Avidya – The First Klesha


Change is the only constant.  We can easily hear and understand this on an intellectual level.  Summer will change to fall, friends may move away, and lilies in a garden will bloom and one day die.  Change, it’s happening all the time all around us and even in our own bodies.  As easy as it is to see and understand change, according to yoga philosophy and many others, our ability to accept change on a deeper level prevents us from living peacefully.  Avidya is apart of the five Kleshas or obstacles that prevent us from finding peace, and it refers to our ignorance of being able to accept change as apart of who we are and the universe around us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Avidya recently as some changes are happening in my life.  My business and style of photography is changing, friendships and relationships around me are changing, and as I age, I find my body and mind constantly becoming more sensitive to the energy around it.   At first, I resisted these changes.  I moped around when I didn’t feel like I was doing good enough, I just felt sad and helpless in general.  Well, that is Avidya.  I’ve fallen into the trap of resisting change as it happens.

Our minds have a habit pattern.  They like something and cling to it, they attach to the good.  Think ice cream, vacation, summer, good sensations.  The hard thing is, nothing is permanent, so when the ice cream is gone, the vacation is over, and it’s officially Monday, our mind still tries to cling to what is not there and becomes miserable.  The other side of the coin is aversion.  If our minds don’t like a sensation or experience caused by change, the mind will be miserable and push away.

The bad news is the good doesn’t last forever, but the good news is the bad doesn’t last forever.  So what to do?  How can we overcome this habit pattern and these attachments to change?

There are many different ways to shed the layers of Avidya.  I personally practice a style of meditation called Vipassana which talks about Avidya in a different way, but is extremely effective.  Since Avidya is seen in yoga philosophy, practicing yoga poses without attachement and learning to accept change in the body and mind can be seen as a path too.  But on an everyday level, we can all work towards conquering Avidya by simply accepting things as they are and reminding ourselves that things shift, grow, and die.

Change isn’t always bad, but it isn’t always good.  There’s an eb and flow to all experience.  We see ups, we see downs, we see everything in-between and it can be tough to stay grounded, peaceful and strong.  I am always working on loving life for what it brings, so please join me.  How do you work on Avidya?  How do you accept change for what it brings?  All insights are always welcome, feel free to reach out to me here if you want to talk more.


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