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The Connection Between Samadhanam and Sama and Dama
Kate: Of the qualifications, samadhanam is the most challenging qualification and what trips me up the most. Can you explain exactly why and what it entails?
Sundari: Samadhanam is keeping the mind on the Self for extended periods of time, which is essential for Self-inquiry. If the greedy, needy monkey mind hijacks the mind through the senses, concentration is lost and along with it, usually, discrimination is lost too. There is a direct link between samadhanam and sama and dama, control of thoughts and actions, i.e. the senses. To keep all the sense organs in check and follow dharma requires keeping the mind on the Self, unmoving. It is tough for everyone because of the nature of the mind. Perhaps the hardest sense organ to control is speech, and almost all the problems in life start there. For most inquirers, control of mind and keeping it on the Self instead of typically acting out the jiva’s mental/emotional patterns is a lifelong learning! A thought always precedes an emotion, so as long as we can manage the thought with karma yoga and say NO! to it before it morphs into an emotion, then into speech and on to actions we regret, we can avoid the inevitable karma blowback and loss of self-esteem that acting out our impulses brings. The thing to remember is that the jiva is made a certain way, and that’s okay. We can never perfect it. Discrimination and karma yoga is the key to managing it. My favourite saying at the moment is, “Okay, so the jiva reacts to certain things – so what?” The litmus test is, how long does the shit stick? If Self-knowledge is firm, it kicks in immediately and resolves the karma on the spot, no problem. No blowback – or very little.
But unfortunately, binding vasanas make it difficult to keep the mind focused on Self-inquiry or act on the knowledge when they are triggered. Once triggered, the vasana can temporarily stand in the way of Self-knowledge. If this happens, one seems to forget and starts defending the jiva position instead of walking away from it, which is why it’s so hard to dismiss the jiva, and where all the “work” of Self-inquiry takes place. Living Self-knowledge is what it’s all about, one thought at a time. I think most dedicated inquirers forget just how much progress they have made, so don’t be hard on yourself. I am sure if you had to look back to before you started Self-inquiry, there is a world of a difference between how the jiva stuck to Self-inquiry or typically responded to triggering situations. So pat yourself on the back and stick with the program! You are no less the Self in any situation.
~ Much love, Sundari