This is a strange topic. To me the mind means confusion. There are a few people who are not confused because they know how to harness their mind to derive all its power. We use only a fraction of the energy available to us, which when used to its potential can be applied through the retainment of memory and solving of situations.
The mind is ‘raga dvesha’, all the things we desire and all that we withdraw from. Our liking and disliking. This is what creates conflict. Our inability to accept things just as they are without passing judgement upon them.
There are very vital questions which cause conflict: ‘what is the meaning of life?’ Do I put my efforts into finding a job to obtain money or do I live my life as a traveller living hand to mouth? These questions cause us great confusion. According to Patanjali the biggest cause of confusion is ignorance of the reasons behind existence. This is called ‘Avidya’, or lack of knowledge. In life we often accept things as they are. We accept suffering. The question arises: how does one live without suffering? The important thing is to not choose our life’s path with our heads. We must find purpose in our lives which does not violate others. If we allow others to make decisions for us and we follow – as is often the dynamic between parent and child in India – we become detached from the real meaning behind the structure and content of our lives. Most of the time we prefer to be insensitive. We block ourselves from making enquiry into the deeper meaning of things. Blocking myself from the truth makes my levels of dissatisfaction higher and higher. How can I be happy like this?
There is only one reason why we are born. That is to become free of suffering. Therefore, a happiness that is permanent and not reliant on external factors is paramount. It is important for us to understand in our life what the mind does. Options arise in the mind as concepts; in fact, there are no options. There is only one path for each of us but because we are preoccupied with our desires and aversions we get stuck. We don’t know which way to go. The practice of Yoga is learning about this and dismantling it. When I learn how to shut off the mind I begin to live in the heart.
Does the mind want to be annihilated?
The mind has wonderful tricks that it plays on us. One of them is doubt, the other is postponement. You will notice one thing when you practice the asanas: when the posture is easy there is no problem. When the posture is difficult then the mind begins to look for escape. Whenever I am in a challenging situation my emotions are stirred and I lose myself completely. The mind has its ways of rejecting aspects of life when all that can really be done is accept things as they are. This process of observing and accepting is how Vipassana meditation came about.
How do we come back to the heart and what helps us to get there?
There is only one way and that is to be silent. There is no way of shutting the mind down. It keeps bubbling like a pressure cooker and if you suppress it then it is bound to explode. You must let it be and learn not to listen to it. That is the meaning of silence – not that you remove all thoughts but that you learn to observe them without reacting. The moment you attend to your thoughts then you get stuck.
How does one choose when to act or to accept?
After this centre began to operate we heard that our neighbours here were trying to get a road made. I questioned ‘should I sit down and accept?’ I decided ‘no’ and had a petition signed by all the locals here. For four years we held out. In December they brought the bulldozer in. They were waiting for the chance, it came eventually. When I returned and discovered the harm of bulldozing all the trees was already done. What is the point of fighting now? Now it is time to relax and accept. Whenever you can help, though, then you should. To be in the heart means to evolve or to generate love. That is the reason for living.
How do I make decision in life?
When I am in a state of complete decision then I let the coin decide! Why let the mind take over and exhaust you with weighing up all the pros and cons? Why waste all that energy? I didn’t make lots of choices in life although it may look like I have – we have this amazing hall, we have the ashram. They were hard to obtain but I just simply decided to get them. No indecision or strain.
There is a very beautiful poem written by Kalil Jibran on ‘Love’. It says that you have to love no matter what you go through. He gives the example of corn which has to be ground down, kneaded and put through the fire. All for God’s sacred meal. Even when love is torture you have to surrender to it.
We have to learn how not to be influenced by the mind. We must be pulled by another energy, one which is pure and clean. Positive thinking, even when we are not wise, will lead us towards wisdom.
What is the definition of Yoga? My definition is the same as Patanjali. He says that Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Then, he says, we see our true selves. I don’t have my own words of wisdom. I learnt from the Masters.
What is the best way to continue your Yoga Practice?
That is what we are teaching you in class: how to be balanced. It doesn’t matter what comes, you stay balanced. Balance brings about equanimity on all levels. You learn how to be quiet and peaceful in face of all circumstances.
How do I discern whether a Yoga School is good or not?
Learn well and then you have no need to look here and there. You will have an independent practice. The whole process is about going inwards. The true practice begins when you are by yourself. That is also when the true test begins, when you see if what you are doing is really what you want. I talk about silence, which a lot of people find very boring. Whenever people stay somewhere without their phones there is great conflict. When there is no outlet for the energy to be drained it has to be processed in a different way. Come and take an Intensive Course and it is then that your private practice will begin.
A rule of life is that none who is truthful and who lives their life truthfully will ever starve. That is law of nature. Does the mind believe it, no! The mind believes the more I do, the more I get. That has been inculcated within us. That is the mischief of society. We have been fed with this all our life.
How do you know what the heart wants? The heart doesn’t want anything?
Love is for love itself. You don’t live something for an outcome. That is mathematics. Love for love’s sake purifies us.
How do you tell the difference between what your heart is trying to say and what your mind is saying?
The heart does not speak, it just knows. As soon as options are arising delete them. There was a long time for which Krishnamurti was seen to be a hero. He would wake up early and walk for four hours. Then he would come back and do some Yoga Practice that BKS Iyengar had taught him. After which he had a few seeds – his breakfast – then he would be ready for his audience. The same is true for Ramana Maharishi. He would tell his workers to keep the ashram doors open in case someone needed him. No self, just service.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Yoga Teachers Training Course, Dharamsala, April 2018