How Yoga and Travel Can Dispel The Five Kleshas
By: Katie Lee
In Sutra II.3 Book Two, Sadhana Pada, of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras it is written:
Avida Asmita Raga Dvesha Abhinivesha Pancha Klesha
- avidya = spiritual forgetting, ignorance
- asmita = associated with I-ness
- raga = attraction or drawing to, addiction
- dvesha = aversion or pushing away, hatred
- abhinivesha = resistance to loss, fear of death of identity, desire for continuity
- pancha = five
- klesha = colored, painful, afflicted, impure; the root klish means to cause trouble; (klesha is the noun form of the adjective klishta)
This sutra translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda means Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles.
The Five Kleshas
The five kleshas are also known as obstacles, afflictions or colourings of the mind. The first klesha, ignorance (avidyā), is the major obstacle in which all other obstacles stem from. It is through ignorance that the I-ness or egoism is born and through this egoism comes the attachment to “things”. When these “things” do not come, are taken away or are not what is expected one can become hateful. When one is attached to “things” death is feared and therefore one clings to their physical bodily life. Patanjali is speaking of the ignorance of knowledge. This knowledge being that we are all connected. The true nature of all things is forgotten and one mistakes the impermanent as permanent, impure as pure, painful as pleasant, and non-self as Self. One forgets that the true Self is in fact all, everything, and eternal. Ignorance creates the illusion of separateness. It divides me from you and us from them. It is the diswisdom that the Self is solely the physical body.
A Constant Disturbance of Those Obstacles
In today’s fast paced Westernized society the kleshas are constantly manifesting in the average “normal” person. Many are ignorant to the truth that the Self is unchanging and infinite. There is such an urgent yet false importance placed on the physical body, appearances, competition, attachment to material objects, creating barriers between each other, finding pleasure and happiness in external things, and ultimately living in fear of death. There is a constant disturbance of these obstacles in every moment because very rarely is the average person working to control them. We live in a society that seems to be all about “me me me”. So often our actions are based around what is in it for me? Or how can I advance? We become ignorant to the knowledge that we are all one and in order to better the universe we must instead ask how can I be of service to the world? What can I do for others?
Trough Yoga And Travel We Can Cultivate Good Qualities
In my own experience I believe that through yoga and travel we are able to cultivate good qualities in ourselves and better the universe as a whole. In order to move forward together on our spiritual path we can become aware of, control, and eventually dissolve these kleshas through yoga and through travel. In our yoga practice we weave together the breath, bandhas, and drishti in order to peel back the many shadowy layers covering our inner being. We transcend the thinking monkey mind breaking through our ignorance and ego revealing our true eternal Self.
I also am a strong believer that travel (no matter how big or small!) can definitely support our path to transcending the monkey mind and non-self. When I travel I am better at becoming the observer. I am better at witnessing what is the true Self and what is illusion. I get the opportunity to submerse myself in beautiful landscapes, meet new people, watch communities come together, see people working with one another instead of separately, feel the generosity of those that have so little, experience new cultures, humble my ego, and connect with the natural world around me and within me.
It is a chance to see and experience the absolute beauty of this universe and remember the oneness of all. Therefore, through yoga and travel I am able to clean my mind of distracting thoughts breaking the patterns of ignorance, eventually shattering the ego and working towards reaching enlightenment. By dissolving the darkness of the kleshas I shed light on my eternal true Self remembering the Divine nature of all things.