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At the Feet of The Mother

Spirituality and Worldly Life 4: The Perfect Remedy for Stress and Suffering

We can therefore easily see how a sustained practice of yoga can make our individual and collective life much better, lifting it towards some high ideal of a diviner living. Even at a much lesser pitch it takes away the stress and strain that we constantly experience and thereby improves remarkably the quality of life. The role of yogic practices and yogic approach is reducing stress is rather well-known. But most often it ends up by an almost exclusive emphasis on certain techniques such as meditation and pranayama. Useful as they are no doubt, – and it is now too well known to be elaborated, there are other processes, internal psychological processes so to say which helps us immensely to get rid of our stresses and strains in everyday life.

As noted above the practice of niskama karma (action undertaken without an eye on the fruit) is a wonderful antidote to the stresses we feel because of undue expectations and anxieties about the future. Many people think that one acts only for the fruits and if this was not thought of then the very basis of action is gone. This is not true. Some of the greatest and mightiest actions documented in history have been not acts done with calculation about the fruits of efforts but acts of spontaneous sacrifice for an Idea one believes in, or acts of valour for the sake of honour even though one knows it is inviting imminent death, or higher still acts of love for which even wars have been fought and won against terrible odds. The aggressive man who wants to dominate the world and strides across the continents as a gigantic shadow is an Asura and not a true Kshatriya. A true warrior type, whether in India as the Kshatriya or Samurai or Knights have acted for valour and honour rather than for any outer results. What about those who cannot rise up to this high and noble ideal? It is precisely for them that the spiritual teaching is relevant. See the Gita for example. It teaches us the utter unreality of death, it teaches us to remain equal in victory and defeat, in gain and loss but then teaches us also to fight and fight the great battle of life with love and courage in our hearts, with all the skill at our disposal. Even a little practice of this can free the tremendous potential for right and true action in man making his own life and the life of humanity so much better.

Secondly by learning to live in tune with the truth of our being we feel the natural delight as all things do when they follow their innate impulsion. It is only when we deviate from our inner truth and follow an alien way, alien to us while may be perfectly natural to another, that we feel stifled and depressed. This is so because one of the intrinsic causes of chronic unhappiness is that we are no more leading the life intended for us. This has been one of the great civilizational losses that with the rise of competitive consumerism individuals have become like consumer products with a price tag attached to them, efficient as a machine, serviceable and perfect and artificial and robotic and false. All this falsehood yoga tends to remove as a washing powder removes the stains from a cloth and lets its true colour shine through.

There are other reasons why yoga helps us keep away all stress and depression. First of all it opens the doors of knowledge, true knowledge for us so that we become aware of the truth of our own self and the truth of the world around us. This truth and knowledge are liberating. Truth frees us from small and narrow moulds into which we cabin our life and suffer. True Knowledge born out of spiritual seeking, frees us from all narrowness and smallness and makes our being enter a vastness that we had never known before. We are liberated from all isms and prisms, constructs of thoughts, ideas and opinions and one-sided view points, it frees us from all the narrowness in which belief systems are caught.

This freedom, this vastness automatically opens us to the delight that constitutes the very fabric of creation. But because the mind and ego and desire shut us into smallness and narrowness and pettiness we lose contact with this delight that is the origin, the secret support, the goal of creation. This delight pervades all things but in the small consciousness it changes into pleasure, pain and indifference. But since there is within us always this constant pull towards the delight which runs as a sap through the core of all things we are never satisfied with anything. All our pleasures and joys are temporary illusions which are so many steps to keep us tied to the great journey of life. The breaking of each illusion gives us pain, we are pushed out of our comfort zones and experience pain yet this pain is our means to step out of an illusory reality and discover the true truth of our being. This discovery brings us natural delight.

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