'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…
Learning is, or certainly ought to be, a dynamic process. It has been said before and is being reiterated; simply reading the book on grammar, or maths, or physics, does not a poet laureate, an economist or an astrophysicist make! Each of these students must think through what is read, seek to apply what is understood into their own daily practices of the craft and, importantly, keep checking back with their seniors and tutors and the professor as to their doubts, their worries, their results.
Whilst this internet venue provides the opportunity to broaden one's horizon, how much of it is truly making a difference in life for you, the reader? This week the necessity of making good choices (shreyas), of putting Love into Action (Bhakti-kRta), and of clearing the intellect in order to know what we see when we see it, has all been covered. AUM-day has been giving weekly guidance on the process of meditation - but in the end, process is nothing if we are not faithful in our practice.
Whilst vaasanas have been mentioned and explained to a small degree, their full influence and effect upon our life and the choices we make has yet to be fully expanded upon.
Understand this; even the choice to sit and read here daily is influenced at some level by a vaasana within you for self-improvement, for a desire to expand spiritually and emotionally… or it could just be a curiosity vaasana. Vaasanas are the foundation of desire. Have you ever experienced a strange and unasked-for desire? Never having had an interest in, let's say, swimming, you have never sat and watched the sport or sought to go swimming yourself. Then a friend takes you to a pool or beach and wishes you to join in, either as spectator or participator. You find that your reluctance drops away and you actually enjoy yourself. After this, you seek other opportunities to watch or swim yourself. The basic vaasana was resident, but needed the trigger to activate the desire. Once there, the desire builds and becomes action. This can be for the good… or the not so good. It is one of the conundrums and challenges of life that it is generally the 'not so good' (preyas) for which it is easiest to fund desire and act out.
If the vaasana for swimming is not present, no matter how much your friend cajoles and teases and implores you to join in, you can fund no desire to do so.
The clue here is that, in order to correct our path to shreyas, we may have to wrangle with our vaasanas and the deep-rooted desires which have been misdirecting us thus far. To be able to 'say no', to resist the charms of anything of preyas, we have to 'burn the vaasanas'. Setting up a regular session of meditation, of japa, of kiirtananam; by constantly reminding the mind to think on the Higher, we can deflect the influence of the vaasanas and, little by little, extinguish them.
There are very obvious ones in the world to be seen; quitting smoking; ceasing alchohol; finding help for depression. These are big ones and all sorts of help and support are there. What about all the small, insidious, sometimes ridiculous vaasanas. Even if we think we are not one of those folk who is 'addictive', it is a fair bet there IS something in your life which you would miss greatly if it were not there.
Watching box-sets of shows for example? Having multiple cups of tea/coffee? Social media?... We live in a society now which demands much of us in terms of outward attention and self-indulgence.
It is not being said here that any of these are, of themselves, 'bad'; it is their effect upon us, the time they swallow from our day, the distraction from spiritual living and the seduction to lower practices which you are being asked to consider. All such things ought to be seen as tools for living and not the 'can't-live-without-them' weapons they tend to become.
For 'up-levelling' your saadhana, acknowledge one thing which dominates your time and distracts, even makes you forgetful of saadhana, and set in place a sublimation program. For each time that you slip and watch that box-set or get stuck into 'birdsong', withdraw another privilege - such as a favourite food, for example. The favourite food is more likely to be missed and soon the box-set and warbling have to take second place. Then you have to deal with vaasana for 'favourite food'… importantly, the sublimative item ought to be closer to shreyas than preyas so that with each progress you are lifting yourself out of the vaasanas… it's a process - and a life-long one, at that!