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How to find your purpose in life

How to find your purpose in life

Transcript from talk of Swami Sitaramananda Aug.15 2021

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

purpose, karma yoga, atman, selflessness, dharma, karma yogi, skill, karma, life, instrument, offer, ego, means, selfless, happy, happiness, practice, meaning, destiny , self realization, Bhagavad Gita, spiritual teaching.

The topic of today morning is about how to find your goal and your purpose in this life. Very often we find ourselves in transition, asking ourselves questions “What I’m going to do? What’s my next step? I like this, I like that, but I like this too. I don’t really know what to do”.  Often times, we find ourselves in mild or severe depression, due to the sense of lack of direction and a feeling of meaninglessness. This is when we need to know about what our Dharma is.

What is Dharma?

Dharma means your highest duty or your mission in life, the right thing to do. We can talk about Dharma only if we understand the word Karma. The reason why we do not understand our Dharma is because we are functioning out of Karma. The level that you can get out of your karma or be detached from your karma is the level that you understand your Dharma. People know what they like, but they cannot do it, they cannot fulfill it. They live life and always feel frustrated, or always feel that they want to do something, but never can really do it.

The lucky ones are those who are able to do it, because of the circumstances of life and their inner motivations meet together and they feel fulfilled inside and outside. But you cannot blame the circumstances. If the circumstances are not favorable and you are not able to express yourself and fulfill your Dharma, you cannot blame the circumstances because it’s also your Karma. You have to work it out. Every situation is just perfect for you to work it out. It might take a long time, but if you do the correct practice, then you’ll be able to one day fulfill your Karma and Dharma both together. So, how to do this?

We need to understand Karma

When you are steeped in the karma, usually you are kind of in the dark. Karma means specific circumstances that you have to experience and live through because of the result of what you have thought and done in the past. And oftentimes it can be difficult, which means you are struggling. You are in the dark is not necessarily a happy state. Sometimes you might be happy and then again unhappy, happy and unhappy. It is not really the true picture. You’re still trying to understand what is asked from you. You are trying in this life using your means, your skills in order to be happy to get what you want. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes not. So, karma is something you have to experience, and it comes from a distant past. It sets up certain circumstances of your life.

Karmic relationship

Karmic relationships would help you eventually to see who you are, which is the immortal Atman that is in everybody. And it’s not the separate self that is different from everybody. Karmic relationships help you to find yourself. The purpose of struggling in work is not exactly the same as the purpose of struggling in relationships. Relationship is the question of love, the question of how to love and serve others as one’s own Self.

Your work – you are not the doer

Your work, your activity and what you find yourself doing, also can become your means to find yourself. You struggle with it, you try this and try that and eventually in that struggle, it’ll help you to know that you are not the doer or actor. The question of struggling in activity or in work is to ultimately find out that the energy that I have, the skill I have does not belong to me, and I’m only the instrument in the hands of the Divine. God is the supreme actor or doer and this body and mind are the instruments.

The moment you understand that, you will find peace. When you still have the idea of the doer-ship that means you are still thinking: “I am doing this, because I want this, and I like this”, “I don’t like this, and this is me against the world”.  Then at that time, you’re still struggling, you’re still steeped in karma. Like I said at the beginning this means that you’re still looking, you’re still not finding peace.

Finding your Dharma starts with selflessness or Karma Yoga

It’s so simple. Dharma has to start with selflessness. If you want to find your Dharma, if you want to find your mission in life, “what is the purpose of my life?” then you need to practice what we call Karma Yoga or the yoga of selflessness. It means, in daily life, you would have to offer yourself to something higher and bigger, larger than yourself without condition, acting as an instrument of something higher. And then you will say, “I will be abused if I am selfless, I will be then taken advantage of”. It is not true because nobody can take advantage of you unless you allow it.

Because you are the one that owns your consciousness, yes or no? If you decide from your end this is what I like to do, then you can do it and offered it up consciously. Whether the person decides to take more or not it doesn’t really matter because it comes from you. You are the one that decided I want to offer this energy of mine. This time of mine is still mine. I offer to this person who is there, or I offer to God in my heart, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is you are selfless, you are working on your selflessness. When you are working on your selflessness then you have no sense of “I own this, I own this effort, I own this work, I own this result.” This teaching is quite deep. It’s in the Bhagavad Gita, the main scripture of yoga. And Swami Sivananda wrote a book on “the practice of karma yoga”.

It is a spiritual question if you want to find your mission, your meaning, your highest purpose in life.  It’s a very deep question. How do you know what your soul wants? Your mind always wants this and wants that and wonders and changes every time. Therefore, how do you know your highest purpose? How do you know your mission in life? Or how do you know why you’re born? It’s very difficult to know.

Starts with using your actual skills to serve selflessly

You have to sort it out from what you can do now in terms of selflessness, whatever that you can do selflessly. The more you can do this, the more your purpose will be revealed to you. You get that? The more you are able to be selfless in whatever you do, in your mind, independent from your circumstances, the more your purpose will be revealed to you. Whatever your circumstances, you still can find a way to be selfless, yes or no?

Put your heart into it and give up the results

Let’s say you are a mother. And you can be a selfless mother. Let’s say you are an employee, you can also be a selfless employee. Let’s say that you are a teacher, you can be a selfless teacher. What I mean is you put your heart into it, and you do the best you can, and you offer the result. Now, what does that mean? It means that you are detached from the results of your actions. If you are doing well, fine and good, if you are not doing well, fine and good. If the company becomes successful, fine and good or the company becomes bankrupt, and they think that it is your fault and they fire you, it’s fine and good also. But from your point of view, you practice selflessness. It’s not easy to do.

Egoism and selflessness

I believe in the talk yesterday, we brought up the definition of Patanjali about egoism. It is very nice. I’m still really enjoying the meaning of egoism: the association of the Atman with the instrument of seeing – the Antakarana. It is a technical term, Antakarana is the inner instrument. When the Atman is associating with the instrument, the mind, with what you like or do not like, with your personality and so on, then it becomes egoism. Self-realization means then the detachment or non-identification with your instrument of seeing, non-identification with your personality, non-identification with your ego, non-identification with your separate sense of self. That is selflessness.

Detach from the sense of I am the doer

Therefore, try to practice selflessness in whatever you do. Try not to think: “I like it, I don’t like it, and this is about me” or think: “Is people going to praise me? what do I get from this?” or feel:” it is a waste of my time!”. If you think like this, you’re still functioning out of your ego, you’ll still function out of that tight association of your Atman and your instrument of seeing.

What is Karma Yoga?

That’s why Karma Yoga is turning it around. It says just do whatever you need to do in front of you, do your duty, but turn it into selflessness and turn it into becoming an instrument. Because this is about action and it is not necessarily about emotion. Therefore, you use the word instrument, “I am only the instrument for this to happen”.

Then when you do that, you cancel out your Karma. You cancel out the strong attachment to your action, the strong attachment of the Atman – yourself, towards the action and the result of action. You detach from what you do, and from the result of what you do. So, in that way it works.

Also, karma yoga works to liberate yourself from this separate self, this body, this mind, or this separated life which you are very much identifying with if you are able to detach from what you’re doing and detach from the result of action.

This is why Karma Yoga- selfless action is being prescribed by all the teachers as a starting point on the journey of Self Realization. Why? Because we are very much identifying with this ego, or this separate individual self. Therefore, you have to keep turning it into something selfless, it’s very practical. You can actually see it when you work out of your own ego, and you can see it when you become selfless. It’s very practical.

How it works

Mark is a carpenter, he came here at the ashram. I don’t know how he came here. And then his skill was being used every day. I remember, all the time we said to him “this is a project for you, this is a project for you”. And then he did it. He didn’t complain. “Yeah. Okay. Let me see.” Yeah. He’s a very good karma yogi. People were praising him. “Oh, you did a good job. Thank you very much for fixing the screens of all the doors of the kitchen. No flies can come in and everything looks good. Thank you very much.” I see he did it and he did a good job. This is a karma yogi attitude, the attitude of selflessness.

Without him knowing, he gained some points, you can say some “punya”, some merit. Normally, what he’s going do with the same skill, he can go and do some work somewhere else and get paid for it because as a carpenter, or skilled carpenter, you get paid for your job. Here at the ashram what he has? He has some food, a bed for sleep, but he gets something that he cannot find elsewhere, he gets what we called the “punya” or the merit. The merit is the points that go in your bank account of your progress in life. In Indian theory, it is said when you die, the chief accountant from heaven is waiting for you when you go there.

In the Western theory, there may be some other name, but the chief accountant is waiting for you with the big register when you die. He’s there because he has taken accounts of all your actions, plus, minus, plus, minus, plus, minus… And he says: “well, that’s your balance, you can go here, and you can go there”. That means your consciousness would be elevated to this level or that level according to your balance. At that time, you don’t have the body, you don’t have to do anything.

Then you enjoy life after life, you enjoy it according to your merit, and then you stay there until you finish your credit. It is like you go to live in a five-star hotel over a credit card. You have a credit limit. You can stay in the five-star hotel as long as your credit lasts. But when your credit finishes, then, sorry, bye bye. You have to go back and work again to put more money in the credit. That’s how it works. And then you have to be reborn on earth. And when you’ll be reborn on Earth, you will have the chance to have more credit, or to have more debit.

Therefore, to find your purpose in life, you need to practice selflessness and then it will be revealed to you. Mark for example does carpentry for the ashram because he has a skill. A skill is called your karma. He has a skill, but he offered that in karma yoga attitude.  And then he might find his Dharma. He might find himself so happy to be just a karma yogi.  Or maybe he will open a carpentry school for young men or young women to teach them skills to make a living. Yeah, he teaches them skills to make a living, but he does it in a selfless manner to uplift young people. And this is how he finds his dharma. Bingo! This is how you can find your dharma.

Turn it around

There is a story of an Indian woman I forgot her name, she’s kind of famous. Not famous like Mother Teresa but this Indian woman, she told her story. It’s a really heart wrenching story. She was abused when she was young, physically. And she was thrown out in the street, she went through quite a hard time. She had to do very bad jobs. She was also not only abused by the family, but also abused by the husband. The whole story is very long. Then she decided to open an institution. She gathered abandoned girls in the street and she started to open a home for girls that are abandoned, like her condition.

Slowly she adopted all these women that have been abandoned in the street and been abused. Her institution became so big. She became a really powerful force, to help these women. She told her story on the Internet. So, it’s like that. Her karma was being thrown on the street, and then being abused. But she turned that karma into her dharma. That’s what I’m talking about. Therefore, whatever happens to you, you can turn it around and you serve. At that time, you find your mission, your unique mission. Because God has given you the situation. Now, it might be difficult, because you still do not know. But that particular situation is your strength. Therefore, you turn it around, and you serve. And then that will be your stepping stone for liberation.

The moment that you become selfless, you detach yourself from whatever this life is about, whatever this personality is about, whatever this feeling is about, and then you’re free. So that’s it. That’s why everyone is yearning toward finding their dharma because they kept thinking: “I live my life, I go to work, I get the money, I can do what I want, but I don’t feel fulfilled, I feel that I have something to contribute to society, I feel that I want to be somebody, I want to have a purpose in my life.”

Now you have the formula, whatever you have, start with that. If you have a skill, how to sew for example. Let’s say in a COVID time, you are not a nurse, you’re not a doctor, to help people. But you know how to sew. You can sew face masks. And then you can donate to other people, that’s also your contribution. You start with this act, and eventually, you might find your mission. Gandhiji, he was a lawyer. What does a lawyer mean? He knows how to argue. He used that skill that he has to serve selflessly. He’s offering his skill. And he found his mission somehow to eventually help India free itself from colonialism. Now people still talk about his name. Whatever skill that you have, or whatever situation you struggle with, or whatever strength you have, offer it as selfless service.

MahaLakshmi, she’s doing a program called Good Karma Diet. She is a good cook. She turned it around and she teaches people how to cook. She got the proceeds from that and she wanted to help the animals. Then she asked if I could cook here and then get the proceeds and offer to the Animal Sanctuary that gathered these animals that have been mistreated, abandoned, and then to give the proceeds to the animal sanctuary. Swamiji said to MahaLakshmi: “I think I’m the one that tells you to cook.” In the beginning, she didn’t know how to cook, and then she learned how to cook.

She tried it on me in the beginning, then after she tried and tried, and she became good. She might find her mission in life, which is how to teach people how to cook vegetarian food and not to harm the animal and help the ecology and then this can open up to something else. It sounds like something very innocent. Somehow it comes to you with this skill and this intelligence because the moment that you start to find that connection with yourself and your contribution to society, and you serve selflessly, and the door opens, you feel better and better when you do that.

Bondage or liberation?

Dharma is to achieve Self Realization, Self-Realization cannot be achieved if you function out of your ego. Your Atman, which is your own True Self that you want to realize, is always associated with this body and mind, this likes and dislikes, this personality. So, when you offer up this personality and this skill, and this energy, this identification with your separate self, at that time, you slowly detach from that identification with the idea of who you are in a practical manner.

Then you realize the Self because the Self is always there, but it is obstructed by our mind, by our ego, or our false self. That’s why you need to work on that separation between the Atman and the ego, by detachment, and by offering it up. Because if you work, and then you want people to praise you, or you want some result, then it keeps you linked again to the mind. You understand? The mind likes something and wants the result out of that. The ego wants people to recognize you for that. And that will bind you instead of freeing you. You are going more toward being in bondage, being tied to this personality. Then you get so worried and anxious, you cannot sleep. Because you think that you don’t gain what you want. You are very much concerned about what you’re doing.

You can get yourself sick. So many people get sick out of worrying about how they perform. But if you do everything in the spirit of karma yoga then it’s okay. You do your duty, you do the best you can, you offer the result, so it doesn’t really matter. Therefore, you sleep well, you work hard. The energy comes from heaven because it comes from your soul, it comes from your Atman that is the source of everything, because you do it selflessly. So therefore, your Atman will make sure that you have the energy to do whatever is needed. And then you are free, and there is a light feeling to it, there is a happy feeling. If you experience it, you just want more of this light feeling. Consequently, you don’t want this feeling of worrying or feeling of heaviness, the feeling of winning and losing the feeling of being better than another person, or worse than another person, and the feeling that you are never good enough.

Karma Yoga spirit

The concerns about the ego really make you suffer. Because you are never enough, you can work hard, you can do everything, but you are never enough, you’re never perfect. You know this, if you do something it is never perfect. And if somebody comes and they destroy your work, you’re also angry, upset. You find yourself competing all the time with other people, and it takes all the joy out of life, but life is meant to be living joyfully. When you act selflessly you are joyful.

But if you do Karma Yoga and you are unhappy then something is wrong. I heard some people say I do karma yoga and I’m unhappy. It is because your ego is doing Karma Yoga, but your spirit is not embracing the selfless attitude of a karma yogi yet. You come to an ashram, and you are not being paid, does this mean you are doing Karma Yoga? Not necessary. Because it’s in the spirit. That spirit of Karma Yoga has to be built up for a long time because who wants to be selfless? Nobody. We like to be selfless, but it’s not necessary that we can cope with the practice of selflessness.

Well, sometimes we are selfless. And sometimes we are not selfless. Then we complain. So, in the process, sometimes you gain a lot out of this, like what I said, and sometimes you will feel you don’t like it. “When I came here, I thought I learned something and then I wash dishes all day long. I could do dishes at home why I came here and do dishes.” And then comes the complaining and blaming, “this cook doesn’t do their own dishes”, you look around at this person, “they’re not doing dishes, they’re just only sweeping, cutting flowers, they have such a nice karma yoga and they make me do dishes”. So, you complain. That’s normal in the practice of karma yoga. You don’t feel that unbounded joy. I’m telling you that it’s joyful.

But you have to practice long enough to find that joy. Don’t think that I’m sitting here, and I talk to you just like that. I have been a karma yogi for more than 40 years. Before yoga life, I was a social worker. I also did this selfless work, that’s part of my profession because people pay me to do social work, I had a big pay. But then I did selfless work at home in my free time without pay. I was full time selfless at work and my salary I gave to my family. And then the time that I dedicated to help other people was not paid. Eventually I quit, I quit that portion being paid, I retained a portion of not being paid. Then I became full time helping others without being paid. All the skills that I have learned I used for selfless service.

Karma Yoga spirit does not come easily, even though it’s the first yoga path. But I can guarantee you that after some time, if you do it one or two years you will start to like it. You’ll be surprised, we offer people to come and do seva-study here, that means study half and then work half. In the application form, we ask people to describe what is Karma Yoga, because we want people to know what they enter into, so they don’t come here and then feel that they’re being exploited or something. So, we ask people in the application form to write down what they are feeling about karma yoga. And the answers are amazing. We need to make a book out of that collection of answers. People come up with some extraordinary sentences in their application before they come to yoga. Before coming here, they already have an idea. To say that people are selfish it’s not exactly correct. Actually, I was surprised to see that people know what selflessness is, they have like a craving for selflessness. Many people wrote “I want to come to practice selflessness”. It is quite amazing. So please start and finish the book. Because the ashram is made out of Karma Yoga.

Gratitude

I have a lot of gratitude. I sit here, I always remember, wherever I look, a face of somebody just pop up, because I remember what they do. They came here, and they offer their skills. I have in my mind now the memory of all these people who did the flooring of the Yoga Hall, they were crawling on the floor to do the flooring. And this wood wall behind the altar was all done by Karma Yoga. You see that wall here, every bit of it is so beautiful. That’s why the ashram is beautiful, not because of the building. The building is just normal. There are many better buildings than the ones at the ashram. But the beauty of it is the energy that karma yogis put in when they do the work, because everything is built out of karma yoga.

When I came here, there’s only an old farm house and there was no money. How did the ashram build up? From the sweat, and effort and the love of the Karma Yogis. I still remember that case. There’s one girl, she came from Europe. At that time, many people came from Europe here. This girl, a young girl, maybe 25 years old, came in just for a short period of time, like a week, not even as a karma yogi. When she came here, and at that exact moment we dug the floor of the farm house. Because the old farmhouse was sitting on no foundation, so we had to dig in the ground through the wooden floor, and then put a post, and pour the cement to support the floor.

This girl, very innocent, she’s traveling and came for about a week, exact at that moment. I remember, she spent the whole time that she was here in the basement. We had to work with the wheelbarrow, fill it up with concrete, roll it in, and transfer it to buckets to bring it down to a person underneath. They had to pour cement concrete posts down in the basement. It took longer than we thought. This girl spent her time in the basement doing cement. And she was happy.  We don’t force people to do things. They’re happy to do it and they like to continue to do it. She was happy, and she was grateful when she left. And I’m grateful for my life for her doing this. Because it was a tough job and she was willing to do it. It was not an easy thing.

One day I will write a book about all the karma Yogis who have come to me. Because they have done incredible work. There were all kinds of people. There were also people that are angry. I still remember this man, a carpenter. For whatever reason, he came here. He was really disliking another karma yogi girl who was very devotional. She used to walk around with the basket of flowers singing like this. And this made the man irritated. One day he threw a chair on the girl. [it did not reach her, thanks God]. 

So, Karma Yoga is not all rosy, but it’s still one of the most important paths towards knowing oneself and being free from your karma. If you don’t practice this guideline of selflessness, you live your life and your karma will torture you. Because karma is never nice. It always comes as a contradiction, as a disillusion, as an unfulfilled feeling. You’ll be tortured by your karma. If you want to get out of your karma, then you can try baby steps to become selfless.

Hari Om Tat Sat.

Swami sitaramananda

Stay Detached, Philosophy of the Self

Stay Detached, Philosophy of the Self

The topic of this week end is about five tools to renew our life.

  1. Prana: To renew our life we have to change our Prana level. So, we need to know how to increase prana, how to conserve prana and how to check your prana.
  • positive thinking: To renew our life, we need to resolve all the negative emotions within us and we have to sort it all out and keep positive thinking.
  • adaptability: to renew our life, to refresh our life, we have to be ready to be flexible, to adapt to new conditions, and to work with our ego. We need to understand where we are now, at this moment, and we can change accordingly so we stay in the present and not be pulled down by the subconscious mind, by the past.
  • Meditation in daily life: learn to have another awareness about your daily life activities.
  • Detachment: In order for you to renew yourself, you need to be detached, because if you’re not detached, then you are bound. Bound means you are not free. You are pulled down by your attachment. The teaching today is about how to be detached.
The more that you’ll be able to be detached, the more you are free, the more you can renew yourself and be in the present and be happy. The more that you are attached, the more difficult it is for you to renew yourself and to find yourself.

THE NATURE OF THE TRUE SELF:

To understand what detachment means, you need to know about the nature of the Self first, your true nature.  Your true nature is sat chit ananda. Sat means all the time there, it is not coming and going. It’s not true that when you are born, you start to exist, and when you die, you are finished. In fact, your spiritual nature or your spirit is always there, your consciousness or your true self is always there. To understand this, we need to develop a spiritual approach to life. It means that you need to live your life with a bigger perspective, with a bigger idea of what life is, you need to know the purpose of life, and who you are. Then in this context, we can talk about detachment. If you do not know who you are, then we can’t talk about detachment because for you, everything in life is just action, everything is just attachment, everything is about involvement, everything is drama. You are in what we call the Battle of life, you lost your own true Self in the Battle of life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lost. Something good happens and you are happy, and sometimes you have a difficult situation, then it is a big drama.  For example, in a pandemic situation you must close the business, stop everything, and things are disturbed, and you are disturbed.

So, we talk about detachment only if you know what you need to be detached from and what you need not to be attached to.

These are two words Swami Sivananda said before he left his body. These are two very important words. He said: “Detach, attach”. It means detach about everything else and attach to God. Detach about everything that you think that is true, real and important and attach to the knowledge of God, of Truth, of the Self. That’s all that is.

The Self is Sat Chit Ananda — three words.

WHAT MEANS SAT?

Sat means it’s always there. It doesn’t come, it doesn’t go, it was not born and it will never die. If you are attached, then everything comes, everything is born, comes about and everything dies. But if you are detached, then you understand that it’s only an appearance. It’s what you feel right now that’s what it is, but it’s not. There’s another level that is not like this and you need to discover that level, that something that is not coming and going and changing and is impermanent. Buddhism talks about the truth of impermanence and of everything that is changing. In order for you to know that which is not changing, you have to be detached. That is Sat. The Self is truth, absolute, eternal.

WHAT MEANS  CHIT?

Chit means consciousness or knowledge, absolute. It means it is only a temporary condition that you are veiled that you don’t know and you are ignorant.

But the true condition is you are consciousness. How do I know? I know because I am that itself. If I think that I am this, then I don’t know that. But if I think that I am you, my true self is you then I know you. So that is difficult to understand. But you see, inside of us always is a desire for knowledge.

We want to know. Some people just finished studying and then they don’t know what to do with their life. So they study another branch. And then they study another two, all the time they study. But they study, many people study, study, study. And they still feel that they don’t know. Because they study things externally, but they don’t have the knowledge of the Self. So yoga, Vedanta have different methods for you to know the self. You have to control the mind, control the emotions, you have to make your life sattvic, calm and pure, you have to meditate, be quiet, be silent and don’t worry, don’t have negative emotions, meditate, don’t be disturbed by anything then the clarity will come to you about everything because there is only one Self, one truth, one consciousness.

WHAT MEANS ANANDA?

Ananda is something that you relate to more. Maybe Knowledge, Consciousness you don’t know but happiness you know. You know your desire for happiness. All the time you are seeking for bliss or for happiness or for fulfillment — and Ananda. Actually, when you are seeking for happiness, basically you are seeking for the Self. You are seeking for happiness in somebody or in something because the Self is happy by nature and it projects that happiness on something external. You project that happiness on something outside and you seek for it, you want to be one with it. The true nature of the Self is happiness absolute. It means it doesn’t need anything to be happy. It is in itself happiness, unconditional happiness. The true nature of everything is happiness. Your mind gets attached to different conditions and attributes happiness or unhappiness to different things. But, if you look within, then your true nature is Ananda or Bliss.

DETACHMENT FROM THE MIND ACTIVITY helps you to access Satchitananda.

First, you need to know the true nature of the Self — Sat Chit Ananda.

Second, you need to know that your mind is not really reflecting that happiness or that true nature. The nature of the mind is conditioned, it is looking outside, it depends on the senses, it is imperfect, it is full of desires, it is swinging between what you like and what you don’t like. It has egoistic ambition, it thinks all the time about something that is unreal, it’s always building up a story. So let’s say you think that you want to become the richest person in the world, the first person that will go and live on the Moon, the first person that will go and live on Mars. So there is a race like this: who will be the first person that will live on the Moon or Mars, or the richest person. So you have a different idea that is egoistic. It is based on your idea to compete with somebody or to be the best. These are called ego ideas. The mind is full of this. When we say the word ‘mind’ it includes your emotions, your ego, your desires. So I say in general ‘the mind’. It comes, it goes, it has a nature of veiling the truth.

And if you attach yourself to it then you don’t have peace. Maybe it gives you the motivation to become the best in the world, the richest person or the fastest person, or the most powerful person, it gives you the motivation to do things, to work hard, but you are looking for that outside of the Self. Really what you’re looking for is the peace Sat Chit Ananda, your true Self, but you’re looking outside of yourself. What you need is looking through your mind, disregarding what is being projected by the mind and clearing out the mind.

THE ANSWER LIES WITHIN: we have what we are looking for

The teaching says you need to look at the right place. The answer lies within. What you are looking for you have, that’s the teaching of Vedanta. Really, you already have it and you waste a lot of energy looking for it.

So you need to calm down, relax, detach, then you’ll find.

STORY:  a lady losing a needle, she goes outside the house looking for her needle. People say: where did you lose your needle?

She said “I lost it inside the house”.

 “So why do you go outside?”

“Because outside there is light”

You are looking in the wrong place, like this lady.

Looking inside means trying to realize your own Self. Looking outside means constantly running externally and believing that the sensual world that we live in is true. Believing that the world is created by our senses, our mind, the internet is true, therefore, we have no time to look within.

In fact, what you are seeking for, you already have. Let’s assume, the lady would look for her needle inside the house, even though it’s very dark. Let’s assume she would look for it with the tip of her finger, because she can’t see when there is no light. But she will find it. So if you continue yoga, meditation you would feel better, even though it seems pointless, that there is no result.

ANOTHER STORY:

The deer is running looking for the smell called the musk that comes from his sweat. The sweat of the animal has that smell. And the deer is running looking for that smell coming from his own body, yet, he looks for it somewhere else. Sometimes, I wear my glasses and I was looking, where’s my glass? Where’s my glass? But it’s on me.

So we have what we are looking for. And we have to wake up from that running and looking for it somewhere else.

DETACH- ATTACH : IT IS NOT EASY TO BE DETACHED:

There’s a story about a lion, a tiger walking in the forest. I like this story. And he walked in the forest and the leaves of the trees fell down. The leaves still had this sap sticky thing. So when we walked in the forest on the leaves, the leaves stuck to his feet. He wanted to remove the leaves and sat down. When he sat down, the leaves stuck to his butt. So he wanted to remove the leaves on his butt and lied down to remove the leaves on his butt. When he lied down, the leaves are attached to his back. So he rolled around. And soon he had leaves all over his body.

What the story says, sometimes we want to be detached from something. Let’s say you want to be detached from your boyfriend. Yeah, because you get attached to the boyfriend and then you become obsessed and the boyfriend is liking somebody else and then you suffer. Or it can be about the girlfriend and you want to be detached from her. People suffer a lot out of this attachment, out of this kind of drama in their mind. And they want to forget. For them detachment means to forget. So what do they do, they drink alcohol to be detached from a boyfriend or girlfriend, from emotional drama and then what happened they will be attached to alcohol or to sleeping pills. Then when they want to detach from sleeping pills or alcohol, they will attach themselves to cigarettes. And when they want to detach from cigarettes, then they would attach to food, they want to detach from food then they would attach themselves to work. So constantly we keep attaching ourselves to different things and it doesn’t solve our problem.

All what everyone wants is to be free. You say I’m going to work so that I can be free and I have enough money to do what I like. And then the work gets attached to you and you get attached to the work.

You can go on and give different kinds of examples. It’s not that easy to be free. One attachment leads to another, then another leads to another, you are just piling them up and you feel like you are in prison. Sometimes you feel like you are a slave to everything. You turn around and the family wants you to do something. You turn around and the boss wants you to do something. You look at yourself and your insights: Oh, I need a promotion and I need a different job so I can be happy. And then you go outside and then the newspaper says you know you need to buy this thing then you’ll be happy. And then you go talk to your friend and your friend says this is a new fashion you know you need to do this, do this and that and then your whole life you’re trying to find happiness and freedom and you feel like you’re sinking like the tiger in the example above. He tried to free himself and he has his body completely with the leaves.

Attachment brings suffering

Sometimes it can be very dramatic. People suicides, they attack their own life because they feel that they cannot get out of the situation. And some people fall sick because it’s a form of slow dying when you’re sick or when you are depressed. Depression is also self destruction because you feel bound, you feel heavy. The drama of your life is occupying your mind and you have no clue that you are in fact — Sat Chit Ananda. It seems this statement is completely up in the air, not real, not feasible, not accessible.

I described here the condition of our attachment. Feel free to give me more examples. But you can look around. Look in the news. Look in the story of people. There is a lot of suffering, attachment brings suffering. If you attach to your beauty, because now you’re young and beautiful, what will happen? When people praise you: Oh, you’re so pretty, you’re so beautiful, your hair is so beautiful, then what happens? When you attach to your skin and your hair, and then your beauty and if something happened to that beauty, then you feel very miserable. And if you get old, you feel very miserable. Because you lose that name, that aura. If you are attached to being intelligent, then you meet people more intelligent than you. And you meet a situation that you feel very stupid because you don’t understand anything.

If you are attached to being strong. I always give that example. It’s a very good example. It is an example of superman. Christopher Reeves is the actor of Superman has been chosen to be Superman. I mean, he has a strong, gorgeous, powerful body. And then Superman makes a lot of money. Yeah, he’s a famous actor on top of the world. And one day by karma, he fell off his horse, he broke his spine or something, he became paralyzed, he had to sit in the wheelchair. So he lost the Superman aura, he is no longer Superman, he lost his job, lost everything. So if he is attached to his image of Superman, attached to his body, he would not be able to accept this condition to sit on the wheelchair.

Actually in an interview, he said that in the beginning, he wanted to commit suicide. He was very lucky because he had a very good wife and children who accepted him and took care of him. And he turned around and detached from his name and fame and image and body and found his spirit that is not affected by the body condition. He found his perfect spirit inside and then he worked for this organization to take care of the rights and privileges of handicapped people. Through this huge accident he was forced to detach from the external and found himself inside.

There are 4 ways of detachment:

  1. Karma Yoga detachment: Karma Yoga taught that wherever you live and whatever you do, try to be detached from results. Be detached from results means to be detached from the idea that you are doing something and you want something out of life.

Whatever you do, either you are a mother, or when you have a job or whatever you do in life, do the best, do your duty, and let go of the result. Be detached from the result. – it can be any kind of job, a high paying job or just a servant job, People praise you fine, people criticize you fine, you do a good job, fine, you don’t do a good job, fine, you’re fired from the job, you have to find another job, or you don’t have any job, fine. Be detached from that.

What does detachment mean in this context? It means don’t identify yourself with what you do. Identify yourself with the immortal Self that is already here.

That’s Karma Yoga’s teaching about detachment. This practice of detachment in daily life saves you a lot of headaches. Bhagavad Gita says your right is to work only. But not with the result. You have to work, try to do the best you can, and try to contribute. But it’s not about you. So be detached from what you do.

  • Bhakti Yoga detachment:

The second way how you practice detachment is detachment in Bhakti yoga. In fact, Bhakti yoga detachment means the yoga of devotion. You need to be detached from your emotions. So you transform your emotions into the highest, purest kind of love, called devotion. Let’s say you are with somebody you don’t like and you’re attached to your emotions. I don’t like this person. I like that person more. And this person makes me angry. This person makes me happier. Your mind is always looking for the person that makes you happy and runs away from the person that makes you angry. This is how the emotions work. The emotions swing all the time: either you run towards something out of projection or pleasure, either you run away from something out of fear or out of pain. Emotions bring attachment, attachment to the past pleasure. You’re attached to the past when you ate the ice cream, you felt so happy. So you’re attached to the ice cream. Somebody said nice words to you so you felt very sweet, you felt very important for that person. So then you get attached to them.

Attachment is an emotion, and we are 95% emotional. We are very emotional by nature, that’s why we are full of attachments by nature. We are attached all the time. Bhakti yoga taught us to turn this attachment into something helpful by getting attached to God, but detached from anything else.

Bhakti Yoga helped an emotional person with lots of emotions and an attached tendency to be attached to God instead or to the highest goal, to the highest ideal.

Bhakti yoga people has difficulty to detach because they are emotional, so they have a lot of attachments. The only thing they need to do is to switch it into attachment to God, to the right thing while being detached from everything else. In fact, the Bhakti Yogi will not practice detachment, he/she just practice attachment, but attachment to the right thing.

it is important for you to know that attachment comes from your emotions. So if you are identifying with your emotions and then you have that attachment to the emotion that will bring about pain. The only thing you need to do is to attach the same emotion but towards God, towards something that is your ideal.

The reason of this switch is because when you attach to an external object, be it a person, or an object, then you lose yourself. However, when you attach the emotion to God, you regain yourself, because God is including you. But if you get attached to somebody else external to yourself, you lose yourself.

Raja Yoga detachment:

The third way of practicing detachment is Raja Yoga kind of detachment. Raja Yoga says detach from thoughts. Raja Yoga is a method of meditation. You sit quietly, you withdraw the senses and you meditate and you concentrate. At that time, your attachment is your concentration on a pure ideal, via the mental repetition of a sacred mantra. During meditation, if thoughts come in your mind, you become detached, you observe the thought and you let it go, you don’t get involved with the thoughts.

This is the main method of detachment of a meditator: you are detached from your own thoughts, you become the observer of your thoughts and you keep yourself concentrated. Here, there is attachment in the form of concentration on a mantra. Technically, your mind can think of only of one thing at a time so if you are attached to a mantra, you are detached from everything else. The sacred mantra induced sacred vibration and has the capacity to merge the meditator with the divine presence which is the essence of the mantra. This will happen when the concentration on it becomes one pointed.

Raja Yoga theory explains that if you concentrate on a mantra, then you’ll be detached from other thoughts, you will not be involved in other thoughts, because Raja Yoga says if your mind is completely one pointedly focused then it becomes meditative. It dissolves all the talks in the mind and then you become one with what is. If you allow a lot of thoughts and distractions in the mind then it takes all your energy it leads you here and there, and you get lost. When you have a lot of thoughts in the mind you are lost. So, when you think too much and you have a lot of thoughts you need to reduce the thoughts by keeping only a few thoughts that are important and detach from the rest.

Focus, reducing distraction, renouncing anything not important and try to follow through with the thoughts you retain. Keeps the mind very concentrated on one thought, detached from distractions, not worrying about anything else. This is Raja Yoga detachment. This is the Raja Yoga meditator’s way of detachment.

 It takes detachment to be able to concentrate.  When a person is not concentrated, when they are very distracted, whatever comes their way, they say: “Yeah, I like that” and they start to do it. And when somebody else says something else: “Yeah, it’s interesting. I like that too”. So they start to do everything and then get themselves involved in everything, spending a lot of money running around trying this and trying that and then not being able to stay still and not finding happiness. Consequently, practice detachment from all thoughts and repeat your mantra which is that pure idea, that neutral thought that is high in vibration, given to you by your teacher. You can repeat the mantra and let go of everything else.

Jnana Yoga detachment:

The fourth type of detachment practice is called Jnana yoga detachment. For Jnana yoga detachment you need to have discrimination. What does it mean? You need to know what is Truth and what is not Truth, what is Self and what is not Self, what is important and what is not important, what is essential and what is non essential. So, then you detach from the unreal, from the non essential and you get attached to that thing that is real, that is essential.

Jnana Yoga is not teaching you to get attached. It says to you that you need to know the difference between real and unreal. And you need to be detached from the unreal. And when you are detached from the unreal and then real will be there. That’s it. You don’t have to be attached. In Bhakti Yoga — yes. In Jnana Yoga — no.

What kind of detachment depends on your personality, however, Sivananda taught the synthesis of Yoga, a combination of the 4 types of Yoga.

You can say depending on your temperament, depending on your strengths and weaknesses, it would be easier for you to detach from this or that.  Maybe it’s easy for you to detach from distractions, because you are a very focused personality, but it can be very difficult for you to be detached from emotions that is part of your being as a very emotional person. Then at that time, you need to apply also Bhakti Yoga, that means you need to attach to God so you have to work slowly on your detachment and your attachment.

I remember what Swami Vishnudevandaji said one time, almost 40 years go, when I just started my Yoga path, that “you will not be born, nobody will be born if they don’t have any form of attachment.”

So attachment is the reason why you’re born. Detachment is the way out of the cycle of birth and death, of the called “cycle of samsara” or cycle of suffering.

The Buddha practiced his discrimination, he used his buddhi, his intelligence, he knew what is real and what is not real, what is permanent, what is impermanent, what is true and what is false and what is illusion. And what is the projection of his mind and what is his true essential nature and he meditates. He detached from everything else and he attained enlightenment. That means he becomes free, free from suffering. He has understood the true purpose of life.

In the same manner, we try to detach from our illusions, detach from things that are impermanent. You always have had experience of the impermanence, you get the desired object, and you know that it will be gone. You know that your mind has always been doing this, it fantasizes and it gets disillusioned. You need to wake up from this. The mind is always grasping things, and thinks it’s real. And then you get it and then the charm disappears, and the mind changes. And you’ll felt let down: “Oh, I thought it was so ideal. It was so good.!”

Kick it, before it kicks you. Future suffering should be avoided.

I want to share with you this sentence I came up with a long time ago: “kick it before it kicks you”, which means detach from it before it leaves you.

So if you know something is impermanent and is changing, don’t be attached to it. Because it will leave you, it will change and then you’ll suffer, it’s painful. It’s better that you take the decision to leave it because you understand the true nature of it is illusory. It promises you something yet you know, it’s just a matter of time that you will suffer from these illusions. Do you want to suffer?

If you don’t want to suffer then do something about it. If you enjoy suffering, and you say “okay, I can have a little bit of pleasure, a little bit of happiness, and if it leaves me, fine and good, I accept the price to pay. It will be painful, but it’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”

I give now some worldly example. Let’s say that’s you get romantically involved with somebody that is already married. While you are happy to have the company of the person, you know that at the end it will not work out. There’ll be big pain, separation, pain for you and for other people. So then stop it. I’m sorry, I would say: ” detach from it, detach from that temptation of pleasure”.  This example is a kind of a big drama, but you know the story of painful forced detachment can be applied to everything else in life.

Jnana yoga meditation can be practiced only when you have an inner conviction, an inside knowing of what is good and what is not good, what is real and what is illusory, what is the truth and what is not.  At that time, you detach from everything else that is not real, and what remains is the truth. If your true nature is peace and happiness and your mind is always projecting peace and happiness somewhere else then when you detach from everything else, and what remains is happiness. You get that? I should repeat. If your true nature is happiness already, but you don’t see it and you project the idea of happiness on something or somebody else, then if you detach from that something or somebody else, then what remains is happiness. Make sense?

“Sounds great!”. Diana, the student says : ” it sounds great!”

Yeah, you just have to detach, because you already have happiness. But you have the illusion that happiness is somewhere else. So be detached from the illusion and what remains is happiness. By not seeking happiness you will be happy. By chasing after happiness, you will be suffering. By being content and knowing yourself, then automatically you will be happy.

So, if you don’t kick things and things will kick you. If you do not detach, it will leave you and you will suffer. This happens also as a lesson, as a way to make you learn. Yes, you learn in suffering, in losing, in separation, in heartaches, and you’re forced to be detached.

So I learned another sentence from Swami Sivananda. He says: ”love little but love long”. It’s so nice. Because your tendency is you love something or somebody and you think if you love more, the more you love, the more you will have more love then you’ll be happy, you will have more happiness. Rajasic emotional nature thinks like this. This lovely thought “ love little but love long” means be detached from this illusion of passion, the illusion of emotions. In practice, If you feel that you love this too much, you get attached to this too much, then diminish it, love little and then it will last.

Summary and Conclusion:

Jnana yoga detachment is difficult because you have to be already discriminative and know what is real and what is not real. Raja Yoga detachment towards thoughts is easier. You can keep concentrating on the mantra, and then let go of all thoughts that come to mind and Meditate. In Bhakti Yoga meditation, just  attach yourself to God, it  is kind of easy but you can become fanatic.

And the last is Karma Yoga meditation, Karma Yoga detachment is working on the sense of non-doer-ship. Don’t get attached to your actions. Don’t get attached to your accomplishment. Do your duty and let go of the results.

Best is you practice all the paths, as they lead to the same place. But start one thing at a time, start with something the most concrete for you, be it Hatha Yoga when you have to detach from pain, from postures that you like and postures you do not like. You also at times, have to detach from routine even though you learn the discipline of a routine practice.

Hare Om tat sat.

OM shanti

Swami sitaramananda

How to prevent future suffering?

How to prevent future suffering?

Recording from webinar with swami Sitaramananda

Thursday, 5/27/21

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

mind, yoga, suffering, self healing, relationships, ego, meditation practice, satsang, wisdom, balance, life, thoughts, stress resilience, emotional intelligence, vedanta, behavioral habit, yoga practices, subconscious mind, positive thinking, healthy lifestyle, mindfulness, awareness, spiritual journey, self realization.

Future suffering is predictable

The topic of today is how to prevent future suffering. It is a very important topic because nobody wants to suffer. This teaching comes from the teaching in the Raja Yoga Sutras of Patanjali from 2,000 years ago, where Patanjali Maharishi explains the nature of the mind and how the mind works. He said: “Future suffering needs to be avoided”.

The point is, how do you know about future suffering? The answer is, if you know how the mind works, you know about future sufferings. In fact, the mind is almost like a tape recorder. It registers all the experiences, all the impressions. These impressions registered in the mind are called the samskaras. The mind will reproduce what it has experienced. This means that what you reproduce in the mind is predictable, It is predictable, because it is is based on what you have experienced. Let’s say you have the experience of pain, due to somebody attacking you. 

Then that experience of pain in your mind will be reproduced again because you already know the experience of pain. This known painful experience will lead you to the tendency to feel that pain again. Why? Simply, because your mind knows it and will reproduce it.

From darkness comes enlightenment

Today we are having this talk after Buddha Poornima which is the day of celebration of Lord Buddha’s birth, and also this day coincides with the full moon of the lunar eclipse. So it’s a very, very interesting time because the full moon signifies a lot of emotions and possibly much clarity. Yet, when it is eclipsed, it is like you cannot see, you cannot understand, you cannot feel and at the same time, it is exactly the opposite, you are using it as an enlightened mind.

Buddha Poornima on the full moon means the birth of the enlightened one on the full moon. It’s a contradiction, darkness and at the same time enlightenment. At the same time, you have a glimpse of darkness in the mind – the mind cannot think, you experience pain and suffering, your mind collapses, you don’t have light, you don’t have any idea of what to think or what to do, but in fact, it is two sides of the same coin. At the same moment, you start to turn inward and start to let go. You start to receive light.

Interesting. All knowledge comes after you suffer, because when you suffer, you think about it. When you think about it, then you find the reason why you suffer. It comes from a certain habit, an emotional habit, or the habit of the mind. Or it comes from some past that you keep reproducing in your mind. 

You have to experience suffering and pain over and over and over and over again, before you ask yourself the question, “Is there anything else?”. That means, you ask yourself the question, “How am I going to get out of this mental pattern?” So, the Buddha talks about the truth of suffering. The truth of suffering means it is true that everyone suffers, and we need to find ways to be free from suffering.

The truth of suffering

We suffer because of birth, we suffer because of old age, we suffer because of disease. We suffer because of death. So now the whole world is suffering, because a lot of people are afraid of death; because there is a pandemic going on. A lot of people suffer from tension, from anxiety, from being afraid.

They are afraid of disease, afraid of the virus, afraid to lose their loved one, afraid to lose their job, afraid to lose money, afraid to lose their habit. Yes, your habit. Let’s say you have a habit to go out and eat in a restaurant. Now in pandemic time, you cannot go out to restaurants and you have to stay at home. So some kind of suffering and tension and stress is there because of some change.

At birth, we are crying. And then when we have disease, crying… when we lose our faculties, when we have old age, we will be crying. And ultimately, when we are not ready to meet the next step, death, we also suffer.

Yoga is essential knowledge to free you from suffering

That’s why Yoga is essential knowledge. Yoga philosophy, yoga psychology, yoga teaching is essential for you to practice. Do not wait until you are diseased to turn to Yoga. Some people turn to yoga because of disease, because they are suffering. When there is a lot of suffering, the ashram is full, because people remember yoga, remember the discipline.

At that time, they want to turn inside. But otherwise, if everything is okay, they want to enjoy life. They have no time for yoga. Yet, they have time to go to restaurants to enjoy life. They have time to spend chit-chatting with friends. They are going here and going there all the time, they always have a new idea, new places to go. They think distractions and entertainment are the way to solve the problem of suffering. But they do not realize, they carry with them their same mind.

But yoga sees things differently. Yoga says the more that you distract yourself, the more you satisfy your desire, the more you will suffer because no desire can be satisfied. Desire is insatiable, it cannot be satisfied. And when the mind is restless, not contented, that’s when you suffer.

This is why yoga always talks about “purification”. Purification means that we realize that the light, the knowledge, peace and happiness are already within us, but there are some impurities and wrong thoughts, wrong habits in the mind that prevent us from realizing this peace and happiness. That’s why you need to purify these impure thoughts. All yoga practices are for the purpose of purification.

Ayurveda, which is a science of health linked to yoga, says you need to balance the doshas (or your innate constitution and innate conditions of the mind). Yoga talks about purification and Ayurveda talks about balance. 

Going from tamas, rajas to sattwa is the way

We need to purify the mind and balance the mind if we want to prevent future suffering. Yoga and Vedanta teaching give you a very nice concept of the gunas.  Guna means a quality of nature or you can say the qualities of your mind.  One is Tamas, it means the force that is in your mind and in the cosmos that is pulling down, making things stagnant, not moving, not changing and pulling down.

This force of inertia is called Tamas. If you are subject to Tamas, are you going to be happy? No, you can say for sure, no. If your mind is tamasic and if you live in a tamasic environment, you will be unhappy. So also, you will not be happy if rajas is the dominant force.  Rajas means action, activity, passion, movement and that would make the mind move restlessly, desirous, and egoistic, fighting, comparing, competitive. This rajasic mind will lead you to conflict, to dissatisfaction, to disappointment. 

It will lead you to extremes, to conflicts.  You will like something and you will dislike something. You might feel happy for a little bit, but then you will suffer from the opposite swing. You will not be happy. So, the tamasic mind will not make you happy and the rajasic mind will not make you happy.

The mind also receives influences easily from the environment. If you live in a tamasic environment, even if you are not tamasic, then you will not be happy. In the same manner, if you live too close to rajas – example, all the time in noise, in passion, watching news, terrible sensational news and dramas, this will not make you happy. It will make you suffer. It’s good to have news, from time to time, but good to avoid if it’s completely full of negative news that you cannot do anything about. Therefore, you need to guard your mind against the mass media, the rajas.

Now, the good news is, there’s another kind of mind called a sattvic mind, dominated by the quality of sattva. This third quality (sattva) happens when the mind is balanced, peaceful, contented, compassionate, loving, knowledgeable, wise, moderate. This mind doesn’t go to extremes. If you are endowed with this kind of mind, your universe will be calm, your attitude will be calm, balanced, wise, peaceful, content. This mind will not create suffering. 

We just have to make sure that our mind and our life and surrounding become sattvic. How do you do this? Yoga teaches the Five Points of yogic lifestyle. What you need to do is to have a routine to regulate your energy and to move your energy, not letting your energy become stuck. If the energy becomes stuck, you are stressed and tense and you will have tamasic thoughts of depression, fear, anxiety, and so on. So do asana to activate your tamasic energy and to slow down your rajas.

In proper breathing, you do the pranayama in order to balance your energy. Again, to make your energy flow, to purify your nadis (energy channels), and to cleanse all the previous blockages in your energy system. It is very, very important to do pranayama when you are emotionally upset, when you’re emotionally imbalanced. You have learned the technique of breathing; it is in your hands. You just have to sit down and do pranayama: Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) and Kapalabhati to bring yourself more energy as well as to cleanse and to balance your mind. This practice is very essential.

The third important practice is proper relaxation. This practice implies that you are able to recognize when your mind tenses up when you are stressed out. When you lose energy, and everything is added on, added on, and added on, the same negative thoughts are repeated, repeated, and repeated. Then you become stressed and you suffer. It is very important for you to learn to balance, to practice proper relaxation.

Proper diet is very important. Because the food you eat will influence the mind. So do not eat too much sugar. Do not eat too much spicy food, and not too much salt. Try to eat calm food, alive food, cooked with love, with kindness. Actually, not being able to go to a restaurant because of Covid is very good. So you can cook at home for yourself and your family. Try to see the positive aspect of things.

And the last point is the practice of meditation or positive thinking, which you need to do every day. Every day for a few minutes, 10 minutes, it’s easy. You can just sit quietly, turn inside. If you can sit longer, if you have a mantra to repeat, It’s excellent because it helps you to keep your mind strong and steady.

Building up Resilience to the Suffering coming from self, others and the environment

Yoga scripture says that suffering comes from the interaction between the gunas and the mind. It means that you are not alone, you live with different people and you have different relationships as well as you live in an environment, and this in itself, creates suffering. If the people you live with suffer, then you also will know.

The Bhagavad Gita talks about three types of affliction. First, Adhyatmika, afflictions caused by one’s own body. The body is thirsty, is hungry, is sick, and your own body is a very complex system, that’s why you need to keep yourself healthy. The second cause of affliction is Adhibhautika, it means the affliction caused by beings around you, by people that you are connected with. And the third one is Adhidaivika, suffering that is caused by the forces of heaven or divine forces. For example, cyclones, hurricanes, floods, drought, or excessive rain. You cannot control the forces of heaven.

One thing you can do is increase your resilience. Please mark that word resilience. Resilience means your capacity to resist stress and to resist negative thoughts. It’s like when you build your muscles, if you carry a heavy weight then your muscles become stronger. At times, when your life is very easy, your muscle becomes weak, because you are not working hard. In a time of difficulty, you have to carry weight, i.e., you have to resist stress and the negativity that comes from the environment. You cannot change the situation outside, but your muscles become stronger, the muscles of the mind.

You become more calm, you go more inward, you find inspiration from inside, you find the positive thoughts from inside and then you bear, you have forbearance. What I mean is you develop the capacity to go through the conflict or challenge or crisis without collapsing, without adding more of your own negative thoughts that make the situation become more difficult. In case you cannot change the situation outside, then at least you have to keep yourself very positive so that you are not collapsing under negativity that is coming from the environment, when the surrounding environment is attacking you in some way. You do not add on to your own negative thinking.

For affliction due to the body, you need to do all the yoga practices to keep yourself healthy, as much as possible. Eat the right food, the right exercise, the right breathing. Practice relaxation to keep yourself healthy.

Regarding the mind of other people, try to forgive, try to forget, try to see your part of the problem. Yes, we need to change our thinking and expectations, because all suffering comes from your mental emotional pattern and comes from your habits of relationships from the past. Your problems in relationships come from you, so cease the blaming, cease the comparison and look within. Know that you have the capacity to change your mindset into something more positive, in order for you not to find the same emotional negativity in different situations that are being repeated.

In general, try to remove yourself from tamasic and rajasic thoughts and try to cultivate positive sattvic thoughts to prevent suffering.

Higher thinking to be free from suffering

If you want to live a life free from suffering, it requires high thinking, you need to cultivate an elevated positive way of thinking, and you cannot go on with the same way of thinking. Except all the thinking that come from the media, the social media, from our hours spent in watching Facebook and so on.

Social media, mindless following, gossiping is not positive. Wasting time is not positive. We need to cultivate high thinking, that means positive thinking. This requires your mind to be very focused. You cannot be distracted and expect yourself to be free from suffering. You need to keep your mind very healthy by focusing the mind and by avoiding distractions. You need to have a concentrated mind, higher thinking, conscious awareness. Cultivate awareness instead of unawareness. Being unaware means you just do things without thinking. You live life without knowing what you are doing.

You don’t spend time to meditate, to watch your mind, to observe your thoughts, to contemplate. You just run out and do things. That unconscious kind of mind will not lead you to happiness, this is a hundred per cent sure.  That’s why the teacher is so strong because they have studied the mind and they know how it works. They say categorically, 100%, if your mind is all the time running outwards, running after sensual pleasures and being distracted, you will suffer sooner or later.

You need to develop conscious awareness to overcome the lower mind, the habitual mind. This lower mind forms a big part of your mind. You would have to learn resistance. Like I said earlier, you need to practice in order to resist that mind that is formed by habit, by patterns, by samskaras. Samskara is the impression in the mind from a very long time. In yoga, we said, don’t live in the past, let the past go. You cannot make a better past. At the same time, don’t live in the future. Don’t worry about the future.

The future is not there. If you don’t repeat the past, and you can be aware in the present, your future can be changed. You live in the present when you can keep your mind focused and strong, The more you focus the mind, the more you live in the present. And the present will save you from the past and will save you from the future, the present will bring you peace, happiness. So please keep your mind very busy focusing on positive thoughts, such as a mantra. You need to keep your mind very strong and healthy. Don’t just allow your mind to run wherever it is, whatever it is, to do whatever it is. As a Yogi, you learn to master your mind.

You have capacity of choice

The last thing you need to know is that you have the capacity of choice. You want to be wise. So you have the capacity of choice in making decision. As human beings we are born with our intellect, that is part of our make up, we need to use it. The truth is we don’t use our intellect enough. We use too much of our subconscious mind, our emotions, our habits. Why? Because we are lazy. Yes, it’s easier to just keep doing the same thing, than to think about ways how you can choose better. When you want to make a conscious choice, your life is more difficult.

How do you become wise and choose wisely? You need to use your intellect. The Sanskrit term for intellect is “Buddhi” . Buddhi means your intellect.  The Buddha is the one that has an enlightened intellect.  If one’s intellect becomes fully enlightened, one is called a Buddha. To use your buddhi means to use your faculty of thinking. You would have to develop your thinking capacity, not worrying capacity, but thinking capacity. If you are parents, try to develop that in children, not just only indulging the emotions of the children, but also teach them how to reason and how to think. Later on, they will be successful, if they can control the emotions, if they are not spoiled by the parent and become weak.  

Cultivating emotional intelligence

Try to cultivate their emotional intelligence. There was an experiment about emotional intelligence.

They told a group of children in a closed room if they do not eat the cake, they can have some kind of reward. The researcher watches through an invisible glass window to observe the behavior of the children. There are those kids who cannot resist even for a moment to jump on the cake. There are those who try to resist, they bite their hands and turn their heads, and close their eyes. There are those who run away hiding in the corner so that they don’t have to look at the cake.

There are those who can calmly resist the temptation and not jump on the cake. Later in life, researchers found out that the kids who cannot resist temptation are those who fare worse in life. They experienced failure as they did not have resistance and endurance. The kids that have more emotional intelligence become more successful in life because they are stronger, they have the capacity of resilience.

What we need to do is to cultivate our emotional intelligence and not allow our mind to collapse.  When you do something difficult and your mind gets tired and you want to walk away, resist, relax, readjust yourself and carry on. Resist that, okay? When there is something that you don’t like, and you know it is unpleasant to you, don’t just walk away and escape or become angry and upset. Try to resist that temptation of reaction, of negative reaction. When you encounter difficulties, stress and conflict, try to balance between pressure and adaptation.

You don’t have to follow everything. When the pressure mounts, you don’t have to yield. You have to be able to adapt to the situation, not losing everything and also not accepting everything. So, try to be balanced between effort and relaxation. You can make the effort but not too much. You can relax but not too much. Try to be balanced and learn to permanently live with whatever that is difficult with acceptance and peace. So then accept it and try to be positive about it.

Let the buddhi intelligence guide your mind and ego

Now, look at the way how your mind works. Your mind is called your inner instrument, your antakarana.

Your inner instrument has four components: 1.The buddhi, the intellect 2. The manas is the mind/emotions that work with the senses, bringing in the information and attempt to figure out what it is that you see and sense or hear or taste?  3. The chitta is the subconscious mind, the storehouse of information containing all your past experiences, all your samskaras, patterns, habits, personalities. And 4. You have the ego; it means your sense of identification. You have the sense of separateness when you identify with certain characteristics in order to learn your karmic lesson.

If you have no sense of “I”, it is difficult for you to learn your lesson. You will have difficulty if you’re clinging to an idea of the sense of “I” that is limited, that belongs to the past, with things are constantly changing. To deal with the ego, try to be new every day, to be fresh every day, practice yoga and meditation every day, in order for you to be centered, to live in the present and to be detached and to be free.

In summary, in your inner instrument, if you become completely controlled by manas, the emotional mind and the senses, you will suffer for sure.  If you are hankering all the time after ice cream, after chocolate that you don’t have, or the cigarette, or the alcohol or the sex, or whatever– if you are all the time thinking like this, then you will suffer. You do not want the manas to dominate your life.

You don’t like the chitta, the information and experiences of the past to dominate your life either. So also, don’t let the ego that is the false sense of self run your life. The only thing left is the buddhi. The buddhi is the power of intelligence that can go get the information from the manas in order for it to think, then get the information from the chitta in order for it to compare and to think proper, and then to consult the ego in order for the ego to be flexible and to be open to a new possibility. And then the buddhi makes its decision.

Conclusion

In summary, you need to be able to use your buddhi to make wise choices, to make decisions about your life that bring you to happiness, to safety, to true self-confidence and not allow your mind, the manas, the chitta, the ego, to dominate your life. Because this will lead you to suffering. You need to develop your buddhi, you need to develop your thinking, you need to find new ways of learning, of spending your time to increase your intelligence, your emotional intelligence, your choice, your awareness, and your wisdom.

You need to develop self-discipline to control the senses which will make your manas, that sensual and emotional portion of your mind unhappy. Yeah, that portion of your mind will pull on your leg and say I want to eat whatever I want to eat. I want to eat a lot of ice cream.  I like this, I like that. I don’t like this kitcharee, I don’t like this vegetable that you give me.

The manas will protest but you need to increase little by little the self-discipline to guide your mind to wisdom. You need to increase the awareness of your chitta, that very big heavy portion of the mind that is full of past experiences. You don’t allow the past impressions to come and take over your mind and your intelligence because it’s part of the past. You can learn your lessons of the past but don’t let your past, your past personality, your past negative experience overwhelms you and takes over your life.

You have to discriminate and to be aware that this is a past tendency and just the fact that you are aware, things will become better slowly, slowly. Thus, you free yourself from that heavy weight of the chitta subconscious mind of the past. You know that the thoughts from the past will come up in your mind for you to be aware and to learn from them. That’s the whole job.

Let’s say you have a traumatic experience and you’re not dealing with it. Your subconscious mind makes it so you will not be able to sleep well, and you will behave strangely towards people, and so on. So you need to be aware of these thoughts and experiences and let them go. You need to let them go, just watch them and let them go. That’s cleansing. It’s like you clean a dish and there is some dirt on the dish.

You clean it normally, and it doesn’t go, then you have to focus and you have to take a brush and you have to have friction there, and then you let it go. Yes, you would have to let go consciously. Consciously say, “Thank you, you are not serving me anymore. Bye, bye. I love you very much but I let you go. Thank you, bye, bye”. And you let the thought go. That is what you need to do to be free from future suffering.

Regarding your ego, you need to know for sure, at least consciously now, when you are thinking about it with me, that the ego is a non-entity. That means it is not real, it doesn’t have a reality to itself. The reality is, it is temporary, it is only for you to understand lessons, but it keeps changing. So it has no real reality. But if you identify with the personality, with a certain trait or character, that you think is you, that’s when your ego becomes an obstacle for you.

Yoga practices help you to detach from your ego. The ego is not fixed. Some people are more fixed than others, that depends on your personality, on your makeup. Some people are more flexible, they are changing more. That is not necessarily good, because they are not always facing the issue, they just keep changing, running, changing, running.

What you need to do is just to be more aware.  All the Vedic teachings help you to be aware of your instrument. Do not to make the mistake that you are your instrument. In the same manner, you drive a Toyota and you say, “I am Toyota. I am red and I am worth $10,000. And I’m Japanese”. You have mistaken yourself with your vehicle. You need to detach yourself from the instrument, the body and the mind.

What is a good way to develop self awareness? Through Satsanga. During Satsanga, company of wise minds, you learn to listen to higher thoughts, to higher teaching to bring new ideas and to educate your mind. Satsanga is helpful. In a spiritual Yoga community, you live in Satsanga. All the time, you are being reminded, of your tamasic mindset and your rajasic mindset and you keep yourself inspired to stay on the right path and not go back to the past.

You also need self-study and self-observance. That means take time to slow down and study and observe your mind. Read helpful books (not novels and Facebook), but really study Swami Sivananda’s 200 books, for example. Don’t be afraid to study over and over. Repeat again and again because your mind forgets. So, you need to create that positive impression in your mind to help you to think properly.

Let us pray for world peace and health.

OM TAT SAT,

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior acharya of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and is director of the Sivananda Ashram Vedanta Yoga Farm, California and the Sivananda Yoga Resort and Training Center, Vietnam.  She is acharya of China, Taiwan, and Japan as well. Swamiji is the organizer and teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) program, an 800-hour program on yoga therapy, accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

Swami Sitaramananda is the author of “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy” (translated in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Russian), “Positive Thinking Manual”, “Karma Yoga Manual”, “Meditation Manual”, “Swamiji Said, a collection of teachings by Swami Vishnu” in His Own Words. She is responsible for the Vietnamese translation of “Completed Illustrated Book of Yoga” (CIBY) and “Meditation & Mantras” by Swami Vishnu. Many of her video & audio lectures on Yoga life, philosophy, and psychology as well as articles and webinars can be found on this website.

Swami Sita is an ardent supporter of the integration of the Vedic sciences such as Vastu, Jyotish, Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She is an international teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses and Advanced Yoga teachers’ Training courses, as well as Meditation and Vedanta & Silence Courses both in Sivananda Ashrams in Vietnam and in Grass Valley, CA.

Yoga is skill in action

Yoga is skill in action

A webinar by swami Sitaramananda 05/06/21

The law of karma applies to everyone and everything   

The Bhagavad Gita is the scripture of yoga that teaches about the 4 paths of yoga, and the most important teaching is about karma yoga. What Karma does mean?  A lot of people understand Karma wrongly. It simply means action and consequence of action. So, karma is the action that is done by body, by speech and by thought. These actions have consequences. Nothing happens by accident. We usually do not understand the reason that may come from a previous life. We do not remember. We are born in a family, in a country, in circumstances that come from a reason from before.

It is not by accident that we are born in a particular country, that we are a boy or a girl, that we are children of particular parents. Everything has its own reason. What is the reason? The real reason is that you have been born in order for you to learn your karmic lessons, for you to grow. To grow means that you understand the meaning of your life, and you understand that everything that you must experience has a reason. Then you will learn from this experience that is your karma. The word Karma does not mean anything negative, just simply means the law of action and reaction, action, and consequence of action. What you sow is what you reap. This is a universal law.

The other thing we need to understand is that with the law of karma is the law of retribution which means if you do something wrong, you will receive a punishment. Also, there is the law of compensation that means that everything is inter-related and in the big picture, everything is perfect the way it is even though we might not think so.

Karma comes from desire

Where does Karma come from? It comes from desire, where does desire come from? Desire comes from ignorance.  In ignorance, we fail to see that we have everything, that we are pure consciousness and that we are the source of everything. We think that this limited life in this body is our self and we think satisfying our desires in this life is the goal. But we do not realize that we cannot satisfy any desire because desire never stops, you satisfy one desire, another one comes, then another one will come.

That is how you go around, around, around, in that circle of Karma. Karma is depicted as a circle, a wheel, so this life is to experience the result of the desire from past but when you live this life, you react and then you create new desire, and then you must be reborn again to experience or to enjoy or to pay your debt. You constantly create new desire, new karma, that is how it works.

The way of liberation: Paying karmic debts and not creating new

So, the Yogi attempts to not have any desire because he/she knows that it is endless, so they only focus on paying up the karmic debt and at the same time they focus on not creating new karmic debts. In the same manner, with money, you must pay up your debts, but if you keep borrowing more money, then you will have new debts. The smart way is slowly clear up the old debts without creating new debt so that you can be free.

See life differently from the point of view of karma

When you experience the karma it is always difficult. The reason why it is difficult is because you have to go deep inside to understand yourself. Usually, we do not want to do that, we want to blame, we want to run away, and we react. By doing so, we cannot learn the lessons that we are supposed to learn.

There are people that have difficulty to face their karmic challenges and are afraid to live up to their potential due to fears. Yoga described avoidance as coming from the fear of pains and attraction as the dwelling on pleasures. Some people want to avoid life and avoid facing themselves. Some people want life to be only pleasurable. However, is it possible to avoid life?  Is it possible to have only pleasure without pain? Swami Sivananda said that pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. If you are going to experience life then you know life will bring suffering.

Courage is the most important quality, courage to face your own karma. You know that by suffering, you will understand the root causes of the suffering and then you will realize your character, your personality, your habit and this realization and awareness will set you free from repeating the same mistake . Humility will help you to accept things as they are and not the way you would like them to be. Patience and perseverance are also other valuable qualities to allow you to slowly change your character, see everything as an opportunity, and stop blaming.

Awakening from our spiritual ignorance , breaking through the chain of karma

Spiritual ignorance is like this. Spiritual ignorance comes from that false ego identity that is not perfect but fails to see that it is not perfect and always thinks that it is perfect. That is why there are many kinds of yoga that go to the root cause of this phenomenon, the false ego identity. In particular, Karma Yoga, practiced seriously in daily life, helps us to escape the wheel of birth and death. Karma Yoga explains to us what karma is and shows us the way to finish the karma and to find happiness and peace and not always go around and around in this life completely immersed in the struggle of life.

Remember what we really want is absolute happiness

Everyone needs to be conscious of what one really wants. What we really want is happiness absolute, what we really want is freedom from birth and death.  Everyone wants not to be limited, to be everywhere, to be fulfilled.  Everyone wants to know that happiness that is not contradicted, that does not require you to think too much. Isn’t it true?  people who think too much, are they happy? No. In fact, thinking correctly is the way to liberation, but negative thinking leads you to make mistakes and endlessly trying to correct the mistakes you have made.  The wise person is the one who understands that “I don’t want anything. I just want true happiness”.

Our attachments are our obstacles to happiness

THE REASON WHY we cannot get out of this because we are attached.  We are attached to our own thinking, our own feeling, our relationships, and our work. The key word here is attachment. Think about this, if you are attached, you cannot be free and you cannot be liberated.  Why?  Because of the word attachment itself. When you are attached, you cannot be free. Who forces you to be attached if you do not want to be attached?

Your right thinking, your right opinion slowly slowly helps you to get out of yourself.  Right thinking means that you are detached, or you are free from any attachment. Your happiness at that time does not come from your emotion. You understand that your happiness does not come from your thinking.  You understand that your happiness does not come from any relationships. You understand that your happiness does not come from any work you do. You understand that happiness does not come from any kind of special karmic situation.  

Remember the True Self

Before you were attached to this or that karma but now you understand that happiness doesn’t come from this, and you really want to be free. You then become attached to your own Self. It means that you no longer make a mistake between the means and the goal.  The goal is to find happiness and peace, the means is to be mindful, to be aware of your experience of this and that so that you realize your mistake while experiencing your character and your reactive habits. The way to be free is the detachment from what you experience so that you can always remember the true Self.  

The goal of life is not to experience life. Life is just the means, not the goal. To avoid entanglement, you need to really understand very well what freedom is. Freedom from what? Freedom from the causes of suffering. You would then take yourself very seriously to try to disentangle yourself step-by-step.  You don’t expect anybody to free you. You know you would experience the attraction and the pangs of separation, but you are not attached to either.  The wise person always lives in the present, he/she does not live in the past or the future. Why? Because the past and the future brings a lot of thinking. The past will bring thoughts of regrets; the future will bring thoughts of worry. In the present, you have peace.

Think less and immerse yourself in the present

It is said the peace you have in the present is like the space in between two thoughts, for example when you repeat your mantra using the mala bead. At the same time, you channel your thinking by pronouncing the divine sacred name one bead at the time, and at the same time, you imagine you don’t have any other thought in between. Eventually, the beads disappear, the mantras disappear, and there is only the subject. In the same manner, you see the movie screen at the same time you witness all kinds of images of the movies projected on the screen.

If you do not find peace in this film, in this movie, you can always create what you think to be better, may be a more romantic story, may be a more beautiful movie, may be with nice landscapes, may be with a perfect beautiful person etc… you would think that maybe I will be very happy in the next movie but then the next movie will change and then the beautiful film will become some kind of nightmare, full of evil things. The negative is alternating with the positive, there is no movie that will bring you to lasting happiness.  No story whatsoever will bring you peace because you always create a new story imagining all kinds of best scenario.  

Maybe I can be at the beach with my best friend then I will be really very happy, maybe I can be a princess or a queen with her prince, maybe I can be famous with hundreds of thousands subscribers to my social media account … may be I can be that skillful person perfecting my art in this or that. You can go through many many lifetimes, many different scenarios, but you will be always revolving in the same imagination of your mind. That is why it is said that you satisfy one karma, and you create new debts. You create new circumstances you believe that this would be better but that’s how your ignorance goes always, finding fault always. What you need to understand is no circumstance, no story would be better.

No happiness in this world would be perfect because it comes from your mind and imagination. You live in the mountain and you want to live by the ocean, you live in the East and you want to go to the West, you are a male and you would like to become a female, and the person who is female would like to become a male person, the old person wants to become young, the young person wants to become old… You will never find perfection because it’s all creations of your mind. There is always some greed and ignorance.  The idea is not to find any fault with the present,  not to worry,  not to regret, but really try to detach always, detach from what you experience. 

This is called karma yoga. Karma yoga means detachment from what you have to experience, detachment from all relationships, detachment from your mind, detachment from your emotions, from your circumstances. Be the witness, not jumping in the movie and becoming the actor. Slowly the mind will be able to be detached and you will be able to be free from its illusion when you live this life.

Selflessness is the key

The secret, the trick in Karma Yoga is the spirit of selflessness. Selflessness means that you don’t want anything because if you want something you will be stuck in the wheel.

You will be stuck with it from one thing to 2, 3, 4 things. Always you will be desiring perfection, you will be suffering from dissatisfaction, you would think that God is not seeing my need, God is not fair, my loved ones do not understand me and so on.

However, the most important thing is not to have the ego, to be selfless. Not having ego means not having any attachment to the idea of yourself, what you like and what you not like, the idea that you like something and you dislike somebody else.  That is called selflessness, the life that is not depending on the ego.

Liberation comes with doing your duty with detachment

When you liberate yourself, you are not entangling,  you have a bigger picture of life, of yourself and you walk on the path of liberation that is called karma yoga.  Karma yoga here is the path of selflessness. It means you still live this life, but you live this life in a nonattached manner. What does that mean?  it means that you don’t want anything, you just want to do your duty.  In any situation you just want to do your duty and you do the best you can with the attitude of detachment.  This is the secret of Karma yoga to liberate yourself. However, pay attention, do not do somebody else’s duty.

For example, I see this person, she’s not working very well so I jump in and I do her work.  It’s not good, why? because I am doing the duty of somebody else.  My attachment creates this desire to do things. Why?  Because I think that I am better, I do things better; I become attached to this person, I want to do her job thinking that I will be helping her, but I am doing her job and I don’t allow her to have the chance to release herself from the karma. On the contrary, my karma will become heavier because of my attachment.  I need to understand differently and compassionately that this lady is suffering in some way and it’s good for her because she’s learning the lesson of detachment.

If you have the duty to remind the person or to teach the person then this is fine. You will see that most of the time, people will not listen because when people are deep in their karma, they will not be able to listen to helpful advice, coming from you or from someone else. Then you have the temptation to jump in and do all kinds of things, so you are the one that create problems for yourself. So always remember that you need to liberate yourself, that you are the other person indeed, that you want the other person to liberate themselves.

However, they will liberate themselves in due time, when they truly understand their karma and when they truly realize their mistake. You cannot liberate them; you can give them advice, but you cannot liberate anybody else.  Even when you give advice, you have to give advice only when it is your duty to do so, not giving advice to everybody, when not being asked or when it’s not your duty.

Yoga is skill in action

The Bhagavad Gita says Yoga is skill in action. That is the teaching. Skill in doing your duty without likes and dislikes. You do action and at the same time it looks like you are not doing anything. You are involved but it looks like you are not attached.  This is not easy, that’s why scripture said that it is a skill. How to live your life, to love and at the same time not be attached? The key is always you have to remember that the goal of life is liberation from suffering so when you understand this very clearly, you understand that nobody can help you.  This is very difficult because everyone has the expectation that somebody else will free them, somebody else will help them.

Is it not true that when people are young, growing up, so many people suffer because you think that your father and mother would save you? And the father and the mother also have the expectation that you will save them one day. But then you realize that your father and mother live their own karma, and you have to liberate yourself on your own.  You realize that they cannot save you, they have to save themselves.  When you understand this, you will very carefully follow your own karma and liberate yourself. Of course, the guideline is you have to do your duty without attachment. So, if you are a student, you would have to do the duty of the student without expectation. In the same manner, you learn your lessons of self love.

If you suffer from rejection for example, your karma is to learn the lesson of self sufficiency, self-love, but if you have expectation that this person or that person should love you as you love them, and then you blame them, you are not getting the lesson which is the lesson of self sufficiency. You then cannot be free from this tendency of dependency and of expectation and will carry this seed of karma to the next life. It is not easy to be relieved from karma.

Most people will live their life, not being able to release themselves from karma, because they always have this expectation that somebody else will do it for them.  You think somebody else will love you, you blame your relationships, you blame your father/mother, you live your whole life never asking yourself the right question. You get angry, suffer from resentment, you blame others, compare yourself with others and suffer. You do not really see your own attachment to your ego and your own ignorance.

Meditation in action:

The meaning of Bhagavad Gita about “skill in action” is the teaching about meditation in action. You meditate on your life while you are acting and when you live your life, you meditate. You understand that life is meditation, and you understand that you need to really understand what your life is, so that you can be free, and you always remember that in mind that you want to be free. You remember that happiness absolute is from within, happiness absolute is what you are looking for and this life is the opportunity to pay up your karmic debt.  You understand that your life is a result of your past karma, that attachment to the result of your past karma is a mistake and you want to take all opportunities to release yourself from the cycle  of births and deaths.

4 important things to remember:

To summarize, the most important thing to remember from this talk is what is detachment. The 2nd important thing to understand is the words “doing your duty without attachment to results”. The number 3rd important idea is the spirit of selflessness and renunciation, you don’t want anything, you don’t want any benefit, you just want to be detached from everything you want to do your duty, you do not expect anything from your work, you just want freedom and happiness.  You don’t run away from your duty, but you are not attached to it.

Last but not least, you understand that you are the one that can free yourself and nobody can do it for you. Even with the teacher, the teacher can teach you all these things so you can have some clarity in order to apply the teaching in your life, but the teacher cannot do it for you.  If you are hungry, you have to eat for yourself, if you are thirsty, you have to drink, nobody else can really help you.

Please read more the Bhagavad Gita and become expert, a Karma Yogi skillful in action! 

Om shanti

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior acharya of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and is director of the Sivananda Ashram Vedanta Yoga Farm, California and the Sivananda Yoga Resort and Training Center, Vietnam.  She is acharya of China, Taiwan, and Japan as well. Swamiji is the organizer and teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) program, an 800-hour program on yoga therapy, accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

Swami Sitaramananda is the author of “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy” (translated in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Russian), “Positive Thinking Manual”, “Karma Yoga Manual”, “Meditation Manual”, “Swamiji Said, a collection of teachings by Swami Vishnu” in His Own Words. She is responsible for the Vietnamese translation of “Completed Illustrated Book of Yoga” (CIBY) and “Meditation & Mantras” by Swami Vishnu. Many of her video & audio lectures on Yoga life, philosophy, and psychology as well as articles and webinars can be found on this website.

Swami Sita is an ardent supporter of the integration of the Vedic sciences such as Vastu, Jyotish, Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She is an international teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses and Advanced Yoga teachers’ Training courses, as well as Meditation and Vedanta & Silence Courses both in Sivananda Ashrams in Vietnam and in Grass Valley, CA.

Yoga guidelines for thinking and feeling

Yoga guidelines for thinking and feeling

You are what you think and you are not what you think

Introduction:

When I told this topic to people, people shook head, laughed, wheeled their fingers around by their temples showing signs that they are not understanding why you are what you think and you are not what you think.  

During this webinar we will:

  1. Understand what thought is, and how it works
  2. Breathe and relax and Visualize Self
  3. The 3 levels of mind – how to move from lower mind to higher mind
  4. Practice of conversion of thoughts
  5. Practice of cultivating virtues and eradicating vices

How thought works?

When a thought wave arises in the mind, if you don’t feed into it, the wave falls back into the ocean of consciousness. The wave does not have a reality in itself.  It only has reality as far as you keep feeding it. That is, we name the wave and give it meaning. Feed it, and the thought becomes more solid, and gains more power, and has reality.

We have a choice. We can make these thoughts (whatever they are) the reality, or we can make blissful thoughts reality. Yogis look at the thoughts to understand them, then don’t feed into the thought (give it energy), and let it go. They also can transform the thoughts from darkness to light.

Evolution of the mind

The mind has different levels and functions. The mind is not ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings are not ourselves. We have the tendency to repeat familiar thoughts and feelings and lose ourselves in the thoughts or emotions.

We need to learn to navigate our thoughts and emotions. If we know how to develop our own mind, we will know how to accelerate our process of spiritual evolution. Do we want to evolve? If we ask this question, most of us would say no because they do not know what evolution means. Evolution means coming closer to our core self, our blissful self, satisfying the purpose of our life, being closer to the truth, being truly happy…  that happiness and fulfillment of our soul that last no matter what happens outside.

The Evolution of our mind is directly related to our connection with our blissful consciousness, our Atman.

What is the Atman? Who am I? what is consciousness?

The Self is called the Atman – the Truth about the Self is what we have been looking for all our life. It is our inner motivation. Each person will resonate with different idea about the Atman. You need to choose one word, one qualification and think about it. There are three practices 1. Listening to the scriptures 2. Contemplation, thinking deeply, 3. Realization by direct experience. Now we are listening and contemplating.

  • Vedanta philosophy and quantum physics talked about consciousness as the ground of being.
  • Brahman (or Atman) is absolute pure consciousness, it is satchitananda
  • existence absolute-beyond ages of the body, beyond birth and death
  • knowledge absolute-consciousness, awareness, not thinking automatically, not knowledge coming from the mind.
  • and bliss absolute-complete fulfillment, no desire, no frustration, no complain, happiness without condition, feeling perfection, beyond emotions.
  • Atman gives light and beauty to the universe – it is your own consciousness full of light and beauty that gives beauty to the appearances and the manifestations of nature and its beautiful forms or beings. If you change consciousness, that which was beautiful lost its beauty. Beauty is not depending on the attributes of the body. People have suffered a lot from disillusion from chasing after external beauty.
  • Atman gives intelligence to the mind, shining through the intelligence that you attribute to people. In reality it is the atman that is intelligence shining through.
  • It is unbroken awareness, unbroken sense of Self and of happiness, not functioning automatically out of habit
  • neither inside nor outside, dwelling within, inside inner perception and outer perception of senses, everywhere. The meditator has half eye open, half closed. He or she is living in the world and out of the world in one consciousness only, beyond all conditioning. That is why a person practices to be the same inside and outside to be close to the atman. They would say what they feel, feel what they say and do what they say and feel. They are always the same, independent of where they are, and with who they are.
  • beyond space-time, beyond the mind which is being conditioned by space and time. The more that you will be able to function the same way in all conditions, you come closer to the atman.
  • non local, non material
  • eternally present, it is the truth that is always there, either you are happy or unhappy. Reference to the book “The power of now” of Eckhard Tolle. What ever the problem that you have, just come back to the present, the problem will dissolve by itself. All problems can only come from the past that is also projected in the future. The more we live in the present, the more we come close to the atman.
  • it is the subject, without who nothing exists, it is the master, the boss, the perceiver, not the object of perception. It is the consciousness awareness that sees
  • The atman is not the object, not limited, indescribable, therefore can apply neti neti to refute the superimposed ideas of the mind, after which what remains is the Atman. By being not the object, the atman can not be dependent on something or somebody else. For example you feel valued when somebody praise you and you feel bad when somebody criticize you. At that time you need to come back to yourself and remember that you are the subject. Even when you are serving somebody and try to please somebody, you are aware that you are doing so, and not lose yourself. When you do karma yoga, you have to be conscious of what you are doing. For example you wash dishes but not aiming to finish the task of washing dishes. Instead, you are aware and awake while doing dishes. It is not what you do but the attitude in which you are doing that qualifies this action as liberating karma yoga. In this way the same action makes you a servant or a master.
  • all pervading, everywhere. You can not feel lonely if you realize that.
  • unbounded, free, unlimited, therefore you can not be confined to a place, a relationship, or a condition. In quarantine or lockdown, it will be helpful for people to remember that they are free in truth and not dependent. Sky is the limit when you feel consciousness expanded.
  • unchanged, therefore no grief or surprise or disillusioned when things change (people’s mind and emotions, our own body, our habits, way of living) because it is not true
  • unmoved, stable, giving sense of security
  • Atman is all possibilities, all coming from Atman’s will, so no need to worry
  • undefinable, ungraspable
  • stainless, pure, perfect, not to be found in the relative world which is the mind’s creation and by nature is imperfect.
  • perfect, perceivable through silence not through the mind or emotions
  • beyond attributes,
  • beyond the gunas-  qualities, tamas (darkness), rajas (action), sattva (purity)
  • beyond duality, split, here-there, in-out, this-that, high-low, white-black. No need to go anywhere just have to look within.
  • eternal, not ephemeral
  • having no equal, is one, nothing to compare to, to compete with. That is why do not compare yourself with others.
  • transcendent, transcending the limitations of the mind
  • supreme reality,
  • supreme truth,
  • self luminous, like the sun, does not need anything to give it light
  • fully illumined, bright. If you are close to the atman you feel bright.
  • fully enlightened,
  • self existent, does not need anything to show that it exists, so not lonely
  • undifferentiated, no quality
  • without names and forms, beyond names and forms
  • without parts, cannot be divided
  • transcending appearances which come and go, so we need to see things through the eyes of the soul and avoid disillusion
  • pure love, essence of love, behind all kinds of love, beyond more love or less love. It is 100% love and all the time.
  • unity of consciousness, where all connect, beyond conflicts, beyond differences of wealth (have and have not), culture, gender, race, religion.
  • oneness,
  • beyond action, no need to do anything to find it or to perfect anything
  • aware of ego, sense of separate “I” which manipulates and plays different games
  • aware of mind and emotions, which are not the rulers. Atman is the inner ruler detecting all the changes in the emotions.
  • the knower, it is the subject knowing everything
  • the ruler, the boss
  • the absolute
  • It is compared to the Sun, giving light and life to all,
  • Independent, not dependent on anything
  • and it is the source of all pranas, source of all lives, source of consciousness. When you are closer to the Atman you have more prana, unlimited prana, when you are away from it you have less prana. If you don’t have prana you are far from the atman.
  • Thoughts are waves that rise and fall in this infinite ocean of consciousness.
  • Therefore, it is said you are not what you think.
  • You are the observer, you are not the doer.
  • the witness of your thoughts.
  • You are not your thoughts.
  • All meditators arrive to the same conclusion. They arrive to the experience that the meditator, the object of meditation and the act of meditation become one.
  • The knower, the known and the knowing become one.
  • To answer the question: is consciousness evolving? The answer is no. Consciousness is unchangeable. In fact, it is the veils of consciousness that are changing, being thinned out – as our mind evolves- and this gives us a glimpse of the Light which is Consciousness.

So how to train the mind and unveil the Self?

How to move the mind from lower to higher functioning and be closer to our bliss and truth? We will use the theory of the 3 levels of the mind in order for us to know how to navigate our minds.

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1. The subconscious mind:

  • the base of the triangle, the iceberg is the Subconscious Mind – lower mind
    It is the first phase of the mind.  It is the basic mind from which the conscious mind emerges. It is below the conscious mind; it is controllable by the Conscious Mind.
  • The subconscious mind consists of the unknown, thoughts
    that are HIDDEN, SUBMERGED thoughts;
  • it is very POWERFUL and governs our life 95% of the time.
  • The subconscious mind is the storehouse of PAST experiences
  • and governs many of the AUTOMATIC functions of the body such as breathing, heartbeat, etc.  It also stores the LEARNED EXPERIENCES such as locomotive skills, academic skills, social skills, memories of experiences.  Like a car, you can press cruise control on the highway and be on autopilot.  You can let go.
  • The mind is made of karmic patterns, samskaras. Most of the time we are on AUTOPILOT, following the automatic commands of the subconscious mind.  All the PATTERNS , HABITS of the mind are formed in the subconscious mind.  We talked about KARMIC patterns, karmic tendencies. We can refer to the astrological vedic chart which shows the karmic tendencies through the disposition of the planets (Sun, moon, mars, mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu Ketu).
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Example: the mental patterns in 12 areas of karma

Moon in 1st (self concerned) moon in 2 h (concerned about money, food), moon in third house (concerned about public relations, arts), moon in 4th (likes to love), moon in fifth (likes to learn), moon in sixth (likes conflicts), moon in seventh (likes partner), moon in 8th (likes psychic world), moon in ninth (likes dharma, teacher), moon in ten house (likes to work), moon in 11th (likes gains), moon in twelve house (likes liberation). Other patterns: Moon alone (isolation, feeling lonely), moon mars (fast emotions, action oriented), moon Saturn (introvert), moon Jupiter (generous, broad vision) moon rahu (delusional), moon ketu (detached), moon sat mars (perfectionistic), moon hemmed (tense), full moon (empathetic), exalted moon (lots of emotions), moon debilitated (narrow mind, attached)

  • The subconscious mind is instinctive. It is the seat of our  ANIMAL INSTINCTS:
    Instincts are fast, strong, powerful and irresistible.

Survival – sometimes you don’t understand how people survive, they live in certain conditions, it’s incredible, but you know that the instinct of survival is alive and strong.  We will do what is necessary to survive.  The way to transcend the survival instinct is to offer others food, transcending the impulse to feed yourself first according to your hunger.

Procreation – we find a mate to reproduce the body.  The sexual (procreative) instinct is second after breathing.  Think about this, it governs your life.  Because it’s in the subconscious mind, it means that you are not aware of it, but it is governing your thoughts and actions.  You want to dress in nice clothes, have nice hair, etc., all to find a mate. 

Herd – follow the crowd.  We don’t want to stick out.  If the crowd says this is the way to behave, then you follow because you want to fit in.  You may not know how to fit in, but you just want to fit in, i.e., you are vegetarian, others are not.  Then you feel very strange, not at ease.  Because our instinct is pulling us to be part of the group.  We transcend the herd instinct with satsang, being in the company of the wise who seek the Truth of their own Self, not depending on others to feel safe and secure.

Territorial – we want to have our own kingdom, like the dog that marks his territory, this is my area, then they growl at us.  Emotions associated with the territorial instinct include fear and jealousy.  Animals that act out of their survival instinct compete with each other to find a mate; have a leader; 2 of them fight to establish who is in charge.  Some animals learn how to cooperate.  Human beings can move beyond the territorial instinct through cooperation and community.

  • The subconscious is emotional
    It is the seat of our LOWER EMOTIONS: anger, fear, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy, hatred, lust. These powerful emotions feel strong and lead us on the roller coaster.  Emotional impulses are imperative to us and difficult to resist.  To function in the conscious mind means we have to resist the emotions, the herding instinct, territorial instinct, procreative instinct, etc., resist our habits, to be strong in the present.

  • The subconscious is the seat of habits. Make use of good habits but do not be victim to habits
    All thought patterns (habits) are lodged in the subconscious.  Habits of waking up at a certain time, habit of walking, talking, meditation hours, eating hours.  These are all habits that we can create in our subconscious mind.  Create positive habits and you will not be victim to habits. 
    The conscious mind is in charge, able to adapt to changing circumstances as needed. We Learn by Trial and Error.Errors are stepping-stones to success.  Awareness means to pay attention, to be conscious.  Awareness means we make the effort to learn from our mistakes. 
    Examples: Learning how to drive; A baby learning how to walk; Learning headstand

  • Using autosuggestion: The subconscious mind is your 100 secretaries
    Like a computer with hidden software programmed to run a certain way, the subconscious mind can be your servant, just like having one-hundred secretaries working for you.  For example, you can use autosuggestion to wake up at a certain time.  You need to remove the old software when it becomes obsolete, otherwise it can run against your will.

2. The Conscious Mind

  • Conscious mind is our capacity to make choices.
  • We make choices in the present. 
  • The conscious mind guides the subconscious mind; that is its role.

The conscious mind is more mature, closer to the truth.  The conscious mind is higher than the emotions and the instincts. The subconscious needs to be guided by the conscious mind.
The subconscious mind needs to be guided by the conscious mind, like a child submitting his will to a more mature elder.  The conscious mind’s decisions supersede the lower mind’s wants, being itself inspired by the super-conscious mind.

  • Conscious mind uses intellect.The conscious mind is our reasoning power. The conscious mind makes decisions by analyzing the pros and cons of any given situation. One needs to develop one’s faculty of reasoning.  If you do not use it, you lose it.  We need to develop our discrimination and detachment.
  • For the person not on their journey toward self-transformation, the conscious mind is not often used.  We function automatically throughout the day and think very little.
  • Intellect can make mistakes
    Even though more reliable and superior to the emotional mind, the intellect is limited and can make mistakes.  It cannot perceive the Truth and is limited by time, space and causation. 
    A finite instrument cannot perceive the Infinite.
  • Self-awareness and ego
    With the development of the conscious mind comes the faculty of self-awareness.  Self-awareness is knowing one’s self as a separate ego – not to be mistaken as True Self Awareness which knows One’s Self as One in all apparent names and forms.  A conscious mind that has not been purified can be egoistic.
  • The conscious mind is pulled by the subconscious mind
    The conscious mind can be usurped by the lower mind.  The intellect can be colored by the wrapping of the emotions.  This is how we make excuses and rationalize our decisions.
  • Self-enquiry is to use the intellect to discriminate between real and not real
    That is why one needs to question one’s true motivation and remind oneself of one’s true purpose.
  • The conscious mind helps us to own the present
    To be aware is to feel empowered and alive in the present.  The subconscious mind lives in the past.  Dwelling in the past causes us to feel victimized and powerless.

“The present is superior to the past”

Swami Sivananda


“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness from which it was created.”  

Albert Einstein

Dwelling in the mental patterns of the past can never solve the problem.  Only by coming to the present do we free ourselves from the past and open up to all possibilities, where the solutions to our problems lie.

  • Live in the eternal present

The past feels secure.
The present feels difficult to grasp.
The future is uncertain.
In fact, the past is dead.
The present is Real.
The future does not have to be a replica of the past.
If you hold the present you hold the future.
If you hold the past you are victim to the future.

3. Super-conscious – intuitive higher mind

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  • The superconscious mind (sometimes called supramental) is the seat of intuition.
  • Intuition allows us to know in a flash and does not make mistakes.  Intuition comes from a sattvic mind and is not an impulse which comes from the emotional, lower mind – even though they look alike.
  • The super conscious mind is warm, nice, immediate, powerful and will not make mistake, being closer to the truth. The conscious mind can be perceived as cold by the emotional mind which desires feelings of warmth.  When the conscious mind works in cooperation with the super-conscious mind, it will gain approval, and the subconscious mind will calm down. 
  • The conscious mind takes time to think properly.  The intuitive mind is immediate. However, we can make mistake and go to the subconscious mind instead which is powerful, fast, and instinctive. When we don’t have time, it is easier to go with the subconscious mind.  Better to take time and think properly than to make things worse. 
  • The super-conscious, intuitive mind has feeling, higher feeling of pure love and unity.  It is luminous, warm, it considers everything, transcends time and space, and is closer to the truth.  To make a conscious decision, we need to consider all the facts.  Intuitive thinking knows past, present and future; it knows right away.
  • Intuitive feelings are different than emotional impulses even though they act alike, fast, feel strong, and we cannot resist. If we follow the emotional impulse, it will lead us down, we’ll be let down eventually.  But intuitive thinking will lift us up, and we will not suffer from our decision.
  • The subconscious mind tries to pull the conscious mind down to use for its advantage.
    By contrast, the super-conscious mind inspires the conscious mind, pulling it up. Most of our efforts are to keep the inspiration going, to give us energy, prana, joy, to do good things, to keep the inspiration.
  • How do you get the inspiration if the subconscious mind is too loud? Through satsang, association with people who are inspired; or through scripture, to give us direction, a voice of the Truth. 
  • The super-conscious mind inspires the intellect upward.  It is correct and warm at the same time.  Pure love is correct and warm.
  • Intuition is universal, connecting the mind to its source of wisdom.  The lower mind will act selfishly to fulfill its desires.  The intuition goes beyond all reasoning and yet is not crazy like unbridled emotions.
  • The super-conscious is not the Absolute Truth even though it is higher and is more trustworthy than the intellect.  It is our higher faculty to access knowledge that is to be developed.

4. Navigating the 3 minds – The Yogi’s Journey

The yogi’s journey is an inversion of the triangle.  [Show inverted triangle picture.]  

The yogi endeavors to become aware of the contents of the subconscious mind, to be guided by the intuition.  The yogi keeps the automatic functions to a minimum and is no longer guided by instinct, emotions, past programming and likes and dislikes.  Using the conscious mind, the yogi thins out the veils of the lower mind to see the Reality, the Truth.

Develop 3 levels of mind to accelerate the process of self development

In conclusion the aspirant . . .

  • Develops awareness
  • Exercises reasoning
  • Surrender one’s will to a higher will
  • Overcomes unconscious and base instincts
  • Practices consciously Sadhana to accelerate the process of moving from darkness to light

5. What happens during meditation?

1. Subconscious imprints are cleaned up. Problems are resolved by themselves.

2. Conscious mind is activated and becomes clear.

3. Super-conscious can operate – intuition dawns.

6. Beyond the 3 Minds

Beyond the 3 minds is the Atman, the Absolute Consciousness, the ground of being, the pure, unborn and eternal.

Existence Absolute
Knowledge Absolute
Bliss Absolute

  • Exercises of thought conversion (from lower mind to higher mind), and from negative to positive mind, from tamasic rajasic to sattvic pure mind.  By thinking about something, you will become. However, you are not your thoughts so you can change your thoughts to the opposite. In general you need to counteract the tendency of the mind. The more you do this exercise, the more you will become expert in manipulation of your thoughts from negative to positive and eventually your sattvic mind will be able to reflect your true nature. Eventually all the angularities of your mind will become smooth. That is why we live in community so our mind will friction with each other and one day we will detach from the mind.

Positive words to think about

Thinking about these words can eventually lead you to the light: this is what you want your mind to be

Happy: not permanent happiness but general disposition of the mind.
Joyful: general disposition to be joyful will give you more prana
Healthy: do not think about disease but think about health
Loving: towards everybody, it is the quality of your heart
Compassionate:
Knowledge: to learn, to become curious about knowledge to get out of ignorance
Wise: in order to choose the right response when face with conflicts
Upwards: feeling to move upwards
Expanded: feeling to be big and great
Selfless: not egoistic
Disciplined: in a positive manner, i.e. do the right things at the right time
Uplifted: feeling light 
Light: instead of heavy
Forgiving: not holding any grudge towards anybody
Wholesome: feeling together, feeling oneness
armonious:
Peaceful
Creative
Productive
United
Thoughtful: instead of being indifferent and insensitive
Sensitive
Empathy
Courageous: very important quality, it allows you to change
Flexible: adaptable
Flowing: floating with life instead of being stagnant
Growing: going upwards
Devotional: love for the highest in your heart
Faith: it will make you peaceful and secure, opposite of doubt
Focused: it helps you to be present
United: not separated towards anybody
Strong: just being yourself not abusive but anchored in your self
Calm:
Equanimity: evenness of mind, not up and down and high and low
Tranquil:
Serene:
Forbearing: be able to bear and keeping calm in difficulties
Honest
Content: not desirous, restless
Blissful:
Truthful
Independent: self-reliant
Surrendered: having faith, relaxed, no need to control everything
Forward: feeling of moving forward
Bright
Soft spoken: do say things but nicely
Non Violent: ahimsa
Respectful
Austere: not indulgent
Detached: opposite of attached  
Vigilant:
Clear mind
Even mind
Adaptable
Beautiful: see beauty, feel beautiful
Connected: connected to Self, to the universe, connected to others to feel strong
Relaxed: not stressed
Moderate: not extreme
Balanced
Considerate
Dispassionate: detached while being fulfilled, does not mean being bored

Words to convert to opposite

Opposite of Unhappy— happy
Opposite of Depressed— joyful, energetic
Opposite of Unhealthy — healthy
Opposite of Hatred— loving. To completely avoid using word hatred.
Opposite of Judgmental, which is thinking out of ego— accepting, tolerant
Opposite of Chaotic— harmonious
Opposite of Undisciplined— disciplined
Opposite of Lazy: enthusiastic
Opposite of Slothful: caring
Opposite of Unrighteous: righteous
Opposite of Careless: caring
Opposite of Angry: being content, letting go of expectation
Opposite of Revengeful: forgiving
Opposite of Restless: peaceful
Opposite of Fearful: courageous
Opposite of Anxious: having faith
Opposite of Worried: having faith
Opposite of Shy: self-confident
Opposite of Doubtful: having faith
Opposite of being stuck: feeling flowing
Opposite of Stagnant: felling progress
Opposite of Irresponsible: responsible
Opposite of Jealous: accepting own karma, accepting self
Opposite of Envious: be more realistic about who you are, content
Opposite of Skeptical: having faith
Opposite of Proud: humble
Opposite of Abusive: respectful
Opposite of Frustrated: accepting
Opposite of Irritable: patient
Opposite of Arrogant: humble
Opposite of Selfish: selfless
Opposite of feeling Limited: feeling expanded, unlimited
Opposite of Rigid: being flowing, flexible, adaptable
Opposite of feeling Downward: feeling upwards
Opposite of Indulgent: disciplined
Opposite of being Addictive: being disciplined
Opposite of Crazy: orderly, grounded
Opposite of Self doubt: having faith in Self
Opposite of Self hatred: Self-love
Opposite of Spiteful: forgiving
Opposite of Dishonest: honest
Opposite of Manipulative: straightforward
Opposite of Lustful: pure
Opposite of Unstable: stable
Opposite of Attached: detached
Opposite of Possessive: generous, sharing
Opposite of Self righteous: self-surrendered
Opposite of Contempt: respect, humble
Opposite of Vicious: considerate, ethical
Opposite of Sinful: dharmic
Opposite of Perverted: pure, good
Opposite of Procrastinating: do it and surrender results
Opposite of Pessimistic: optimistic
Opposite of Feeling Lack: feeling fulfilled
Opposite of Naïve: realistic
Opposite of Inconsiderate: considerate
Opposite of Weak: strong
Opposite of Feeling Empty: feeling fulfilled
Opposite of Desirous: content
Opposite of Greed: generous
Opposite of Exaggerating: being truthful
Opposite of Imbalanced: balanced
Opposite of Inconsistent: consistent
Opposite of Wasteful: conservative
Opposite of being Mean: being generous
Opposite of Stingy: generous
Opposite of being Sensual: being austere, turning inwards
Opposite of Worldly: going inwards

8. Exercises of thought cultivation: eradicate vices and cultivation of virtues

Monday: detachment / attachment
Tuesday: courage/ fears, anxieties
Wednesday: compassion/ judgmental
Thursday: faith/ doubts
Friday: charity/ greed
Saturday: patience/ impatience
Sunday: forgiveness/ narrow-mindedness
January: austerity/ indulgence
February: generosity/ stinginess
March: vigilance/ slothfulness
April: pure love / lustful
May: creativity/ stagnant
June: forgiveness/ vengeful
July: equanimity/ bias
August: serenity/ disturbed
September:  Straightforwardness/ hypocrisy
October: adaptability/ rigidity
November: self discipline/ distracted
December: charity, selflessness / egoism