May 15, 2011

Patanjali’s categorizing of the Pancha Kleshas, the five primal causes of suffering offers an elegant tool for deepening our awareness and through that deepening, getting out of our own way.  We talk a lot about dropping the narrative, practicing detachment, softening into the ground of Self. It’s all laid out in this handful of sutras. Here they are in Mukunda Stiles’ version:

II, 3
There are five primal causes of suffering:
ignorance of your True Self; [avidya]
egoism and its self-centeredness; [asmita]
attachment to pleasure; [raga]
aversion to pain; [dvesha]
and clinging to life out of fear of death. [abhinivesha]

II, 4
Ignorance is the fertile soil, and as a consequence, all other obstacles persist.They may exist in any state—dormant, feeble, intermittent, or fully operative.

II, 5
Ignorance is the view that the ephemeral, the impure, the pain of suffering—that which is not the Self—is permanent, pure, pleasurable, and the True Self.

My last post on this blog included an excerpt from the May 2 dharma talk. Here’s the rest of that rather free-wheeling talk:

Also, here is an excerpt of class learning the new Patanjali Chant which includes the first 3 sutras of Books One and Two. I’ll include the text below.

Atha  yogānushāsanam
Yogah  chitta  vritti  nirodhaha
Tadā  drashtu  svarupe  avasthānam

Tapah svadhyaya Ishvara-pranidhānāni kriyā yoga
Samādhi bhāvana artha kleśa tanu karana-artha ca
Avidyā asmitā rāga dvesa abhiniveśa pancha kleśā

Now we begin the teachings of Yoga. Yoga is the stilling of the thought waves in the mind.  Then we rest in our essential nature.

The practical means for attaining the state of Yoga consist of three components: self-discipline and purification, self-study, and devotion to the Lord.  These practices cultivate an attitude conducive to being absorbed in Spirit and minimize the power of the primal causes of suffering.  There are five primal causes of suffering: ignorance of our essential nature; egoism (the “I-maker”); attachment to pleasure; aversion to pain; and clinging to life out of fear of death.

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