Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ahamkara is the greatest obstacle to Self-realisation by Swami Sivananda

Ahamkara is the greatest obstacle to Self-realisation
by Swami Sivananda 

Ahamkara* is the greatest obstacle to Self-realisation. "I know everything. My view or opinion alone is correct. What I do is right. That man does not know anything. Everybody should follow what I say. Everybody should obey me. I am free from any kind of fault. I am full of auspicious qualities. I am very intelligent. That man is very stupid. That man is wretched. That man has got many defects. I am wise. I am beautiful." Thus says the egoistic man. This is the nature of Rajasic Ahankara. He hides his own faults. He exaggerates and advertises his own abilities and qualities. He belittles others. He condemns others. He superimposes faults on others which they have not got. He sees not good but evil in others. He superimposes on himself several good qualities which he does not possess. That man cannot practise Vedantic Sadhana. He is unfit for the path of Jnana (Knowledge).

As soon as Ahamkara manifests, Raga-Dvesha** (like and dislike, love and hatred, attraction and repulsion) immediately come in. Wherever there is Ahamkara, there are Raga, Dvesha, side by side. Raga and Dvesha constitute the great Samsara of the Jiva ( Individual soul with ego). They have to be destroyed through the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman. Either through proper understanding and discrimination or through Pratipaksha-Bhavana*** these currents should be destroyed. Liberation is attained by simplicity, by carefulness, by purity, by controlling the passions and by following the footprints of saints and sages.

Ahamkara*: Egoism or self-conceit; the self-arrogating principle ‘I’, ‘I am’-ness; self-consciousness. Rajasika ahamkara: Dynamic egoism with passion and pride. Sattvika ahamkara: Egoism composed in the sense of goodness and virtue. Tamasika ahamkara: Egoism as expressed in ignorance and inertia. 

Raga and Dvesha**: Raga-dvesha are the two currents in the mind (attraction and repulsion; like and dislike; love and hatred) which bind a man to the Samsaric wheel of pleasure and pain, of birth and death. Raga and Dvesha is a mechanical reaction to the one or other opposite of every situation or experience.

Pratipaksha-Bhavana***: This method is suggested in the the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

 Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam.
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive]
ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.”
––Sutra 2.33

We can overcome the negative emotion and thinking or an egoistic defect by contemplating on the opposite positive feeling and positive thought and by cultivating the opposite to defect virtue. 

So we can replace the thought of ill-will or hatred with the thought of good-will or love, but this must be practiced regularly.

Swami Sivananda below explains how to apply this method of Pratipaksha-Bhavana

 Sadhana: Its Techniques of Applied Psychology by Swami Sivananda

Watch all your feelings very carefully. Suppose you get a gloomy feeling. Take a small cup of milk or tea. Sit calmly. Close your eyes. Find out the cause for the depression and try to remove the cause. The best method to overcome this feeling is thinking of the opposite. Positive overcomes negative. This is a grand effective Law of Nature. Now think strongly of the opposite of gloom. Think of cheerfulness. Feel that you are in the actual possession of this quality. Again and again repeat this formula: 'Om Cheerfulness' mentally. Feel "I am ever cheerful." Begin to smile and laugh several times. Sing; sometimes that can elevate you quickly. Singing is very beneficial to drive off gloom. Chant OM loudly several times. Run in the open air. The depression will vanish soon. This is the Pratipaksha Bhavana method of Raja Yogins. This is the easiest method.

You can treat in the same manner other negative feelings as well. If there is the feeling of anger, think of love. If there is harshness of heart, think of mercy. If there is dishonesty, think of honesty, integrity. If there is miserliness, think of generosity and generous persons. If there is Moha (infatuation), think of discrimination and Atmic vichara (Self-enquiry). If there is pride, think of humility. If there is hypocrisy, think of frankness and its invaluable advantages. If there is jealousy, think of nobility and magnanimity. If there is timidity, think of courage, and so on. You will drive off the negative feelings and will be established in a positive state. Practice of a continued type is essential. Be careful in the selection of your companions. Talk very little and that, too, on useful matters.

The method of driving gloom by force-by willing, by assertion, by command-taxes the 'will' very much although it is the most efficient method. It demands great strength of will. Ordinary people will not succeed. The method of displacing or dislocating the negative feeling by substituting the opposite, positive feeling, is very easy. Within a very short time, the undesirable feeling vanishes. Practise this and feel. Even if you fail several times, continue. You will be successful after some sittings and some practice.

The Story of Avidya (ignorance)