Monday, May 2, 2016

Conquest of Tamas Guna PART I ~ Swami Chidananda

Conquest of Tamas Guna Part I

Commentary: If we don't eliminate the tamas guna from the mind and increase the sattva guna, it is impossible any real progress in spirituality. When tamas is predominant in the mind there is laziness, incoherence, stupor, resistance to change and to practice, lack of discernment, strong identification with the body, mind and sense objects, irresponsibility, doubts, imaginations, our perception is clouded and we may see things upside-down (how much clouded, depends on the quantity of the tamas). We may think that we are advanced, that we have made great progress, that we possess capacities or that we have dissolved some egoic tendencies while we haven't. Intense criticism to the preceptor and other aspirants, gossiping and quarreling are also caused by the tamas guna and are great obstacles for our transformation and the realization of our true nature. That's why the first goal of sadhana is the elimination of tamas and the increase of sattva. ~ Atman Nityananda 
Due to his involvement in Prakriti (Nature), the Purusha (Consciousness) has become a human individual, but his real status is ever free, ever blissful, free from all afflictions, beyond the reach of the mind and its impurities, beyond the limitations of Prakriti. But just now, the consciousness of his Purushahood is not there in the Jiva. The Jiva thinks himself to be a little, puny human being due to his encasement in the body-mind complex, full of distress, full of anxieties, full of impurities, worry and sorrow. So, to dissolve this, the great sages have shown us the way and Patanjali Maharshi has given us his unique Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga, a most scientific and progressive system of mind-control where you go on ascending the ladder of Yogic practice step by step, stage by stage.

Conquest of Tamo-Guna through Yama and Niyama 

Now, in the first two stages of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, the animal in man is the target of the Yoga Sadhana. The animal nature, the brute nature, is sought to be countered by taking certain strong vows, to be adhered to at all costs, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. Such a vow is something that has no exception. All the time you must adhere to these vows. You have the vow of not hurting, not injuring, not engaging in violence, either mental or verbal; you have the vow of truthfulness, of absolute truthfulness, the Satyavrata; you take the vow of control of the senses; you take the vow of humility in thought, word and deed; you take the vow of Brahmacharya, which means not only abstinence from the sex function and control of the sex urge, but means the overall dominance of the higher over the lower, the subtle over the gross, the thinking, seeing, discriminating human nature—the Suddha Buddhi, the Vivekatmak Buddhi, the Vichara-Yukta Buddhi—over each Indriya, over all the five senses. 

Mahatma Gandhi has said a great deal about this subject of Brahmacharya in his letters, in his articles in “The Harijan”, and in his answers to the queries of seekers. He has thrown valuable light, based upon his own personal experience, on this subject of self-restraint. And all these thinkings have been gathered together and brought out in a book called “Self-Restraint versus Self-Indulgence”. In this book Gandhiji throws a lot of light on this concept of Brahmacharya. He stresses the fact that it is impossible to abstain only from one specific urge, namely, the sex urge, if you give free play to all the other Indriyas to do what they like—if you let the eyes wander wherever they like, if you let the ears hear anything and everything, and so on. If you do that, it is impossible to practise Brahmacharya. So says Gandhiji. It is only if you have mastery and control over all these various other senses, namely, the sense of sight, the sense of taste, the sense of smell and the sense of sound, only then can you even remotely hope to become established in some sort of mastery over your inner urges. And so Gandhiji says that Brahmacharya means complete self-control, that Brahmacharya means changing your entire life, orienting your entire life in such a way that your overall life-pattern will be helpful and conducive to such control. You should try to restrain all the five senses. If you keep all sorts of exciting pictures all around you in your room and hear filmy music and exciting type of music, self-control and Brahmacharya are not possible. You must change your entire life-pattern—the company which you keep, the literature which you read, the surroundings in which you keep yourself, the food that you eat, and so on. These things should be of such a nature as not to excite you. On the other hand, they should be of such a kind as to elevate you, inspire you. They should be Sattvic. So it means a complete spiritual reorientation of your life-style on the outer side where Sangati, Sahitya, Ahara, environment—all these things come in.

It goes without saying that to these methods you have to add positive thinking, Japa, prayer to the Lord, sitting in the company of prayerful people, of Satpurushas, worship, taking the mind towards higher things, taking inspiration from the lives of saints, keeping some ideal before you. In this way, there should be a total effort on the part of the individual who wishes to be established in a lofty plane of conduct, a high standard of conduct and character. It should be a total all out effort and there should be great enthusiasm for this task. It is only if you have got a burning love for purity, for character, for nobility, only if you have got a great love, a great hunger, a great desire for it, then only will you become successful. Because, human nature goes objectward for enjoyment, for indulgence; that is the very Dharma, Svadharma, of the Manas and the Sarira. The Indriyas ever go towards the objects. The mind moves through the Indriyas to the external world of objects and to the enjoyment of those objects, because Brahma has created the mind with this externalised tendency, with this outgoing tendency. 

In the Kathopanishad, Yama tries to explain this to Nachiketas. He says that the very tendency of the mind has been made external. It always goes out to the objects, through the senses, and so Yoga means trying to reverse the entire normal human nature. It is a superhuman task, like trying to make the Ganges in Uttarkashi go upwards towards Gangotri. So, it requires great liking to advance spiritually. You must yourself have a very great interest in bringing about this transformation; then only you can succeed. And we saw earlier how, to bring about this transformation, purity of conduct, simplicity of life, giving up of too much greed and covetousness, Aparigraha and contentment, never wanting anything that God has not given to you, never wanting anything that belongs to someone else—all these are necessary. And Asteya. Refusing to cast your eye, refusing to cast even a thought, upon something that is not rightfully yours, never coveting or wanting anything that does not belong to you—that is called Asteya. 

Now, in these various ways, the gross animal in you is completely checked and controlled and overcome; and then the whole trend of your life is given a Godward direction through the Niyamas. Now there is a transformation of your being through the proper practice of Yama and Niyama. You become a holy person. You are no more the old person. You have a rebirth as it were. Therefore, it is purification of being which has to be achieved first by Yama. And then there should be a spiritualisation of one’s life and activities which is a cleansing process to the spirit and that is achieved through Niyama. When Yama and Niyama are perfected, everything moves in the direction of God, Godward. So, this rebirth, which is a spiritual rebirth, is brought about by Yama and Niyama. This rebirth is a purification of one’s whole nature, Svabhava, conduct and character; and this is brought about through the spiritualisation of one’s life and activities. This is the rebirth into the Holy Water and the Spirit that is indicated or hinted at by the Divine Master Jesus. It means purification and spiritualisation—purification of one’s nature, conduct and character and spiritualisation of one’s daily life and activities. And when this is achieved, one is expected to be completely free from all the grossness of the Tamo-Guna and the lower hurdles. 

The Inertia or Alasya* Aspect of Tamo-Guna
 *Alasya: laziness in both the body and mind 

And then comes the next phase of Yoga Sadhana which is to deal with the Prakriti in its mode as the Rajo-Guna. The predominant characteristic of Rajas is restlessness, agitation, activity. The uncontrolled activity of Rajas is a great distractor; it will not allow a person to settle in any one place, in any one occupation. It creates restlessness, creates agitation, creates impatience of the mind. The restlessness of the body and the incessant urge for going about here and there are the result of the activity of Rajas. This Rajas is a great obstacle to the higher process of inner Yoga, but nevertheless, it has its virtues in the beginning, for we must clearly know that Rajas is superior to Tamas. Rajas is subtler than Tamas, and the great relieving feature of Rajas, an important virtue in Rajas, is that it is through Rajas and Rajas only that you can overcome Tamas. Tamas is meant to be overcome through Rajas. Tamas cannot be overcome through Sattva. Tamas and Sattva have no direct dealing with each other; they have no direct communication between each other. And therefore, it is through channelising your activity in the right direction, in an optimistic, idealistic, ethical and spiritual direction that you can overcome the Tamo-Guna. Up till now we had considered Tamo-Guna in its various active phases, in the active manifestation of its brute nature in the form of violence and hatred. But, Tamo Guna is also present in the form of deep inertia, dullness of mind, lethargy of body, laziness of habits. Tamas is the great enemy of man in all walks of life, and therefore, a great enemy of the Sadhak also. Alasya is a great enemy of man—that is what the philosophers say. They say that Alasya (laziness in both the body and mind) is a great enemy of man residing within man’s own knowledge. And when you worship Sarasvati who is pure Sattva, pray to Her to eradicate, eliminate and root out all the laziness and lethargy in you without any trace. There should not be any trace left. Completely root out all Tamas. In the famous hymn to Sarasvati, “Ya Kundendu Tushara Hara Dhavala...”, we offer our homage to Sarasvati, because through her Sattvic power, she completely frees us from lethargy and laziness without leaving any trace of it. Therefore, Sarasvati is to be worshipped.

There is a point to note here. You may see this quality of inertia in the highest state of Sattva also. For instance, in the Avadhuta, who does not make any effort to go here or there, even for Bhiksha. Pade Rahna, they say. The Avadhuta remains where he is, taking whatever chance may bring. You must not think, “Let me also be like that, so I will be in the highest state of Sattva”. No. Sattva should manifest of its own accord. It should be born of realization. So, if you try to realise and then remain an Avadhuta, it is all right. But if you try to imitate the Avadhuta, all your progress will come to a stop. If you say, “The Avadhuta is like that; I will also lie like him naked and still”, it will not do. Then you will find yourself in a very unenviable situation. The Avadhuta is in a high state of consciousness, like the Ashtavakra-Gita consciousness. You are nowhere near that state. So, keep your discrimination and enquiry always in a very alert state.