- Avidya – Incorrect Comprehension
- —> Asmita – Ego <—
- Raga – Pining after what you don’t have
- Dvesa – rejecting things because of previous experience or not knowing
- Abhinivesa – fear
Yesterday I made the decision to write and share pieces of my own yogic self-study, or Svadhyaya, as I dived into the concept of Avidya, which translates to English as “Incorrect Comprehension.” Interestingly enough, I wrote about some of the mind games I played with myself when I was still a new stepmom in 2008. How appropriate to share with you my own coming to Jesus meeting with my ego, or asmita. My ego insists I must be better than everyone else. It’s a daily practice to acknowledge that voice and then tell it to sit down and shut up. It’s one thing to be really good at something and just be really good at it. It’s quite another to think you or I have to be the best or the greatest at someone elses expense. I first wrote this back in 2009, I can tell you that I’ve grown leaps and bounds. Or at least I think I have.
Self-Betrayal corrupts everything. We exaggerate the differences between ourselves and those we are blaming. We see little in common with them, when the reality is that we are similar in many if not most respects. ~ The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
That quote may not hit you between the eyes but it sure did for me. I know it made me sit straight up and silently scream at the words on the page. Of course I’m different from my husband’s ex-wife! I’m oh so much better, smarter, happier, grounded, stable, warmer, friendlier…right…and who crowned me Queen of the Universe? Truth is, we’re more alike than not. She’s taller and thinner than I am but underneath the lipstick and eyeliner we’re pretty much the same.
How often do you find yourself looking for the differences between you and your husband’s ex-wife? How often do you catch yourself putting The Ex-Wife down (and not just “she has crooked teeth) but way down so you can make yourself look better? How many times today have you “horribilized” the mother of your step children? How do you feel after you’ve made someone less than you so you could feel better about yourself? And quite frankly, I’m not talking just about your husband’s ex-wife. This could be a family member, a co-worker, the lady down the street. It could be anybody or even a group of anybodies.
How Do You See Things?
- Do you see yourself as superior, more important, virtuous or right?
- Do you see The Ex-Wife as inferior, incapable, incompetent, lacking, false, wrong?
- Are you impatient, disdainful, full of contempt or indifferent towards her?
- Are you in competition with her and others? Is everything outside your door troubled or unstable?
- Do you feel you are better than sliced bread? Are you judging? Are you score keeping?
Recognizing myself in this “I’m Better Than” box was an icky feeling. Years ago my oldest sister dubbed me “The Know It All” and maybe I still am. My ex-husband used to tell me that I always had to be right (although I’m not sure how credible his opinion is of me…) With Richard’s ex-wife, I’ve felt impatient and often indifferent towards her. And after a round or two of self-study, I’d catch myself not seeing her as someone with thoughts, feelings, problems, dreams, and desires. And then I would feel horrible but until now, I could never really put my finger on why I felt horrible if I was feeling indifferent, resentment, disdain or contempt towards her (or anyone else).
According to John Gottman, “if you are speaking from a superior plane, that’s far more damaging, and contempt is any statement made from a higher level. A lot of the time it’s an insult: ‘You are a bitch. You’re scum.’ It’s trying to put that person on a lower plane than you. It’s hierarchical.” Contempt for another is the act of de-humanizing that person.
“There are few things so painful as contempt from others; however, my own contempt for others is the most debilitating pain of all. When I’m seeing resentfully and disdainfully, I condemn myself to living in a disdained, resented world.” ~ The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
I don’t know about you, but living with resentment, anger, frustration, impatience, and a superiority complex is rather draining don’t you think? It’s one thing to get angry or have a momentary frustration as long as you can process it and let it go, but to hang onto it like your favorite stuffed animal is exhausting.
I hope you join me tomorrow as I dive into raga, which is the near obsessive thinking we have when it comes to things we want but don’t have.
I’d love to hear from you – What can you do today to become a better YOU rather than a “better than her/him/them” person?