47. Discover A Dirty Little Secret Of How Deficiency of One’s Emotions and Memories of the Past Negatively Affect Your Spiritual Life!

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“Gradually, as the mind becomes progressively spiritualised, withdraw it from sense activities, and by intelligence the senses will be controlled. The mind too absorbed in material activities can be engaged in the service of the Personality of Godhead and become fixed in full transcendental consciousness.” Bhagavata Purana 2.1.18

In the Vedic culture there are specific occupational duties for different stages of life whether it’s brahmacharya – a bachelor student, grihastha – a householder, vanaprastha – a retired and sannyasa – a renunciant.

And the last two stages namely vanaprastha and sannyasa are the most beneficial for practicing spiritual life and focusing on the Supreme because a person is no longer bound by any social obligations.

For people practicing spirituality in any of various forms but nonetheless involved in social affairs (family, economics, other public relations and commitments), it’s quite difficult to remember the ultimate goal of life, God, all the time.

 

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For them their spiritual life is not a solid line, but rather like a dashed one, which means episodic, occurring occasionally and at irregular intervals. They remind themselves of it ideally in the mornings and evenings or may be once a week – on Sunday, but the rest of the time various commitments force them to think of something else.

Moreover, these different social obligations and attachments can absorb one’s mind so much so that the spiritual life, if any, would be very, very shallow. Therefore, in a strict sense, it really begins only when a person has managed to immerse oneself in the authoritative systematic spiritual practice.

Until then, people have to compromise. That is why the Vedic society was arranged in such a way so that there would be a period of life when one could satisfy one’s material desires and ambitions by having tried all the opportunities and roles in the whirl of material life, but with a kind of spiritual understanding obtained during one’s school years.

And in most cases, young people have to juggle multiple material responsibilities as well as spiritual and that in itself creates a problem of reconciling irreconcilable – the material energy and spiritual energy that are by nature diametrically opposed in principle.

Material activity is closely related to manipulation of matter, because by nature matter is inert and is controllable to some degree. We observe it and got used to the fact that matter can be controlled and altered by different mechanical and/or chemical processes.

But when we deal with antimatter or transcendence, we’re not in control, there we have to take a subordinate position and start acting in a totally different mode, which is unfamiliar to us. The living beings are accustomed to a superior position to matter, they’re accustomed to the role of an enjoyer who rules it over and manipulates matter.

But the rules of the game are different in spiritual life. Spiritual life means that you are no longer a manipulator but a manipulated, no one owes you but you do. Spiritual life means that the mind performs in a different mode.

And the traditional yoga practice (including proper asanas and proper breathing techniques etc.) helps one to switch to that particular mode. Asanas help to master the body, pranayama helps to master the mind, and they are interrelated and interdependent. It is impossible to practice pranayama if one does not know how to sit properly.

However it all starts with yama niyama stages or just basic human morality. If a person is not moral, honest, simple, respectful etc. he won’t be able to master the other yoga levels. The progression goes from external to internal.

And when a person is in control of one’s body, the body does not cause one any trouble. When a person is in control of one’s senses and the mind, the mind is also more or less obedient, because the mind is a mechanism that can be managed if a person clearly understands what constitutes the human body.

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In the Bhagavad Gita, the human body is described as a chariot, senses as horses, intelligence as a driver, mind as the reins, and soul as a passenger. If one has such an understanding then it’s not that hard to manage one’s mind and body and minimise the problems related to them.

In a contemporary society devoid of any culture in its true meaning people are not trained to control their mind and body unlike in the Vedic culture, and that creates or causes so many mental and physical problems.

And with all that we are to meditate on the Supreme.

So it turns out that we’re supposed to act on some kind of transcendental platform without having any previous experience in yoga techniques or expertise in controlling one’s senses and the mind. Hypothetically it is possible but much more difficult!  It requires a lot of dedication, self sacrifice and endeavour.

However, in Kali Yuga we have no other option. We cannot start learning all the yoga stages which take a lot of time, though it’s very useful.

Therefore, in Kali yuga the Vedas prescribe a direct spiritual practice – Bhakti yoga. Although it is evident that for people who can neither sit or breath properly or control the mind and senses, Bhakti yoga is also not such a simple task.

Even if a person tries to refrain from the gross and subtle sense gratification and doesn’t contemplate it, one’s subconsciousness continues to feed one with memories of the past making it difficult to dedicate oneself entirely to self realisation.

So it turns out that the mind and the body is not all that we’re dealing with, there’s also the sub-consciousness as a repository of our past experiences, memories and deep impressions (samskaras). And this emotional memory of the past is the impulse of all the temptations.

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Like a river, a continuous flow of desires and impressions stream from a sub-consciousness. And the problem is it’s not like a photo album that you may open or close whenever you wish.

If a person is emotionally content, the emotional memory is not necessary. But if a person experiences some sensual or emotional deficit, then this lack of satisfaction will be filled with the memories, impressions and images of the past of all sorts both positive and negative. And it’s not the best state of mind for spiritual meditation.

This emotional deficit is caused by one’s lifestyle in which one suppresses one’s feelings instead of engaging them in spiritual practice. Sometimes people misunderstand control of the senses as the suppression of feelings.

But in the Bhagavad Gita 3.33 Krishna says that even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows the nature he has acquired from the three modes. What can repression accomplish?

In other words, the suppression of feelings and senses gives nothing.

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This is similar to how one compresses the spring but it expands regardless. Or greedily gasps for air after have been under water for sometime. So, whatever a person lacks, he will greedily grab it at an opportune moment.

But if a person lives in such a way that it creates an emotional vacuum or deficit, then the subconscious past memory of sensual pleasures will feed one from within and he won’t be able to stop that incessant flow of memories.

The Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7.1) states: “Raso vai saha…” the Supreme Brahman is rasa, the taste or mellow of a particular relationship.…”  And the individual living entity – atma, having the same spiritual nature, lives by rasa too.

Why live if there’s no taste or zest for life? Therefore, a person should never feel an emotional vacuum at any stage of one’s life. Otherwise, an uncontrollable flow of memories and images from the past will be the alternative. And in this state a spiritual life is a profanation.

Therefore, the greatest art in a spiritual life at all stages is to be happy. The Bhagavad Gita 9.2 states “su-sukham kartum..” that the process is joyful every step of the way. But if a person experiences such an emotional deficit, then it means this process is interrupted somewhere. And the problem is that those memories of the past sinful sensual experiences create a distracting red background.

No doubt, any discipline of controlling the mind and the body is useful, but it is not a fundamental solution of the issue.

The fundamental solution is hidden in the depths of our consciousness. And until a makeover or shift of one’s values and a change of attitude towards life takes place, one’s spiritual life will be very shallow and superficial, and it will be very difficult to dive into it completely because the depth of one’s consciousness is already filled with some other stuff.

Why is it so easy to think about attractive things and beautiful people? Why is one able to remember one’s family, children, a wife or a husband with ease?

Because there is a relationship. When there is an actual relationship, an actual rasa, we do not need to force ourselves to remember that person, we remember him or her completely not partially.

But since we don’t have such a relationship with the Supreme Person, God, the Vedas recommend to meditate on different parts of His transcendental body.

However, we easily remember our loved ones who we have close relationship and emotional exchanges with. But as for the relationship with Krishna, everything is much more complicated. In this life we have not had any close direct emotional relationships with Him, even though He is the very essence of all creation, the essence of all consciousness, and the closest best friend.

We have been in this world for too long, and our consciousness has got greatly perverted. And the main reason why it is so hard to remember God – Krishna is that the relationship with Him is based on an entirely different principle.

If we see a beautiful object, a beautiful woman, a good-looking man, a new car or whatever, we immediately begin to imaging how we can enjoy it and that’s why it is so easy to keep it in mind and contemplate it all the time.

In other words, when we are offered something material, something we can easily enjoy, then it easily corresponds to our constant spirit of enjoyment.

And even if there is no a direct contact with the sense objects, those things can be easily visualised and contemplated upon, because it is our “normal” way of thinking – “I’m in control, I’m on top, and everything is at my disposal”.

But when we speak of bhakti yoga, or devotional service for that matter, everything is completely different. The main principle in bhakti yoga is to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. But the difficulty of remembering Krishna is that we cannot enjoy Him, we cannot manipulate Him, and we cannot use Him. The relationship with Him has a completely different foundation – He is always in charge and we are always subordinate. And it’s such an unusual mindset, it is so unusual for us to be at the bottom, that the mind simply rejects Him, refuses Him.

And this is the main reason why it is so hard to meditate on God.

To meditate on Him as an object of our pleasure won’t fly, He will never be the object of our enjoyment, He can only be the object of our service. And for that reason the mind or the matrix of thinking must be completely transformed and that is the most difficult task.

The only panacea is to associate with people who are already in this state of mind – the saints or the pure bhaktas – the pure devotees. The transformation of thinking occurs when we serve such individuals and listen to them absorbing their attitude of selfless devotion. However it’s never easy.

To transform one’s attitude, way of thinking, to transform one’s life, to turn it around 180 degrees is extremely difficult, especially when a person has to combine material and spiritual activities.

Because the contemporary materialistic society is surcharged with the temptations and offers to enjoy on every step. Everything is arranged here in such a way that the spirit of sensual pleasures is stimulated on all sides and people are forced to accept these rules of the game.

And when we live in such an environment the spiritual life is a struggle. One has to go against the wind, against the flow, it feels like always in conflict with the world that constantly reminds you that you’re a black sheep.

Therefore, ideally one must come to a point in life when one retires all mundane affairs (maybe not immediately but gradually) and completely devotes oneself to God, Krishna.

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Otherwise, the return to the spiritual world becomes a Russian roulette, a gamble, a matter of luck with the lowest odds to win. But when a person is fully immersed in the spiritual, it stacks the odds in one’s favour.

Those people who have to combine their material life and spiritual practices need to understand that from a spiritual viewpoint they are in unsafe territory.

But that’s no reason to give up one’s social duties.

However If a person gives up prematurely one’s social responsibilities considering them to be the impediments in one’s spiritual life and tries to practice spirituality in one’s current unripe state, then the memories of the past and the Paramatma as a voice of conscience will not leave one alone. One shouldn’t be impatient in these matters. Everything must be timely and natural.

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