January 23, 2021

Sutra 2.3: Born Good

Sadhana Pada: Yoga in Action (Experience the Now)

    2.3 Avidya asmita raga dvesa abhinivesah klesah
    • avidya = misperception / ignorance / confusion
    • asmita = egoism / self-centeredness / pride
    • raga = attachment / attraction / desire 
    • dvesa = aversion / dislike / revulsion
    • abhinivesah = fear / clinging to life / fear of death / deep seated anxiety
    • klesah = pain / affliction / obstacle

From the time I was a child, I have always had the ability to fairly clearly see "both sides of the coin." I've always held certain viewpoints or opinions, yet I've usually also been able to either understand the opposite viewpoint or why a person might hold a vastly different opinion than mine. One of the few beliefs that I've unwaveringly held since I was young is that people are inherently good. Now, I know that this is a statement and opinion that other people may vehemently disagree with (my childhood was spent in a Catholic household after all!) and it would be easy to point to history or even the past year to prove me wrong. But, I'm not here to debate (having this "ability" makes me a horrible debater!), but instead to point out that this belief that I've always had is one that is the very foundation of the practice of yoga.

Way back in Sutra 1.3, we learned that:

"Yoga teaches us that our true nature isn't outside. It's not something that we need to acquire or something that we need to do. YOU are special for what's on the inside. The act of simply being makes you amazing, and it is getting rid of things (the incessant chatter of the mind) and clearing out the excess that will give you the space to see this."

Today's sutra tells us exactly what we need to get rid of in order to clearly see this innate goodness that we were all born with. The term klesha, used in this sutra, literally translates as "to twist" and it is those things in life that twist around our ideas, thoughts, habits, perceptions etc. to create limited beliefs or obstacles that prevent us from seeing the truth of who we really are. These kleshas include

  1. misperception (avidya)
  2. egoism (asmita)
  3. attachment (raga)
  4. aversion (dives)
  5. fear (abhinivesah) 

One of the most fundamental practices in yoga is to recognize and acknowledge that as human beings, these kleshas will always play some part in our lives. THIS is why we practice yoga . . . to gain tools to help prevent these "twists" from robbing us of the opportunity to recognize and live out our natural brilliance. The next few sutras talk in more detail about these obstacles, so instead of focusing on them for now, let's remember our innate goodness and brilliance. I challenge you this week to pull out a picture of yourself as a baby/child and see if you can see that spark of innate natural goodness that life "stuff" may have covered over. Once you've identified that light, think about all the other baby pictures you've seen that contain that similar spark. I still won't debate you, but I certainly challenge you to then ponder the question that yoga claims to already know . . . . Are human beings born good?   


Sutra 2.3 Misperception, egoism, attachment, aversion and fear cause pain.

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