Avidya in Yoga Meditation
QUICK EXPLANATION ON AVIDYA
Avidya = the veil of spiritual forgetting, ignorance, or individual illusion
Avidya = first of the 5 kleshas (which means coloring or veil), it is the first veil that covers the non-dual formless Consciousness
5 kleshas: avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, abhinivesha
Avidya = ignorance on microcosm level, individual ignorance or illusion
Maya = the veil on macrocosm level, the universal ignorance or illusion
According to the Yogasutras: avidya seems to appears in four different kinds: regarding that which is transient as eternal – mistaking the impure for pure – thinking that which brings misery to bring happiness, and taking that which is not-self to be self.
And also according to the Yogasutras: avidya seems to appear in four stages: 1) dormant or inactive, 2) attenuated or weakened, 3) interrupted or separated from temporarily, or 4) active and producing thoughts or actions to varying degrees.
Observe four kinds of avidya
This forgetting process called avidya happens in four different ways which is explained in yogasutra 2.5. These four difference kinds of avidya are extremely practical and can be constantly observed in daily life. Therefore pick one avidya for a day or for week and observe how this avidya expresses itself in your daily life.
Impermanent –> Eternal
This kind of avidya makes you forget that objects, situations, relationships, thoughts, emotions, and all other phenomena of the manifestation are temporary. We think that they will last forever, or are not mindful of their transitory nature. To remind yourself of the temporary nature of manifestation will allow you to enjoy the things of the world, without living in the illusion that these things are ever-lasting. Then when they fall away there is less suffering. A car will one day break down, a friend might move away, clothes will torn, bread after a while will grow moldy. By increasingly clearer discrimination about the true nature of manifestation in and around us, hence seeing their transitory nature, the pure non-dual Consciousness will come forward as the only existence that is truly Eternal.
Impure –> Pure
This kind of avidya makes you forget that some objects, situations, relationships, thoughts, emotions, or other phenomena of the manifestation are impure. We think that their nature is pure. Seeing this avidya will decrease your attraction to the external world, as you will come to see that some things you thought of as pure are actually impure, therefore unpleasant. For example, in a particular situations you thought you had pure intentions, but with some honestly you come to see that there was still some selfish desire in it, oops. You may thought the chocolate you ate was pure, but then you come to know that most chocolate still involves slavery, which is impure, oops. The water you drank looked pure, but was impure, as you became sick afterwards, oops. But actually, you could look at impure as something that is not pure consciousness, then anything that is manifested is impure, as it makes you forget your real nature; PURE non-dual Consciousness.
Misery –> Happiness
This kind of avidya makes you forget that objects, situations, relationships, thoughts, emotions and other phenomena of the manifestation bring you misery. We think that they will bring us happiness. Observing this kind of avidya will bring you towards real happiness that is not related to the temporary ever-changing manifestation, but lies beyond all the movements of the mind-field. As you will less fall into the trap that movements in the manifestation will make you eternally happy. For example a relationship that made you happy can break up and results in pain. Going to a holiday vacation was suppose to make you very happy but when you arrive the place is crowed, stinky, and is not a pretty as the picture showed. Eating a lot of food may at first make you happy, but later the tummy aches. Anything that has attachment will one day lead to misery as it will protect itself with fear (abhinivesha), and when it is set aside a feeling of lost is experienced, therefore it always has a component of misery.
Not self –> Self
This kind of avidya makes you forget that objects, situations, relationships, thoughts, emotions, and other phenomena of the manifestation are not who you really are. We think that they are our true Self. Everything that is colored with avidya makes us forget that we are pure eternal Consciousness, and makes us fall into the trap we are our collection of coloring, our collection of false identities, desires, habits, likes, and dislikes. Constantly making yourself aware of this avidya, and constantly observing this avidya will strengthen your buddhi and will increase the discrimination between Self and non self.
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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT
Eventually the concepts of avidya will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of avidya will have the effect that you will increase your use of this word in your daily vocabulary to express yourself and you will discover how avidya relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to see that when you are in a state of kshipta you are more entangled in avidya then when mind is ekagra, or you come to understand the relationship between the gunas and avidya. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you towards that which is beyond all the concepts. This is because as you increase your self-awareness, you will discover that everything you can observe is not who you truly are, you are not avidya, you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore avidya itself have to be transcended, who you really are is beyond avidya. This will increase the non-attachment towards avidya itself, while you can be in awe of the beauty of the Divine dance of Consciousness that appears to play as avidya. Therefore practicing self-awareness is actually practicing not-self-awareness by which the True Self will eventually reveal itself.
Look at the self-assessment PDF (assessment-yymmdd.pdf) and a PDF that includes daily internal dialogue and daily observation (sumseven-yymmdd.pdf) on the website of www.abhyasaashram.org (when you are on this page scroll all the way down to find the downloadable PDFs) These PDFs can be used as tools to explore and expand your understanding on avidya.
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MORE ON AVIDYA
Avidya explained by an ocean metaphor
There is only one non-dual Consciousness… If we look at this non-dual Consciousness as one unlimited unbounded ocean of existence we can use this metaphor to understand how duality seems to appear within non-dual Consciousness. Because it is obvious that duality seems to occur. Look around you, do you not see diversity? How to explain that non-dual Consciousness appears as dual? Using the metaphor of the ocean; it seems to forget it is an ocean and can thereby take on the identity of a wave. Now, it can play as a wave, because it appears as if it has disconnected itself from the whole by veiling itself, by forgetting its true nature. Therefore forgetting happens first and as a unavoidable result an individual appears to exist, which is asmita. This veiling of truth, this process of forgetting, this appearance of ignorance is called avidya. It is the first veiling of the Non-dual Consciousness. If you can imagine this ocean as formless and transparent you can maybe also imagine that this forgetting process is seen as a coloring, as if now a part of the ocean is colored with forgetting. Therefore, one way to hold avidya is as a coloring on top or within the non-dual Consciousness. Now a wave can experience the rest of the ocean as separate, and will see other waves around itself. These waves can be labeled as pleasant or not pleasant, which are raga and dvesha, both coloring of attachment. Having characteristics the wave will fear it will lose its identity and will therefore add a layer of fear to protect itself, this is the fifth and last klesha; abhinivesha.
Freedom from avidya
There are three kinds of freedom; the first is freedom from karma, then comes freedom from thoughts and eventually freedom from avidya. On the journey to the direct realization of the Self, we move inward from gross to subtle to the most subtlest aspects of our being.
1) Freedom from karma: the first freedom we gain on our journey inward to the direct realization of the Self is the freedom of action. Our actions are performed by the karmendriyas (senses of actions: speaking, grasping, moving, procreating, and eliminating), they express the active desires that bubble up from the unconscious mind. Because samskaras constantly move into active desires, into thoughts, we learn to gradually master that we have a choice in which one we want to express. Simple example, thoughts may drift into the mind-field, but they do not have to be immediately spoken aloud using the karmendriya of speech, you can remain silent. Or when the desire for a particular drink bubble up into the conscious mind field we do not have to get up and walk to the kitchen. Thus, this freedom of action means to have the freedom of not having to act upon active desires. We can choose. The thoughts are still there (they keep coming and going), but they do not necessarily have to lead to action—to karma.
2) Freedom from thoughts: when we continue doing all our practices of meditation, contemplation, introspection, and self-assessment by which the coloring of the attachment will gradually diminish, the freedom of thought comes. When the coloring of a samskaras is almost gone, it’s not likely that, when this samskara becomes active, it will create an enormous disturbance in the mind-field as other heavily colored samskaras do. Therefore the more you un-color the samskaras the less they are distracting. Example, an episode happened at work where a colleague and you had a strong conversation about something that happened on a project. When this is strongly colored with aversion you might be engaged in this conversation for days, meaning you re-live this conversation over and over again, constantly repeating it in your mind, while re-analyzing it. If there was no coloring added during this conversation, you wouldn’t even think about it again once. Therefore if coloring is reduced, troublesome thoughts also reduce, hence freedom from thoughts.
3) Freedom from avidya: and when almost all coloring is reduced and the discrimination of Self and not self becomes clear the final barrier will be removed; that of avidya itself. When there is freedom from avidya, the Seer rest in its true nature (yogasutra 1.3) and pure Consciousness is experienced.
Avidya – Vidya
In Sanskrit when an ‘A’ is placed in front of a word it means ‘not’ or ‘without’ that word. So ‘A’ in front of vidya means not vidya. Vidya is a word used for the highest Truth, Knowledge, or Knowing. When one truly experiences the non-dual formless Consciousness, one really knows, one lives in vidya, one lives in knowing the Absolute Reality. Therefore avidya is a state that means you are not living in vidya, the truth is forgotten, is veiled, and therefore is it a state of ignorance of ignoring truth. To remove everything that is not vidya will bring the experience of vidya. Therefore it is the avidya that we have to deal with, get to know and move beyond. We need to un-color this coloring in order to find vidya.
Avidya doesn’t mean stupid or dumb
To say that we live in ignorance doesn’t mean that we are dumb or stupid, it is merely a realization that we are ignoring our true Self (that we live unconsciously while our true nature is pure Consciousness) and that this avidya needs to be removed.
Avidya is not all “wrong”
When you look at all the descriptions on avidya, you hopefully see that dealing with avidya is an essential or fundamental part of our practice. But this doesn’t mean avidya is all bad, because if the veil would be lifted all at once we would not be able to take it. There is so much unconscious movement underneath the veil that it would flood us if it would be presented to us at once, probably make us literally crazy. Therefore this veil is like a mother, who lovingly hides what we cannot take until we are ready to take the responsibility. When our responsibility grows we will be able to allow the unconscious movements to come forward and not get sucked into them. We would be able to know that these movements are not who we are and will be able to stay non-attached to them. Therefore, it appears as if avidya and vairagya are dancing to together. In the beginning avidya has the lead, lovingly keeps us protected as a mother, but slowly with practice vairagya will take over this dance until the whole veil can be lifted and the Self rests it its own nature.
Avidya – Maya
Virtually these two words mean the same, but one significant difference is that the word avidya is used when we speak of individual ignorance, and the word maya is used when we speak of cosmic ignorance, which is the same as cosmic illusion. The word maya is used is regard to Brahman, when the Absolute Reality seems to play as maya. Avidya is used when Atman, the individual soul, seems to play within maya as an individual appearing to have characteristics.
Remember avidya and the infinite
As we are expanding our awareness of the apparent avidya and maya, it will help to remember the beautiful invocation of the Isha Upanishad. It seems that avidya and maya are able to ‘break’ up non-duality into duality, but infinite can never be divided as infinite minus infinite = still infinite. If you take a part from infinite, this separate appearing part is still infinite! That is why a drop of the ocean qualitatively contains the ocean, as microcosm is qualitatively the same as macrocosm.
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
Om. That is infinite, this is infinite;
From That infinite this infinite comes.
From That infinite, this infinite removed or added;
Infinite remains infinite.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!
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YOGASUTRAS ON AVIDYA
2.3 There are five kinds of coloring (kleshas): 1) forgetting, or ignorance about the true nature of things (avidya), 2) I-ness, individuality, or egoism (asmita), 3) attachment or addiction to mental impressions or objects (raga), 4) aversion to thought patterns or objects (dvesha), and 5) love of these as being life itself, as well as fear of their loss as being death (abhinivesha).
avidya asmita raga dvesha abhinivesha pancha klesha
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2.4 The root forgetting or ignorance of the nature of things (avidya) is the breeding ground for the other of the five colorings (kleshas), and each of these is in one of four states: 1) dormant or inactive, 2) attenuated or weakened, 3) interrupted or separated from temporarily, or 4) active and producing thoughts or actions to varying degrees.
avidya kshetram uttaresham prasupta tanu vicchinna udaranam
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2.5 Ignorance (avidya) is of four types: 1) regarding that which is transient as eternal, 2) mistaking the impure for pure, 3) thinking that which brings misery to bring happiness, and 4) taking that which is not-self to be self.
antiya ashuchi duhkha anatmasu nitya shuchi sukha atman khyatih avidya
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2.24 Avidya or ignorance (2.3-2.5), the condition of ignoring, is the underlying cause that allows this alliance to appear to exist.
tasya hetuh avidya
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2.25 By causing a lack of avidya, or ignorance there is then an absence of the alliance, and this leads to a freedom known as a state of liberation or enlightenment for the Seer.
tat abhavat samyogah abhavah hanam tat drishi kaivalyam
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SWAMI RAMA ON AVIDYA
”Avidya means “ignorance, or lack of knowledge of reality.” A means “no”, vidya means “knowledge”. According to Patanjali, ignorance is the root cause of all pain, misery and suffering. You are suffering not because someone wants you to suffer, or because a devil or something evil is making you suffer, but because of lack of knowledge and clarity of mind. A preliminary step on the path of enlightenment is to accept the premise that you are ignorant – to know that you do not know.
Another meaning of avidya is the failure to perceive the true nature of the objects of the world, to see them as they are. You don’t see the universe as it really is because your perception of the universe is individual. You see things only partial through a little window of your eyes. This partial knowledge has nothing to do with the totality of experience and thus cannot be considered to be truth.”
~ Sadhana pg. 40
”Because of their clouded minds, ordinary human beings remain in doubt regarding the ultimate nature of things. But when doubt is dispelled, enlightenment dawns. The knot of ignorance and the knot of karma compose the nature of avidya, which has given pure atman the status of jivatman.”
~ Wisdom of the Ancient Sages pg. 112
“Jiva is endowed with all the same qualities as Brahman, but jiva, through its association with avidya, thinks itself to be limited. Here, the aspirant should understand that there is a vast difference between human creation and divine creation. Human creation is dependent on the existence of something different and separate from the doer. However, in relation to Brahman’s creation, Brahman does not have to depend on any other force to manifest the universe. When the jiva, the individual soul, learns to be free from the strong clutches of avidya, he realizes his true Self and becomes one with Brahman.”
~ Book of Wisdom pg. 45
“You can remain in the bondage of avidya or you can release yourself. It is your choice. You are the way you are because you wanted to be this way. No one else has described for you or made any plans for you. This is your own planning and it will go on till eternity if you do not have any goal toward which you direct all your energy. Each individual creates avidya. Thus it is your own ignorance and superimpositions that are responsible for your suffering.”
~ Sadhana pg. 43
“Without eliminating attachment and passions, spiritual knowledge does not arise. The joys of the sensory gratification that one delights in are short-lived, and when the fruits of these actions are exhausted, one again falls back into the cruel clutches of avidya or ignorance.”
~ Wisdom of the Ancient Sages pg. 69
“When we say a human being should learn to perform his karma or action skillfully, this is a modern way of explain that any karma performed skillfully bears desired fruits for the doer. Here the aspirant sacrifices his lower knowledge, the ignorant nature that is enveloped by avidya, to the fire of knowledge.”
~ Wisdom of the Ancient Sages pg. 49
Swami Rama on avidya and maya:
“The term maya is closely related to with avidya. Maya can be described as apparent reality—that which does not exist though it appears to exist. Ma means “no”, ya means “that”. An example of maya is a mirage in the desert. Even though you think you see it, it doesn’t exist. Maya can cause you to have an accident, but it cannot enlighten you. Maya is the reason you see the one absolute truth as many. You can better understand the relationship among the individual soul, maya and the Absolute by the following analogy: Suppose a thick layer of ice covers the ocean, and in the layer of ice there are trillions of holes. All the individuals and creatures of the universe can be represented by the holes, the sheet of ice is maya, and the ocean that lies beneath symbolizes the absolute reality. When the sheet of ice melts, maya disappears along with all the holes and all individuality; the reality alone remains. Avidya and maya are the same, but avidya is individual and maya is cosmic. Maya is only an instrument that Brahman uses to project the universe. Through maya Brahman projects Himself as many.”
~ Sadhana pg. 41
“The fifteenth mantra of the Ishopanishad [The face of truth is covered with a golden veil. Uncover that reality, Pushan to the glance of the one devoted to truth] gives a very beautiful description of the nature of maya. Avidya (illusion) is also beautiful, but its beauty is material, transient, subject to destruction and not capable of satisfying the intellect of man. There is attraction in it, but short-lived. When we act merely in order to satisfy the selfish appetites of this insignificant body, we develop the tendency of identifying ourselves with the body. It is this that is our avidya (ignorance). This avidya, according to Sankhya philosophy, is accompanied with five-fold miseries. This avidya (illusion) is like a black veil over the face of a beautiful damsel. This black veil, studded with five special stars of anguish is dear to all and charming to every mind; but only when it is removed can one see the true face of vidya, were beauty is hidden by the veil. A newly-wedded husband is charmed by the veil of his bride, but prefers what is more beautiful and worthy of his love—the person hidden behind the veil. Likewise we, though charmed by the veil called avidya, should put it aside in order to find what is more valuable, namely the underlying truth of vidya. Without obtaining the vidya (truth) which is overlaid with avidya (illusion) of man’s own making, we shall always remain restless.”
~ Book of Wisdom pg. 100
“Atman is the inmost dweller of all living beings. Therefore, the focal point of concentration and meditation is only on atman, not on the other finer forces or bright colors or lights flashing from the domain of atman. Many times during meditation, when one element becomes predominant, its influence on the mind creates illusory visions for the aspirant in different lights, colors, and forms. These illusory experiences should be discarded. They do not mean anything; they are not spiritual experiences. All the experiences form the psychic world are inferior compared to the experiences received from the spiritual level of life. These who strive sincerely to attain atman automatically give up the interest that relates to both avidya (ignorance) and lower knowledge.”
~ Wisdom of the Ancient Sages pg. 107
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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON AVIDYA
Read the whole article “Witnessing” on www.swamij.com
Avidya means without Truth or without knowledge. It is the first form of forgetting the spiritual Reality. It is not just a thought pattern in the conventional sense of a thought pattern. Rather, it is the very ground of losing touch with the Reality of being the ocean of Oneness, of pure Consciousness. Avidya is usually translated as ignorance, which is a good word, so long as we keep in mind the subtlety of the meaning. It is not a matter of gaining more knowledge, like going to school, and having this add up to receiving a degree. Rather, ignorance is something that is removed, like removing clouds that obstruct the view. Then, with the ignorance (or clouds) removed, we see knowledge or Vidya clearly.
Read the whole article “Avidya and Adhyasa: Veiling and Projecting” on www.swamij.com
Once the basic principles of Avidya (Veiling, Ignorance) are understood, as well has how they progressively move awareness outward through Adhyasa (Projecting, Superimposition), it is easier to see the way in which these two are systematically reversed so as to attain the highest goals of traditional Yoga.
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OTHER TEXTS ON AVIDYA
Translated by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
14.59: The first step of creation was darkness. This marks the first stage of manifestation and is called avidya or tamas. The appearance of the perfect as if it were limited or imperfect is avidya.
Vivekachoodamini, Adi Shankaracharya
Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
108. Avidya (Nescience) or Maya, called also the Undifferentiated, is the power of the Lord. She is without beginning, is made up of the three gunas and is superior to the effects (as their cause). She is to be inferred by one of clear intellect only from the effects She produces. It is She who brings forth this whole universe.
169. There is no Ignorance (Avidya) outside the mind. The mind alone is Avidya, the cause of the bondage of transmigration. When that is destroyed, all else is destroyed, and when it is manifested, everything else is manifested.
180. Hence sages who have fathomed its secret have designated the mind as Avidya or ignorance, by which alone the universe is moved to and fro, like masses of clouds by the wind.
198-199. Avidya or Nescience and its effects are likewise considered as beginningless. But with the rise of Vidya or realization, the entire effects of Avidya, even though beginningless, are destroyed together with their root – like dreams on waking up from sleep. It is clear that the phenomenal universe, even though without beginning, is not eternal – like previous non-existence.
346. The knowledge of the identity of the Jiva and Brahman entirely consumes the impenetrable forest of Avidya or Nescience. For one who has realized the state of Oneness, is there any seed left for future transmigration?
474. In the realization of the Atman, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, through the breaking of one’s connection with the bondage of Avidya or ignorance, the Scriptures, reasoning and the words of the Guru are the proofs, while one’s own experience earned by concentrating the mind is another proof.
476. The Gurus as well as the Shrutis instruct the disciple, standing aloof; while the man of realization crosses (Avidya) through Illumination alone, backed by the grace of God.
Panchadasi, Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda and Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (Translation under Fair Use, and believed to be in the public domain.)
1.16. When the element of sattva is pure, Prakriti is known as Maya; when impure (being mixed up with rajas and tamas) it is called Avidya. Brahman, reflected in Maya, is known as the omniscient Isvara, who controls Maya.
1.17. But the other (i.e. the Jiva, which is Brahman reflected in Avidya) is subjected to Avidya (impure sattva). The Jiva is of different grades due to (degrees of) admixture (of rajas and tamas with sattva). The Avidya (nescience) is the causal body. When the Jiva identifies himself with this causal body he is called Prajna.
1.41. Avidya (manifested as the causal body of bliss sheath) is negated in the state of deep meditation (in which neither subject nor object is experienced), but the Self persists in that state; so it is the invariable factor. But the causal body is a variable factor, for though the Self persists, it does not.
1.45. When the supreme Brahman superimposes on Itself Avidya, that is, sattva mixed with rajas and tamas, creating desires and activities in It, then it is referred to as ‘thou’. [thou form “thou art that”]
1.48. Similarly, when the adjuncts, Maya and Avidya (the conflicting connotations in the proposition ‘That thou art’) of Brahman, and Jiva, are negated, there remains the indivisible supreme Brahman, whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss.
1.64. The direct realization of the knowledge of the Self obtained from the Guru’s teaching of the great dictum, is like the scorching sun, that dispels the very darkness of Avidya, the root of all transmigratory existence.
3.37. Brahman who is existence, consciousness and infinity is the Reality. Its being Ishvara (the Omniscient Lord of the world) and Jiva (the individual soul) are (mere) superimpositions by the two illusory adjuncts (Maya and Avidya, respectively).
6.26. Nescience or Avidya has two functions: Avarana or the power to conceal and Viksepa or the power to project. The power of Avarana creates such ideas as ‘Kutastha shines not nor exists’
6.46. Just as the conscious Jiva is created by illusion based on Kutastha, even so, on it the inanimate objects are created by Avidya.
7.278. Nescience (Avidya) and its effects (the realm of duality) cannot negate the knowledge of truth. The dawn of truth has already destroyed them for ever in the case of the knower.
15.2. The Shruti says that this is the supreme bliss which is indivisible and homogeneous, it is Brahman Himself and that other beings (individuated by Avidya) enjoy only a fraction of it.
Translated and Commentated by Swami Paramananda
IX: They enter into blind darkness who worship Avidya (ignorance and delusion); they fall, as it were, into greater darkness who worship Vidya (knowledge).
X :By Vidya one end is attained; by Avidya, another. Thus we have heard from the wise men who taught this.
XI: He who knows at the same time both Vidya and Avidya, crosses over death by Avidya and attains immortality through Vidya. Those who follow or “worship” the path of selfishness and pleasure (Avidya), without knowing anything higher, necessarily fall into darkness; but those who worship or cherish Vidya (knowledge) for mere intellectual pride and satisfaction, fall into greater darkness, because the opportunity which they misuse is greater.
Chapter 2 verse 4: The path that avidya (or ignorance) leads one to and the path that vidya (or knowledge) takes one through are extremely different ones and are very far from each other. O Naciketas! I understand that you are the one in search of knowledge since you are not interested in fulfilling all the worldly, material desires that I offered to grant you. Those desires did not move you even an inch from your strong focus (of attaining the knowledge).
“When all things that have a beginning are ruled out, what remains is the truth – which is the cessation of avidya or ignorance. You may regard it as something or as no-thing: that is to be sought which is when ignorance has been dispelled. The sweetness one tastes is not experienced by another: listening to someone’s description of the cessation of avidya does not give you enlightenment. In short, avidya is the belief that there exists a reality which is not Brahman or cosmic consciousness. When there is the certain knowledge ‘This is indeed Brahman’, avidya ceases.”
~ Venkatesananda’s Supreme Yoga, November 30
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AVIDYA: ON OTHER WEBSITES
According to Wikipedia:
“Avidyā is a Sanskrit word whose literal meaning is “ignorance”, “delusion”, “unlearned”, “unwise” and opposite of, Vidya (Knowledge). It is used extensively in Hindu texts, including the Upanishads, and also in Buddhism.
Avidyā, in all Dharmic systems, is a cognitive limitation to be overcome by each individual and does not imply a failure or transgression. The “entrenched misunderstanding of ourselves and the world” is avidyā (false knowledge) which gives rise to several root causes of misery or kleshas, which include ruinous states of mind and addictive habits.”
According to Dictionary.com:
“Ignorance of the identity of oneself with Brahman, resulting in imprisonment within the cycle of birth and death.”
According to Merriam-Webster.com
“Avidya: ignorance; specif: blindness to ultimate truth”