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Avidya...

posted 24 Mar 2013, 20:25 by Sarah Lane   [ updated 13 Jun 2013, 18:32 ]
After my last post I have been thinking more about why I am worried about the course;  it is mainly comparing my fitness to those on the course who I dont yet know, which is stupid really, as it has nothing to do whether I will be able to teach or not!  It just so happens that in one of the recommended reading books I have just started, The Heart of Yoga :Developing Personal Practice, by
T.K.V. Desikachar, I have started reading about something called Avidya, which I would like to share, it mas made me think...

According to Avidya, we struggle to see things as they really are because of obsticles and negative emotions such as, Asmita (ego), Raga (attachment), Duesa (refusal) and Abhinivesa (fear). The stronger these areas in our mind are, the more likely they are to create problems, causing us to not think clearly before we do something.

In The Heart of Yoga, it actually gives what I have been feeling as an example 'if asanas are being practiced in a class, we have the tendency to compare ourselves with others, we notice someone who is more flexible than we are, which actually creates a distraction. Yet the practice of asanas isnt a sporting contest'.


The idea of a yoga practice, is the concentrate within, focusing on the breath, and the self. I guess that is why many people in a yoga class close their eyes, to stop themselves being distracted from their breath and what they feel in their body in each asana, compared to the gym, where many people look at themselves in a mirror.

As well as being interesting, it is an easy book to read, and gives clear examples of what might be a dificult topic to understand, here are some examples of the 4 branches of Avidya...
  • Asmita (Ego): Thoughts such as "I have to be better than other people", "I am the greatest" and "I know I am right!"
  • Raga (Attachment): We want something because we had it yesterday, not because we need it: "Yesterday I had a class of fruit juice, that tasted delicious and gave me the energy that I needed". Today something in me says: "I want another glass of this sweet juice", even though I dont really need it today, and it may not be good for me. We want things that we dont have, and what we have is not enough and we want more of it! We want to keep what we are asked to give away!
  • Dvesa (Refusal): In a certain way is the the oppersite of Raga. Dvesa expresses itself by rejecting things. We have a difficult experience and are afriad of repeating it, so we reject the people, the thoughts and the settings that relate to that experience, assuming they will bring us pain again. Dvesa also causes us to reject those things with which we are not familiar, even though we have no history with them, negative or positive.
  • Abhinivesa (Fear): This perhaps is the most secret aspect of Avidya and its expression is found on many levels of our everyday life. We feel uncertain. We have doubts about our position in life. We are afraid that people will judge us negatively. We feel uncertain when our lifestyle is upset. We do not want to grow old.
It is true that, sometimes we dont even notice how we are, until someone, or something such as a book or magazine points it out to us! It can be something as simple as a scene in a soap that can make us wake up and see that we change the way we act in our lives, and can actually create our own worries or problems!

By doing things consciously, slowly and with thought, we can observe the prescence of Avidya in our lifes, as it is the absence of Avidya that we notice, as we feel at peace, without stress or tension, just relaxed. A good example of this in the book is when we speak slowly, we are calm and speak from a peace within, where as when we are nervous or talking about an unknown topic or in a unconfortable situation, we tend to speak quicker, and jumbling our words, and oftern saying more than what is needed, and sometimes not finishing sentences, so it can actually seems more confusing to understand!...

What area to you think feel you struggle with, one, two or all the branches or Avidya? Or have you mastered this strength of the mind to come from a clear place of peace within? ...

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