We sometimes speak of the unfolding of our life as our life’s path, particularly when there is a considered direction to the unfolding. With the many choices that we must make, we benefit by having a guide to help us find our way. The normal human tendency is to guide toward comfort and away from discomfort. That pattern of consciousness is reactive and therefore might not take us in the direction we intend.
A yoga life path aims at overcoming avidya and at seeing things as they are. Buddha taught that delusion is one of the three great poisons, along with greed and hatred. If we are to see clearly and engage with things as they are, then we can’t delude ourselves by avoiding or denying unwelcome situations, our own or another’s.
Engaging reality is difficult when reality is unpleasant. When reality is unpleasant we will tend to turn away from it if we have a reactive pattern of avoiding discomfort. That reactive pattern of turning away tends to involve a turning toward something that will provide distraction from the discomfort of the present moment.
Aversion is reaction to unpleasant reality. Craving is attraction to the things that we use to distract ourselves from the unpleasant moment. If on our path we would learn to not wall off parts of our own experience, then we would do well to practice guiding toward and engaging with the things that we find aversive. Rather than turn away from obstacles, turn toward them. Rather than seek only the smoothness on our path, seek also the stones in our pathway.