- Ignorance, which is especially problematic, because it is not just a source of pain. It is also the fuel that ignites all other sources of suffering.
- Ego, the belief that we are somehow separate from those around us. Ego results in feelings of isolation, ethnocentrism, and dogmatism.
- Attachment, or holding on to something for fear of losing it, including relationships, possessions, job titles, and stature.
- Aversion, or avoiding something for fear of pain. Aversion results in the victim mentality so prevalent in our society today, prejudice, fear, and blame.
- Fear, especially the fear of death.
For me, attachment and fear are old friends. I love my house, my dog, my husband—even my yoga studio. I worry about losing any and all of them. Love isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but does fear of loss cause me unnecessary pain? Does fear of loss invite me to make poor decisions?
The sutras say that actions based on the klesas have undesirable effects. They leave behind a nasty trail, not unlike a slug’s gooey slime trail. Worse yet, those effects may not even be seen in our lifetimes. Future generations may instead pay the price of our folly. One look at our current political climate, and I know the sutras are still correct, even thousands of years after they were written.
But the sutras also offer hope! They say that yoga, especially meditation, can help us develop a clear mind. And when our minds are clear, we can choose to act differently. By doing so, we not only decrease our own personal suffering, we also leave a cleaner imprint on our world.
We Seattleites, are known for our concern about the environment. We reduce, reuse and recycle. We encourage people to drink tap water instead of buying those evil plastic bottles. We even ban plastic bags in grocery stores. Our goal is worthy: to leave our world a better place than we found it. But perhaps we’re missing at least part of the point. Perhaps we should also work to reduce our internal garbage. By doing so, we may just erase the psychic slug trail of negative energy we’re leaving behind.
According to my favorite Native American saying, “We will forever be known by the tracks we leave.” Today, I invite you all to make your tracks lighter. Act mindfully, lovingly, with a pure mind. Take the Sutras’ advice, and start a consistent meditation practice, not just for your own benefit, but for that of your world.
And here is my blessing for you. May your tracks be invisible. May your actions support your values. May you live beyond the klesas so that all beings after you are brightened by the path you leave behind.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!