How to Take Yourself Lightly
A burdened mind may snatch some fleeting, short-lived moments of pleasure, but it cannot experience true happiness. Remaining always light is the key to happiness. In today’s conditions, the ability to take yourself and everything around you lightly is perhaps the number one capability to cultivate. There is a vital need to develop the inner powers to ‘take it easy’, come what may.
It is widely understood that the state of a person’s mind depends upon his attitude to people and objects present and to the events occurring around him. There is also a well-known saying: “you cannot change events, but you can change your attitude towards them.” Yet when actual situations arise, attitudinal change is difficult because of the mind-set already formed.
Attitude is determined by prides and prejudices, desires and ambitions, priorities and preferences, needs and compulsions. These, in turn, are influenced by habits and addictions, learnings and dependencies, beliefs and outlook, whims and fancies and a host of other factors. Pre-dispositions thus formed produce certain mental pulls and pushes which determine responses and reactions to external situations. That’s why attitudes towards the same event vary from person to person. New paradigms are called for to break the old mind-sets and create inner capabilities that can automatically take care of anything that comes your way.
The first fundamental attitudinal change for remaining ‘light’ always is to make a firm resolve to do so. As you think, so you become. The word ‘light’, in the spiritual sense, also means enlightenment that dispels the inner darkness of ignorance, illusion, doubt and confusion. This enables you to visualise things in their true form. As a result, deception is eliminated. Confidence and clarity change conditions of fear and anxiety into those of joy and happiness. From this follows the second attitudinal change: Consider life as a celebration and not as a struggle or war zone. Greetings and good wishes exchanged at celebrations are always a source of great joy and happiness. Likewise, to become a well-wisher of all is the easiest way to make your life a celebration.
At the root of your attitude lies your belief system. The greatest common basic flaw in today’s belief-system is body-consciousness, i.e. identifying yourself with the mortal body instead of the immortal entity called ‘soul’ that you truly are. This identity-crisis is the mother of all other crises. The eternal you—the soul—is a sentient entity, an imperishable point of light. Your original innate qualities are love, peace, happiness and bliss. As long as you remain established in the state of soul-consciousness and use your body as an instrument, you will remain light because, firstly, your very existence is that of being sentient light and secondly, your thoughts, words and actions will be in conformity with your innate qualities.
As it is made of matter, the body and its sense organs can only give sensual pleasures which are short-lived and dependent upon external factors. Body-consciousness leads to adoption of material values which affect the mind, destroying the pristine purity of your innate qualities and, in fact, of the entire thought-process. As a result, jealousy, hatred, anger and other types of negativity lead to unrighteous thoughts and wrongful actions. Negativity produces waste thoughts and increases the number and speed of your thoughts. This dilutes the quality of thoughts, and consequently, the quality of life. Waste thoughts produce attitudinal maladies like doubts, apprehensions, fear, etc. and take away from all the zest and zeal of life. This results in lethargy and laziness. In this way, negativity weakens the mind and it becomes prone to external influences.
Self-realisation or soul-consciousness on the other hand brings home the truth that the soul’s original qualities of love, peace, happiness and bliss are all non-material, like the soul itself. Even the negative traits or perversions like ego, anger, hatred, jealousy or the stresses and strains produced by these vices are non-material in nature. Hence, the required corrective action in this respect has essentially to be taken at the level of your basic beliefs. An inner journey is therefore an essential pre-requisite for enjoying a happy external journey through this life and beyond.
Self-realisation enables you to easily let go of the past. Instead of regretting, it enables you to gain valuable experience from past mistakes and increase your powers of tolerance and patience. When one begins to learn from mistakes, the meaning of the saying ‘everything happens for the best’ becomes clear. Mistakes are not repeated. Attention helps avoid tension. Reduction in waste thoughts improves the quality of thoughts.
Will-power is the aggregate of all your inner powers like tolerance, discrimination, judgement, concentration, and co-operation. The will of a person with a good reservoir of inner powers shall always prevail. Hence, the saying ‘where there is a will, there is way.’ Strong will-power enables you to transform a situation of possible failure into that of success—just as in a game of cricket, a good batsman converts a dangerous looking ball into a four-er or six-er by a mere flick of his bat. Strong will-power not only protects you from adverse outside influences, it empowers you to exert influence on the external environment; much in the same way as rose seed produces fragrant roses even from a heap of foul-smelling rubbish. Zeal and enthusiasm is a natural outcome of success and becomes, in turn, the motive power for further success. Moving from success to success will always keep you in good spirits. This is the formula to remain light and happy under all conditions and circumstances.
How to increase will-power? It is not a physical power to be acquired by any material means. Wasteful and negative thinking have to be eliminated to increase will-power. The dilemma, however, is that they arise when will-power is weakened, whereas it takes strong will-power to destroy them. So, how to go about it? Just as negativity reduces will-power, it is positive thinking that generates it. Inculcation of virtues like humility, contentment, detachment and compassion, a simple life-style, good company, purity of food and becoming a well-wisher of all will help you do that.
Brijmohan is the Editor of Purity newspaper and Secretary of the Rajayoga Educational Research Foundation.