Yoga Sutra 2.9: The coloring (klesha) of Fear (Abhiniveshah)
- Yoga Sutras: Yoga Sutra 2.9
THE COLORING (KLESHA) OF FEAR (ABHINIVESHAH)
YOGA SUTRA 2.9: Even for those people who are learned, there is an
ever-flowing, firmly established love for continuation and a fear of
cessation, or death, of these various colored modifications (kleshas).
(sva-rasa-vahi vidushah api tatha rudhah abhiniveshah)
sva-rasa-vahi = flowing on its own momentum (sva = own; rasa =
inclination, momentum, potency; vahi = flowing)
vidushah = in the wise or learned person
api = even
tatha = the same way
rudhah = firmly established
abhiniveshah = resistance to loss, fear of death of identity, desire
for continuity, clinging to the life of
PROTECTING YOUR FALSE IDENTITIES: Once the ignorance or veiling of
our true nature (avidya, 2.4, 2.5) has happened, and individuality
(asmita, 2.6) has arisen, along with the association with seemingly
countless attractions (raga, 2.7) and aversions (dvesha, 2.8), there
is a natural urge to protect that precarious balance of false
TWO INCLINATIONS: There are two natural inclinations after the
individual false identities have been constructed:
1) LOVE FOR CONTINUATION: The false identity is strongly held onto,
even though it is a phantom. It is perceived to be "me" even though
it is a construct of attractions and aversions. Even the aversions
are clung to as part of the balancing act of false identity.
2) FEAR OF DISCONTINUATION: Any perceived threat to those false
identities is taken to be the threat of cessation or death. It is not
just a fear of death of the physical body (though that might be the
strongest attachment), but also the fear of death of any of the false
NOBODY IS EXEMPT: It is very common for seekers to fall into the trap
of thinking that intellectual studies and understanding is sufficient
on the spiritual path. This is particularly true in relation to
practices such as described in the Yoga Sutras, where one can do
endless analysis and debate of the Sanskrit sutras. Intellectual
understanding is no protection whatsoever in relation to these
colorings (kleshas) and the natural fear that arises in relation to
their inevitable demise.
UNDERSTANDING THE NEED FOR UNCOLORING: We are so thoroughly entangled
in our attachments and aversions that even reading about coloring and
uncoloring might have little effect. We continue to say, "But, I am
this or that; I want this or that." How often do you say, "If only I
were completely free from all of my attachments and aversions"? We
tend to only want to let go of the painful ones, while holding on to
the pleasureful ones. The Yogi gradually comes to see how even the
pleasureful attachments contain the seed of pain (2.15), and are thus
to be set aside as well (2.16), so that he or she can truly rest in
the true nature of the Self (1.3).
WANTING TO KEEP THINGS AS THEY ARE: Once the balance has been
attained between the many attractions and aversions, along with
having the foundation I-ness and spiritual ignorance, there comes an
innate desire to keep things just the way the are.
The resistance to losing the delicate balance among the false
identities is called fear of the death of those identities.
FEAR OF CHANGE: There is a resistance and fear that comes with the
possibility of losing the current situation. It is like a fear of
death, though it does not just mean death of the physical body.
Often, this fear is not consciously experienced. It is common for a
person new to meditation to say, "But I have no fear!" Then, after
some time there arises a subtle fear, as one becomes more aware of
the inner process.
FEAR IS NATURAL: This is definitely not a matter of trying to create
fear in people. Rather, it is a natural part of the process of
thinning out the thick blanket of colored thought patterns. There is
a recognition of letting go of our unconsciously cherished
attachments and aversions. When meditation is practiced gently and
systematically, this fear is seen as less of an obstacle.
SEE ALSO this article:
Abhinivesha section of Witnessing your Thoughts
[Below is from that article]
AN EXERCISE on "What to do":
ALLOW STREAMS OF INDIVIDUAL THOUGHTS TO FLOW: One of the best ways to
get a good understanding of witnessing the kleshas (colorings) is to
sit quietly and intentionally allow streams of individual thoughts to
arise. This doesn't mean thinking or worrying. It literally is an
experiment in which you intentionally let an image come. It is
easiest to do with what seem to be insignificant impressions.
For example, imagine a fruit, and notice what comes to mind. An apple
may come to mind, and you simply note "Attraction" if you like it, or
are drawn to it. It may not be a strong coloring, but maybe you
notice there is some coloring. You may think of a pear, and note that
there is an ever so slight "aversion" because you do not like pears.
EXPERIMENT WITH COLORINGS: Allow lots of such to images come. One of
the things I have done often with people is to grab about 10-15 small
stones in my hand, and ask a person to pick one they like. Then I ask
them to pick one they are less drawn to (few people will say
they "dislike" one of the stones). It is a very simple experiment
that demonstrates the way in which attractions and aversions are
born. It is easier at first to experiment with witnessing thoughts
for which there is only slight coloring, only a small amount of
attraction or aversion.
You can easily run such experiments with many objects arising into
the field of mind from the unconscious. You can also easily do this
by observing the world around you. Notice the countless ways in which
your attention is drawn to this or that object or person, but gently
or strongly turns away from other objects or people.
Though it is a bit harder to do, notice the countless objects you
pass by everyday for which there is no response whatsoever. These are
examples of neutral impressions in the mind field.
GRADUALLY WITNESS STRONGER COLORINGS: By observing in this way, it is
easier to gradually witness stronger attractions and aversions in a
similar way. When we can begin the process of witnessing the type of
coloring, then we can start the process of attenuating the coloring,
which is discussed in the next section.