Pancha-Klesas - The five-fold karmic sufferings

Pancha-Klesas – The five-fold karmic sufferings

Pancha-Klesas : All external actions involve some sins, for it is difficult to work in the world and avoid taking the lives of insects.

All karmas proceed from the five-fold afflictions (kleśas), namely: 

1. avidyā,
2. asmitā,
3. rāga,
4. dveṣa
5. abhiniveśa.

1. Avidya – Ignorance

When we are ignorant of our true nature we experience pain and suffering. So, what is our true nature? It’s that part of you that is always loving, peaceful, and unchanging. It’s that good seed that is always there, but with life’s many distractions it can easily get covered up just like clouds filling up a clear sky.

2. Asmita – Egoism

When we forget our true nature we begin to overly identify with I, me, and mine. We forget that we are connected and at our core we are all one. We may also take things too personally and have self deprecating thoughts.

3. Raga – Attachments

When we have inflated or bruised egos we can also develop strong attachments to our desires. Desires can be healthy, but the attachment to desires is what can cause us pain and suffering. For some people this will also play out as an obsession with perfectionism. As we know deep down…there is no such thing as perfection. However, there is always room for compassionate growth.

4. Dvesa – Aversions

When we are controlled by strong desires we will also develop strong aversions when those desires are not fulfilled. They are two sides of the same coin, they rely on each other.

5. Abhinidvesa – Fear

When our attachments and aversions are firmly set in place we will naturally fear change. We experience pain and suffering when we realize we lack the ability to control life. Deep down we know that the only thing constant in life is change, yet it is one of the most common fears especially the fear of death.

Which brings us back to the first klesha…if we understood our true nature, the ‘never ending’ state of love and peacefulness, we would know deep down we actually have nothing to fear at all.

The Yogis also had the wisdom to recognize that if we can eliminate the first klesha, ignorance, we can dissolve all the other afflictions. If we awaken to our true nature there would be no room for egoism, attachment, aversion, and nothing left to fear.

So, here is our task…Eliminate all ignorance! Easy said but how?

One of the best paths to eliminate ignorance is through yoga, which includes postures, meditation and breathing practices. It will continually bring you back to your true nature. To combat daily distractions and challenges we need to develop a daily ritual that reminds us of who we truly are.

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  • Self ignorance can not be eliminated through yoga. As darkness can be eliminated only by light similarly ignorance can be eliminated only thru knowledge. That knowledge is the scriptural knowledge taught by a qualified teacher.