Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
Now we come to one of the most challenging facets of self-analysis and inner discipline.
वैराग्य /vairaagya is the second point in the saadhana chatushtaya. This is translated directly as 'detachment'. The word taken in its blatant English form can seem cold. As do another two interpretations; dispassion and renunciation. Vairaagya is perhaps the most misunderstood and, indeed, misused of the four qualities ('virtues'), insofar as many believe it means to turn one's back on commitments, responsibilities, joy.. To become hard and withdrawn.
Which demonstrates how limiting language can be in conveying concept. Running from life, retiring to the 'seas and trees', denial of the basic needs of life (austerity), lack of appreciation of the world… these are not vairaagya.
Vairaagya comes about from viveka; having seen that there is Real and unreal and, having chosen to seek the Real, it is necessary to drop the unreal. It is an internal process which may or may not manifest physically. It can be practiced as equally in society as in retreat. On a day-to-day basis this can be observed as keeping even temperament; not becoming overly excited neither overly maudlin. It shows in the ability to take on the news of the world without it breaking us apart. Dispassion does not mean to lack compassion, rather, that one does not become overwhelmed by passion in order to see more clearly what can (or cannot) be done. Observers frequently take this to mean that the vairaagee is without feeling, is unmoved by events of joy or sorrow.
Not so! What happens, when vairaagya is fully expressed, is that the practitioner has full sensory control and is not thrown about by the vicissitudes of life.
There are four stages within the process. (This is an introduction; much discussion will arise in later pages.)
...Firstly, there is the simple attempt to avoid temptation. To keep the mind from running away on matters inconsequential and sensual. It is the stage of learning how much we surrender control to the external world; understanding our attachment to the senses, to desire and to outcomes.
...Secondly, as direct consequence of the recognition, we begin the process of releasing our attachments. This is best represented by the 'cup of tea' method so often found within the ranks of early practitioners. Yes tea itself can be released, but it is a symbolism of all other things which can bind us. It should be understood that tea, in and of itself, is not a 'bad' thing (we will not get caught up in health matters here), but that the image is an ideal one for demonstrating the bubbling of vaasanas (desires) and how we react.
...Thirdly, is when we reach the stage of the senses being reigned in, yet still the mind has the urges; desire, likes and dislikes, are recognised but not acted upon.
...Fourthly, the advanced and complete state of the conquered physical being - which includes the mind - where the habit of desirelessness (for anything other than pursuit of moksha) is now ingrained.
Again, you may be thinking (because it is the human habit to look at the top of the tree, forgetting the seed which grew it), this is all rather grand and theoretical. Go back to the first point and perhaps the second. A good deal of time is spent in these stages. If nothing more than an advanced level of stage two is achieved, opening the door for three, you will unquestionably start to appreciate the benefit of such practice. What is more, once a pattern of recognition is established, it will be found that the process is almost self-propelling… which points to one of the ways in which it can be practiced; i.e. by substituting improved habits over the more damaging ones. Do not think of 'habit' as being only confined to the physical and whether one overindulges in ice cream or not… habit can be emotional ("I always cry at weddings"…) and psychological ("I hate all spiders just because they are spiders"…)
We are creatures of habit when all else is said and done; will you allow the habit to choose you, or will you choose the habit?