Monday, August 15, 2011

19) Politcial Freedom to Psychological Freedom

Today i.e Mon  15 August 2011 is India's 65th Independence Day and the entire country is celebrating India's Independence from British rule and this freedom did not come cheaply it came after 90 years of Intense struggle starting with the first war of Independence also called Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 which was crushed brutally by the Britishers and from then up to 1947 there were various forms of protests , agitations peaceful and non peaceful and finally under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi India won its Independence on 15 August 1947 in a peaceful way but this freedom came at the cost of Partition of India and it resulted in lot of bloodshed and violence .Though the freedom struggle was itself peaceful it had its after effects in the form of various communal violence due to partition and while the Britishers were driven off ,India continued to fight within itself .  Now India is politically free ,but there is lot of discontent here due to Corruption , poverty ,lack of development , high cost of living , Urban Rural divide etc and many people in various parts of India are now fighting against the Government ,some through arms and some through peaceful  means .So what I am trying to say is that even after achieving political freedom ,India is still struggling to maintain peace and order as not all sections of the  people are contended and still the struggle continues .
 Now what does the above mean for Yoga practitioners ? Many people discontented with their regular lives take to yoga for solace and are happy in the initial stages with the rest and relief provided by Yoga and some also take the next step of becoming yoga teachers but not all are happy leading the life either as yoga practitioners or yoga teachers barring a few as the feeling of discontent is still there .They keep changing their yoga styles , try vipassana or other new meditation techniques , take to zen ,visit India and keep searching various Gurus to fill their void in their lives . This void will continue to be there until we achieve "psychological freedom." The term "psychological freedom " is  a subtle concept and is bit difficult to explain as the human mind is highly conditioned through various conflicting desires , ambitions , urges etc and such a mind cannot really grasp what it means to be  psychologically free . In conventional spiritual terms the word 'Moksha' or 'Nirvana' or 'Enlightenment' is used to denote this state of freedom but the problem is that people have fancy notions about these terms and believe that this is a special 'mental state'  that can be achieved through the practice of yoga , mantra chanting and some form of meditation either buddhist meditation or yogic meditation  .Those who are not in to Yoga or Meditation take the help of drugs ,alcohol etc to achieve these high mental states .The thing is all these techniques help a person only to develop a relative mental calmness but it can never help that person to erase all his unresolved thoughts , urges , desires ,ambitions and they spring up after some time after these practices are over . So Yogic practitioners curse themselves when these thoughts resurface again and therefore again  learn some new technique or go to a new workshop or a  new retreat to handle these stressful thoughts and while retreats , meditations etc can act as a temporary balm in healing these stressful thoughts ,it cannot help a person completely resolve it .Note I am using the word resolve instead of erase as erasing a thought is a temporary thing but resolving a thought is a permanent thing .
Unfortunately world over this subject of how to resolve one's stressful thoughts receives very less attention and  world over new and new yoga and meditation centres keep springing up that keeps introducing techniques after techniques promising people to control their thoughts or keep their thoughts suppressed through various meditations techniques like mantra meditation , vipassana meditation , zen meditation etc etc . Thoughts have been looked upon like enemies waiting to be cut or suppressed ,this is like brutally suppressing an agitating public with a brute police/military   force by the Government without taking pains to understand why the people are agitating in the first place .World over many freedom struggle still continues to exist because of this brutal suppression by the State of one set of people who are fighting for their political freedom . While they may succeed in keeping the people suppressed through brute military force they are not happy as they fear that any time the uprising may again erupt and cause lot of tension and disturbance .So that is why great Political leaders say that the best way to resolve a crisis and bring in permanent peace  is through dialogue and not through arms and violence .Extending this same analogy to what is happening in our own minds , our thoughts are constantly rebelling and expressing discontent and first we try to  win over them through our own Career and Economic Goals and while it gives  a temporary satisfaction , the thoughts again start rebelling feeling discontented and we keep changing one goal after the other and then finally we take to yoga and spirituality to address this problem and again for the  time being the mind is happy and less agitated but again after some time the mind starts agitating and it leads to a sort of spiritual frustration . This is where people like J.Krishnamurti , Ramana Maharshi and Byron Katie say that you cannot achieve a permanent peace of mind by suppressing the thoughts through mantra , meditation etc and the best way to achieve piece is to resolve them through Enquiry/Vichara  .Out of these 3  people I found the vichara /enquiry method of J.Krishnamurti to be very simple and straight forward and does not require you to attend any workshop or retreat to practice it. It is done by asking a simple question "why are u doing this action" or "what is the motive of doing this action " .Here this action can be anything -secular or spiritual . It is questioning first our own motives in doing any action and each of these motives leads to other submotives and this chain of inner hidden motives and desires are there that we need to confront it .This type of vichara is easy to explain but very difficult to practice as for centuries our minds have been trained only to move only outside and never inwards and even when it moved inwards it was kept occupied by what we wanted it to occupy like a mantra , prayer , breath etc but here we are investigating the very content of our own minds and investigating the very motives of all our goals , ambitions , urges right from childhood  in an impartial manner and the mind resists such a sort of inner investigation . It is basically an act of stripping ourselves mentally naked to discover our hidden motives .Once we start doing this honestly then we feel more light and  less stressful as now we are more comfortable in understanding the next time when he encounter any stress that the culprit is not outside but inside us in the form of our own stressful thoughts and that the best way to handle them is not through any new meditation or mantra but through simple investigation to our own thoughts , motives and desires and resolving it then and there .Doing this technique only works when we are really interested in discovering the truth even if it means blasting away of all the goals ,ambitions and desires that we have built up over the many years .So next time when we are confronted in any stressful situation we need to ask ourselves only this simple question i.e are we interested in truth or interested in our opinions and desires being right even if it goes against what is true ?Doing  this sort of vichara or enquiry needs lot of patience , energy and focus and as I said unfortunately it is not being taught or encouraged to be done as people are more interested in quick fixes and instant stress busters rather than doing a mental surgery on themselves . A Psychological revolution is necessary to achieve success in this sort . Just like for a political revolution to be successful lot of sacrifices are to be made ,similarly for this psychological revolution to be successful we need to make lot of sacrifices with regard to our own personal goals , ambitions and desires .Only then  we will have a taste of true Psychological freedom . Only when the citziens of the world are psychologically free will we have permanent peace otherwise tensions will start erupting at various parts of the world and that will lead to war and insurgency and hence we see that for thousands of years wars are constantly being fought even after many countries are Politically free . So  Psychological freedom is the true freedom and on this day of India's Political  freedom I wanted to share this piece on my blog .

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