'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]
Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. The chanting for the oncoming posts was given last week - use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.
Continuing the sixfold wealth investigation. We have covered shama, dama and uparti. Now…
तितिक्षा का शीतोश्नसुखदुखादिसहिश्नुत्वम् /titikshaa kaa? Shitoshnasukhadukhaadisahishnutvam - what is titiksha? It is the endurance of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, etc. Synonyms here might be fortitude, stoicism, forbearance, endurance and other similar things. What is being borne thus? All the extremes of experience, here exampled as heat and cold, pleasure and pain and so on.
Titiksha is not the same as tapas (austerity). In tapas, we actively deny ourselves with a view to discipline. In titiksha, it is acceptance with minimal disturbance from what arrives at one's door. Tapas is our choice. Titiksha is our rod to bear. In doing that we are to do so with the tools of shama, dama and uparati to steady us. In shama and dama we make conscious control of inner senses and external senses, but in uparati, we find an effortless withdrawal, so it might be said that the third is the consequence of the first two. Well exercised uparati helps us attend to only that which is essential to our daily transaction and interaction. Eliminating distractions.
In order to support the first three, there requires to be a level of equanimity in the face of life. Titiksha carries with it the inference of taking on the tasks of the day with a degree of cheerfulness, knowing that whatever comes our way is intended for us to cope with.
There is an old saying hear in Western tradition, "what is for you, will not go by you." This saying is acknowledging the very thing which Vedanta tells us is a matter of prarabdha (fate); and the point in both cases is that whatever we may do in effort to escape burning out our vaasanas, there will always be another event in place to ensure we get the experience of joy or sorrow that is necessary for our particular path. Do not mistake this for fatalism, throwing up of the hands and saying that there is nothing to be done it is all down to fate. As will become clear during the progress of Vedantic study we come to understand that actually we have a great deal of freedom within the confines of our prarabdha and indeed we can improve things… through this very study!
Mostly, in our current condition, when the world throws its continuous stream of experiences at us, be it physical, emotional (mental), or intellectual, in the form of the stress of temperature, say, or the feeling of elation or dejection or at the level of censure or praise , we all of us tend to 'go with the flow' of the moment. We do not know how to do differently for currently we are trapped in the idea that we are this body, this mind and this intellect, separate from the events which are testing it. If it is a matter of joy, then generally there is no problem. When the effect is negative though, all too often our reaction carries more weight than perhaps the event deserves - usually because we have invested so much emotion and/or ego into the thing. Then we do things like looking for someone to blame or at least to complain to. We might point to family, friends, co-workers, the organisation, the government…. Even as high as God sometimes…"see Bhagavan, see what you have done to me now… oh why meeeeee?..."!!! For some folk, whose prarabdha is such, the negative might outweigh the positive and if they have no coping mechanism such as the shatka-sampatti, or a strong enough personality, they will sink into an ever decreasing circle of mental darkness.
To be able to bear non-conducive situations without these sorts of reactions or pointing of fingers, knowing that this is fate at play but that it will pass and things can be done to make it better; keeping a cool head and smile in place; this is titiksha. For the Christians among you, this is the 'turning of the other cheek'.
Guru-ji puts it sweetly in the textbook; "When one travels in a vehicle with good shock absorbers, the ride is smooth even if the road is bad. Titiksha is the shock absorber with which one rides the rough terrain of life without breaking one's enthusiasm." Another phrase useful to recall here is that it is of no useful purpose to make a mountain out of a molehill! If we dwell on our sorrows to the exclusion of any positives which may be found, then what may have been relatively inconsequential in the greater picture will, for us, become the only picture and it will be very difficult to shift that view. Lift up the eyes of your being and start pondering on what is right in life…"I cried that I did not have shoes. Then I saw the child without legs…"
If we follow our train of thinking that "it is hot.. Much hotter than last year don't you think?" we will start to make of the heat an obstacle or certainly a distraction for ourselves. If we break off our thought at 'It is hot.' and move on with our tasks, the situation is noted but not problematic. A mind preoccupied with its sorrow cannot think about the subtler matters. Thus, titiksha is an important quality for all, but most particularly for the spiritual seeker.