Ignorance is the cause of our problem. As a result of ignorance we suffer. Stress comes as a result of ignorance. To the extent that our knowledge increases knowledge about ourselves, the world and other things – our problems decrease, and all the stress we have will be eliminated.
So, ultimately, it is a search for knowledge. Through faith in God and self-control – control over the senses – we get knowledge, and soon after we get knowledge we attain to supreme peace. In peace there is no stress. In peace, all stresses of the body are dissolved. So it is very important to develop within ourselves a particular type of culture, a culture which is physical, mental and spiritual. The physical culture is called ‘asana’. Asana means to sit in a posture.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us that subtler than the body are the senses, subtler than the senses is the mind and subtler than the mind is the intellect, meaning that it is more difficult to control the senses than the body. If we cannot control our body, how can we control our mind?
It is good to sit in one posture, to be very calm, quiet, peaceful, and to be aware that we are sitting in that posture. And to the extent that we become aware, something will happen within us. If we try to concentrate on a particular thing, the mind will wander all over the place, but if we try to sit in a particular posture, being aware that we are sitting in that posture, we will find – without consciously knowing what we are doing – that the mind will become detached from this world, from other things. And our problem lies in the world, because we become attached to this and that, to so many things. That attachment saps our inner core. The inner will gets weakened. As a result of that weakening our problems will come.
When stress develops within us and the will is weakened, we do not have the power to withstand anything, for stress overtakes us and we become helpless, we cannot do anything, we cannot reverse it.
It is necessary, therefore, that with this inner core we maintain the particular posture we sit in and try to maintain it without shaking a limb for as long as possible. When the senses become detached from the world, concentration develops. When that concentration develops within us, our inner will starts to reassert itself. The body has subtle sheaths or different states of existence. Stress that develops within us causes our consciousness to function at a very superficial level. As a result of that, our mind – functioning at this level of consciousness – creates a barrier between these different states of existence, the subtle and the causal. There is no contact between them and as a result of that all our other problems develop.
Take faith-healing for example. Faith-healing means going to the core of our being and trying to establish our consciousness on that deeper level – the source of our being. Being detached from that source is the cause of stress. When we give our inner will a chance, the freedom, to assert itself, we begin to experience a sense of freedom. That sense of freedom is very important, because it is when that sense of freedom comes to us that absolute relaxation develops within us. When our mind functions at a pure level of consciousness, things start to happen within us. So it is important for us to understand ourselves a little bit. That little bit of understanding ourselves will help us to overcome the problems of life.
In a life governed by a spiritual outlook, stress factors should not be there. In ancient Vedic times it was called ‘studentship’ when a child goes to the home of a guru to start his mental training and discipline – brahmacharya, which make his whole being integrated. When he enters the other stages of life, being integrated with that physical and mental discipline, he can enter society with the full understanding of a mature person, understanding himself and society. But when he grows up in society without that kind of spiritual upbringing, he becomes materialistically orientated. As a result of that material orientation, stress develops, because material life has no stability, material life undergoes changes all the time. So we live all the time in a world of uncertainty, of insecurity. This combination brings about anxiety, and stress develops within us. We cannot get rid of stress unless we turn to God, to religion. For nothing else can give us security but God.
Look, for example, at an insurance company that has another insurance company to protect it, that insurance company has another company to protect it, and so on. Take, for example, a rich and powerful country like America which is still developing arms. Is this not a sense of insecurity? So, insecurity is the basis of material life.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us that it is He Who gives us that security. He does not only give us material things, He gives us the security of that as well. So our pursuit, our whole dharma – righteousness, our culture – is spiritually orientated. In that spiritual orientation we find an inner integration and as a result of that we come nearer to God. Thus in our thought God is unchangeable, God is the real, God is the source of happiness, Sat-Chit-Ananda. Only in God can we find happiness, not in this world. This world gives us one moment pleasure, another moment pain. Because of this instability, anxiety develops within us.
That is why our rishis advised us to do our meditation in the morning so that all negativity that develops during the night will be cleared, and to do our meditation in the evening again to clear any negativity developed during the day. In that way we establish a relaxed, refreshed, sublime life. And when we go to sleep, we can sleep with a relaxed frame of mind and body. We feel refreshed. It is in that state of relaxation that the whole system gets rejuvenated. When there is tension within us, we cannot sleep.
Drugs rob us of our inner power
In modern society, we take one drug to keep us awake. We take another drug to put us to sleep, and drugs for all sorts of pains. We live in a materialistic, a drug orientated society. If we live the right type of life, eat the right type of food, we do not need anything else. Our system is going to help. If we take things that are not good for our system, it will revolt against that particular kind of thing, and stress develops within us. The good and the pleasant are quite different. The wise man – after looking at every side – chooses the good, but the ignorant man runs after the pleasant.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us about the pleasant: in the beginning it is like eternal nectar and joy, but in the end it is like poison and destroys us. But the good is like poison in the beginning and like nectar at the end. The implication is that we must be able to look at things, to analyze things: we should accept what is good for us, we must reject what is not good for us. If we follow this simple principle in life, getting up early in the morning and the first thing we do is to remember God, to think about Him, our day begins nicely and our whole day will be happy. If we have a little brawl in the morning, the whole day will be stressful.
Meditation gives us good vibrations. We do not understand how important they are. Because when these vibrations get within us nothing else can enter. Let us surrender ourselves to God after we finish our work, after any mental type of work. Let us try to surrender all these to the Lotus feet of God. If we can be like that, stressful feelings will disappear. But if we are hoping that drugs are going to get rid of our stress, we are wasting our time because drugs create more problems than they solve. They rob us of the inner power and of the body to overcome its own problem. So let us have faith in dharma, in God, in prayer and meditation. With faith in what we have, we will find that our life will become happy and beautiful. Om Tat Sat Hari Om.
The Bhagavad Gita, or ‘Song of God’, one of the sacred Hindu texts, recounts the dialogue between Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, and Arjuna, His disciple.
Reprinted with the kind permission of Share International Magazine.
Authors Details:Swami Nirliptananda
Swami Nirlipananda is a senior Swami in one of the temples of the Asian community in London, deeply acquainted with the teachings of Maitreya.