What is your idea of Freedom among the given options?
An Influenced Unconscious Life
We all have our views about lives. The thing that drives our choices in the material world, is our superficial understanding of our surrounding, which again depends on the biases that we are aligned to. For example, as a child I have seen my uncle visit us from abroad; I may be influenced by him and his views. The reason behind this can be that my family has been discussing about him almost every day. My father may be talking about the “Rolex Wrist watch” that my uncle has been adorning. There may be rich details about this particular watch that would have had a deep impact on me. I would have consciously/unconsciously overheard my father describing my uncle’s watch to my mother and so many other things which may have had a huge, disproportionate impact on me as a child. Now I am twenty one and I have forgotten almost all events relating to my uncle. But somehow I have developed a penchant for watches and I am on the lookout for branded watches with a golden strap. How did I get to this point of being specific about my wants? When was the bias created? This is quite obvious.
Bound and Biased Control
There may be an endless list of things that I have gone through, which includes frightful things like child abuse and what not. All these events with which I have grown shall create a bias within my heart. It shall contribute to the feeling of strong likes and dislikes; strong attractions and distractions. My mind is bound to be heavily colored with influences that have been implanted in the depths of my mind, with or without my consent. Does this not raise an alarm? Is this sort of an exposure not making me lose myself and instead getting me aligned to unconscious preferences thereby granting me a personality, making me someone which I am originally not? This point requires intense deliberation, before one gets into sorting things out.
Automated Programmed Reactions
Our childhood conditioning, influences of society and a host of other unknown factors have created a layer, a facade that has created a personality within us. We are dominated by strong attractions and aversions, a strong network of emotions that have been generated within our system owing to the outside influences that we are exposed to. If this is the case, are we actually acting out of our own volition or are we made to react based on the programming that we have been exposed to, right from childhood? If we are certain that outside influences have been affecting us, then we are bound, inescapably bound to the diktat of an alien world into which we have been dumped to enact instructions which does not resonate with our very core. This is an undeniable fact. Our life has become an orchestration of other’s views and opinions, it has become a judgement that has not been deliberated upon the anvil of pure intelligence and conscience. Our “bound reactions” are simply a sample of the entire population which is being manipulated and coerced by vested interests. Our bound actions have imprisoned our very souls that is meant to be free and boundless. Our conditioning has put an end to our voluntary volition. We have been given an opportunity to express and yet our expressions have never been original because we act out of our unconscious influences rather than from our Center, the Self.
Introduction to Sadhana
Unless we relieve ourselves from the bindings of social thought and influences we can never discover the power and potential of who we are and what our original capability is. Not that we shall lose the capability, if we continue on the lines of social influences but we shall be guilty of wasting the great opportunity of knowing and expressing our true potential. Unless our true Self is bare, we can never dream of relieving ourselves from the endless bondage that we have been subjected to during the course of our past Endless Incarnations, which Karma has forced us into. This life is our opportunity. The opportunity is well utilized if one undertakes a self-study. This process of self-study is what sadhana is. The art of spiritual discipline is the subject of sadhana. It is necessary that one is able to impinge into one’s limitations through this process. What processes have to be undertaken depends on one’s temperament and suitability of the practice. The process of sadhana involves both study and a set of dedicated practices within the framework of Sanatana Dharma. There are essentially three components to sadhana. They are at the level of mind, body and intellect. The mind requires to be purified and purged through valid processes that may include Yogic practices, Pranayama or understanding the philosophy of Bhakti or Jnana. The body is supposed to be tuned through discipline by adhering to punctuality and regularity of carrying out the practices. Consuming the right food so as to avoid the agitation of senses is of paramount importance. At the level of body are the spiritual practices relating to Yoga, Jnana or Bhakti. At the level of mind is the deliberation with scriptures under the guidance of an adept spiritual master. At the level of intellect one needs to adhere to Yamas and Niyamas.
The Need for Yamas and Niyamas
The intellect is to be brought under regulation and control by following the Yamas and Niyamas, the preliminary practices that form the basis of regulating the body and mind. The higher, superior aspects of a moral life is governed by Yamas and Niyamas which represent the value system for Truth as enunciated in the Vedic scriptures. Niyamas represent the rules to be followed to execute Yamas while Yamas represent the Value system which allude to the Truth principle, which directly represents the nature of being. The body-mind-intellect trio have to be tackled simultaneously without compromising even any one of them. Only then can spiritual discipline, sadhana can deliver benefits.
The Goal of Sadhana
The goal of Sadhana is to disentangle the spirit from the mind and body. In the ordinary course of our lives, our reference to ourselves is the body-mind organism. However with prolonged sadhana there is a gap created between our Self and the body-mind mechanism. Only through sadhana or spiritual practice can the realization set in that “I” does not refer to body-mind. Our ideas, thoughts, emotions are different from our original nature. When sadhana ripens, the “seer” or the original “I” becomes available to purify the mind and the intellect. For a sadhaka or practitioner of sadhana, purity of mind and intelligence becomes one of paramount importance. Only when this becomes a pursued goal, can clarity of thought and purity of emotions emerge. It is to be understood that the goal of sadhana is to enliven the contemplative spirit in the individual so he is raised beyond the limitations of thought into the realm of the boundless.