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Identity Is the Problem - “I Don’t Like That” Is the Issue

By: Michael Ketterhagen



“Dvesha [means] aversion.”

-Pandit Rajmani Tigunait


The fourth obstacle in our search for happiness and peace in this life is overcoming our spontaneous response of “dvesha’—namely aversion to things we don’t like. Our animosities and negative judgments about what enters our life is a major block in the joy that is deep within our core, says the Yoga Tradition.


When we find ourselves saying to ourselves, “I don’t get pleasure from that person or that thing,” or “I don’t like that,” or “I don’t agree with that idea,” we immediately set up the cycle of “dvesha.” We begin to feel a strong aversion and distaste in our mind for what we don’t enjoy. We strengthen that distaste every time we repeat those inner thoughts.  


Eventually, it becomes a pattern that moves us further and further away from many of God’s creatures and creations. I used to dislike people who wore tattoos or who have crazy colored hair, or were covered with metal protrusions. I began to move away from the enchantment and the potential excitement of all the differences in the world. I became rooted in a pattern that excluded many exciting learning opportunities, many newnesses that could truly enhance my perception of the diversity in our world.


When we do this, we begin to bring ourselves down the road of isolation and, ultimately, loneliness.


I found this happening to me in reference to my brother and sister. I began thinking and acting in ways that they did not like. We stopped calling each other, until our health crises pushed us together again. I had lost my desire to connect with them until I realized that I might be losing them. I was developing a loneliness for my family.


So, I decided to find out why they had a different political opinion than my own. Instead of talking about my opinion, I listened to theirs. I became vulnerable without taking offense at what they were saying or believing. I gradually became less identified with my own beliefs and just saw our conversations as opportunities to understand each other.  


I also began to realize that their desire to have me agree with them or change my understanding of God and politics was because they loved their older brother. Loneliness then vanished because I no longer felt an aversion to their perspective. Life was all in the hands of the divine, anyway, and each of us was working hard to live in tune with that divine impulse within. We just were often driven by the same deep fears.


I believe that my own spiritual journey of meditation, during which I learned to “let go” and “let the divine” move me, truly helped me no longer identify with the minor things in life—like my political perspective, or my religious beliefs, or the hopes and dreams that I had. Those identifications, rather than identifying with loving my brother and sister, were creating my lack of joy.


Yoga says that through this path of identifying with our divine natures—mine and my siblings’—joy and freedom from sorrow will come. I am learning that because I am learning to love my brother and sister more deeply.  


Alleluia!


Oh, also I no longer feel an aversion toward the tattooed and metalized people who enter my life. I realize that they are just decorating their temples of the Holy Spirit!


Happy Trinity Sunday for Anglican, Protestant, and Catholic Christians!


I bow to the divinity within you!

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