Wk 152 – Kleshas – Asmita – Egotism
Kleshas are fear based, mental-emotional afflictions that cause persistent distress, pain and suffering. The first Klesha is Avidya, which is our blind spots, our lack of awareness or misapprehension in what we are seeing. Asmita is the second Klesha meaning egotism, the “I – AM – Ness” of the ego falsely identifying by its distorted sense of self seen through Avidya.
It is said that the ego is at the centre of your personality. Without the sense of self, life would be unliveable. We need a healthy ego to live and function. It gives us perspective on experiences and coordinates many daily functions. “I” need to eat, sleep, work, etc. Ego mediates between the consciousness and unconsciousness relearning the internal and external worlds, and the personal and social relationships.
The mental aspect of the ego, according to the Yoga Sutras is called the Ahamkara “I-maker.” I am Zephyr, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a Yoga Teacher. I am the main character in my story. Now how I write the story depends on my core belief of myself. I am my name, I am the worst or best mother, wife, yoga teacher. Thinking more or less of who I think I am and misidentifying by my label.
Asmita makes us think we are the limited self, reducing us to our bodies, life experiences, thoughts and emotions. We are what we look like, what we can or can’t do, what we like or don’t like. By our labels such as our name, status, reputation, occupation, accomplishments and failures. That is who we are. This breeds separateness of “myself and OTHERS” and “compare and despair” that grows seeds of self-doubt, insecurity, defensiveness, hypersensitivity, arrogance and intolerance. Reinforcing fear based core beliefs that we are NOT ENOUGH as we are, loveable, smart, capable, successful, flexible, strong, worthy, valuable…enough. Pulling one into a downward shame, guilt and fear spiral.
This distorted unhealthy self then craves attention! It is its nectar. It places itself at the centre of the Universe, the main character in its own story and it loves attention, to win, to have fame and power anything to validate its self-importance. The unhealthy ego displaying behaviour that is ego-centric, self-centred, narcissistic in arrogance, pride, superiority and narrow view point to continue reinforcing the story of ME, MINE and I.
A healthy ego feels content, not threatened by change, secure in fundamental needs being met, is open, curious, able to listen, to be considerate, compassionate and kind.
The ego is very powerful and recognising what is motivating the ego is key to practice. Gandhi reduced a teaching so simply to see why we struggle. He said:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Are you identifying by fear based beliefs of yourself or of loving beliefs?
Yoga practice builds powers to help set intentions which can become beliefs, we call these Siddhis. This is why intention is so important to set every time you practice. What are you valuing, what habits are you reinforcing, what is motivating your actions, what words are you choosing to communicate, what thoughts are you entertaining? Where are you directing that Prana power in your Yoga practice and what belief are you propagating?
In our Yoga Practice we are waking up to the Power of the Perceiver “I-am-ness” vs the Power of Perception “I-ness.” Ego misidentifies itself with the tool, the mind it uses to perceive objects. The statement “I think, therefore I am” is a perfect example. Who is that am-ness? Where is that I? Ask yourself – WHO AM I? Who am I when I am not trying to be somebody?
We hold our self-image so dear that it overshadows the existence of our core being, true self or the soul. Yoga says the True Self is Pure Consciousness, Ultimate Reality. SAT CIT ANANDA.
- SAT – existence,
- CIT – consciousness/self-awareness/truth,
- ANANDA – joy/bliss/happiness.
These are all intrinsic attributes we share, we can touch this when we get quiet and still. Everything in this manifested world is subject to change. Everything has a beginning, middle and end. What is consistent is Pure Consciousness. Try to contemplate what you truly are, as a sense of self-existence that occupies the realm of your consciousness. We will use the mantra SO HUM “I am that” to turn our awareness in practice, to identify as the benign perception and then rest in the I-ness as its focal point. Asmita Rupa – Feeling of oneness, whole, complete Self vs Asmita Kleshas – Distortion of identifying as the limited Self.
We practice creating the heat Tapas, power in practice to disrupt, provoke and challenge ourselves to see how often we relate to the self as limited. Sva Dhyaya which is self study, self-reflect and understand yourself when your ego gets in the way. You will be able to detect it by seeing YS 1.31 negative thinking, emotional distress, instability in the body and disturbances in the breath that mirrors the mind. So cultivating in practice facing the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings with YS 1:33 which is non-judgement awareness, friendliness, joy and compassion. Reinforcing a loving intention and belief of what you truly are. Practice dissolves Avidya, the veil of ignorance that covers our wakefulness, noticing our narrative, harsh critic and voice that communicates through judgement to keep us stuck in the smallness of self and practice let it go, Isvara Pranidhana.
Our purpose of practice is to create meaningful connection, find our way back at home within this embodiment guided by the light of loving awareness to feel lasting fulfilment, deeper contentment and ultimately to free ourselves from the root system of suffering. Yoga helps purify our heart-mind, turning our attention inwards and recognise our true-self which is joyous, loving and always free.