The dualities of existence

The dualities of existence

The first of the kleshas, avidya, which we explored in the last article, is the basis of the other four afflictions – ashmita, raga, dvesha and abivinesha.

It is the ignorance resulting from a limited consciousness that creates lack of awareness. And the two things that are largely responsible for restricting consciousness and leading to mental affliction are desire and ego.

It is by becoming conscious of desires and ego, and the role they play in creating mental afflictions, that we start to understand mental well-being. In a simplistic way, we can say that during our spiritual journey, the yatra, we learn to master desires in the Heart Region, and master the ego associated with the Mind Region. In fact the play of desires can create drama even if you are traversing through the Mind Region and likewise the ego can display many of its thorny sides while we are in the Heart Region.

The process of going from avidya to vidya is the process of divesting all the likes and dislikes related to desire, as well as the various identifications of the ego, in order to return back to simplicity.

In Heartfulness, this process of moving from mental complexity and affliction to mental purity and health, is done through the journey of the 13 chakras from the outer periphery of being to the Center of Being.

We receive so much help in this process from our spiritual Guide and his yogic Transmission that keeps our attention focused towards the Center. Even still, we have to be vigilant to refine our outer behaviour. We bring those habits and tendencies to light that limit our personalities and work on consciously removing them. The remaining four kleshas are manifested through these tendencies that are the result of desire and ego, and are best considered together.


The second klesha is asmita, egoism or “mine-ness.” Patanjali says,

2.6: Drig darsana saktyor ekatmata iva asmita

Egoism is the identification of the seer
with the instrument of seeing.

In Patanjali’s view, egoism stems from identification with the wrong thing. What is the seer? The seer is the highest Self, the soul, the eternal infinite aspect of our being, our Center. What is the instrument of seeing? The subtle body or heart-mind. So our mental problems arise when our ego starts identifying with the instruments of seeing – consciousness, the intellect, the thinking mind, and the sense organs. They are only instruments, and when we identify with these instruments it results in a misdirected ego. It is because of this that we start developing likes and dislikes, attractions and aversions, and the whole process of forming samskaras begins.

In a sense we can say that when we do not acknowledge the soul and its central role in our lives, we are doomed to mental affliction and ill-health. Per contra, when we constantly refer to the soul throughout our daily activities, we remain in connection with our Center, and that is the recipe for holistic, integrated mental health.

In Heartfulness this ability to interiorize is called Constant Remembrance, also known as retaining the meditative state, or meditating with open eyes. Constant Remembrance emerges out of meditation, once we learn to retain and enhance the meditative state we experienced in morning meditation throughout the rest of the day. In other words, meditation is the mother of Constant Remembrance – hence the importance of meditating every morning.

As an aside, there is something relevant to say about the effect of identification on the divergence of science and spirituality, at least by the 1600s. Remember the famous pronouncement of René Descartes, “Ego cogito, ergo sum,” meaning, “I think, therefore I am”? The reality is the opposite: Thinking is due to my existence. What is it that grants the ability of the mind to think?

Descartes reasoned that he could be certain he existed because he thought, whereas he perceived his body through the use of the senses, which were often unreliable. He concluded that the only true knowledge came from thinking. He also concluded that thinking power came from his essence. Descartes defined thought as “what happens in me such that I am immediately conscious of it, insofar as I am conscious of it.” Thinking, for Descartes, was every activity of which he was immediately conscious.

As a result, Descartes discarded perception as unreliable and accepted only deduction as the true method. This became the basis of the scientific method, which still underpins science today, and does not accept direct perception as a way of obtaining true knowledge.

Why were the senses unreliable for Descartes? Because of the colorings in the field of consciousness due to the formation of samskaras – effectively the kleshas. But is it really possible for thinking to be correct when the field of consciousness is impure? It becomes difficult for intellect to arrive at the correct inference with impurities spoiling consciousness.

As scientists have found during the 20th century, the outcome of any scientific experiment is dependent on the mind of the observer. The importance of purity of consciousness is as important in the field of science as in the field of direct perception! When we identify our very existence with thinking, it is identified only with the instrument of seeing instead of the seer, and that becomes a source of egoism. This is the current plight of humanity.

Per contra, true yogis first purify their consciousness through practice before even attempting to understand the world. They identify with the soul. That way, the true witness, the soul, can use the instruments of consciousness, intellect, thinking and the senses, as well as superconscious perception, to arrive at the best possible answer. The answer can then also be verified by the scientific method whenever there are measurable variables. But not everything can be measured by science!

Coming back to asmita, our mental health and wellbeing is dependent on what we identify with. The soul is unchangeable, so when we identify with the soul, can we become angry or sad? No. But when we like or dislike, when we have attachment and aversion, then we can react, positively or negatively, and then it is possible to become angry or sad. We are identifying with the instruments of seeing, not the seer, and so we feel pleasure and pain. And, on top of that, we identify still more externally with family members, friends, office colleagues, and associate ourselves with them with an emotional bond. So, we move farther and farther from our individual center.


When we constantly refer to the soul
throughout our daily activities,

we remain in connection with our Center,
and that is the recipe for holistic, integrated mental health.


The third and fourth kleshas are raga and dvesha, which Patanjali defines as:

2.7: Sukha anushayi ragah

Attachment is that which follows from
identification with pleasurable experiences.

2.8: Dukha anushayi dveshah

Aversion is that which follows from
identification with painful experiences.

We become attached wherever we find pleasure, and we feel aversion wherever we find pain. If we observe our thinking process, we will find that this happens all the time, with people, food, clothing, places and principles. It can apply to anyone, anything and any concept. “I like her hairstyle,” “I don’t like the way he speaks to me,” “That house is beautiful – I want one like it,” etc. The current of the mind flows towards those thing we like, and recoils from those things we dislike. The effect of the “like” and “dislike” vibrations settles down at point C of the heart, and eventually forms samskaras.

Everything starts at point C, the strategic point or landing point for samskaras into our system. It is our reactions of likes and dislikes that create the first vibration or stir in the field of consciousness. This affects point C, and from there the energy forms an impression.


To prevent point C from being affected by likes and dislikes, try to maintain a meditative state throughout the day, so that the mind is unaffected. The beautiful lotus flower floating in muddy water is a wonderful analogy: it grows in the dirtiest water, maintaining its pristine purity and beauty. When this is done, impressions will not affect the field of consciousness. This is one of the most important things we can do for our mental and spiritual health, and it highlights the importance of maintaining a meditative state throughout the day.


The fifth of the kleshas is abivinesha, which Patanjali defines as,

2.9: Sravasa vahi vidushopi tatharoodho bhiniveshah

Clinging to life, flowing through its own nature,
can be found even among the wise.

Clinging to life, the instinct for survival, is found in all living beings. It is an evolutionary imperative that defines the ecology of all species. But where does this instinct come from? In the language of Yoga, these instincts are based on samskaric patterns from the past. Instinct is the result of past experience, often from previous lives, that is stored in our field of consciousness. So clinging to life is the instinctive result of an aversion to death that has come from the experience of many past lives. We have known the pain of dying so well. This klesha is also based on the ignorance of identifying with the body instead of the soul, which is eternal and infinite in nature.

So the key is to have a regular
daily practice that removes samskaras.

If we are able to remove the root cause of afflictions,
we can hope to reach our potential of
mental well-being, balance and purity.


Patanjali tells us:

2.10: Te prati-prasava heyah sukshmah

When samskaras are removed, these afflictions
can be resolved back to their origin.

2.11: Dhyana heyah tad vrittayah

Through meditation, the outer expression
of the afflictions disappears.

2.12: Klesha mulah karma ashayo drishta
adrishta janma vedaniyah

Whether they are fulfilled in the present or the future,
karmic experiences have their roots in these five afflictions.

So the key is to have a regular daily practice that removes samskaras. If we are able to remove the root cause of afflictions, we can hope to reach our potential of mental well-being, balance and purity. If not, we are stuck with mental complexities, patterns and tendencies, life after life. It is a simple step to do the daily practice of Heartfulness Cleaning to remove them – just as simple as taking a shower to clean your body. It takes but 15 to 20 minutes every evening.

This practice of Cleaning is one of the greatest contributions Heartfulness has given to the modern world, as it is so effective in removing the root cause of desires. But it is not enough on its own: The identification of the ego cannot be cleaned and has to be refined through another process. That we will take up another time.



About Daaji

Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher of Heartfulness, and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. He oversees Heartfulness centers and ashrams in over 130 countries, and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he is also an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of science, blending the two into transcendental research on the evolution of consciousness, and expanding our understanding of the purpose of human existence to a new level.

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