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.
Continuing posts prompted by the prasaadam grantha, "Gita in Daily life" by Sw. Tejomayananda. Please note that technical terms used here, which have been discussed previously, will not be elaborated or translated. The labels cloud on side bar can be used to access specifics if you are new or require refreshing as to meanings.
Last week we saw how Bhagavad Gita advises 'samataa' (equanimity) towards the world of objects. We ought always to treat things and people equally, avoiding as much as possible personal preference and prejudices. This week let us explore Equanimity in Experiences.
|Chapter 12; shloka 1|
With regard to experience, the Gita propounds the principles given per the saadhana chatushtaya; most specifically the equanimity is typified by the requirements of vairaagya. This is the withdrawal of our excessive reaction to things and circumstances. It is further supported by titiksha, one of the shamaadhi-shatka sampatti. In a number of verses thorughout, Sri Krishna reminds Arjuna not to get caught up in the extremes of the world. Balance in regard to the pairs of opposites (usually given in examples such as heat and cold, joy and sorrow, honour and dishonour… शीतोष्न सुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः /shiitoshna sukhaduHkhesu tathaa maanaapamaanayoH. BG 12:18).
The nature of experience is that it can only ever be within the physical realm - but remember that the physical, as far as Vedanta is concerned, is absolutely everything down to the smallest particle; ie from gross to subtle to subtlest. Therefore, using the example given, we can find that heat and cold pertain specifically to the body (gross), whilst joy and sorrow are experiences of the mind (subtle) and to experience honour or dishonour, our intellect is engaged (subtlest). There is not one among us who can escape these things. Regardless of our position in life, in society, geographic location… every single one of us is mechanically built to have a response to the external world. The estimation of our relationship with things/others comes down to our psychology and whether our balance is more towards the body, the mind or the intellect. One of the fundamental tasks of any who would follow philosophical injunctions is to assess themselves and these interactions and seek to modify them. Every spiritual philosophy requires this!
How to attain this balance; this equanimity? First we must understand (discriminate = use our viveka) that equanimity means freedom from personal preference. It is a neutralising of any excessive leanings, which permits us to remain stable whenever challenge arises. What is the measure of being imbalanced? Any sense of elation or deflation. If we insist on a specific thing and refuse to accept any alternative, on having that want met we will feel a sense of elation/satisfaction to some degree. Conversely, if that want is not met, there will be a sense of dejection/loss and so on. The merest twinge we have of having bettered another or of having been deprived in some way, is what haunts us.
This happens all the time, but we are so used to it that we do not keep tabs on how our ego is at all times seeking to have the upper hand, be it in elation or deflation! This is largely what drives commerce and society. We are constantly placed in a situation of comparison as to whether we have, or have not. At the mental level, this can manifest as the controlling and submissive behaviours which can mar our enjoyment of life. At the intellectual level it might manifest in attitudes of elitism. What is more, no two situations are the same and neither is any one situation experienced the same way by any number of individuals. What will always show, however, is the one person who has the most balanced response to whatever is happening. You will all know someone like this; someone who appears to be unaffected by the vicissitudes of life. There is a tranquillity about them and they are easy to engage with, even when having differences. These people understand the fluctuations and impermanence of life and therefore meet it as it comes without getting overly affected.
For those who follow a spiritual path, the acceptance is that everything happens according to the will of the Spirit and how can we become agitated by such a force? Whether one is inclined to say "Ah, 'tis God's work", or whether you are of the school of thinking that everything is driven by karma or whether you are a Vedantin, able to see all as false except the One Great Truth; at all times the importance is keeping the physical being steady.
A Sanskrit proverb; आगते स्वागतं कुर्यात् गच्छन्तं न निवारयेत् /aagate svaagatam kuryaat gacchantam na nivaarayet - "when something comes, welcome it; when something goes, do not stop it."
Whatever level of philosophy you hold at this point in time, ensure that your understanding is that things and people and situations will come and will go. Whether you become dizzy with the fluctuations, or remain centred throughout is your choice.