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.
Last week we began an investigation of the samaadhi shatka-sampatti, the six elements of self-assessment and self-management.
The six, in simple list, are
An introduction to the first three of these was given. Often, in the study group scenario, protests are heard. "This is a pipe-dream!... Just try this with crying kids around… Corporate commitment will not permit…" All the justifications in the world are put forward as to why these disciplines cannot be exercised. The aachaarya will gently ask the question "then why are you sitting here?" Invariably the answer is that respite is sought. Then the reminder is given that respite comes first with the recognition of its need, secondly with the asking for help, thirdly by accepting that help. The gap between the second and third can sometimes be a chasm.
The attempts of practice are what count. There is no magic wand. If given a pill by the doctor, it will only aid your healing once you swallow it. Think of any of the skills you have gained in life. Can you recall the beginnings of learning those skills? Craftworks, carpentry, driving, cooking, you name it. All had to start somewhere and all demanded practice by you in order to achieve some level of competency. All have their sets of basic rules which, once learned will serve you well in any situation regardless of the materials with which you are expected to work.
The saadhana chatushtaya are the basic rules for the skill of life. Have धृतिः /dhritiH - fortitude! No matter how often we fall, never mind; we must get up and walk again.
Which leads us nicely into the remaining three of the six.
This is often spoken of individually as it is the aspect of the six which ties into dhritiH. Titiksha means forbearance. It is stoicism. It is the capacity to endure all the 'downers' in life without seeking revenges and harbouring bitterness. Titiksha, well applied, frees us from anxiety and the maudlin turn of mind which can cause us to dwell and linger unnecessarily. It's the "don't sweat the small stuff".
It does not mean that one must become a doormat; though at times (to the casual observer) it may seem such. It is acceptance when action is beyond us. There are situations where we have no control, or where action may worsen things. As frustrating as this can be, we are forced to deal with this. If we have an understanding of titksha, this 'dealing' becomes more bearable. We can sigh, shrug our shoulders and move on. Titiksha is the mental aspect of alertness to the facts of the matter; 'can I do anything about this? No. Leave it.' This is not to suggest that solutions to any situation may not present themselves later. Titiksha, however, helps us to not become bogged down in a sense of helplessness.
From the philosophical point of view, titiksha is when the intellect is fully convinced of the values of life lending a cheerful and patient nature which can overcome the personal obstacles strewn before us.
Titiksha is not to be mistaken as meaning 'austerity'; which is a common flaw in thinking amongst many practitioners. Extensive fasting, low dressing...all sorts of peculiar behaviours have been perpetrated by seekers who have partial understanding and - as the adage goes - a little knowledge is dangerous. This is where it becomes imperative to have a leader, a role model, someone who has been along the road some way and in whom we can place our trust.
The simple translation given for this word is 'faith'. However, it is so much more. Shraddha is the working of the intellect towards full appreciation of the depths and import underlying the teachings/scriptures and the words of the aachaarya/swami/guru. It is the trust that there is indeed something higher to work towards and that there are people available to hold our hand. For the majority of us then, it can be the 'faith' that, because "God" might seem far out of our reach, we can rely on Lord Jesus/Sri Rama (name your prophet) to show us the way. If their examples are too high at this stage, but we still consider the effort worth the making, then we will seek to find a manifest teacher, be it the parish priest, the Dalai Lama, the Mahatma, the Rabbi…
Shraddha, in practical terms, is the part of our intellect which can interpret the lay of colour upon a canvas, appreciate the words of a poet beyond the mere lettering. If we love art, we will make greater efforts to understand the message the artist is portraying with their imagery. If we love poetry, we learn that each verse is greater than the collection of its words, thus we will look more closely at all contexts and attributions, semantics and etymology; the deconstruction can at times seem harsh and clinical, yet what we receive in our total experience after all this work is something beyond all words and visual impact. That is our reward.
Thus, if we apply ourselves with such devotion to the philosophy and science of life, how much more will we benefit from that faith and trust? This is shraddha.
The essence of meaning here is tranquillity. It is the when the mind is constantly engaged in the total contemplation of the Supreme Reality. This is not obtained by any other means than that one has worked out all the kinks of understanding, and climbed each step in the ladder of self-control whereby proper and clear perspective is achieved.
Gurudev's explanation is this;
"When we are on the ground our neighbours may be a nuisance to us because, say, of land dispute; but when we have taken off in a plane, these bickerings seem to have no meaning; from those tremendous heights our property and that of the neighbours seem to merge into one unbroken expanse of beauty. In an aerial view of the world, there are no disquieting mental agitations, because in that vision of oneness the little differences of opinion about a boundary line pale into insignificance.
Similarly, when a seeker raises themselves into greater ambits of spiritual vision, the mind can no longer entertain any agitations at the ordinary levels of likes and dislikes. This poise gained as a result of constant contemplation on the Supreme and the Divine is termed as samaadhana."
Questions? Doubts? Voice them! There is one more of the four great qualities to address, which will be done next week, but the absolute essentials from the view of improving daily life are contained in those looked at so far.