The Self-Purification Virtual Event was an elegant combination of discourses, chanting, meditations, visualizations, and beautiful music created specially to help us progress on our spiritual journey during the pandemic. Conducted by Swamiji and Sadhvi Vrinda Om, the event focused on the ten emotions that plague us from the moment we start to make sense of this world all through our lives: kama, krodha, lobha, moha, ahamkara, raga, dvesha, bhaya, ghrina, and lajja.
Swamiji’s opening session began with the invocation to the divine Mother. He reminded us that the result of all good sadhana is the purification of the self. With a delightful story, he illustrated the concept of trishna, the insatiable thirst driving force behind every action, good or bad, that one does. Asking us to answer three questions truthfully, which would then highlight the impediments to our spiritual growth, Swamiji set us off on the journey of self-purification.
~ What is the purpose of my life?
~ What are my weaknesses?
~ Who is the one person in my life I resent?
Sadhviji started her daily sessions singing the Guru stuti, and then gave a short discourse, peppered with very relatable personal anecdotes on one emotion every day. Every 45-minute session was a carefully combined mix of visualization, Om chanting, and chanting of the 12-lettered mantra of Maha Vishnu: Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, accompanied by the lilting notes of the piano played by the young virtuoso, Adi.
In the first session, Sadhviji urged us to merge our web of desires into Lord Narayan and Mother Lakshmi. She reminded us that each of us had a personal Krishnometer that helps us move from trishna to Krishna. Over the next ten days, she took us through one emotion each day, helping us understand it, and gave us tips on how to move ahead on our journey, all the while using our inbuilt ‘Krishnometer’ to steer us.
“…it is not possible for me
To restrain the external course of things;
But should I restrain this mind of mine
What would be the need to restrain all else?”
~ A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life ~
The session on anger helped us understand that it’s an emotion present in each one of us. It stems from the frustration of unmet expectations. The tips for dealing with anger? Our resentment must turn to care. To start to care, one must become mindful, understanding, and know a person’s heart. Sacrifice, Sadhviji illustrated with a beautiful example, was the way to deal with this.
She used Gandhari’s attachment to her son, Duryodhana, to help us understand that lobha or attachment as the yearning or drive to see something through at any cost, and how it plays a significant role in our relationships. Gandhari’s reluctance to reprimand her son unleashed a series of catastrophic events. At the other end of the Krishnometer is freedom – to let things run their course, to be who we are, and create beautiful relationships, without thinking of what we could gain.
An essential aspect of ego or ahamkara, Sadhviji explained, is that it propels us to do things that fetch us attention: name, fame and glory, and demands acknowledgment. It is the persistent drumming in our heads that tells us we are superior, causing us to become blind to our faults, creating false pride and arrogance, causing hurt. At the other end of the spectrum is humility. Like Swamiji says, there are two ways to cultivate humility: either life springs a nasty surprise on us or we see the suffering of others. All we need to do is observe and listen.
The irresistible desire that one cannot drop, in front of which everything else pales is raga or passion. While not necessarily harmful, except when it becomes an addiction like online or binge-watching shows, has a simple antidote – moderation.
Jealousy or dvesha is a universal emotion that arises from ignorance, ego, and discontent. The journey to overcome jealousy and envy is a personal one and includes being happy for the other, finding one’s sense of security, and not losing one’s peace of mind, which is a seeker’s goal.
“We fear in life, in death of what is to come and that which has gone by.
Some things will be taken away from us, neither replaced nor returned.
Loss and loneliness, failure, and rejection – they will rear their stubborn heads.
Know this, O noble soul: in life, in death, our fears will cling to us like mold.”
~ Sadhvi Vrinda ~
All fear or bhaya is rooted in avidya or ignorance and clings to us like mold, she said. There are three kinds of fear: the fear of rejection or failure, the fear of loss or loneliness, and the fear of death. The four things we can do to combat fear are: prepare ourselves and make ourselves competent or dakshita; two, develop dispassion or udasinta; three, surrender that life will work out; and four acknowledge and be grateful that the divinity that runs through creation also runs through us.
Hate or ghrina is an emotion that can cause a lot of damage. It is also sadly empowering because it trumps sanity and compassion in the blink of an eye. At the other end of the Krishnometer, Sadhviji says, is understanding. When we understand someone, it becomes difficult to hate them because it turns into compassion and empathy.
Shame, lajja, or taboo is the most manipulative emotion and the cousin of guilt and shreds one’s self- esteem to pieces. It is a way to belittle someone and exert one’s superiority. At the other end are conviction and courage. Mistakes can always be corrected, and we must act without judgment, add to our self-worth, and meditate with self-love.
Sadhviji talked about Divine love, which makes one feel free and emotionally stable, and the importance of keeping Bhagavan with us every waking moment. She closed her sessions, reiterating that there is only the individual and the Divine on this journey – because Bhagavan is everything.
Our journey from Trishna to Krishna has only two hurdles:
The last four days had discourses by Swamiji, wherein he summarized the previous 11 days. The one simple mantra that can change our lives, Swamiji says, is self-reliance and needs both patience and persistence. Our spiritual journey must have joy and a sense of fulfillment. One must not lose sight of why we started sadhana in the first place. Moving from trishna to Krishna has two hurdles: ego and desire (lust). All the other eight emotions only occur because ego and lust are out of control.
The Self-Purification virtual event is available till September 30th, 2020.