Vairagya: Remembrance of the True Self
by Nischala Joy Devi.
March 12, 2014.
In the last couple blogs, I’ve been talking about Abhyasa and Vairagya two components that are essential to reunion with the True Self. Patanjali talks about this in the Yoga Sutras:
Yoga Sutra 1.12
Consciousness is elevated by Abhyasa (Devoted Practice)
and Vairagya (Remembering the Self)
Last week I talked a bit about Abhyasa, Devoted Practice. Now, lets focus on Vairagya, Remembering the Self.
Yoga Sutra 1.15
With constant remembrance of the Self, Vairagya, all yearnings fade.
As our focus turns toward remembering the True Self, we naturally identify less and less with external desires or wants. This perspective reveals that we are merely the temporary caretakers of whatever we possess. With this attitude, nothing binds us. As life bestows gifts upon us, we are delighted. With their revocation, we may feel momentarily upset; but, with the grace of remembering our Divine Self, our emotional equilibrium is quickly restored.
Through remembering the Self we become lucid and vibrant like a diamond. Millions of years of pressure on a simple lump of solid coal transforms it into a pure, transparent diamond that reflects and refracts light. This prismatic effect showers rainbows of colors on everything without discrimination (viveka). The diamond also appears to take the color of any object nearby. But once removed, it is perfectly colorless again. Likewise, when our minds and hearts clearly reflect our true nature, we may acquire many things, but nothing permanently taints our clarity.
With this lucidity, we enthusiastically adopt that which enhances the light and redirect that which dims it. As we become free, we become more and more comfortable with the natural flow of material things. Much of what we yearn for comes to us. We enjoy the treasures of the world while they are with us, knowing full well we will not bind to them, nor they to us. And, as they depart, our arms open wide and let them fly. Steady in both circumstances, we remember who we really are.
This concept has its greatest challenge when we are separated from our friends and loved ones, especially without our permission or when it seems permanent. Our heart feels a vast emptiness where it once was filled with love. At these times it takes great strength to restore and sustain our equilibrium. By securing a place within our hearts to hold their love and by continuing our devoted practice, our balance is more easily reestablished.
Often Vairagya is explained as “nonattachment.” This is a harsh misunderstanding, which provokes avoidance of a situation or a person, based on translations that guide us toward what not to do instead of what to do. This interpretation of Vairagya grants permission to be cold and uncaring, “non-attached,” as a way of not getting hurt by others, or negatively attached. Such a stance is often accompanied by a large dose of fear and insecurity. It is exactly the opposite of the oneness our hearts are leading us to.
Similarly, we may find ourselves separating from some of the sweetness of life for the sake of being “spiritual.” Many people associate spirituality with being withdrawn and even a bit cranky. This, too, is a misconception. We are at once Divine and human; spirit dances together with nature, and its expression is joy!
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