Raga and Dvesha – Attraction and Aversion

Raga and Dvesha are the second and third branches of the tree of avidya that cause pain and suffering in our lives. Raga is the attraction for things that bring satisfaction to oneself. Our desire for pleasurable experiences creastes mindless actions and blind-sighted vision. When we cannot obtain what we desire, we suffer. When we do obtain what we desire, our feelings of pleasure soon fade and we being our search for pleasure again, becoming trapped in an endless cycle. We want something because it was pleasant yesterday, or at some point in the past, not because we really need it today.Dvesha is the opposite of raga, aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. If we cannot avoid the things we do not like we suffer, even thinking about unpleasant experiences produces suffering.  We have a difficult experience and are afraid of repeating it so we reject the people, the places, the thoughts associated with that experience assuming they will pain us again. Dvesha also causes us to reject things that are unfamiliar to us even if we have no history of them. These are all forms of dvesha.

Transformation and release from our suffering comes when we let go of our preferences of our likes and our dislikes, raga and dvesha.  When we move beyond them we move into a place of equiminty where we are less reactive and more creative with our responses to life’s ups and downs.

When we can acknowledge these attractions and aversions arising on our yoga mat and then in our daily lives we can start to consciously choose to react to them or not but because we are aware our reaction is no longer automatic but a conscious one. One that will help to bring us peace.

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