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Sudha N. Desai
If our house catches fire – what do we do? We leave everything else behind and run out of the hose, to save our lives. So also in the case of any natural calamity – our immediate response is to save ourselves.
For a student of Yoga the Vrittis of the mind (chitta) are these calamities. One following the yoga path tries to save himself from all kinds of such thoughts. For him the self is the Purusha or consciousness or Atman and not the physical body or mind. His priority is to his self, his consciousness, not his body or his belongings or his thoughts. His goal is to realize this self.
In our daily lives – we are conscious of things, but that is at a gross level. We are not in tune with the deeper layers, that is our true self. Pure consciousness is mixed up with our thoughts which do not let us see our true self. It is only when our mind can be kept thought-free for a prolonged period of time, can one see beyond the mundane to the subtler and become aware of our true self.
The technique that a sincere student of yoga, therefore adopts, is Abhyasa and Vairagya, or in other words – study and renunciation. He keeps up his practice while at the same time gradually tries losing interest in the material world. This helps in reducing thoughts and mental modifications. He does away with laziness, doubts, logic and reasoning – knowing well that these cause the thought processes to start. He strengthens his faith and strongly believes that is God looks after everything. His belief in the larger processes makes him realize that likes and dislikes have no meaning. He tries to avoid not only the negative but even good thoughts.
One can see the bottom of a lake only if there are no ripples on the surface. For the Yogi, the mind is like a lake and he does not throw a stone in the form of a thought in it. No thoughts – no ripples. Pure consciousness, which is beyond the mind, then shines forth.
Published in the Sept 2010 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine.