Author Topic: vAsanA-s part 1  (Read 1369 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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vAsanA-s part 1
« on: February 17, 2010, 11:27:00 PM »
vAsanA-s part 1

The life of everyone is driven by their desires to do 'this' or to have 'that' or to get rid of 'this', etc., so that they can be happy. In all of these pursuits one is looking for happiness. 'This' can be a person, a place or a thing. My desires are different from yours, which are different from his. Some people want to become something great or famous; some want to become artists, some actors or actresses, some dancers, musicians, scientists, doctors, or multimillionaires or football players and some even vagabonds; some just want to sit around and drink. A mother knows that the likes and dislikes of two look-alike twins are different even when they are babies, as though each one has brought his likes and dislikes with him.

Likes and dislikes (rAga and dveSha) are two sides of a coin, but different for everyone. Where do these likes and dislikes come from? Let us illustrate with an example: When I drank a delicious cup of South Indian coffee for the first time, I liked it so much that I want to have it again the next day. While the cup of coffee gave me pleasure, which is an immediate tangible effect, it also had an intangible effect. It left behind a subtle impression in my mind, to have that experience again. That subtle impression is called vAsanA, meaning ‘fragrance’ of that action in the mind. Since I liked it so much, I went to the shop, bought all the ingredients needed, and started making it at home, first thing in the morning. I began to enjoy that hot cup of coffee in the morning, everyday. Every time I enjoy the coffee, the subtle impression in the mind or that coffee vAsanA becomes stronger and stronger, day by day. It comes to a stage that as soon as I get up, I have to have a cup of coffee and without it I cannot do anything else. My happiness depends on having that cup of coffee, otherwise I feel miserable, the whole day. Sounds familiar? If I run out of coffee, I will run from place to place restlessly to get that cup of coffee.

Looking at the mechanics of this process reveals that deliberate or ego-centric actions will leave intangible impressions of likes or dislikes called vAsanA-s in the core of the mind. These vAsanA-s, in turn, cause desires at the intellectual level, agitations at the mind level, and actions at the body level. Unless those desires are fulfilled, I become restless. I go in search of environments that are conducive for the fulfillment of my desires or vAsanA-s. All ego-centric desires are grosser manifestations of the subtler impressions in the mind, the vAsanA-s. When vAsanA-s manifest as desires, they cause agitations in the mind, and the mind becomes restless until those desires are fulfilled. When the coffee vAsanA manifests as desire for coffee, my mind is no longer free to think of anything other than that hot cup of coffee that I think I need in order to be happy. I can suppress the desires temporarily, but they will spring up again eventually with greater forces, in one form or another. They will express as anger, frustration or irritation, etc. We are all familiar with these experiences. On the other hand, when a desire is fulfilled, my mind becomes calm and quiet, and I am happy until, of course, the next set of vAsanA-s drives me to do something else. I will be tossed from one desire to the other. Life becomes a rat race, trying to fulfill one desire after another.

From this example, we arrive at some important conclusions. vAsanA-s are accumulated by deliberate willful actions - we call them as ego-centric actions. Ego-centric means 'I’ and ‘I want'. vAsanA-s can be favorable or unfavorable; that is, they include both likes and dislikes. They are subtle impressions in the mind, perhaps even deeper than the unconscious mind in western psychology. Even though actions are over, their effect in terms of these subtle impressions will be long lasting. That is one of the reasons why one should be very careful of how one acts or with what attitude. An action can also be done in such a way that it does not leave a vAsanA and it may also nullify or neutralize the previous vAsanA-s; and that attitude in action is called karma yoga or yoga of action, which we will discuss later.

When vAsanA-s cause desires in the intellect and agitations in the mind, the mind becomes restless. In the coffee example, unless I have that hot cup of coffee in the morning, I am agitated and restless and cannot do anything else. When the coffee comes, I am back to myself, and say that I am so happy that I have my cup of coffee. Happiness did not really come with the coffee, but when the desire for coffee is fulfilled, all the agitations of the mind subside and I am back to myself - I am free from a wanting mind or desiring mind. In those moments, the mind is calm and I say I am happy, and I think that the coffee gave me happiness. In fact, the happiness is actually being tapped from myself – because, as we discussed before, I am in reality complete and full or limitless – and that is the state of happiness. Hence, happiness is my intrinsic nature. Fulfilling the desire for coffee has brought me ‘back to myself’, and I am content with myself, at least for those few moments until another desire pops up in my mind.

One can get the happiness that one is longing for in this way, by fulfilling the desires, all the time. But one serious caveat is: as I fulfill my desires, the stronger those vAsanA-s become and there will be situations where I will not be able to fulfill my desires. That is the time when anger, frustration and other psychological problems will arise. I lose my freedom since I depend for happiness on something other than myself. Essentially I have become a slave to my own vAsanA-s. As a corollary, we can now define ‘absolute freedom’ as freedom from all our vAsanA-s. All other freedoms that we talk about are only circumstantial or temporary freedoms.

More vAsanA-s means more desires, more agitations; I am continuously busy and restless and 24 hours are not sufficient to do what I want to do. In the same vein, if there are fewer vAsanA-s, there will be fewer self-centered actions; the mind will have fewer agitations, and I will be more peaceful with myself; my happiness will depend less on things other than myself. Suppose I have no vAsanA-s. There will then be no self-centered desires; I will have no agitations in my mind, and I will be happy all the time with myself as I am. Krishna calls ‘one who revels in himself by himself’ a j~nAnI or sthita praj~nA [standing in wisdom] or a realized soul. In that state of fulfillment, any action that I do then is not for the gaining any personal fulfillment (since I am happy regardless), but for the benefit of the society at large. Such a person is called mahAtma or a great soul, and is revered for generations to come. They leave a mark in the society with their self-less service. Annie Besant called Mohandas K. Gandhi a mahAtma, and that became his title when people subsequently called him affectionately Mahatma Gandhi.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 09:02:06 PM by Sunil »