Raga means attachment. The third Klesha is all about desire and possessiveness. When we hold on to things with a tight grip, we are not staying open and flexible to the inevitable changes that occur in life, people, places, and things. Therefore, our desires can become an affliction when it creates suffering.
Think about your body. Is it the same body you had when you were two? When you were 16? As we age, we had to let go of attachment to our younger selves.
Beyond our bodies, we can be attached to things, as if our self-worth and our “aliveness” are dependent on have the right car, house, mate…
Goals can hold unhealthy attachments too. Imagine you have a goal of attaining a certain position, living in a specific neighborhood, attracting the right partner, maybe working to have your ideal body. You work hard, do everything you can and then you don’t quite reach your goal. Instead of relishing the journey and accepting where you are, you suffer because you’re not where you had wanted to be – attaching more to the outcome and placing all your value on that rather than the process.
Often when we lose sight of our true nature, we don’t feel fully alive. We seek pleasure from outside to make us feel alive. The joy and peace are within us, not outside us. When we are too attached to external things and outcomes, we can suffer.
This Klesha asks us to hold on with open hands and to practice inviting all that we hold in our hearts to have the space to change and grow.