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  1. 1. Plato and Aristotle: Ideas; Substance; Form and Matter; Causation; Actuality and Potentiality

    1.1 Plato's Philosophy of Ideas
  2. 1.2 Plato's Understanding of Substance
  3. 1.3 Aristotle's Philosophy of Form and Matter
  4. 1.4 Aristotle's Theory of Substance
  5. 1.5 Plato's View on Causation
  6. 1.6 Aristotle's Four Causes
  7. 1.7 Actuality and Potentiality in Aristotle's Philosophy
  8. 1.8 Comparative Analysis of Plato and Aristotle's Philosophies
  9. 2. The Foundations of Rationalism: Method, Substance, God, and Mind-Body Dualism
    2.1 Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz)
  10. 2.2 Cartesian Method and Certain Knowledge
  11. 2.3 Substance (Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz)
  12. 2.4 Philosophy of God (Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz)
  13. 2.5 Mind-Body Dualism
  14. 2.6 Determinism and Freedom (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz)
  15. 3. Empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)
    3.1 Introduction to Empiricism
  16. 3.2 Theory of Knowledge (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)
    3 Submodules
  17. 3.3 Substance and Qualities (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)
  18. 3.4 Self and God (Locke, Berkeley, Hume)
  19. 3.5 Scepticism (Locke, Berkeley, and Hume)
  20. 4. Kant
    4.1 Introduction to Kant's Philosophy
  21. 4.2 Kant: The Possibility of Synthetic a priori Judgments
  22. 4.3 Kant's Space and Time
  23. 4.4 Kant's Categories
  24. 4.5 Kant's Ideas of Reason
  25. 4.6 Kant's Antinomies
  26. 4.7 Kant's Critique of Proofs for the Existence of God
  27. 5. Hegel
    5.1 Hegel: Dialectical Method; Absolute Idealism
  28. 6. Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein
    6.1 Defence of Commonsense (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  29. 6.2 Refutation of Idealism (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  30. 6.3 Logical Atomism (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  31. 6.4 Logical Constructions (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  32. 6.5 Incomplete Symbols (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  33. 6.6 Picture Theory of Meaning (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  34. 6.7 Saying and Showing (Moore, Russell, and Early Wittgenstein)
  35. 7. Logical Positivism
    7.1 Verification Theory of Meaning
  36. 7.2 Rejection of Metaphysics
  37. 7.3 Linguistic Theory of Necessary Propositions
  38. 8. Later Wittgenstein
    8.1 Meaning and Use (Later Wittgenstein)
  39. 8.2 Language-games (Later Wittgenstein)
  40. 8.3 Critique of Private Language (Later Wittgenstein)
  41. 9. Phenomenology (Husserl)
    9.1 Method - Phenomenology (Husserl)
  42. 9.2 Theory of Essences - Phenomenology (Husserl)
  43. 9.3 Avoidance of Psychologism - Phenomenology (Husserl)
  44. 10. Existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger)
    10.1 Existence and Essence
  45. 10.2 Choice, Responsibility and Authentic Existence
  46. 10.3 Being–in–the–world and Temporality
  47. 11. Quine and Strawson
    11.1 Critique of Empiricism (Quine and Strawson)
  48. 11.2 Theory of Basic Particulars and Persons (Quine and Strawson)
  49. 12. Cârvâka
    12.1 Cârvâka: Theory of Knowledge
  50. 12.2 Cârvâka: Rejection of Transcendent Entities
  51. 13. Jainism
    13.1 Jainism: Theory of Reality
  52. 13.2 Jainism: Saptabhaòginaya
  53. 14. Schools of Buddhism
    14.1 Pratîtyasamutpâda (Schools of Buddhism)
  54. 14.2 Ksanikavada (Schools of Buddhism)
  55. 14.3 Nairâtmyavâda (Schools of Buddhism)
  56. 15. Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika
    15.1 Theory of Categories (Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika)
  57. 15.2 Theory of Appearance (Nyâya-Vaiśeṣika)
  58. 15.3 Theory of Pramâna (Nyâya-Vaiśeṣika)
  59. 15.4 Self, Liberation, God, Proofs for the Existence of God (Nyâya-Vaiśeṣika)
  60. 15.5 Theory of Causation & Atomistic Theory of Creation (Nyâya-Vaiśeṣika)
  61. 16. Sâmkhya
    16.1 Prakrti (Sâmkhya)
  62. 16.2 Purusa (Sâmkhya)
  63. 16.3 Causation (Sâmkhya)
  64. 16.4 Liberation (Sâmkhya)
  65. 17. Yoga
    17.1 Introduction to Yoga Philosophy
  66. 17.2 Citta (Yoga)
  67. 17.3 Cittavrtti (Yoga)
  68. 17.4 Klesas (Yoga)
  69. 17.5 Samadhi (Yoga)
  70. 17.6 Kaivalya (Yoga)
  71. 18. Mimâmsâ
    18.1 Mimâmsâ: Theory of Knowledge
  72. 19. Schools of Vedânta
    19.1 Brahman (Schools of Vedânta)
  73. 19.2 Îúvara (Schools of Vedânta)
  74. 19.3 Âtman (Schools of Vedânta)
  75. 19.4 Jiva (Schools of Vedânta)
  76. 19.5 Jagat (Schools of Vedânta)
  77. 19.6 Mâyâ (Schools of Vedânta)
  78. 19.7 Avidyâ (Schools of Vedanta)
  79. 19.8 Adhyâsa (Schools of Vedanta)
  80. 19.9 Moksa (Schools of Vedanta)
  81. 19.10 Aprthaksiddhi (Schools of Vedanta)
  82. 19.11 Pancavidhabheda (Schools of Vedanta)
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17.4 Klesas (Yoga)

I. Introduction to Klesas

Defining Klesas within the Context of Yoga Philosophy

  • Klesas, a term from ancient Indian yogic scriptures, primarily denotes the mental afflictions that act as impediments on the spiritual journey.
  • Rooted in Sanskrit, the word ‘Klesa’ translates to ‘pain’ or ‘suffering’, hinting at the challenges faced during spiritual practices.
  • Yoga, often perceived as just a physical discipline, is also a profound philosophical journey, where understanding the mind’s intricacies becomes pivotal. In this context, Klesas are significant hurdles that yogis need to overcome.
  • Within yoga philosophy, Klesas are intimately tied to the process of self-realization. They are the barriers that cloud pure consciousness and distance an individual from achieving their highest potential.

The Relationship between Klesas, Suffering, and Spiritual Development

  • All human experiences, especially suffering, are closely tied to the Klesas. For instance, Avidya (ignorance) can lead to misconceptions, leading to suffering.
  • When one starts on the path of spiritual development, recognizing these afflictions becomes the first step. It’s akin to diagnosing an ailment before prescribing a remedy. copyright©
  • Spiritual growth in yoga doesn’t merely imply the attainment of higher states of consciousness like Samadhi but also involves the eradication or diminution of these Klesas.
  • Often, yogic practitioners undergo challenges that bring these afflictions to the surface. Through practices like meditation, asanas, and self-reflection, they gradually reduce the grip of these Klesas, making way for a clearer perception of reality.
  • It’s important to note that the process is cyclical. With each level of spiritual attainment, new facets of Klesas might appear, demanding further introspection and refinement.

How Klesas Relate to Citta and Cittavrtti without Delving into the Specifics

  • The term Citta in yogic philosophy refers to the ‘mind-stuff’ or the combination of mind, intellect, and ego. It’s the canvas on which thoughts, feelings, and experiences are painted.
  • Cittavrtti, on the other hand, denotes the ‘modifications’ or ‘turbulence’ in the Citta. These are the ripples of thoughts and feelings that continuously arise in our minds.
  • Klesas, being mental afflictions, are closely tied to the functioning of the Citta. They can be perceived as the deeply embedded stains or impressions in the Citta that give rise to recurrent patterns of Cittavrtti.
  • A person dominated by Raga (attachment) will have Cittavrttis inclined towards desires and cravings, while someone overwhelmed by Dvesha (aversion) might consistently have thoughts of aversion or resentment. copyright©
  • The central aim of many yogic practices is to calm the Cittavrttis and cleanse the Citta of these Klesas. By reducing the impact of Klesas, the Citta becomes more transparent, facilitating a more profound insight into one’s true nature.
  • To draw an analogy, if Citta were water in a pond, Cittavrttis would be the ripples on it, and Klesas, the mud settled at the bottom. While the ripples might disturb the water’s surface momentarily, the mud, when agitated, can cloud the entire pond. Yogic practices aim to both calm the ripples and gradually remove the mud, ensuring a clear, placid pond.

II. Historical Development of the Concept

Origins and Evolutions of Klesas in Ancient Yogic Texts

  • Klesas find their foundational roots in ancient Indian scriptures, particularly in the core yogic texts. These are fundamental to understanding the mental barriers faced in spiritual practices.
  • The concept of Klesas has been extensively discussed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a seminal text in the realm of yoga. Here, Patanjali identifies five primary Klesas: Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (ego), Raga (attachment), Dvesha (aversion), and Abhinivesha (fear of death).
  • Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita also touch upon similar themes, emphasizing the human tendencies that hinder spiritual growth. copyright©
  • Over time, as the interpretations of these scriptures evolved, so did the understanding of Klesas. Different commentators, like Vyasa, expanded upon Patanjali’s concepts, providing deeper insights into the nature of these afflictions.
  • Ancient schools like Samkhya delved deeper into the psyche’s composition, offering a granular view on how Klesas arise and persist. This school posited that understanding the balance between Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (material nature) is key to navigating Klesas.

Comparative Analysis of Klesas in Different Yoga Traditions and Schools

  • Classical Yoga: Rooted in the teachings of Patanjali, this tradition focuses primarily on the eightfold path (Ashtanga). Klesas are seen as disturbances that need rectification for spiritual ascension. Addressing them directly aids in achieving the tranquillity of mind and spirit.
  • Bhakti Yoga: Known as the path of devotion, Bhakti Yoga interprets Klesas as emotional barriers. By channeling devotion towards a higher power, the practitioner can overcome these obstacles. Klesas are transformed into positive emotions, channeling love and surrender.
  • Jnana Yoga: This path of knowledge and wisdom views Klesas as misconceptions of reality. By gaining true knowledge, one dispels ignorance (Avidya), the root of all Klesas. It is believed that right understanding eradicates Klesas.
  • Karma Yoga: The yoga of selfless action perceives Klesas as outcomes of attachment to results. By acting without expecting rewards, one can negate the influence of Klesas. Here, detachment is the key to overcoming these afflictions. copyright©
  • Tantric Yoga: This esoteric branch sees Klesas as energy blockages. Utilizing specific rituals and practices, the energy is redirected to balance and harmonize the chakras, addressing Klesas at an energetic level.
  • Hatha Yoga: A physically oriented practice that incorporates postures and breathing techniques. Klesas are viewed as imbalances in the physical and subtle body. By mastering postures and pranayama, one can release these blockages, paving the path to spiritual progression.
  • Schools like Advaita Vedanta perceive Klesas from a non-dual perspective. Here, the focus is on realizing the oneness of existence. Once this realization dawns, Klesas lose their grip, as the dualities that fuel them dissolve.

III. The Five Klesas: An In-depth Study

5 Klesas

Avidya (Ignorance) as the Root Klesa

  • Avidya stands for ignorance or misunderstanding in Sanskrit.
  • It is perceived as the foundational Klesa from which all other Klesas emerge.
  • Avidya can be understood as the misapprehension of the true nature of reality.
    • Seeing the impermanent as permanent.
    • Misidentifying the non-self (Anatman) as the self (Atman).
    • Viewing suffering as happiness and vice versa.
  • From the yogic perspective, dispelling Avidya paves the way to spiritual enlightenment.
  • Examples: The Indian concept of Maya, which denotes illusion, mirrors Avidya. The world, with its ever-changing nature, might deceive one into perceiving it as real and unchanging. copyright©

Asmita (Egoism) and Its Influence on Perception

  • Asmita translates to ego or I-am-ness.
  • It’s the false identification of the self with the body, mind, or emotions.
  • Asmita makes individuals perceive themselves as separate entities, distinct from the broader universe.
    • This results in feelings of pride, arrogance, or inferiority.
  • When people are driven by ego, their decisions are often misguided, as they prioritize their limited self over the collective good.
  • In Indian society, the story of King Harishchandra exemplifies the taming of the ego. Despite being a noble king, he undergoes severe trials, displaying humility and egolessness.

Raga (Attachment) and Its Impact on Mental State

  • Raga signifies attachment or desire.
  • It’s the yearning for pleasurable experiences or objects.
  • Excessive attachment might lead to suffering when the desired object or experience is lost or remains unattained.
    • For instance, attachment to material wealth can result in fear of loss, leading to stress or anxiety.
  • From the yogic viewpoint, it’s essential to cultivate non-attachment or Vairagya to achieve inner peace.
  • The Indian festival of Diwali, marking Lord Rama’s return, subtly underscores moving beyond material attachments, emphasizing the inner light of wisdom and consciousness. copyright©

Dvesha (Aversion) and Its Psychological Manifestations

  • Dvesha is aversion or repulsion towards unpleasant experiences or objects.
  • Opposite to Raga, it’s the resistance or avoidance of what one perceives as negative.
  • Such aversions can limit one’s experiences and potential, fostering close-mindedness.
    • For example, a traumatic experience might make an individual avoid similar situations, even if they’re benign.
  • Overcoming Dvesha involves embracing every experience as an opportunity for growth.
  • The Indian parable of the poisoned arrow, often associated with Buddhist teachings, highlights the impracticality of aversion. Instead of avoiding or overanalyzing, it advocates for addressing the root cause directly.

Abhinivesha (Fear of Death) and Its Universality

  • Abhinivesha denotes the deep-seated fear of death or clinging to life.
  • Even knowledgeable individuals, who might intellectually grasp the impermanence of life, can be gripped by this fear.
  • This fear can hinder spiritual growth, as it keeps individuals rooted in the physical realm, away from transcendent experiences.
    • For instance, someone might avoid certain activities or experiences due to the irrational fear of harm or death.
  • Yogic practices aim at confronting and understanding this fear to move beyond it.
  • The Indian epic, the Mahabharata, particularly the dialogue between Yudhishthira and Yaksha, delves into the human inability to grasp the inevitability of death, even when it’s evident everywhere. copyright©
KlesaDescriptionCore IssueManifestation in Daily Life
AvidyaIgnorance of one’s true self and realityLack of true knowledge or spiritual blindnessMisunderstanding situations, misjudging people, confusion
AsmitaEgoism, identification of the self with the physical bodyFalse sense of individuality and separationPride, arrogance, excessive self-centeredness
RagaAttachment or desire for pleasurable experiencesSeeking happiness externallyGreed, uncontrolled desires, addiction
DveshaAversion or avoidance of unpleasant experiencesResisting or denying certain aspects of realityHatred, prejudice, anger, resentment
AbhiniveshaFear of death or clinging to life despite its painsDeep-seated survival instinct regardless of wisdomAnxiety about aging, fear of unknown, reluctance to change

IV. Interplay of Klesas and the Path to Samadhi and Kaivalya

Klesas as Barriers to Higher Spiritual States

  • Understanding Klesas: They are obstacles or afflictions that veil one’s true nature.
  • Klesas cloud the spiritual aspirant’s awareness, obscuring the path to enlightenment.
  • They distort perceptions, leading to misjudgments and fostering a state of spiritual delusion.
  • Binding individuals to the material world, they hinder progress on the spiritual journey.
  • Role in Samsara: Klesas contribute to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, keeping the soul trapped in the world of illusions.

Analyzing Methods Yogis Employ to Overcome or Diminish These Barriers

  • Sadhana (Spiritual Practices): Rigorous discipline and practices to purify the mind and body.
    • For instance, the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) by Patanjali. copyright©
  • Svadhyaya (Self-study): Introspection and reflection on one’s thoughts and actions.
  • Tapas (Austerity): Physical and mental discipline to cultivate inner strength.
    • Fasting during the month of Shravan in the Indian calendar is an example.
  • Pratyahara (Withdrawal from the Senses): Redirecting attention from external stimuli to the internal self.
  • Dhyana (Meditation): Focused concentration to overcome the fluctuations of the mind.
    • Techniques such as “Trataka” where one gazes at a single point, like a candle flame, to develop concentration.
  • Satsang (Company of the Truthful): Associating with enlightened beings or seekers to gain wisdom and motivation.

Understanding the Influence of Klesas on Samadhi and Kaivalya

  • Samadhi: It is a state of superconsciousness where the individual self merges with the universal consciousness.
    • Klesas can prevent a person from reaching this state by tethering the mind to material and ephemeral desires.
    • Overcoming Klesas enables the Yogi to access deeper states of meditation, eventually leading to Samadhi.
    • A prominent Indian example is the life of Swami Vivekananda, whose meditative practices led him to profound states of Samadhi, despite life’s challenges.
  • Kaivalya: Often termed as “absolute freedom” or “spiritual liberation”.
    • It’s the state where the soul realizes its true, independent nature, free from the shackles of the material world. copyright©
    • Klesas, if not addressed, make this liberation elusive. They shroud the soul in ignorance, leading it astray from the path of self-realization.
    • The story of King Janaka, who, despite being a monarch with vast wealth and responsibilities, attained Kaivalya due to his detached and enlightened perspective, illustrates the achievable balance between worldly duties and spiritual pursuits.

The Journey Beyond Klesas

  • Recognizing the nature and influence of Klesas is the first step in a Yogi’s journey towards self-realization.
  • The objective isn’t just to suppress or avoid Klesas, but to understand, confront, and transcend them.
  • As Klesas diminish, the aspirant’s inner light shines brighter, illuminating the path to higher states of consciousness.
  • Thus, mastering the Klesas doesn’t just serve personal spiritual growth but also benefits society by creating wise and compassionate individuals.
  • Indian seers and sages, through ages, have emphasized the importance of overcoming Klesas to attain a state of inner peace and true freedom.

V. Comparative Study: Klesas in Other Philosophical Systems

Introduction to Similar Concepts in Other Eastern Philosophies

  • Buddhism:
    • Rooted in India, founded by Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha.
    • Discusses the Three Poisons:
      • Ignorance (Avidya): Corresponds with the Klesa concept in Yoga. copyright©
      • Desire: Similar to Raga (attachment).
      • Aversion: Relates to Dvesha (aversion).
    • The Noble Eightfold Path: Offers a way to overcome these hindrances.
  • Jainism:
    • Originated in India around the same time as Buddhism.
    • Emphasizes non-attachment and non-violence.
    • Karmic matter: Clings to the soul due to passions, comparable to the Klesas.
    • Anekantavada: Doctrine suggesting multiplicity of perspectives; highlights how ignorance (Avidya) can lead to one-sided views.
  • Taoism:
    • Ancient Chinese philosophy introduced by Laozi.
    • Wu Wei: “Non-action” or “effortless action”, implies detachment, resonating with the idea of avoiding Raga (attachment) and Dvesha (aversion).
    • Yin and Yang: Balance of opposing forces; correlates with overcoming Klesas to achieve equilibrium.

Analyzing Differences and Similarities with Concepts in Western Philosophical Systems

  • Greek Philosophy:
    • Epicureanism:
      • Founded by Epicurus in Athens, Greece.
      • Pursuit of ataraxia (tranquility) and hedone (pleasure) by avoiding physical and mental pain.
      • These desires can be likened to Raga (attachment) and avoiding pain correlates with Dvesha (aversion).
    • Stoicism:
      • Introduced by Zeno of Citium.
      • Central tenet: Accepting things we can’t change and distinguishing between what we can and cannot control.
      • Relates to overcoming Avidya (ignorance) and Asmita (egoism) by recognizing one’s limits.
  • Modern Western Philosophy:
    • Existentialism:
      • Prominent figures include Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche.
      • Addresses the individual’s quest for authenticity and self-discovery.
      • Concepts of “bad faith” and “authentic existence” mirror the struggle against Avidya (ignorance) and Asmita (egoism).
    • Utilitarianism:
      • Founded by Jeremy Bentham and further developed by John Stuart Mill.
      • Principle of the “greatest good for the greatest number”.
      • Evaluates the utility of actions based on their outcomes.
      • The pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain in this system can be equated with Raga (attachment) and Dvesha (aversion).
  • Psychoanalytical Theory:
    • Sigmund Freud’s Model:
      • Discussed the conflict between the Id (primitive desires), Ego (reality), and Superego (morality).
      • The Id’s desires can parallel Raga (attachment), while the restrictions of the Superego might be seen as a form of Dvesha (aversion).
      • The Ego’s balancing act resembles the yogic pursuit of equilibrium amidst the Klesas.
    • Carl Jung’s Theory:
      • Introduced the concept of the “Shadow”, the unconscious part of personality containing repressed weaknesses.
      • Addressing and integrating the Shadow can be compared to confronting and transcending the Klesas.
ConceptYoga (Klesas)Eastern PhilosophiesWestern Philosophies
IgnoranceAvidya: Ignorance of true self and realityBuddhism: Avidya (Ignorance)Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: Ignorance of the true world
EgoismAsmita: Identification with the physical bodyTaoism: Wu Wei (Non-action, without ego-driven motive)Cartesian Dualism: Distinctness of mind and body
DesireRaga: Attachment to pleasurable experiencesBuddhism: Tanha (Thirst or craving)Hedonism: Pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods
AversionDvesha: Aversion to unpleasant experiencesBuddhism: Dukkha (Suffering due to att