In our lives, we face unknown situations. We face ups and downs. Wanted things donâ€™t always happen and unwanted things frequently happen. We wish for many things in our lives â€” personal events, wealth, fame but often the sewishes donâ€™t come true. And then we become miserable. In life, we develop cravings, aversions and attachments and they become the source of our future suffering. As we progress in life, we start accumulating mental negativities, fear, anger, ill will, animosity, greed, passion etc. Our egos start getting inflated, and all these too become causes of our future suffering.
Is there a way out? A way out of misery and suffering! Fortunately, the answer is yes. There is a technique which can help us maintain equanimity, to keep our mental balance in the face of every unexpected situation, every unwanted outcome, when unwanted things happen, when wanted things donâ€™t happen and when our wishes do not come true.
We spend the better half of our lives being a slave of our mind but there is a technique, which can help us, become the master. If our clothes get dirty, we know how to wash them. If our body gets dirty, we know how to take a bath. But if our mind gets filled with impurities, defilements, do we know how to clean our mind?
You begin by simple observation of your breath, no breathing exercise but simple and objective observation of the natural breath as you inhale and exhale. This may appear simple but, in reality, when you start doing that, you begin to discover the true nature of the mind. It wanders all the time. You would have observed just one or two breaths and the mind wanders away, into memories of the past or the plans for the future. It is difficult to focus continuously on your breath.
It is difficult to tame the mind, just as it is difficult to tame a wild animal. But with patience and practice, it is possible. It is possible to develop prolonged concentration to observe oneâ€™s natural breath, as it comes in and goes out. This step has its own benefits but it is only the first step.
Our breath and the state of our mind are closely related. You may have observed that when we lose our mental balance, become fearful or angry or upset, our breathing loses its natural rhythm and becomes harder and faster. So, by objective observation of our breath we can reach the inner depth of our subconscious mind. Modern psychologists have discovered that what is on the surface is our conscious mind but what lies underneath is our subconscious mind, and the subconscious is very vast as compared to the conscious.
When we become capable of attaining prolonged focus on our breath, we also become capable of observing the truth within ourselves, that there are vibrations or sensations within our body all the time. Then we gradually discover another truth about ourselves. We think that it is an event taking place outside which makes us happy or unhappy. But as we progress in this technique we discover that the external event generates a corresponding sensation within our body and it is this sensation within our body, either pleasant or unpleasant, which really makes us happy or unhappy. Unfortunately, we automatically react to the sensations and they start to multiply. But if we develop the capability to observe the sensations without reaction, they just pass away. We discover that the sensations are impermanent. We then gain the wisdom â€” why should we make ourselves miserable by developing any craving, aversion or attachment to such an impermanent thing. All our mental impurities and defilements are stored within ourselves, but by objective observation of the sensations within our body we can gradually eradicate or get rid of them. This technique helps us to reduce our fear, anger, ill will, animosity, and greed and to diminish our ego, and ultimately we can get rid of them totally. This is the path to happiness.
We learn how not to get upset in our lives, how to live peacefully and harmoniously and how to be happy ourselves and spread happiness all around. This was the discovery and the teaching of the great son of Nepal, Gautam the Buddha. He never started an organised religion, the type we know today. He simply taught us a way of life, an art of living â€” how to live happily and peacefully. The technique was called â€œVipassanaâ€.
â€œVipassanaâ€ is a Pali word.
â€œPassanaâ€ means to see and â€œVipassanaâ€ means a special way of seeing the truth within us. â€œVipassanaâ€ meditation is taught in 10-day courses at authorised centres and there is no charge for attending such courses. The courses are operated out of funds voluntarily donated by grateful meditators who benefited from this technique themselves and so want to make it possible for others to learn and benefit from it.
As you become more independent in life, many temptations come your way. If you remain a slave of your mind, you may give in to the temptations, with adverse consequences, not only for yourself but also for those who love and care about you. You need to have control over your mind to fight these temptations.
There is a difference between a responsibility and an attachment. You put in your effort to achieve a result, but if you do not succeed, do you get upset or frustrated? If yes, that was an attachment, if no and you say to yourself, â€œwhat I did before did not succeed, so I will try again.â€ Then it is a responsibility you are fulfilling properly.
You need mastery over your mind. A pure and calm mind will always help you make the right decisions; it will always take you on the right path. This is the fundamental requirement to lead a happy, harmonious and peaceful life.
There was a man who wanted to win a lottery. Every night, before going to bed he would pray, â€œOh God, please let me win the lotteryâ€. And this went on. Night after night he would pray the same prayer. One day, the Almighty couldnâ€™t take it anymore. So, that night when the man prayed, â€œOh God, please let me win the lotteryâ€, a loud booming voice said from above, â€œIf you want to win the lottery, first buy a lottery ticket!â€
So remember, if you want to be happy in life, donâ€™t forget the fundamentals and also forget to buy that lottery ticket.
(The author is the vice chairman of Jyoti Group)