“Dveśa [aversion] follows pain.”
Emily Dickinson writes, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes.” She tells of the Hour of Lead, a time when, in response to terrible events—loss, rejection, injury, betrayal?— the nervous system seems to shut down.
The “formal” feeling she describes, I would say, is no feeling at all. Feelings are frozen. Over time, if all goes well, a process of grieving unfolds. It does not look pretty. Through it, the sufferer returns to everyday, informal life.
Dveśa (aversion, from dviṣ, “to hate”) is a natural and perhaps necessary part of grieving. Suffering is a hateful thing. To feel the fierceness and heat of hate can help us locate ourselves after the cold of shock.
Taught as a child to not feel anger and not to dislike things, I have come to value the movement of these strong (and yes, afflicting) feelings in me. If I feel dveśa (what a strong word!), I pay attention. What is it telling me? Is it a sign that action is called for? Have I been harmed, but perhaps dismissed the event to be nice or get along? In my experience, the body senses danger before the mind does. Am I listening to its cues?
If dveśa continues, if it becomes more “formal,” as it were, a fixed response in me, then I have to go deeper. Am I creating an enemy where there is none? Am I thinking in a black-and-white, good/bad, oversimplified way? If I am, it is likely that I am afraid, that there is some hurt that has gone unacknowledged.
B.K.S. Iyengar has said that yoga teaches us to act, not react. If dveśa is fueling my responses, I may indeed be reactive, defensive, jumpy. My vision may narrow. I may be in full-blown fight-or-flight mode.
Yoga practice can—literally— take us out of the fight-or-flight response, in which the sympathetic nervous system is on high alert, and promote the activity of the parasympathetic system, which governs rest and digestion, the functions of life. It is when we are calm, nourished, that we see more clearly. Yoga gives us the wide view.
We are not meant to live in fear, but in love. I don’t know how the grieving process works. But I know it does.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
“When we are harmed by another’s actions, it is wise to recognize the harm, to rectify it, and to avoid future harm. Aversion (dveśa), on the other hand, is not seeing (avidyā) the distinction between awareness and the self and thus reflexively carrying the hurt forward by becoming identified with it. It becomes part of ‘me,’ and the one who harmed becomes the ‘hurter.’ Mired in these identities, both we and they will have a more difficult time moving forward from a painful experience. Righteousness and guilt can seem worthwhile and may certainly appear to promote personal or social goals, but they actually prolong suffering. Neither is the same as clear awareness, the true foundation for taking responsibility.” –Chip Hartranft, The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, p. 23
“Resulting from the same mechanism as attachment (II.7), though the opposite, aversion may lead one to isolation or conflict. It is an active negative attitude of rejection and is one of the chief causes of failure in family, professional, and personal relationships.” – Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga, commentary on II.8
• How have you recovered from pain: mistakes, failures, problems in personal relationships or at work?
• When you have an experience of dislike or aversion, how do you experience it physically? What does it teach you?
• How does hatred prevent full awareness and understanding? Can it bring more understanding?
• Do you lean toward righteousness or blaming others? Do you have frequent feelings of guilt or shame? How has yoga practice or life experience affected these tendencies?
masculine noun in compound
pain, suffering (from dus, “bad,” + kha, “space”)
masculine adjective, 1st case singular
having a close connection as with a consequence; “lying close to” (from anu-, after, + śī, to rest, + –in, suffix that denotes having)
masculine noun, 1st case singular
aversion, dislike, hatred (from dviṣ, “to hate”)
4 thoughts on “II.8 दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः”
Nice to lunch with you Although I like them, and subscribe to them, i don’t often have the time to open and read julia’s sutra emails. But today I impulsively did. I was happy because there’s food for thought for my workshop this weekend, but I also thought of you. Hope it’s useful. D
Deborah Wolk Founder, Member Samamkaya Yoga Back Care & Scoliosis Collective 119 W. 23rd Street #406 New York, NY 10011
http://www.samamkayabackcare.com email@example.com 646-964-5772
2 1/2 minutes of Adyashanti:
Re problems at work, I recovered by seeing the bigger picture, problem solving, changing my actions and detachment. The office manager “marches to his own drummer” and after some years of experiencing anxiety (and then dvesa annoyance towards him) when asked by my boss to ask him to do something, for-which I then felt some responsibility to see that the task was completed in a thorough and timely fashion (aka MY standards), I realized that my boss is either not getting upset when tasks are not being done properly/timely, or he IS getting upset at him but he is not firing him so…
First I asked my boss to just ask ME to do the tasks – then I will know they will get done properly and timely. But my boss’s habits are what they are, and perhaps he knows whose responsibilities are whose, and so that didn’t happen. So…
I changed my actions in doing what was asked of me – asking the office manager to do a task – but then detaching and “letting the chips fall as they may.” We’re all professionals here after all. I’ve been rid of that anxiety and dvesa ever since. And saw that the office manager is a really nice guy with a big heart.
Recovery from a painful friendship was by 1) feeling the feelings fully – flat out on the bed or on the floor sobbing, yet reminding myself of what was my very clear intention with this relationship from the start (to practice bhakti – what if I just respond to everything with love, and what would that love look like?) and also the limits of my desire in the relationship, 2) mostly understanding that my pain of not being seen clearly was coming from what I could see is a not-yet-healed wound from long ago and thus my compassion, and 3) by taking action. When presented with the final over-riding accusation, I had to walk the walk. Perhaps it was indeed myself not seeing clearly??? I took the accusation to 4 different people who knew me fairly well for long periods of time – a parent, a sibling, a close friend, and my ex-significant other. I asked each of them to be honest with me if the accusation was accurate as I needed that honesty to grow and see clearly.
I gave their responses to my friend and that gave me closure. I send my friend love and light and wish them healing, but this is as far as I could go.