Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
Chapter Six, Section Two - Obstacles to Practice.
What next can present a hurdle for the seeker? Narada-ji proceeds;
Abhimaanadam-bhaadikam tyaajyam ||64||
Pride, vanity and other such negative urges of the mind, ought to be given up.
It is clear and is a message found in all spiritual philosophies. We all of us carry pride in some way. It may not be overt and obviously egotistical. A mother will be proud when a child is turned out well. This of itself is not necessarily to be considered a bad thing - for there is self esteem to be considered in the equation - but it is when such pride becomes a matter of boast, even within a family, that it starts to cloud our judgement on things or present as interfering, controlling and such like. Whilst this, or vanity - excessive primping and preening of one's appearance in an attempt to garner attention - are an ever-present risk for the saadhaka, so are the associated states of jealousy, hypocrisy and such like. Ego is the at the base of all these negatives, but it is also the ego which can drive the saadhaka towards the higher. How?
tdipRtaiolavar> sn! kam³aexai_amanaidk< tiSmNnev kr[Iym!.65.
Tadarpita-akhilaavaaraH san kaama-krodha-abhimaana-adhikam tasminneva karaniiyam ||65||
Having dedicated all activities unto That (Him), one should turn all desire, anger, pride et cetera towards That alone.
Whilst the ego still roils within us, let us at least turn it to positive use. Take pride in saadhana! Take pride in bhakti! Take pride in learning of being an improved personality. Then begin the work of overcoming even spiritual pride.
Dedicate all actions and thoughts, including those which are of prideful nature, to the Higher Element. This does not mean that one ought to seek excuse for rude and egotistic behaviour, justifying the negatives as being of the Lord. What a waste of effort that would be, one which would yield no genuine spiritual return. No. Rather, when you begin the spiritual journey properly, you will begin to acknowledge more readily when it is your small self which is rising instead of permitting the Higher to make an instrument of you and in this way you can 'catch' yourself and beg forgiveness of the Higher, placing the action or thought at that inner altar and standing upon it to crush the tendency and engender better levels of humility and ego-less service.
At the moment we conduct our interaction with the world based upon our ego-centric self, seeking to fulfil all that is required for this body, the one with which we "I"dentify as well as the mind and intellect within it. A true bhakta surrenders the BMI aspects of his or her being at the feet of chosen Iishta and begs to become only an instrument of Love.
We must constantly guard against the actions doing one thing - appearing 'good' - but the mind doing another. The lusts and longings are pernicious thoughts and can work independently - or so it seems at times! Whenever these arise, let the witness-self (saakshii) grasp them and offer these up to the Higher with a request for forgiveness. Seek to eradicate all traces of likes and dislikes, angers, passion, selfisness and so on from within. Argument is made that without the six key mental conditions (kaama/desire, krodha/anger, lobha/arrogance, moha/delusion, maada/miserliness and matsarya/jealousy or competitiveness), there would be no motivation to act at all and life would become chaos. This is not disputed, in fact. What is being said is that these conditions are ever present, but what must be done is direct them to the Higher.
Bhaktisaadhana, devotional practice, does require mind; however, one who begins this journey must now face up to how unruly the mind has become and seek to bring the rebellious nature under full intellectual control. Quietening the mind is essential for spiritual practice. Begin this by directing all the negatives towards the One Positive, to Naaraayana. When desires or anger and such arise, let the first remembrance be of the Lord and offer them up. HE will then assist in turning the negative forces into energy which can be used positively.
Transform your anger into work for good; don't rage about how the homeless must be freezing in the winter - search out your spare blankets and deliver them to the places where they will be of use. Your anger will have translated into an act of Love. Don't sit and fester about what you do not have; instead, mark off the good things and if something essential is truly lacking, lay your request with full heart and humility before HE. If it is your due, it will come to you. Do not constantly complain about what other's have and let your heart turn green; keep what you have yourself in fine condition and know the value of one solid thing outweighing multiple flashy items… know the difference between needing and wanting and when this is a struggle, lay before the Lord and seek help.
You and you alone are in control of these impulses. Seek not to divert blame for your lack of, or inability to apply, self-discipline.