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Adrian: Hello, Tan. I promised to send some background info so here it is. I tried to keep it simple and to the point.
I am married with two daughters, aged two and four. I live in a small town and work as a teacher of English for a small language school.
I think my lifestyle is quite sattvic. I don’t go to parties or discos and avoid crowds in general. I don’t mind being alone; in fact I enjoy it.
At work I do what needs to be done but do not spend too much time there – lucky me! My diet is not perfect but more or less sattvic.
Tan: When we met I had the impression that you have a quite sattvic subtle body. So I am not convinced that you lack many or all qualifications as you pointed out in your previous email but there just might be some small misunderstanding that Vedanta can dissolve.
Adrian: You wrote: “If the objects agitate your mind it’s only because there is some like or dislike towards them (attachment) and the misunderstanding that they might fulfill you or might hurt/diminish you.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. The LIKE part doesn’t seem to be a problem. I have some likes here and there which agitate the mind a bit but these are not a problem, usually. I just throw them overboard.
The DISLIKE part seems to be a big problem; that’s what I need to work on. I do have strong dislike towards some people and situations. Angry, aggressive, rajasic people can really drive me up the wall or make me feel fearful. I try to avoid such people/situations but it is not always possible, of course.
Tan: It will increase dispassion when you understand that firstly you have no control over the gunas of other people. So if they are rajasic, they are rajasic. Your desire to control something that you have no control over is therefore a waste of energy and just adds to the agitation in your mind. Isvara has given these people those gunas so they do not even have control over themselves.
Angry, aggressive people are suffering, and if they could change it they would do it. But they are not in control.
Secondly, you, as Adrian, the jiva, are a more sattvic person so it is natural and wise that you want to avoid a rajasic environment. Also, the rajas in the subtle body of people with whom you associate has an influence on your subtle body. So their rajas makes your subtle body more rajasic because there is actually only one subtle body. The subtle body of all jivas is actually one body. So through their rajas you suffer and your sattvic disposition helps you to understand that it is so.
In summary, you, as awareness, have no control over the gunas of the people and you also have no control over the gunas of Adrian.
So next time Adrian gets angry or fearful you can take it with a smile and realize: “Okay, here is good old Adrian going again playing the fearful or angry game.”
Therefore consider this quote from the Gita, Chapter 3, verse 33:
“It is wise to act in harmony with your own nature. Because all beings follow their own natures automatically what use is control?”
This includes the rajasic people you are talking about and this includes Adrian, the jiva.
I think Adrian is as good as he gets. He is a good, sattvic person who follows dharma, loves his wife and kids. That is the impression I got when we met and talked in Schondorf. And he is qualified to hear Vedanta or else he would not have been led to it by Isvara and he would not have stuck with it.
To that point svadharma is also an important qualification. Svadharma means that you accept Adrian as he is. He has his good side and he has his bad side. But he is fine as Isvara made him. Do not try to make Adrian perfect. If he is fearful or angry – when there is a rajasic person present – accept the fear or the anger as that which Isvara has given as a result in this moment. Accept it, do not indulge in it. You can take it as prasad with the karma yoga attitude.
That is how things are – at the moment. This is not shameful. This is what is.
Adrian: James sometimes talks about how his guru was totally impervious to any negative experience. I believe the exact words he uses are “he could lay any experience to rest immediately, so that it didn’t stick.”
Tan: That is possible through constant discrimination (atma-anatma-viveka). It is based on understanding that experience does not change you, awareness. All experiences come and go. You always stay the same. It is like the duck swimming in the lake. The water does not stick to its body (and its feathers). Just see for yourself that this is true. Where are all the past experiences now? They are gone. You, awareness, remain unchanged by any of those experiences.
Adrian: These words ring in my ears like some beautiful, sweet music! I try to apply the triguna yoga here, to see that anyone’s behaviour is really just a play of the gunas, that people just act out their conditioning.
But I almost always fail miserably.
I tell myself “it’s just rajoguna there” and then I get agitated and angry. Or, to be more exact, there is a lot of agitation and anger in the mind.
Tan: Every man would like to be like the Buddha, like Chinmayananda in that example. But Adrian has his dharma and the Buddha and Chinmayananda had theirs.
Yes, the yoga of three gunas (triguna yoga) explains that there is rajas at work but it does not necessarily put the experience to rest. You can put the experience to rest when you see that it has nothing to do with you. It cannot diminish you and it cannot add anything to you. You remain unchanged as awareness, always full, always shining.
All experiences – regardless of them being sattvic, rajasic or tamasic – do not change you. They do not stick to you. They are only apparently real, they are mithya. You do not change, you are there before, during and after the experience irrespective of the guna flavor of that experience. You are satya. You do not change therefore you are the only thing that is true and real.
~ With love, Tan