The realm of the mind is eternally mesmerizing to those interested in spiritual conquest. There are external forces and internal drives that constantly provide food for thought. One of the so-called poisons or afflictions is dealt with in the third sloka or verse of the Chapter 2 or Sadhana Pada of the Yoga sutras, known as Kleshas.
Klesha, a word in Indian spiritual philosophy when literally translated means poison. We can think of it in a less dramatic way and a more deeper meaning as an affliction or the root cause of our suffering and pain. According to many psychologists and philosophers, our human pain exists not only in our present mind, but goes far back to our past. The external distractions keep us occupied and we do not see this pain.
The five kleshas are as follows:-
Avidya , is spiritual ignorance. The deluding aspect of the worldly knowledge limits us from comprehending the real and true nature of ourselves. We experience the world through our senses and our perception is tinted with illusion. To break this mis-guidance, one must dive deep into self-study and study of the spiritual scriptures and attain a deeper understanding of our role in this life. Yoga Teacher Training
Asmita, is the Ego or the “I-am-ness” It is the mis-identification with the self for what it feels or acts of does. For example – I am rich or I am tall or I am not good. This story telling capacity of the ego obscures our vision and diverts our attention. The ego has its place in allowing us to be unique. However it is when we are attached to the identity and cannot see beyond it, that it becomes a causing for our suffering.
Raga, is attachment and ones liking to pleasure. At first, this may seem quite innocent and impossible to be an affliction. When you like something, you soon start seeing more of it, wanting more of it, desiring more of it. This leads to craving. Sometimes this leads to dis-appointment if you do not receive that thing or see that person or experience the same feeling. Clearly, there has arisen a clinging or an attachment to that person or thing or feeling. When we are too attached and in craving of something, it soon lads to misery when we cannot have it, hence Raga is an affliction.
Dvesha, is aversion. It comes from pain from past memories and its subsequent repulsion. Dvesha is a great hindrance and extra efforts must be taken towards this working on this Klesha.
Abhinivesah, is fear of death or clinging to life. Our desire for life is sustained by its own force and dominates even the learned. This can also be looked at as fear of change and dying of our known working situations around us.
It is said in the Yoga Sutras that follow, that the kleshas can be overcome with the aid of meditation. The detrimental behavior of the mind reached elimination and our true nature is revealed.