Yoga is much more than practicing poses and looking cute in your yoga pants. At its core it’s about the union of mind, body, and spirit. It’s about self-study and with self-study, it’s an exposition of our inner guts – not our physical guts but our mental guts.
The other day, a book I ordered arrived, The Heart of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar. I love practicing asana (the poses) but as winter approaches, it’s time again for more of an inward study. Desikachar doesn’t hold back in his book. By page 10 he’s talking about Avidya – “incorrect comprehension, describing a false perception or a misapprehension.” Not only do I do this but nearly everyone else does, too. Unfortunately that means you, too. We’re in this together, so I’ll hold your hand if you hold mine while we explore the four branches of Avidya together.
From the Buddhist point of view, the unwillingness or failure to see the facts of life as they are, to see ourselves as we are, and to conduct ourselves in harmony with these realities, is the chief cause of our self-inflicted suffering and, therefore the chief obstacle to our happiness. This state of denial, or lack of realization of the facts of existence, is called avidya in Sanskrit–literally, “the failure to see or know”–translated as “ignorance”. One of the great contributions of Gautama Buddha was the realization that ignorance is the primary cause of the sufferings we impose on ourselves and others ~ Ron Leifer
For the rest of the week I’m going to be exploring and exposing Avidya in all its subtle forms:
- Asmita – the ego mind that says, “I’m the greatest,” “I’m better than her,” and “I’m right and he’s wrong.”
- Raga – this part of the mind expresses demands – “I want that Mercedes right now,” or “I want that new dress right now” even if you can’t afford it. Raga is what keeps us in scarcity thinking. Your mind latches on to what it doesn’t have rather than the bounty you already do have.
- Dvesa – Dvesa is the opposite of raga – it is the monkey mind that rejects things. I tend to think of it as the Martyr, but I may have my mind broken wide open here. We have a tendency to rejects things because we may have had a bad experience or we’re afraid to try something new because we’re unfamiliar with it. I can see how this plays out in my own life.
- Abhinivesa - this means fear. Abhinivesa is what I like to refer to as the FUD Factor – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. You may have doubts about your place in your new stepfamily, you may feel uncertain about your role, or you may fear that your new in-laws will be overly critical of you.
Are you ready to explore? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave a comment or share your experience. If there’s something you’d like me to address this week concerning Incorrect Comprehension, please let me know!