The Five Kleshas
In Sanskrit, the word "Klesha" means poison, and refers to a negative mental state. It is said that the root of all suffering lies in the 5 Kleshas: 1) Avidya, or "Spiritual Ignorance" – not knowing the True Nature of our Being; forgetting our Divinity
2) Asmita or "Ego" as it relates to selfishness, self-centered-ness. The "ego" itself is not evil – but suffering arises when we become "ego-focused" and can no longer see our connection to others or to the bigger picture.
3) Raaga, refers to attachment - Attachment to pleasure, or clinging to the illusion of comfort in our false beliefs. These beliefs become our armor of protection. Letting go of these beliefs causes feelings of anxiety and fear
4) Dvesha is avoidance/aversion of anything that threatens our sense of calm/ status quo (You can see how this is related to Raaga, avoiding pain and clinging to a false sense of comfort).
5) Abhinivesha, or "fear of death". This is the will to live, or as the Chopra Center states, "the ultimate attachment to life itself, clinging to all you have and all you know."
So, how can we escape this cycle of suffering?
Patanjali writes in Chapter 2, Sutra 4 of The Yoga Sutras:
“Ignorance of our real nature is the source of the other four, whether they be dormant, weak, suspended, or fully active.”
If all the causes of suffering are contained within the first cause of not knowing the true nature of reality, then the solution lies in reconnecting with our True Nature. Following the 8-limbed path of Yoga, including practices like Meditation, and Yoga Nidra help us to reconnect with our True Nature.
Some have called the practice of Yoga, "the little death", as it is the death of the "small self" or the "ego", revealing the greater "True Self". Through the practice of yoga, we peel back the layers of the onion, lifting the veil of ignorance, remembering who we truly are.
When we connect with our True Nature, the ego no longer commands our awareness. We are able to let go of our attachments, understanding that all things are impermanent. We no longer avoid the things we fear, knowing that pain and suffering are also impermanent. Ultimately, we are liberated from our fear of death and able to live fully in the moment, knowing that all things begin and end and begin again. Such is the nature of life. Hari Om Tat Sat.