Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
Did you make your list? It can be a difficult thing to do. There will always be one or two obvoius things, unavoidable 'warts'. Lots, however, will be much subtler, hidden behind other traits.
Your list remains your list alone. Mark the page and come back to it as we move along. Add or subtract. Additionally, attempt to journal the sensations which arise as the following workings-day items unfold. Guaranteed there will be reaction. Not necessarily to everything, also not to the same degree to each thing. There will be moments of recognition. There will be moments of mirth. There will be moments of angst, as we attempt to measure these things in ourselves and to balance them out.
What follows over the next few weeks is the breakdown of a list all brahmacharins at Sandeepany were handed. It is from a handbook written by Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society (who was Gurudev's first personal guru). It is a 'list of vices to be eradicated'. The question might be raised as to 'why the negative'? Well, by understanding the negative correctly we arrive at the positive. For example, we see the sign "keep off the grass"; now we may have the rebellious thought of "why???" and proceed to walk across. This one time may have no dire effect so we think, "okay, it was the easier route so let's do it again". Then we do it repeatedly. Then we start to notice that where we have walked has left an impression. The grass is no longer lush, possibly stopped growing altogether. There is a withering of its beauty. Now we understand the positive effect of keeping off the grass! So it is with each of the items we will look at here; once in a while they will all arise in each and every one of us. If we have let them become entrenched in our personality though, to the point where the 'grass' of our personality has become withered, would it not be better to put up our own inner signs…"Keep away from [______]"?
Now, this list is not being covered in enormous detail; rather it is being broken into 'sachets' and the exploration begun. More will need to be done with your own deliberations and adding to understanding as the other threads of knowledge are built up. Bear in mind also, the extremes are being stated for the sake of clarity; at all times it must be understood that there are degrees along each 'state'. Furthermore, remember this is an exercise in self-recognition.
|St Matthew ch 7 v 3-4.|
AMBITION; A strong desire to achieve. It is a drive to acquire. In the material world it can be perceived as a positive trait, but invariably it leaves behind it a trail of pain to others and stress for the 'carrier'. It is a negative motivational state, seeking to benefit the individual (or at best, their immediate circle). The positive motivational state is 'altruism'. Rising to the top of one's profession or peer group by dint of hard work, good principles and ethics and for the benefit of many is a worthy thing. 'Ambition' might think that it has skills and talents beyond its true capability. It has behind it at least the following two points;
AVARICE; whether or not one excels at one's task, behind it there is greed for wealth and/or status; a desperate need for acquisition of material substance and the physical expressions of recognition;
EGOISM; an excessive absorption in "I"-ness; self-importance; believing that no-one else could possibly do the job as well is "I" could. This is not to be mistaken where someone has healthy self-esteem and security in their ability. The latter leads to strong independence without the need for approval and attention; the former thrives on attention - but beware! Ego is the true serpent. It can be disguised under the leaves of false humility and can strike through passive aggression.
PRIDE; domineering 'ego' may not have the upper hand, but excessive pleasure in one's achievements might. It is not an error to strive for high standards in any regard, nor to be satisfied that they have been met. The error comes in 'over-preening', in seeking approval and recognition beyond the intrinsic value of the outcome. It can anchor us in the past as we hold on to the success rather than saying 'okay, job well done...what's next?'
ARROGANCE; haughty and superior is 'arrogance'. Whilst 'ego' sees "I", 'arrogance' sees "you" ...and how inferior "you" are to this "I". Arrogance says "I told you so" and "well you should know without me telling you". Arrogance is the snob, the presumptive, the mocking, scornful and dismissive. It seeks to demean and in doing so, demeans only the perpetrator.
It can be hard reading... stick with it. Become your own mirror... take care not to reject but also not to 'take on'. One of the peculiarities of this exercise is that we start to manifest; mining does not always reveal gold.