Five Causes of Suffering – Pancha Kleshas
The Five Causes of Suffering (Kleshas) have been written on and taught for thousands of years. The five causes of suffering are considered to be propagators of obstruction to enlightenment and peace while living. How important is it to identify these obstacles? Very. The Five causes of suffering (Kleshas) can be studied one at a time in order of root cause to the most illusionary. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras parts 2.3 to 2.9 provide many insights. As with any concept of reality, if we do not understand right away meditate.
While studying it is essential to understand there is a relationship between the five Kleshas, they build on each other. Let it be understood that healing them in the mind creates a transparency, but the potential to be activated remains latent. Overcoming suffering brings peace. With practice the 5 Wisdoms become accessible and you will be less disturbed, less debilitated, capable of overcoming numerous states of suffering with less energy and time lost.
It is offered as a gift in Yoga the option to practice some poses (asanas) every day with the exception of new and full moon days. The Postures are available to help the whole self-regenerate. Yoga poses have been specially designed to mobilize all major joints in the body, to help clean the lymph and blood systems, designed to calm the nervous system, reduce stress, build immunity and detoxify through breathing and sweating. Yoga postures build internal heat, which literally kills off harmful over productive bacteria, virus and parasites. Unbeknownst to many, parasites eat our nutrition and deplete our capacity for healing. Yoga poses help purify our bodies and elevate our minds. This is the way to overcome suffering from body to mind. Each posture leads to immediate proof of improvement. Studying and meditating reduces pain caused from mind to body. The mind is slow and subtle in how it changes; however once set is difficult to move. As with all studying one must test to discover what is true for you.
The first Cause of Suffering is Avidya, spiritual ignorance. Avidya is a state of darkness or restlessness in the heart & mind; often caused by holding someone else’s reality in the space created for self. While other people are sacred beings, our heart is our personal quiet temple. Loving someone else so much that we think we should be identical negates the creative self and inhibits the purpose and greatness of who you are. To be strong in your peace is truly the greatest gift to all. For enlightenment “Om Namo Narayanaya” it is a beautiful mantra to energize a feeling of shelter for your soul. Reserve time in a safe place with your self every day; carefully designate a place at home or away from for an experience of sacred physical space. A feeling of a safe sacred space is intended to last a lifetime; if moving to a new home or city, establish a sacred space again while working on financial security. Honor the ritual of time in quiet.
Be open to kindness, genuine feed back and constructive suggestions from others this can help bring “light” to your personal struggles or uncertainty. If you do not understand meditate. It is also wise to gently ask the person for clarification. In the language of the Yogis “Gu” means darkness and “ru” means light; Guru is any situation or person that illuminates awareness in you and it is a blessing. Be receptive and creative with how to make it part of peace and prosperity in your life. Study what you know not and share what you do know; discover the magic of spiritual self and goodness of self and others. Be silent and observe reality. In reality you do not know who you are; you are changing all the time. Enjoy this freedom to simply be wide open and empty.
The Second Cause of suffering is Asmita (egoism) and is only able to take root if Avidya (spiritual ignorance) is established. This is a state where you are consumed by your thinking, intellect and sense perceptions. The mind “perceives itself as separate. How silly is this? The mind is in the body; strongly influenced by pH, chemical changes, oxygen levels, the meal you ate hours ago and so forth. To the intellect, or Buddhi of the mind, it takes itself very seriously. In an attempt to affirm mental stability testing other people for comparison is a common behavior. This behavior stems from not trusting the self. Egoism ultimately arises from personally knowing the mind is not established, still or stable; it fluctuates and changes through the day, as well as one day to the next. This tossing of the mind is from Avidya (spiritual ignorance). Here Egoism or Asmita is concerned with failing. Failing is viewed as a major obstacle. In reality failing and making mistakes moves us ahead, expanding awareness and reasoning through deduction; a process essential and desirable for continual self evolution. An exercise to help gain appreciation for being so changeable is studying and meditating on the moon. Note the moon cycles, waning and waxing, just as our consciousness wanes and waxes. Think of the magnetic pull of the moon, its’ effects on the tides of oceans and waters on earth. It is a pull that increases during a full moon. We too affect everyone around us; the effect is magnified by the fullness of our clarity as we ourselves are magnetized to move towards our goals. We are closer to truth when we are aware that we are fluid rather than rigid. There is a season and a time for every state of being: explore adaptability. “Om Namah Sivaya” is a wonderful mantra for this Klesha, aiding us with an elevation of energy for self-realization. As for the self the “I” and the “me, me me,” you are not the doer, you are the observer. The mind observes. The light of divinity pervades you, animates you to live, breath, see, move, run, sit, and jump. What you think is permanent is not. Learn to enjoy the space between each breath as well as the power of the breath that moves into your lungs, that permeates your blood and your cells for energy production to occur. Feel the wonder of breath sliding out of your lungs so they are mostly empty and the pause of stillness just before your lungs fill again. There is power beyond your mind that is coming into and out of you, nourishing you twenty-four hours a day. It asks nothing of you, it is wide open and empty, reminding you to be free.
The third cause of suffering is Raga (craving, attachments.) Rising to consciousness on the foundation of Avidya and Asmita the Raga obstacle reveals itself in delusions of your greatness or relevance. Raga Klesha can show itself as preoccupation with physical objects, a craving for objects that cause you to treat poorly or endanger the safety, health or peace of other people. When influenced by a Raga Klesha state of suffering, you may employ mental self-bartering, make unnecessary or inappropriate sacrifices to get something from someone. Pain and expectation sits behind every attachment in a Raga state. Constant need for attention, drama and material objects creates boredom, disappointment, despair and later builds feelings of resentment both within yourself and those around you. This behavior erodes your integrity, but your focus is on outer circumstances creating your happiness; every person, situation and dollar passing under your. Letting go of unhealthy habits, or people who are not honest with you or respectful is a positive life affirming choice. Sharing moments in the freedom of simply being with people rather than for the purpose to get something brings light to your humanity. Bad gains are truly losses. Constantly wishing to have things you think you should have, not passing to others useful items you no longer need just to have things is part of Raga suffering. As long as a belief that outer experiences determine your peace of you remain a prisoner, slaving for the next thing, the next win, the next lover, the next dessert, the next drug state and so forth. Beneath the Raga behavior is fear coming up as you come to realize you have out grown former joys; uncertainty chatters in your mind asking how you will create joy now. The Raga Klesha often present strongly when a parent(s) or friend(s) or institution is not there to point you in a new direction. You are missing someone telling you what to do. You are trying to pretend you know how to be happy now, and now and now and… Truth is if there is a silent gap where you are not sure what you need or need to do. It is alright to be still and quiet. Time spent getting ‘lost’ is not wasted. Wander and observe, live simply, give thanks for being alive, be kind to everyone, be kind to you. A wonderful chant to redirect the energy for right action is “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya” as it is a Mukti (Liberation Mantra). This mantra is a call for relief of all hardships. As for help to clean up clutter, offer your help to those who need it whether or not you believe they accept. Accept requests to help others when asked. Make time to be human and witness how other people live. Your mind may be liberated in a moment even after months or years of craving and attachments. Growing beyond yourself is beautiful; you are more than previous choices or knowledge.
The fourth cause of suffering is Dvesha (hatred, aversions.) The Dvesha Klesha comes to action after much disappointment in a Raga state and is based on a painful attachment to a particular perception of yourself and a belief that outer circumstances are responsible for your unhappiness. Someone says something and long after the words have passed and disappeared you hold onto the imagination of them in your mind. Long after the event occurred you relive a fragment of a moment passed from the exact same side of the room or with the same confused mind, over and over. Words and events are impermanent, they come and go, just as a meal comes into our body and then goes out. We eat another meal of the foods we like but it is a different meal, a different time. While suffering with Dvesha there is a gushing dedication to judging people and/or avoiding people. You are in the dark to the potential of your authentic and unlimited self. Paranoid ideas seem to perpetuate and build a desire to self-sabotage and/or blame others for your sense of lack and diminished self-fulfillment. Mistaking pain for pleasure is the base of Dvesha. Aversion is a strong energy that has debilitating physiological effects and so it is important to check your judgments with education. If you have people who call you to task on your hatred and if you are able to contain your anger or rage do challenge yourself to test your theories and inflated ideas. If you have alienated everyone and you are stuck at a lonely unproductive end put yourself in public areas where it is a casual and an anonymous environment; begin the practice of observing happy and peaceful people. Are you able to identify a temporary state of elevation in energy and a quiet state of peace? Are you capable of mimicking either state with body movement, posture and facial expression? Does it feel like a release? Does it feel foreign? Is there pain in your body? Can you address that pain or ask for help in the form of a hug, a therapeutic massage? Are you restless and provoked? These and other questions are caring based and very useful tools for breaking out and gaining freedom from the restrictive route of only hating. The first Klesha, Avidya is the root of all causes of suffering. Try to expand and ask questions, seek to understand, gain knowledge and wisdom. ”Shanti Shanti Shantihi” is a beautiful peace mantra; it translates as “peace for you, peace for those nearby and peace for those in this world.” In other words it is a prayer in song for peace for all. When alone repeat this mantra and use your vivid imagination to envision peace. Be receptive and practice without expectation.
The fifth cause of suffering is Abhinivesha (fear of unknown, clinging to life.) Suffering with the burdens of living a spiritual path can bring up a fear of dying or strong feelings of clinging to life. Abhinivesha Klesha sits on feelings of being separate, of carrying the world on your back, and believing that you are defined by life experiences and by circumstances. There is often strong attachments to finishing goals, attaining dreams, to resolving unresolved mental pain, as well as attachments to the potential of personal relationships or to keeping commitments in business and to organized groups when there is a real need to attend a health problem, or debilitating condition or sudden alteration in lifestyle. The thought of surrendering to a higher power, deep breathing and clearing the clutter of less pressing or necessary activities seems not enough. It is the mind gripping to fears of the unknown and worrying if the Universe is supportive or against you. Do what ever you can while you are able. Some day you may not be able to.
Sometimes there are impressions from the past, cultural tactics used by family, social groups and government used for control which can come up during current stressful circumstances and perpetuate fears of dying. Abhinivesha is a gripping paranoia of dying and can be unrelated to current events. Such fears run ahead of daily responsibilities and prosperity. Ideas formed during confusing times early in childhood and on through life need a fresh perspective. These concepts can be outdated but need to be touched and healed with knowledge, compassion and courage.
Ongoing fear of unknown forces having some sort of negative effect can build tension in the heart region of the body, nerve plexuses, and promote dominant flight or fight in the nervous system. The Yogis recommend Yoga poses, especially backbends to open the chest for an experience of expansion. The masters of Yoga say Avidya is the root of even this form of suffering. Illusions are “Maya” and Maya is magic and love. Behind all suffering is the genuine need to serve, love and meditate. There are many ways to serve, love and meditate. Begin with the acceptance that the body is impermanent and it is important to do your best right now; if this is not something that you will do now, then when, another lifetime?
Yoga has a mantra called The Life Giving Mantra “Om Tryambakam,” it is a chant for peace for the journey through life; it is a prayer to be saved from afflictions both of the mind and for real physical protection. This mantra can be meditated on, sung or read as many times as possible or 3, 12, 16, or 108 times as is traditionally done.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free, namaste.