Raga is the klesha of pleasure and the attachments that creates. While pleasure itself certainly is not one of life’s poisons, the chasing of pleasure is, and it is an all too common klesha that is woven into Western culture.
Megha Malhar Raga paintingThis klesha views the small pleasures of life as hooks, digging into us and creating attachments to the past. Because whether you’re looking for the next pleasure to come or seeking to recreate a pleasurable experience you’ve had, both aspects of this klesha will keep you from being fully present in this moment.
Another way to speak about Raga is as the klesha of addiction. What are addicts doing if not chasing the uncatchable — attempting to recreate a pleasurable experience again and again to the detriment of the body, the mind, and our social interactions. It’s easy to see that addictive behavior is unhealthy for us (unless, of course, we’re currently wrapped up in it,) but more difficult to see the less dramatic permutations of this klesha.
Ultimately, recognizing the kleshas serves to wake us up to the here and now by tearing away the many versions of maya, or veils, that we have between our selves and true reality. When we open our eyes to Raga, the klesha of living for the pleasures of life, that does not mean that we deny ourselves pleasure. To the contrary, we simply take our focus away from attempting to seek out pleasure by moving our eyes away from the horizon and lowering our gaze directly to our hearts.
To be fully present in this moment is to appreciate the sound of the music that you’ve been tuning out all day, or the feel of a breeze against your skin, or the look in somebody’s eye as they share with you a truth they’ve recently remembered. The present moment is so filled with pleasure that there’s no need for us to grab our bags and run out the door in hunt of it.
So stay present by connecting with your breath. By tuning in to the body and it’s reactions to the present moment, and by listening to the world around you rather than the thoughts constantly streaming through your mind. Take joy in the pleasures of life, but do so with cupped and open hands without grasping and without holding.
Links to Other Klesha Posts: