Upanishads = "To sit near"
The Upanishads is a text filled with wisdom. However, originally nothing was written down, and the pupil sat closely to his master teacher to learn these teachings. Much later in linear time, these secret teachings were transcribed to texts for all who are interested in living a more masterful life of peace. During this holiday season when we come together more frequently with friends and family, I find these two passages from the Upanashads, and from Aristotle, particularly important to remember:
From the Upanishads:
"Watch your thoughts: they become your words.
Watch your words; they become your actions.
Watch your actions; they become your habits.
Watch your habits; they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."
"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit."
And from me: I hope your time during this beautiful season, spent with friends and family, is filled with lovingly, magical habits!
Contentment & Gratitude:
"Contentment makes poor men rich.
Discontentment makes rich men poor."
It's been said that true happiness rests upon feeling content with who we are right now. Like the rest of the world we are changing from moment to moment. Possessions flow in and out of our lives, people around us come and go, our opinions and even what we think is true changes over time.
Our outer form is in flux around a deeper and permanent light of awareness. In Sanskrit, this is known as "purusa". Complete satisfaction and contentment can be experienced when our heart-mind field of consciousness, or in Sanskrit, the "citta" rests quietly in this awareness.
Although there is hightened awareness of gratitude around the Thanksgiving holiday in the States, with practice it can be made a habit in our daily
Why do we suffer?
Considering choices we make or do not make in our lives, I believe we all do the best we can with what we have. When we know better, we do better. Obviously. I have made, and will still make, mistakes. My hope is I continue to learn and grow from them. Truth, authenticity, health, happiness, awareness,… are all important to me for an enriched life. Currently, in the Yoga Sutra study group I attend, and in a few of the classes I teach, we are discussing the kleshas.
In Sanskrit, “Kleshas” = afflictions.
Kleshas are the obstacles that keep us in a state of suffering and inhibit our finding happiness. According to the ancient texts, there are 5 kleshas and the first one is a big one; avida, is the central foundation of all suffering:
“Avidya“: ignorance, or unreal cognition
Knowledge and awareness are not the same thing. Knowing the name of the capital of Albania is not awareness. In this case, by using the word ignorance we are talking about not being aware of the fact that we look at life through a filter of our own individual and accumulated experiences. And how we choose to interpret our stories is how we view what we believe is the truth. In actuality, we don’t know what the real truth is because we live in our stories we tell over and over.
It’s noted, we spend the first half of our lives developing a personality, and the second half defending it because we worked so hard on it. (”Sure I’m stubborn, I’m a Taurus!”). Living in our stories and sound bites formulates our misguided sense of what reality is and what is truth- for example, “I am the youngest and mom never had time for me so I have trouble with relationships which makes me sad which keeps me from going to parties because I don’t talk because you can’t trust anybody anymore….. blah, blah, blah… on and on ……..
Can you see how our vision or understanding of what’s real gets murky and skewed? As we become more attached to the personality we’ve created, we start to mistake it for our true identity, and it starts to shape our body and mind. We get hurt: “I thought you knew me!“ This mistaking is avida, ignorance of our true nature- the true Self with the capital “S”. The personality we create for ourselves is more rigid than what’s natural and limits our possibilities, and we suffer.
Friend and yoga teacher, David Life says, “The next time you catch yourself saying, ‘I’m just not that kind of person,’ reflect that you do not have to behave in a fashion consistent with the personality that’s been constructed thus far. Loosen up,… your identification with the body/mind, that is! To rid oneself of the kleshas, and reduce suffering, Sutra teachings recommend practicing the 8 limbs of yoga.”