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Are You Living Free from the Bondage of the Human Condition?

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Written by Andrew H. Housley


Our spiritual journey is fraught with obstacles. The human condition is often characterized by a sense of limitation and bondage. People may feel trapped by their circumstances, emotions, or beliefs, leading to a sense of spiritual imprisonment. However, there is a path to living free from these spiritual bonds. By cultivating awareness and seeking to understand the nature of the mind and reality, it is possible to break free from the limitations of the human condition and live with greater freedom and fulfillment. This process often involves confronting and overcoming negative mental states, such as attachment, aversion, and ignorance, and developing positive qualities, such as compassion, wisdom, and equanimity. Ultimately, living free from spiritual bondage requires a commitment to personal growth, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of the nature of existence.


Here's our podcast episode about Kleshas: 5 Roadblocks in Our Spiritual Journey




Before we can free ourselves, we must first recognize the ties that bind us. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali discussed the five things that he believed to be the root cause of human troubles. He called them kleshas - negative mental states or afflictions that arise from ignorance and lead to suffering and delusion. The term "klesha" comes from the Sanskrit word meaning "to afflict" or simply "poison."

According to Buddhist and Hindu traditions, there are typically five primary kleshas. Below I outline them in detail and offer a bit of a "pro tip" on how to deal with them. I offer this with tongue in cheek since I, too, struggle with these ties myself.

Ignorance (avidya)

The root klesha and the underlying cause of all the others. It refers to a lack of understanding or insight into the true nature of reality.


"There's no higher authority than ignorance." - Andrew H. Housley

It is the inability to see things as they really are and to recognize the interdependent nature of all things. As a result, people may become attached to false ideas and beliefs or be driven by negative emotions such as greed, anger, or fear. The goal of spiritual practice in these traditions is to overcome avidya through self-awareness, insight, and understanding in order to attain spiritual liberation or enlightenment. By gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of reality and the interconnectedness of all things, one can free themselves from the cycle of suffering and attain a state of lasting peace and happiness.


Pro Tip:

Confess your hidden faults. Through self-awareness, insight, and understanding, we can begin to overcome avidya.


Attachment (raga)

A clinging or grasping onto things, people, or ideas that we find pleasurable or desirable. It creates a sense of craving and wanting, which can lead to negative emotions such as greed, jealousy, and obsession. This attachment and craving can cause us to become preoccupied with fulfilling our desires, often at the expense of others or at the cost of our own well-being.


Pro Tip:

Anything you are attached to, let it go. By recognizing the impermanent and unsatisfactory nature of all things and by developing a sense of contentment and inner peace, one can free themselves from the cycle of suffering and attain a state of lasting happiness.


Aversion / Revulsion (dvesha)



This refers to the opposite of attachment, a sense of repulsion or aversion towards things, people, or ideas that we find unpleasant or undesirable. Dvesha arises when we become repulsed by things, people, or ideas that we find unpleasant or undesirable. It creates a sense of rejection and avoidance, which can lead to negative emotions such as anger, fear, and aggression. This aversion can cause us to become preoccupied with eliminating or avoiding the things we dislike, often at the expense of others or at the cost of our own well-being.


Pro Tip:

Approach what you find repulsive—cultivating compassion and equanimity in order to attain spiritual liberation or enlightenment.


Egoism (mana)


A sense of superiority or arrogance can lead to a distorted view of oneself and others. It creates a sense of separation and distance from others, which can cause conflict and division. This pride can cause us to become preoccupied with our own interests and desires.


Pro Tip:

You are not the center of the universe. So stop acting like it—foster humility and selflessness in order to attain spiritual liberation or enlightenment. By recognizing the interconnected nature of all things and developing a sense of compassion and empathy towards others, one can free themselves from the cycle of suffering and attain a state of lasting peace and happiness.


Envy / Possesiveness (matsarya)



Jealousy or envy towards others who have things we lack or qualities we wish we had. It can create feelings of resentment and hostility. Feelings of resentment or ill will towards others who possess qualities or possessions that we desire for ourselves. It creates a sense of comparison and competition, which can lead to negative emotions such as anger or bitterness. This discontent can cause us to become preoccupied with the success or failure of others,


Pro Tip:

We can overcome matsarya by cultivating contentment and gratitude in order to attain spiritual liberation or enlightenment. By recognizing the blessings and opportunities in our own lives and by developing a sense of joy and appreciation towards the success and happiness of others, one can free themselves from the cycle of suffering and attain a state of lasting peace and happiness.

Go To Places That Scare You.

These kleshas are considered to be obstacles to spiritual progress and enlightenment, and the goal of spiritual practice is to overcome them. Various methods, such as meditation, self-reflection, and mindfulness, are used to help identify and overcome these afflictions.

We discuss all of these methods in our podcasts and blog posts.



If you are interested in learning more or tried these methods and want to share your experience, please comment below.

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About Andrew

Andrew Profile

At the age 17, through the guidance of his older brother Chris, he discovered the path of Buddhism. His journey with the practice has taken him across oceans and deep within himself. As a Zen bodhisattva, he works towards helping others find their own path without reward.

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