"What is making things go wrong? Why, in spite of our best intentions, does something always send things awry? Are we programed forever to sabatoge our own aspirations?"
The first affliction is the founder of the others, and that is ignorance. What yoga means by ignorance is not knowing. Pantajali defines ignorance as, "mistaking the impermanent for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pain for pleasure, and that which is not self, for self." An example of mistaking that which is not self for self could be defining yourself by the clothes you wear, the job you have, or even the color of your skin. Though these things can seem so important and so real, they are ultimately not our true self. Strip away all your titles and discover your eternal self- not limited by these trivial things!
Pride / Ego (Asmita)
When we forget our true natures in our ignorance, the tendency to view ourselves as separate, as an individual independent of others develops as does ego. We begin to overly identify with I, me, and mine. We forget that at the core, we are all connected, and all one. "Pride blinds us to the quality of others. We judge by externals and by worthless comparisons. We lose the possibility of joy in the existence of others." (BKS Iyengar, Light on Life) Ego is what causes us to take things too personally and to have self deprecating thoughts. Learn to let go of the "I" and "me" mentality!
When the ego becomes inflated we can develop strong attachments to our desires. Desires can be healthy, but attachments to them is what leads to pain and suffering. St. Clair described the effects well, "Attachment to beliefs and ideologies have led to global war, famine, political, social and economic upheavals, destruction of our habitat and general dysfunction on all levels of society because they divide us from each other." Learn the difference between being committed and being attached!
On the flip side, when we are controlled by our desires we begin to develop aversions when desires are unmet. "We are motivated more by aversion to the unpleasant than by a will toward truth, freedom, or healing. We are constantly attempting to escape our life, to avoid rather than enter our pain we, and we wonder why it is so difficult to be fully alive," said Stephen Levine. Remember as a kid the aversion to eat your vegetables? Stepping out of the ego's comfort zone is a way to step out of aversion.
Clinging to life and fear of death is instinctual. Fear of death is something universal- whether we like to admit it or not. Though we don't always think of our lives as glamorous, when it comes down to it we know this is the only one we've got. We cling because we fear loss. “The fear of death or a clinging to life dilutes your focus and interferes with your ability to experience the spiritual freedom that is the goal of yoga," said Reverend Jaganath Carrera.
All of these afflictions are connected by ego. The ego thrives on them, and once they begin to dissolve the ego dissolves. All the afflictions derive from ignorance, and the practice of awareness allows us to transform. We learn to rise above these afflictions. The darkness of ignorance is dispelled by the awareness of light. That awareness is within each of us, always available to shine bright!
With a newfound passion for life and a deep interest in the connection between science and art, this is where ideas develop and blossom and are shared with you, my friends. Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this journey.