The basic difference between Buddhism, Jainism on one hand and orthodox Vedic view is that while former indicate a nameless, ascetic withdrawal from life, the Vedic view celebrates inwards ness and outward ness alike. Distance from worldly affairs is as important as involvement in them. The Vedic rishis visualize ‘Raj rishi’ – the seer-king who is detached from power because s/he is a seer. S/he is also deeply involved in matters of administration, property, and polity because s/he is a king/queen. The idea is appeals to me. It suggests harmonizing physical and intellectual lives. It indicates a blend of the two. I believe that truth is always gray, never totally white or completely black. Mid path is welcome to me intellectually and therefore the idea allures me. The sixth chapter of Geeta says, ‘Yoga is not for her/him who eats too much, nor again for her/him who eats not the least; nor for her/him who is very sleepy or ever wakeful’ (6:16 Geeta for Everyone. 2000. New Delhi: Rupa)
Realization of one’s fullest potential is yoga. It is the aim of self-management. Removal of obstacles from the path of attaining one’s fullest capacities is the purpose of the art of self-management. But it is easier said than done.
The one who even tries to tread on the path of yoga is said to be superior to the ascetic. Extremes are scary. Extremes, for me, stand for mental death of the individual who has given her/himself to one branded, popular, beaten, stale, illogical polarity and who is not ready to think anew. Nothing can be more terrible and tragic than murder of self-questioning in a thinking individual. With the end of self-questioning also end humility, and effort for improvement, qualities essential for the perpetual growth of personality. For this reason and many more, outright, rigid thinking is alarming for me. Absolution is an antonym of knowledge ‘My views are correct; everyone else’s are wrong. My culture, my scriptures, my soil, my religion and my heritage are superior to all others in the world’ – only toads of a closed well can think like this, speak like this. Only illiterate, or half-literate, unthinking masses can be influenced by such type of over verbosity.
For the thinking mind, such babble is suffocating. The Vedas ask us to sacrifice (yajna) all our strongly held opinions, fixed memories, hatreds, our ego and our irrational views. Yajna opens the lid that closes our minds. It releases us from the prison of our unchanging beliefs. The condition of one who has walled her/himself within certain patented ideas is very choking and worth pitying indeed. The extreme of this extremist thinking gives birth to catastrophe like Hitler or Saddam who prove to be a curse not only for the society but also for their own mental peace and happiness. The Indian view of laxity, lenience, and feeling of ‘let go’ make life livable. It creates a mental state where strings of reason are loosened, the burden of tradition is gone, the feeling of guilt is removed – a situation where one can be one’s true self. The need to impress others is gone. The critical, sharp eye of religion becomes soothing and allowing and concepts of sin and hell dissolve. Everyone needs this state – not always but once in a while, necessarily. This is self-management. Lack of pretension is self-management. Being true to one self is self- management. Forgiving others and also oneself is essential for a healthy mind.
Vedas celebrate both ‘sakaam’ (with desire) as well as ‘nishkaam’ (without desire) karma. Desire for power, success, money, and recognition is acceptable in ‘sakaam’ karma. Ambition is not taboo. As long as karma is conscious, deliberate and with a purpose, it is allowed. Of course, ‘nishkaam’ karma has been placed on a higher pedestal; nevertheless, the right to live and achieve has not been snatched away by the Vedic seers. Instinct is acceptable as long as it is conscious; it should not be wild, natural, unthinking like that of an animal. As long as responsibility for an action is borne by the individual, s/he has every right to go by her/his instincts. The sixth chapter of Geeta suggests this, ‘By constantly engaging the self that the yogi entirely freed from sin, easily taste the boundless happiness of contact with Brahma.’ (6:28)
It calls for filling of an individual with this inner consciousness. It does not ask us to leave anything; nor does it ask us to grab anything. It only dictates us to be conscious of our actions. It wants us to reach down ourselves, call our inner resources, and thus live life and may I add, enjoy life as well. There is no bar on fun, frolic, celebration and enjoyment as far as I can see. Renunciation of body, denial of love for life and resignation of instincts have not been suggested. Yoga stands for freedom - freedom from everything. When you try to release yourself from dreams, past, aspirations, memory, just everything, you are practicing yoga. It again takes the shape of self-management. ‘Release’ is the key word. To be free, mentally, physically, spiritually, when there is no burden of morality, nor any fear of punishment, when there is complete dialogue with oneself, when one’s intentions are clear to one self and also conscious will to act upon one’s intentions - such a state is the yogic state. The mind of the true yogi is full of this knowledge, this intuition, this awareness of the self.
There is no ‘gyan’, no research, no knowledge beyond the self. The self contains the universe. It contains all powers. The insecure goes out to inquire, to spy, to gather knowledge; to the yogi, everything comes naturally. Channels of thought, information, wisdom flow automatically towards the self-conscious individual. S/he does not seek resources; all the spiritual wealth of the world comes running to her/him. Such is the power of self-management. Such is the power of self-consciousness.
Realization of one’s fullest potential is yoga. It is the aim of self-management. Removal of obstacles from the path of attaining one’s fullest capacities is the purpose of the art of self-management. But it is easier said than done. We chain our true selves in so many misconceptions. Some bear the load of fixed ideology for success, some for fear, some for lack of knowledge.
One evening, one of my friends told me on phone, ‘Shubha, you know, I’m very touchy. An utter fool that I am, I said, ‘I know.’ But the words disturbed me. Why should a person brand her/himself thus? Is it not finishing possibilities of further development of self? Yes, it is. Just due to one action; one cannot brand oneself as either ‘cruel’ or ‘bad’ or even positively as ‘very good’, ‘generous’ etc.
The next morning, I opened a file in my computer in which I’d saved a newspaper article, ‘
We all have the power to be whoever we choose to be. If you’ve gone through your life saying, ‘I’m patient’, then you have affirmed yourself into being that way. In the same way, if you’ve been saying for decades, ‘I’m impatient,’ that’s where you are now. But all that can change. Every morning when we wake up, we have a new day ahead of us in which we can be whatever we choose. We can recreate ourselves daily, especially when we consciously choose to let go of old resentments, grudges, patterns, fear... I choose to be me! And every day I am rediscovering who that is, without the conditioned set of rules... We can step away from any preconceived ideas of who we are by starting to live in the moment, and by is listening to the song of our heart. Some people fear change yet we are changing every single moment You are not the same person you were yesterday... since then you have had numerous inter-reactions, learned things you did not know, and had experiences you had not had before. So you are a new you! There is no set definition of who you are. You are whoever or whatever you choose to be at that moment. Let your inner child and your innermost desires lead you to who you are at this moment. Let go of any definitions of who you are... lazy, stupid, impatient. Those are simply changes of clothing you put on. Just as every day you change your clothes, every day, every minute you can change your ‘personality wear’... Live in the moment and make your choices according to what will give your inner being the most joy and peace.’ (TOI, New Delhi. 18th Jan 2004)
How I wish my friend to know, realize and accept this!
One has to behave as the situations arrive. This is the only way to live in this world. There is no need to define one-self too strictly. We are all experimenting. No programming, no gene system, no samskara of yester births, no planning on earth can completely equip you to face circumstances. Let us behave naturally. Let us respond freely. Let the warmth flow. My well-wishers tell me, ‘Don’t cry. Don’t laugh too much. Don’t trust. Don’t support anyone out rightly. Don’t fight for others. Don’t speak your mind so fearlessly.’ In short, they tell me not to live fully. Their advice is to cut a part of life. Live but only in half measures – this is the motto. I may listen to well-wishers and satisfy them with proper responses. But I just cannot accept what they say.
Many of us proclaim that ancient Indian classics are a wonderful treatise on self-management and they help in realizing the full potential in an individual. I agree. But I want to add something here. Even modern, present-day books on self-management written either by Easterners or Westerners are simply marvelous, if we limit our vision only to ancient Indian texts, we will be losing out so much. The globe is a village. We just cannot wish this away. Grand talk is alright but sometimes tiny tips also do the wonder. Valmiki said this, Yaksha asked this question, Tulsi wrote this, Upnishads demand that, Puranas proclaim that - all our speeches, formal, auditorium talks are filled with this and this alone. With full reverence to all ancient knowledge, may I say that it becomes too burdensome, too heavy, just too much at times. And when it is coupled with hatred towards the Western knowledge, it reflects inferiority complex, lack of confidence, fear and related psychopathic patterns. It simply means that we are still thinking in colonial terms. My friend from Seattle, a renowned Professor of English, John Oliver Perry calls it ‘reverse racism.’ The British ruled us, considered us inferior, so now we do the same to them. This is no way to behave. The vicious circle of ill will must end.
There is no point in venom vomiting. Spiritualism has not been given to India on contractor ship. The Chinese, the Japanese, and the Greek - so many ancient cultures possessed so much spiritual wealth. Let us not be obsessed with our past. Past is past. The new times demand new strategies. Let us become Tulsi, Kalidas, Ved Vyas ourselves. We should rewrite Manusmiriti and give a proper place to our women and other marginalized sections. This is the reason why we, Indians are not progressing as much as we should have. We keep harping on past glories, dead, irrelevant rituals, and baseless claims. There was no Internet, no satellite, no missile, no computer, no nuclear weapon, no bio informatics, no cosmopolitans, no feminism, no working women, and no fast-pace-fast-food life when our sages were writing Holy Scriptures. These are new realities. Let us, ourselves become as powerful psychologically, spiritually, intellectually as those sages and even surpass them to create new solutions to our immediate problems. Let us stop living in the past. Let us look at the world with a fresh eye. Preconceived notions kill us, our joys, and our possibilities. Let us be original in our thinking. Let us perceive things anew.