Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are the Kleshas Keeping me Fat?

They sound like little gremlins who come in the night and inject saturated fat into my arteries. But no....they're Buddha-identified causes of suffering. Many wisdom traditions identify similar ways we get ourselves into trouble, and common sense will take us pretty far down this path as well.

As you know, my yoga practice has been important to me for a good long while now. And because of that, I knew vaguely about the kleshas when disaster struck my life in the form of a wandering and insulting husband. And I've been staggered by how simply and elegantly true this formulation of human suffering is. I've watched myself move through the kleshas one by one in my healing from that wound -not meaning to imply that I'm finished with this project, by any means. However, I've learned a tiny bit about sitting intentionally with myself in order to let go of these pain-causing troublemakers.

But lately (well, since yesterday) I've been wondering how the kleshas play out in other ways. Specifically, am I making myself fat (seriously... who else could be making me fat?) by a lack of awareness of the kleshas? The pattern certainly seems familiar.

Let's start at the beginning. Avidya (ignorance) is the misconception of our true reality, the belief that the temporary is eternal, the impure is the pure, and that pleasure is painful. This false representation of reality is the root klesha and produces the four others. This ignorance is not a failure of the intellect; it's a failure of the intellectual apparatus. We just can't know everything through the intellect.

Avidya happens when we forget the spiritual (or divine, if you want to go here) side of our nature and focus on the material. In my quest to become fit again, I have made many material-world changes. I have not one, but two, gym memberships, to accommodate my schedule and to eliminate excuses for not working out. I'm reclaiming a yoga practice. I've been saying that for years now, I know; it's just that it's a process. I drink more water. I have completely eliminated fast food. You know the drill.

These things are important, and I need to continue to do them. One can't eliminate suffering simply by switching to the other pole of this bi-polar problem. Fatness isn't solely a spiritual problem any more than it's solely a material one. A yoga practice is all about reclaiming balance, about eliminating needless dualities.

On some level this is nothing more than old habit -trying to wrestle my world into submission through the force of my intellect. (How's that working out, Andrea???) But flipping the question around, what is this fat doing FOR me -spiritually, metaphysically, even psychologically? I must believe on some level that this situation is less painful than its solution. I must believe that it works for me, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

So, what's going on? My marriage was all about shame. Perhaps this is one of those clearly self-defeating strategies to shame myself before someone else does. Or perhaps I am saying physically what I say vocally all the time. I am NOT interested in another intimate relationship EVER. Well, in this culture at this time, fat will pretty much guarantee that. Perhaps my spectacular (seriously... the stuff of legend)inability to say no is just manifesting itself on my hips and thighs. Maybe it's all these things, or something else altogether.

But I'm going to sit with this for a while and see where it takes me.

2 comments:

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