How to find light in the darkness
Samhain – A Celtic Celebration
We are entering Samhain, which marks the Celtic celebration of the dark half of the year. I’m sure I’m not the only one with mixed feelings about this. I definitely label myself as a summer girl and put summer on a pedestal, looking forward to it and the clinging to it as it ends.
A cause of suffering – Avidyā
In yoga philosophy, one of the afflictions or causes of suffering (Kleshas) is known as Avidyā, meaning “false knowledge”. One of the most common examples of false knowledge in our human experience is that we see things as permanent when the opposite is true. The only thing we can guarantee is change. So how does yoga help eliminate the causes of suffering?
We use knowledge. This knowledge comes initially from the study of ancient texts.
The Bhagavad Gita illuminates that what we have one minute can be lost in another. When we accept that moments of joy and suffering are impermanent we are able to face any tough situation in life. Krishna teaches that in treating opposites such as victory or loss with evenness of mind is Jñāna yoga, the path of knowledge. With this you can break from the shackles of karma. (Shloka 2.38/ 2.39 BG)
Maharishi Patanjali says (yoga sutra 2.48) “one is not afflicted by the dualities of opposites”. These dualities exist everywhere in nature and life; heat and cold, light and dark, positive and negative, male and female, honor and insult, success and failure, inertia and excitement. In our response to these dualities we meet two more of the Kleshas. Raga is attachment to what brings us pleasure and Dvesha is aversion or repulsion of what we dislike. I’m sure you could compile a list of your own examples to easily relate to this idea. We create a sense of scrambling and even chaos driven by our reactions of attraction and repulsion. In my example of being attached to summer, I create suffering by clinging to the light when its loss is inevitable. I can’t stop the winter from coming! In longing for the next summer to come, in my aversion of the winter, I’m not allowing myself to live fully and to receive the moments of joy in the present season.
So what guidance can we receive from these pieces of wisdom in the ancient texts? Where does false knowledge create suffering in your life? What do you mistake to be permanent that isn’t? This may be an example of Raga, a clutching to something that brings you pleasure or a Dvesha a discomfort or pain caused from avoiding something you dislike. Both are unavoidable and we can take some comfort in the fact that neither are permanent. By recognising our attachments we can better act with that knowledge. What pleasure or pain are you treating as permanent- a job, a relationship, your time, that feeling….this season of your life?
The Light within
Steadiness of the mind is gained when it is balanced and therefore luminous! We all have an inner desire to seek a better life. This is yoga, this light in our spiritual curiosity. In periods of darkness we have to use knowledge, the path of Jñāna yoga, to realise that the light already exists within.
Who is Sarah?
Julia and Sarah met in early 2020 in Guatemala, where they studied and practiced yoga together. Follow the wonderful Sarah Black on Instagram.