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.
We had our introduction to vairaagya last week. It will not be the last time we will see it! Remember these are basic steps and core values which are being laid out; they will become our measuring equipment. Gurudev has written, in his commentary regarding the forceful nature in which the saadhana chatushtaya are often given in the Vivekachoodamani,
"...These are not enumerated to frighten away the unqualified. [It] is already emphasised that a discussion of the necessary qualifications in Vedanta is more for a self-analysis and adjustment than for exercising a tyranny upon the seeker."
Step three of the four-fold qualities is actually broken down into six sub-components, hence the name शमाधि-शत्क -संपत्ति / shamaadhi shatka-sampatti, the six-fold wealth beginning with shama. The six, in simple list, are
Today we shall precis the first three of these.
शम /Shama; (often written in English as 'sama' but it is important to note the pronunciation).
The condition of mental calmness wherein the mind rests in its contemplation, free from agitations created by influence of, and desire for, sense objects. It is recognised, though, that removing the influence of the external does not necessarily relieve a fellow of sense thoughts. It is the nature of the mind to entertain thoughts and if it has nothing better to do, it will dwell on one or other matter external to the thinker. Thus we seek to divert the mind with an idea which is greater, nobler than the baser sensual thoughts currently raging. In the early stages of ज्ञान-मार्ग / jnaana-marg (path of knowledge), the mind should be set upon an image of sublime nature...God, if you so wish, or Brahman as represented in OM. To quote Gurudev once more,
"The more we gain control over the mind and through that control withdraw it from its revellings in the field of finite objects, the more will it become equanimous, peaceful and serene. This condition of calmness in the mind; consciously brought about by a lived discipline, is meant by the word 'shama'."
This is clearly beneficial when looking at the meditative exercises. All around there is explanation of the process and support for the seeker.
दम /Dama & उपरती /Uparati;
Though defined separately (such is the analysis the Rsis put in!), these are very closely related hence placing them together in explanation.
Dama is the stage of 'compartmentalisation' whereby the sense organs of knowledge and action have been steered away from the objects of attraction and placed in their 'seats'; back to base, as it were. They are still present but are reined in. Self-control has been exercised. In this respect, dama is the physical expression of managing the senses and shama is the quietude of mind which results. This is when we can be said to have attained uparati (uparama is the feminine form); a state of self-withdrawal whereby the seeker is no longer affected by the pull of the external.
Again, Gurudev says it best,
"When we think of these requirements, it is possible that we think of them as very delicate, difficult and distressing feats; but in fact, the more we practice them, the more easily will we understand that, after all, this is but a verbal explanation of the state of mind of anyone who is trying to achieve or execute any great work. Even on a material plane, we find these qualifications are essential for a person who wants unqualified success in his activities. In any successful business man too, we observe a certain amount of self-control (at least, while he is at his desk). Of course, the comparison of these qualities with those exhibited by the materialist or the money hunter is not fair, because a seeker needs a subtlety much greater; yet to a large extent we can appreciate and understand these qualifications within ourselves when we watch for them and experience them as available in our work-a-day world."
Straight away we can see that dama is a key component of self-analysis; for we must first recognise what distracts us from our purpose, be it in the 'now' of meditational practice, or in the longer-term, deeper seeking for inner balance. This is the part of us which rages and protests; dama properly applied will start to reveal the inner 'minefield', peel back our layers and masks. It is in the stage of dama that we have to say 'no'.
Note, however, that all the six are inter-related. Each will support the other in its process. We must identify the stages within ourselves, but acknowledge that unification of the all the parts is the purpose.
It is also important to understand that this inner withdrawal is to ease the pain of 'bondage' within ourselves and does not mean that we cease from interaction. Rather our priorities get reordered and interaction becomes more joyful.