“I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.”
By Og Mandino
We discussed each of the kleshas individually, but where do they fit into the big picture of yogic philosophy. One of the four noble truths of the Buddhist doctrine is that “All life is suffering”. In yoga we identify the kleshas as the afflictions which cause suffering. The symptoms that are caused by this suffering include what are known as the six poisons of the heart. They are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy, and sloth. These are just the tip of the iceberg of suffering. Yoga has the purpose of cultivating ecstasy (Samadhi), and also the purpose of attenuating the causes of affliction (kleshas). (yoga sutra II.2) (translation from The Yoga Tradition). These afflictions (kleshas) are to be overcome through meditation (dhyana -seventh limb of eight-limbed yoga (ashtanga yoga)). (yoga sutra II.11). Here is a relevant commentary by Georg Feuerstein from his book The Yoga Tradition : “The concept of “Transformation” is crucial to Yoga philosophy. It is an elaboration of the common experience that everything undergoes constant change. Only the transcendental self is eternally stable. For the discerning yogin (vivekin) the finite world of perpetual change is one of suffering, or sorrow, because change signals inevitable loss of what is desirable and gain of what is undesirable and hence unhappiness.” Here is the way Gregor Maehle put it: “In Western society we are promised that pleasure-seeking is the way to happiness, and we most admire those who are most driven to fulfill their desires. The Indian idea of happiness is the absence of hankering after enjoyment, which is contentment. Think about it. Giving up the idea that we have to reach out for satisfaction allows us to realize the happiness that is already here. Being deep within us, it doesn’t rely on external stimuli. Pleasure-seeking will in fact lead to pain, according to yoga.”
All this is very interesting. At the root of it all is dealing with the first of the kleshas which is ignorance (avidya). Through the practice of meditation we are to discern the “true self”, the “unchanging self” (purusha). Once this is done then we can untangle this “true self” from everything else which changes and consequently leads to suffering. Everything that changes is known as prakriti (nature). Our bodies and minds are prakriti. This is where asmita (ego) enters in. Yoga sutra II.27 tells us that for the yogi who is gaining discriminative knowledge, insights come in seven stages or aspects of wisdom. To keep this blog entry manageably short, I will challenge you to seek them on your own. The stages are not as important as how to find the discrimination. Here it is…… Wait for it………… The eight limbs of yoga that we all know and love. Patanjali lays them out in yoga sutra II.29. Many of us chant this sutra and the ones that follow it to help us remember these foundational pillars of our yoga practice. The eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Without an awareness of the eight limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga) you are missing the point of why the asana (poses) are done. Patanjali lays out the path in progressive steps that if followed, will relieve the suffering caused by the kleshas. Intense huh? Yoga philosophy is awesome. Like I always tell my students, “I don’t make this stuff up. I just pass along to you the wisdom that my teachers and explorations have blessed me with.” It is all there for anyone to read and explore………….. Enough kleshas. Next posts on the 8 limbs of yoga.
Now for something completely different….. Today is Valentines Day. The yoga sutras are not the only sutras that exist. Dave and Cheryl from whom I learn Sanskrit say that the word sutra means thread, and comes down through the Latin into English as the word suture. A term typically used in medical terminology to refer to the thread that connects tissue that is separated. The sutras connect the philosophy together in a concise, approachable, logical manner. Probably the most popular and recognizable sutra is the kama sutra. Kama is the Sanskrit word for love, so these are the love sutras. They are typically associated with the various and amusing pictures and corresponding names of sexual positions, but the sutras are much more. They cover a variety of guidelines for communication, intercourse if you will between men and women. They outlined the social mores of their day. As I browse my copy, there are a variety of topics covered in addition to sex. Most of them too racy or ridiculous to explore here. It is interesting reading if you have the time and the inclination (and maybe a willing partner)………..
namaste for now……