Understanding Your Natural State of Mind

Sorrow

by Jayaram V

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What is the natural state of your mind? Have you ever tried to observe it? Try it right now. Close your eyes and look at yourself. What are you thinking? what are you feeling? What memories are flitting across your mind? Watch yourself for a day as you go through different circumstances. What do you learn from it?

You mind is like a boiling pot heated by the fire of life. You are inherently restless, sensitive and unstable. All your systems remain on alert and keep sending you messages about the dangers lurking in your environment. They come to you in the form of feelings, sensations, and emotions. Sometimes the message is so compelling and urgent that it comes to you in the form of intuition. Some times you wonder why you have this hunch or a nagging feeling. Well, that is a message from your subconscious, trying to reach you and alert you to some situation that is inherently connected to your life and survival.

These messages, in whatever form they may come, are meant to help you navigate through the difficulties and dangers of life. Your survival mechanism is your blessing. It is also in many ways the major source of your physical and mental suffering.

Sorrow, depression, anger, fear, confusion, instability, imbalance, afflictions, modifications, this is the normal and natural state of a human being. The Gita sums up this state as the state of sorrow or vishadayoga. This is the normal state in which we are born. It is the starting point. The discourse of the Bhagavadgita begins with it. Since it is the beginning state, the Bhagavadgita also has the state of sorrow as the first chapter. Arjuna vishadayogam means the state of Arjuna’s sorrow, a condition with which we are familiar. It is a natural state. You cannot say it is good or bad, because we born with it and most of the time spend our lives in it.

We carry the burden of sorrow and suffering at the back of our minds. Some people do nothing about it. Some people try to escape from it. In most cases our aim is how not to suffer or how to escape from suffering. We do not always succeed because our methods are not always effective. Some take to pills. Some go to Gurus. Some seek medical help. Some involve themselves in serious work and burn themselves until they forget about their pain. Some escape into fantasy. Some try to amass wealth to address their fear of insecurity and inadequacy.

Most of these methods are temporary because they do not address the fundamental cause. The Bhagavadgita also suggests various means called yogas to address the same problem. Central to all these yogas is one fundamental principle. It is overcoming desires through detachment. Detachment is the key. You see the same approach even in the Yogasutras of Patanjali. If you want to be free from suffering, you must cultivate detachment. Put a lid on your self-seeking behavior. Temper your desires with moderation and balance. Silence your cravings to the extent possible. Take the middle lane on the highway of life, without touching the extremities of attraction and aversion. This is a simple philosophy. Swim on the surface of life, without getting drowned. Live freely breaking through the invisible bonds that hold you down and subject you to emotional disturbances and mental modifications. If you become attached to things, you will get burned. If you jump into the middle of relationships without thinking of consequences, you are bound to be disappointed.

Wisdom is you should know your limitations and to what extent you can protect yourself from those that bind you and limit you. Whatever that limits your or taxes your freedom is a source of pain and suffering. This is the truth. You may barter your freedom for security, comfort or the warmth of a relationship. The question is how much freedom you can barter away to secure things that you cannot hold on forever. It is like trying to hold water in your hands. You know why we offer water to God while praying to the Sun or bathing in sacred rivers? There are many reasons. One of them is to remind ourselves that just as the water in our hands, our possessions will not stay with us forever and they need to be sacrificed to God in the ritual of life. To live freely, you need to live intelligently, unwinding yourself.

Tto be able to fly freely in the realm of your consciousness, you have to withdraw from things, using your discretion, knowledge and wisdom in whatever you do and whatever you seek. You need to be detached from the things that bind you to the world and subject you to hope and despair. Having hopes is good, but depending upon them or building your life around them is not. This is one of the key messages of the Bhagavadgita.

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