stillpoint yoga

yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn Fraser
in the Himalayan Tradition of H.H. Sri Swami Rama


What’s New?

Himalayan Tradition

Swami Rama

What Is Yoga?




Off The Mat

Daily Practice

Children’s Yoga



Click here to print.

        Fall 2003 Week 9

Journal Questions:

1.  Read through the following descriptions of emotions and mind. Each evening this week, think back through the state of your mind during the day. Each time your calm was disturbed, ask why? Was it linked to one of the kleshas? Did it hijack you or were you able to remain observant and present? If aversion or attraction was the cause, does avidya/ignorance of true nature play a part in this disturbance?  What about abhinivesha – fear of annihilation? Asmita – overidentification with non-permanent aspects of the self? Journal about what you observe.


Emotions and Commotions

Vrittis are waves in the mind. They are caused by many things – emotions, kleshas, our reactions to life. A samskara is an impression or groove created in the mind from a vritti. A vasana is a strong groove (or habit pattern) created in the mind by repeated and strengthened samskaras.  Our samskaras and vasanas are stored in the causal body (soul). This is the seed which has the momentum to be reincarnated again and again. We change momentum of our karma by changing our desires, thoughts and actions which then sow new seeds or samskaras and vasanas.  The impressions stored in the causal body then lead us in new directions, giving new direction to our desires, thoughts and actions.

When we launder clothing with a stain, it may leave a residue.  We then have to work directly with the stain to weaken it and get it out.  We reduce our kleshas through our sadhana or yoga practice.   

5 Kleshas

“The five kleshas are the 5 perversive cognitions (viparyayas).  Flowing forth, they strengthen the authority and power of the gunas, establish the states of mutation, enable the stream of cause and affect to flood forth, and having created a system of mutual dependence, carry forth the fruition and maturation of actions (karma). That’s it!”  (YS Chpt II vs.3) 

Ignorance or avidya is the field of growth of the latter four kleshas. Only through the eradication of avidya will the other four kleshas be eliminated. They become operative by finding appropriate vrittis. They become activated in the mind field as vrittis and increase the causal cognition of samskaras which then encourage the arising of vrittis. It is thus that kleshas become operational. 

Avidya produces attraction (raga) which again produces kleshas.   To understand the way kleshas are generated and operate is to proceed with the task of uprooting them.

Avidya/ ignorance is neither correct knowledge nor merely its absence but is a different cognition that is the opposite of correct knowledge. Avidya is fourfold:

  • Mistaking permanent/impermanent (eg this earth is not permanent)
  • Pure/impure (the body may be compared to a jewel or the moon but isn’t pure)
  • Pleasant/painful (even pleasant seeming things can create bondage and anxiety and residue of samskaras which lead to kleshas)
  • Self/non-Self and falsely identifying the Self with the mind which is not the Self but is an instrument (the mind’s reduction and loss is not the reduction and loss of the Self)

Raga/ attachment produces the misapprehension of impure as pure.  Whatever one is attached to appears pure, such as our own bodies or the bodies of those entities to which we are attached.

Dvesha/ aversion causes the misapprehension of pleasure in the painful so that moods and feelings like jealousy, which cause an inner burning, are held and maintained by the hateful as though these were agreeable conditions.

Asmita/ I-am-ness causes the misapprehension of the Self in the non-self.

Abhinivesha/ fear of death is the obsession for physical continuity and makes one perceive the non-eternal as eternal. Though such an obsession, one’s mind denies the possibility of death or of cosmic dissolution.  The cycle continues until it is broken through correct knowledge.


This may be helpful – Internal dialogue

 More on how to journal.


Reading from Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, Swami Veda

Karma Purification

 One of the purposes of hatha yoga is the burning of karma.  Yoga philosophy believes that nothing happens in the body without first happening in the mind.  You sow certain seeds in your mental personality. You drop a seed in the soil of your mind where it grows; it becomes either a mango tree or a mulberry bush, poison ivy or a rose, whichever one you wish to sow.  If you sow a rose, it is a rose that grows from you.  You have placed in your mind the raw material of your thought.  Each thought once placed in the mind becomes the raw material for further thought.  Some other thoughts will arise out of it, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, depending on how much this seed-thought is watered, how much you contemplate it, how much your strengthen it. Every act you perform with your body is a thought.  Every act you perform with your speech too is a thought planted in your mind.

 This is where hatha yoga and meditation connect.  A person plants lazy thoughts in his mind every time he slouches.  That lazy thought becomes the seed for a further thought and so it becomes a habit.  He lies comfortably on a pillow and does not want to get up for the next morning’s asanas.  When he finally does get up it is too late.

 This process of wrong decision making eventually becomes the cause of disease.  Disease is a ripening of the poison ivy plant from the seed planted in the original lazy thought which then leads to the decision to remain lazy, to not use the body correctly, not use food properly, not use sleep in the right way.  That suffering becomes the fruition of his karma and he later complains of having so much suffering.  The instrument of discrimination, the buddhi, becomes occluded by cloudy thoughts and gets into the wrong process of decision making and thereby one makes choices to use the body wrongfully.  The natural karmic result of these poor decisions is suffering, which is really only a purging of accumulated toxins.

 What the hatha yogis do is follow a very wise principle which has been spoken of by all the schools of wisdom and philosophy and which is one of the many secrets of a happy life.  This principle is that whatever you dislike, do voluntarily and willingly, if you do not want it to come to you by force.  Whatever you are running away from, turn and face it squarely and say ‘what is it that I am afraid of?  Let me examine you.” 

We usually run away from physical discomfort.  Tapas is when we turn around and say ‘let’s see what is this discomfort that I run away from?’  Do that at every step in your life if you want to attain perfection- in health, mind, speech, action, spirituality.  Whatever you are running away from, find out what it is and turn around and look it straight in the eyes and examine it.  As soon as you turn around, this thing you have feared so long will try to run away from you.