleshas are the driving force behind our thoughts. The most important tool in getting rid of kleshas is dhyana or meditation. The concentration on one thought, one image, and one point literally transform the mind by allowing it to flow undisturbed from the last thought to the next.

Understanding one’s afflictions may help you get a better understanding of the self which in turn takes you a step closer to self-awareness, which is what yoga is all about. Looking beyond the physical asanas is the true form of practicing yoga.

©Navodita Pande

Photos from the internet.

#HolisticHealth #FiveKhesha #UnderstandYourSuffering #LetGo #MeditationHelps #IrradicateKleshas #Yoga #HealingYoga #CleansingYourSoul #DifferentTruths

Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24×7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.