Saturday, 25 October 2014

How do we overcome the twin enemies ?


Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 13  

The Gita revisited  

How  to overcome the twin enemies within us  ?

                    It  is  only  a  Realised  master  who  is  totally  free  from desires  and hence  from  anger  too. It  is  frustrated  desires  that  turn  into  anger  and  while  a person is  angry  ,he  loses  his  intellect  and  once  the  intellect  is  lost  ,everything about  him gets destroyed  and  he  becomes  a  living corpse. !

                 The  first  step  is  to  reduce  our  likes  and  dislikes  by  not  brooding  over them  . By  brooding  over them  ,we tend  to strengthen  them  . As and  when  a  desire  or  anger   crops  up  in the  mind  , we  should  not  give  them  a  physical  expression. , because  they  are  afterall  only  thoughts  in the  mind. . We  should  learn  to  control  them  at  the  thought level  itself. . We  should  reduce   our  desires  and  anger  through   spiritual  sadhanas  like  japa,  tapa,  prarthana  ,vows  and  so  on.  Then  ,with  right understanding  and  reflection   on the  harmful effects  of desires  and anger  on the  personality  , and  how  one  gets  destroyed  by  living  an  uncontrolled  life  filled  with these  twin enemies , one  can  indeed  overcome  these enemies  within  us. 

             We  should  perform  all  actions  with  the  attitude  of  karma  yoga  ,wherein  we  do actions  without  any  expectations   but  as an  act  of worship  of  the  Lord   and  we  then  come  to  accept  cheerfully .  the  results  ,whatever  they    be  , as  Iswara  Prasada  . Doing  actions  with  karma  yoga  attitude  weakens  our  likes  and  dislikes   and  we then   continue  to  do  all  actions  as  obligatory  duties   done  for  the  sake  of  the  Lord   and we  surrender  unto  Him  and accept  the  results   as  gifts  from  the  Lord. 

         Desires  and  anger  can  crop up  in our  minds  any  time   . So  scriptures  advice  us  to  remain ever  vigilant  at  all  times  . Only  an  alert  mind  can  withstand  their  attack. . It  is  only  a controlled  and  alert  mind  free  from  likes  and  dislikes  that  can  apply  itself  on  spirituality  . Only  such a  mind  is  available  for  meditation  and  for  keeping  the  mind  absorbed  on the  Self  

to  be  continued.....

Friday, 24 October 2014

the twin enemies within


Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 7 part12

The  Gita revisited 

The  twin enemies within 

                  We  control the world  through  external  conquests  , material  gains  or  through Self-knowledge  . But  for  this  to  happen  ,first  we need  to  have  a  control over  our senses  and  have  to  conquer  our  mind. . So  before  conquering the  world  ,we  have  to  conquer  ourselves. . Pujya  Gurudev  Swami  Chinmayananda  would  say  that  we  should  learn  to  manage  ourselves  first  . 

              Desire  and  anger  are  the  two  most  important  trouble  makers  in our  life. . They  are  the  most  difficult  to  control  and  if  not  kept  under  a  check  ,they  lead  us  to  other negative  tendencies  like  greed,  hatred,  jealousy  ,prejudice  , possessiveness  and  so  on. . We  have  seen  in earlier  pages  , how  desire  for  an  object  starts  with  a  sankalpa  and  turns  into  a  wish  to  possess  it. It  then  becomes  a  burning  desire  to  possess  that  object  by  whatever  means  . This   then  overwhelms  our  intellect  and  we  stop  thinking  about  whether  what  we  are  doing  is  right  or  wrong  . The  desire  to  possess  the  object  is  so  powerful  that  it  has  silenced  our  intellect  totally  and  compels  us  to  act  and  react  blindly. . We  become  a  helpless  person  tossed  about  by  our  mind  which  is  gripped  fully  with  the  desire  to  get  the  object  by  hook  or  crook. 

               Even  as  the  liking  for  an  object  turns  finally  into  a  compelling desire  to  possess  it  ,  a  dislike  can  into a  desire  to  avoid  that  object  or  being. . This  then  gets  strengthened  into  anger  or  hatred  . One  then  loses  one's  sense of  decency  in  dealing  with  others   and  comes  to  use  harsh  and  inappropriate  words   and  one  might  also  take  the  extreme  step  of  indulging  in violent  actions. . The  Gita  warns  us  not  to  come  under  the sway  of  desire , anger  and  greed  which  Krishna  says  are  the  three  gateways  to  hell. . They  rob us  of  our  peace  of mind  and  happiness  . The  Lord  says  that  he  who can  withstand  the  twin  forces  of  desire  and  anger  (  greed  is  only  a  by-product  of  desire )  is  a  happy  man  . 

to  be  continued....


Friday, 17 October 2014

Pleasures are momentary


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 11

The Gita  revisited  

Pleasures  are momentary 

                  All  of  man's  actions  are aimed  at  getting  happiness  and  that too  unlimited  happiness  and  an  happiness  that  will  last for ever. . Man's  swabhava  is  to remain  in Bliss  -eternal  happiness    and  for  this  he  does  not  need  to  acquire  anything  external  to  him. All  that  he  needs  to  know  is  that  the  Self  is  of  the  nature  of  Sat  -Chit-  Ananda  . Not  knowing  this, he  goes  in search  of  happiness  from  objects,  beings  , relationships  and  circumstances   and  so on. Man's  true  nature  is  to  remain  blissful   and  to  realise  this  he  has  to  put an end  to  all  external  pursuits   and  find out  for  himself  that  the  inexhaustible  and  eternal  happiness  is  right  within  him. 

            When  the  sense  organs  come  in contact  with  conducive  sense  objects  , we  get an experience  of  joy  which  we  call  as  pleasure  . This  experience  of  joy  is  momentary  and  depends  on  so  many  factors  like  availability  of  the  objects  in the  right  quantity  ,at  the  right  time  and  in the  right  place. The  body  must  be  in good  health, the  senses  in good  working  condition  and  most  importantly  ,the  mind  must  be  in a  good  mood  to  enjoy. We  know  that  the  law  of  change  applies  at  all  levels  of  existence  and  hence  the  body,  senses,  mind,  objects  and  circumstances  are  constantly  changing  . So  to  get  an  experience  of  joy  under  such  circumstances  is  very  difficult. and  if  one  of the  above  factors  goes  missing, one  fails  to  experience  joy. Another  important  factor  about  experiencing  joy  is  that  even  after  getting  to  experience  joy,  it is  only  momentary  and  does  not  last  long  .

        The  pleasures  of the  world  create  more desires  , tire and weaken  the  mind  and senses  , create  dependency  , attachments  , fear  of  loss  , greed  for  more  and  anger  when  obstructed. . The law  of  diminishing  returns  works  here  . The  famous  and  most  sought  after  Rasagollas  from  Bengal  give  immense  pleasures  but  even  as  a person  continues  to  eat  them  more  and  more  , one  starts  developing  a  hatred  towards  them  ! Scriptures  say  pleasures  are  wombs  of  sorrow  and  a  wise  man  does  not  revel  in pleasures. 

to  be  continued....  

Monday, 13 October 2014

The highest renunciation


Practical  steps to spirituality- section 7 part 10

The  Gita revisited  

The  highest renunciation. 

               At  the  first  level,the  mind  is still  full  of  desires, likes  and  dislikes. , attachments  to  worldly  things, name, fame  , power  , possession, position and  so  on. . It  is  only  when  the  mind  is relatively  free  of  all  the  above  that  it  can  renounce  worldly  possessions  and  activities. .Scriptures  advice  spiritual  practices  like  japa,    living a  life  of self control,   yajna  , dana  and  tapa  , and  so  on  to  help  the  mind  get rid  of  its  impurities   and  be  ready  to  give  up  all  its  attachments  to  worldly  'toys'. The  detachment  ,  vairagya  ,  comes  about  through  the  selfless  performance  of  actions  (  karma  yoga  )  either  in this  life  or  some  previous  life. 

           A  person  thereafter  takes  to  a  full time  spiritual  life  . In  the  advanced  level  where  the  mind is  already  made  pure  and  subtle  through  karma  yoga  or  karma  sannyasa  ,  one  takes  to  the  enquiry  and  contemplation  on  the  nature  of  the  Self. And  thereafter  it  becomes  easy  to  renounce  the  notion  of  doership  in the  fire  of  knowledge. . This  is  the  highest  renunciation  that  is  spoken  of  in  Vedanta  .

          So  to  sum up  ,one  travels  from  karma  yoga  doing  selfless  actions  which  lead  to  inner  detachment  . This  preparatory  renunciation    leads  him  to  renounce  worldly  possessions  and  activities   and  make  his  mind  pure  and  subtle. . He  then  enquires  and  contemplates  on  the  pure  Self  with a  pure  and  calm  mind. . He  then finally  reaches  Mukya  karma  sannyasa  , which  is  the  highest  renunciation  or  Self  Realisation  , wherein  he  totally  renounces  the  notion  of  doership  and  realises  himself  as  the  non-doer  Self. 

to  be  continued....... 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

householder's life versus renunciate's life


Practical  steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 9

The  Gita  revisited  

householder's life versus  a renunciate's life 

                Different questions arise in the minds  of sincere seekers  of  knowledge  whether  one  could remain  in one's family  and yet  be  able  to pursue and  attain Self-knowledge  or  does  seeking  knowledge  requires  one  to renounce  the  world and   become  a full time  seeker  . So  it  looks  as  though  there  is  a  tug of war  between  a householder's  life  and  a renunciate's  life.

               The  Gita  helps  the  seeker  to  first  understand   where  he  stands  , where he  fits  in  actually  , at  which  stage  of  spiritual  growth  he  really  is  , so  that  he  takes  to  grow according  to  his  abilities  ,his  mental  frame  and  so  on  in the  pursuit  of  spiritual  knowledge. . The  Lord  says  either  of  the  two  paths , that  of  being the  householder  or  being  a  sannyasi  , can  help  prepare  our  minds  for  spiritual  knowledge  and  yet  for  the  majority  of  us  ,who  have  lots  of  likes  and  dislikes  and  worldly  desires  ,the  path  of  selfless  performance  of  action  is  better  than   the  renunciation  of  worldly  actions.  Doing  is  better  than  renouncing  actions  for  the  majority  of  us  because  of  the  fact  that  our  minds  are  filled  with  raga  and  dwesha  . Hence  we  are  advised  to  remain  in the  midst  of  our  family  , in the  midst  of  worldly  activities  and  perform  our  obligatory  duties  selflessly  and  unconditionally  so  that  the  mind  becomes  free  from  selfish  desires  and  likes  and  dislikes  and  becomes  fit  to  walk  the  path  of  knowledge  

             While  the  path  of  renunciation  of  worldly  action  (  karma  sannyasa  )  is  better  suited  for  those  who  have  very few  worldly  desires  and  have  a  strong  thirst  for  spiritual  knowledge  and  have  already  developed  dispassion  towards  worldly  life. . Whichever  path  one  chooses  to  follow  ,both  involve  ,giving  up  of  likes  and  dislikes   to  make  the  mind  pure  and  fit  to  walk the  path  of  knowledge  . Both  paths  involve  the  seeker to  remain  steadfast  in  the  path he  has  chosen  . The  most  important  qualification  for  a householder  to grow  spiritually  would  be  to  give  up all  his  attachments  towards  his  family  members, towards  worldly  objects  , name  fame  ,power  ,position  and  possessions  . In  short  he  has  to  develop  vairagya  , dispassion  for  all  temporary  and  ephemeral  things  . 

to  be  continued......  

Friday, 3 October 2014

Arjuna'a two questions


Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 7 part 8  

The  Gita  revisited  

Arjuna's  two  questions  

                        In  the  beginning  of  the  5th  chapter  ,Arjuna  is  asking  Lord  Krishna  , a  very  important  question  "O!kesava  ,on  the  one  hand  ,you  advocate  abandonment  of  action  while  on the  other hand  ,you encourage  action. Which  is  the  better  of  the  two  ?  In  the  beginning  of  the  3rd  chapter  Arjuna  had  asked  the  Lord  "  You  say  knowledge  is  superior  to  action  , yet  You are  asking  me  to  engage  in this  terrible  war  . Why  Kesava  ?

                      Both  these  questions  look  similar  but  on  a  deeper  enquiry  ,we  find  that  they  are  really  different  . In  the  beginning  of  the  3rd  chapter  Arjuna  thought  that  the  path  of action  (  karma  yoga  ) and  the  path  of  knowledge  (  jnana  yoga  )  were  two  different  paths  to  the  Truth. . So  he  had  wanted  to  know  which  of  the  two  paths  was  better  . The  Lord  had  explained  to  him  in the  3rd  chapter  that  the  path  of  action  helped  the  seeker  prepare  for  the  path  of  knowledge   and  that    Arjuna  and  the  majority  of  us  are  fit  only  to  take  to  the  path  of  action   , which  would  help  us  to  purify  our  minds  and  make  our  minds  ready  to  receive  the  knowledge  from  a  Guru. Hence  the  path  of action  was  best  suited  for  Arjuna  and  to  all  of  us  in general. 

              Arjuna's  doubt  had  been  cleared  in the  3 rd  chapter   and  he  knows  now  that  he  has  to  go  through  the  preparatory  discipline  of  karma  yoga  before  he  becomes  fit  for  walking  the  path  of  knowledge  . In  the  4th  chapter  ,the  Lord  had  praised  the  path  of  renunciation  of  action  (  karma  sannyasa  ). Hence  we  find  Arjuna  is  asking  the  Lord  in the  beginning  of  the  5th chapter  , as  to  which  path  is  better  for  preparing  oneself  for  Self-knowledge  - selfless  performance  of  actions  (  karma  yoga  )  or  renunciation  of  action  (  karma  sannyasa  )  

to  be  continued.....