Classic yoga breaks the Universe into two parts: Matter and Spirit. Matter is made up of the 3 "gunas": sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva is the place we want to be moving toward. A place of connectedness. To move toward a Sattvic place, to be less separate and more connected, through a yogic practice of asana, pranayama and meditation, we learn to lessen the effects of the 5 Klesha's on our lives. I use the acronym IPAAF to remember them easier: ignorance, pride, attachment, aversion and fear of death!
The "I" in IPAAF, the first Klesha is for ignorance! In Sanskrit its called Avidya.
It's not the kind of ignorance we, well at least I, experienced in school where we were maybe not doing so well as our class peers in a particular subject! Pythagoras's theorem took me a while to get! I am not talking about that kind of ignorance.
The ignorance I am talking about is lack of discernment. To know, to see the difference in what Is good for you and what is not? To have good judgment. To have judgment that is in your favor as a human being. Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally etc. The "ally"'s!
The funny thing about the "I" in IPAAF is that it can create issues in the four remaining: Pride, Attachment, Aversion and Fear of death. So understanding this one is very important!
Let me give you a simple example: If I ask you what 2+2 is and I give you three options for the answer: 3, 4 or 5? We know through empirical evidence and experience the answer is 4. However what if 3 or 5 tasted better, smelled better, or 4 created pain for you? Would you choose 4 still? We know 4 is the right answer but in this circumstance we would consider 3 and 5 because they may bring us pleasure versus pain?
As human beings we are driven by many forces. Two basic ones are pleasure and pain. We will have a tendency to move toward pleasure and away from pain. Think relationships, food, drink, money, habits? So the ignorance I am referring to is where we make wrong decisions, even if we know the right one for ourselves. It's the human condition!
As a human organism we need water, carbs, protein, veggies and fruit to sustain ourselves. It may be considered not in our best interest to put other things into our system? They just may not really serve our own human organism! Yet we all do? Why? Are we ignorant? I don't think so but it may be these micro decisions that cause us not to be our true greatest centered self.
I used to smoke cigarettes. I was addicted to them. Did they sustain my life force? No! Yet I continued to pummel my body with them. Why? Was I making discerning decisions or was I responding to the pleasure center? Nicotine was nice, it felt good! Yet it was not good for me. One day I stopped! It was hard. Yet now I am free from that which did not serve my organism, my body. Yoga helps. It can be through the practice of yoga that we make decisions that serve our body, mind and life.
Yoga, whose goal is probably simply just to make us happy, does this through, asana, pranayama, and meditation. No dogma or immortality formula so to speak.
When we are more discerning in our life, our life can be happier. it can be more centered, less reactive and over time develop patterns of behavior that serve us better. Being aware of our decisions of discernment is a first step. Next time you pick up a cigarette simply ask yourself if it is serving you? Next time you put more than 3,000 calories in your body on a daily basis ask yourself if it is serving you? Yoga helps.
The more discerning we become the less separate we can be and feel. The less separate we feel the more connected we become. The more connected we become the closer to the true fabric of the universe we approach. Connected biologically, chemically and atomically. Moving toward a sattvic place where you are One.
The second Klesha is pride which I will address next week...