Friday, December 25, 2009

Matrix of Life

"Patanjali enumerates five causes of chitta vrtti creating pain (klesa). These are:
1. Avidya (ignorance or nescience); (2) asmita (the feeling of individuality which limits a person and distinguishes him from a group and which may be physical, mental, intellectual or emotional); (3) raga (attachment or passion); (4) dvesa (aversion or revulsion) and (5) abhinivesa (love or thirst for life, the instinctive clinging to worldly life and bodily enjoyment and the fear that one may be cut off from all this by death). These causes of pain remain submerged in the mind of the sadhaka (the aspirant seeker). They are like icebergs barely showing their heads in the polar seas. So long as they are not studiously controlled and eradicated, there can be no peace. The yogi learns to forget the past and takes no thought for the morrow. He lives in the eternal present.
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 29th paragraph of the Introduction.

In saying that the klesas are like mostly-submerged icebergs in the psyche Mr. Iyengar, I think, is letting us know that these are ongoing challenges, and an individual might not be able to see the full extent of it since they are mostly hidden. So it doesn't sound like yoga works by getting rid of these afflictions totally. But it might work by giving us a better perspective, and free us from being victims of our situation. The klesas are a natural part of the structure of our reality, even if they also create pain.


Avidya is spiritual ignorance. And when I imagine Avidya as a mostly-submerged iceberg, I see that it is unlikely that someone like me might fully irradicate this one. It makes sense because we have learned since we were born that our bodies are ours. We live in the world of forms. As we become more and more competent in the world, we think that this is what we are. A person might loose a sense of themself as having a connection with spirit as they have bills to pay and kids to raise. It is an ongoing process. Someone can have a spiritual insight and an awareness on one day, and have a total loss of hope on another.


We are individuated beings. The fact that we have different bodies, preferences, and emotional responses can lead to lonliness. In a spiritual sense we are deeply connected, but our earthly expressions can trick us into feeling sadly separate.


I am strongly attracted to certain people and things, meaning there will be some people and things that I don't give enough attention to. I will be limited and possibly trapped by my preferences.


There are also experiences that I want to avoid at all costs, but this does not mean that I can. And it distorts my vision when I am repelled by something strongly; it might affect how I react when I come across it again. It could keep me from a deeper level of understanding when I choose not to engage in a situation.


In clinging to life I might live under a veil of fear, never just livin'.

These five klesas are five aspects of how we are connected to this life experience, they are intrinsic to it. They are natural effects of being alive in the way that we are. They define our connection to the matrix of life experience:

1. Spiritual ignorance helps us find our way around the physical world, but bites us later when we have lost hope.

2. Experiencing ourselves as individuals allows for an infinitely creative experience, but also is lonely.

3. Attraction keeps the experience moving, but then we might get stuck and attached, even trapped by passion.

4. Aversion helps us to avoid a potentially dangerous experience, but can also lock us in patterns of fear.

5. Love of life can make it all so precious, but it can also make us greedy misers in an effort to hold on, which in the end seems impossible.

When presented with an outline of these challenges that are connected to the experience of living I am quiet (for now...).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

Jan Boudart said...

Brooks, I really like your blog and the pictures of you. Thanks for making this effort and communicating.