I recently found this draft of a post for class on May 9th. Although adding it now takes us out of chronological order, I think it’s worth including. We had just entered into Book II of the Yoga-Sutra and were beginning to look at Patanjali’s concept of the kleshas, the “primal causes of suffering.” That week’s sutra focused on the first klesha, avidya. If you want a reminder of the five kleshas, scroll down to May 15th.
Ignorance (i.e. avidya) is the fertile soil, and as a consequence, all other obstacles persist.
They may exist in any state—dormant, feeble, intermittent, or fully operative.
Click here to listen to my May 9 Dharma Talk. I’m talking about the kleshas as a way to understand addictive behavior patterns. That was the night I told the story about the Canadian geese on the towpath and driving to class with my dirty windshield.
Here’s a lovely Zen story that illustrates how life looks when we’re stuck behind the second klesha, asmita (attachment to story) planted in the fertile soil of avidya (ignorance).
A potential student went to see a Zen master and asked: “If I work really hard, how long will it take to become enlightened.” The Zen master looked at the man and said “Ten years.”
“No, no,” the man said, “I mean to really work at it –“
The Zen master cut him off. “I’m sorry, I misjudged you–twenty years.”
“Wait,” the man blurted out, “I’m very serious, you don’t understand–“
“Thirty years,” said the Zen master.