You can’t ever get everything you want. It is impossible. Luckily, there is another option. You can learn to control your mind, to step outside the endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn not to want what you want, to recognise desires but not be controlled by them. Meditation is called ‘the great teacher’. Navodita, our yoga expert, discusses it, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
For most of us, the idea of perfect happiness would be to have everything we wanted and be in control of everything, playing Caesar, making the whole world dance a jig according to our every whim. Once again it does not work that way. Take a look at the people in history, who have actually held this type of power. They were not happy people. Certainly, they were not at peace with themselves. Why not? Because they were driven to control the world totally and absolutely, and they could not. They wanted to control all people, yet there remained people who refused to be controlled. These powerful people could not control the stars. They still got sick. They still had to die.
You can’t ever get everything you want. It is impossible. Luckily, there is another option. You can learn to control your mind, to step outside the endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn not to want what you want, to recognise desires but not be controlled by them. This does not mean that you lie down on the road and invite everybody to walk all over you. It means that you continue to live a very normal-looking life, but live from a whole new viewpoint. You do the things that a person must do but you are free from that compulsive, obsessiveness, drivenness of your own desires. You want something, but you don’t need to chase it. You fear something, but you don’t need to stand there quaking in your boots. This sort of mental cultivation is very difficult. It takes years. But trying to control everything is impossible; the difficult is preferable to the impossible.
Civilisation is all about peace and happiness. Even the best of developmental tasks are undertaken for the sake of ‘happiness’ and its maximisation. Even the big industrialists and businessmen are of the opinion that we are just beginning to realise that we have overdeveloped the material aspects of existence at the expense of the deeper emotional and spiritual aspects, and we are paying the price for that error.
It is one thing to talk about degeneration of moral and spiritual fiber and another thing to actually do something about it. The place to start is within ourselves. Instead of looking carefully inside yourself and blaming yourself that, “I couldn’t do this,” or “I couldn’t do that”, you should think about your achievements which create a positive feeling and self-image. You can’t make radical changes in yourself until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now. As soon as you do that, changes will flow naturally. You don’t have to force anything, struggle or obey rules dictated to you by some authority. It is automatic, you just change.
But arriving at that initial insight is quite a task. You have to see who you are and how you are without illusion, judgement, or resistance of any kind. You have to see your place in society and function as a social being. You have to see your duties and obligations to your fellow human beings, and above all, your responsibility to yourself as an individual living with other individuals. Mental cultivation through meditation is definitely helpful in achieving this sort of understanding and serenity and happiness.
The Dhammapada, an ancient Buddhist text says, “What you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now. The consequences of an evil mind will follow you like your own shadow. No one can do more for you than your own purified mind- no parent, no relative, no friend, no one. A well-disciplined mind brings happiness.”
Meditation is intended to purify the mind. It cleanses the thought process of what can be called psychic irritants, things like greed, hatred, and jealousy which keep you snarled up in bondage. Meditation brings the mind to a state of tranquility and awareness, a state of consciousness and insight.
Meditation is called ‘the great teacher’. It is the cleansing crucible fire that works slowly but surely. The greater your understanding, the more flexible and tolerant, the more compassionate you can be. You become a perfect parent or an ideal teacher. You are ready to forgive and forget. You feel love towards others because you understand them, and you understood others because you understand yourself. You have looked deeply inside and seen self-illusion and your own human failings, seen your own humanity and learned to forgive and to love. When you have learned compassion for yourself, compassion for others is automatic. An accomplished meditator has achieved a profound understanding of life, and he or she inevitably relates to the world with a deep and uncritical love.
Hence it can be noticed through meditation that it alone is the way towards ‘personal transformation’. The ‘self’ that goes into meditation is not the same ‘self’ that comes out of this magnificent experience. Your arrogance evaporates and you seem to become your own leader and for those around you an example to follow. Next time, we will be back with more on meditative techniques.
Photos from the Internet
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Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24×7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.