In the world, we have several relationships - in the family, outside the family etc., But according to our (sastras) scriptures all those other relationships are incidental which can maximum last for 100 years. Whereas, there is one relationship, which is eternal relationship and that is with the Lord, the Creator, with Bhagavan which we consider as the primary relationship.
Everyone of us is a Jiva from vyavaharika dhrishti. Every one of us as Jiva is related to Iswara, Iswara being the cause of everything. Between the Jiva and Iswara, there is a karya karana sambandha.
The Lord is the universal parent and we are all the children. As Ardhanaareeshwara He is both the father and the mother.
And therefore this one relationship is the most stable relationship, and therefore we have to nourish and preserve this stable relationship. And not only this is the most stable relationship, this is most reliable relationship also, which we can depend upon in our day-to-day life.
Spiritual benefit of bhakti [Devotion]
In and through all the functions that we celebrate, we want to nourish this bhakti or this relationship with Iswara. This nourishment of Bhakti has got two-fold benefits.
One is the spiritual benefit. This kind of puja will give purity of mind and gradually we will get a desire for liberation, which is our primary goal. And thereafter the very same bhakti will give an opportunity to pursue moksha, an opportunity to gain spiritual knowledge. This is the spiritual benefit of the bhakti that we nourish.
In addition to spiritual benefits, we do have some worldly benefits also. Even if a person is not interested in moksha, still bhakthi is worth nourishing, because it has got some practical benefits also.
I would like to discuss, some of the practical benefits of nourishing bhakti in our hearts. I would like to share some thoughts with regard to one practical benefit. All of us, as human beings have a basic psychological problem. It is in the form of an attitudinal problem, which is natural and which is universal also.
We have got mental or psychological resistance, when we have to face difficult situations in life. By mental resistance, what I mean is - we don't have a willingness to go through the situation. We have got unwillingness to go through difficult situations. And it is natural because, if any difficult situation comes in life, we consider, look upon it as a threat to life, for our own life. The conscious mind, backed by sub-conscious mind perceives a survival threat. The moment there is a difficult situation or there is a possibility of a difficult situation, instinctively there is an emotional resistance in the form of - I am not willing to go through this difficult situation.
This natural resistance to face difficult situations in life is a very serious psychological problem all have. Why do I say it is a serious problem?
Because, in life there is one fact, which we all have to acknowledge. The fact is every human being has to necessarily confront difficult situations in life. It is law of life.
It is an integral part of life - that every living being, every human being will have to confront difficult situations in life.
If a person is very skilled, very wealthy, very capable and takes lot of precautions in life, perhaps he can reduce the frequency of the difficult situations. Perhaps, he can reduce the intensity, the duration of the difficult situations. But, he can never never can avoid difficult situations - 100%.
All our puranic stories of Dharmaputra, Nala, etc., are meant to reveal this fact. Life means "difficult situations are integral part". Not only emperors have failed, even [Lord] Bhagavan - when he comes in the form of avatara - whether it is Rama or Krishna even the avatara confronts difficult situations. Therefore, What is the law of life? One has to confront difficult situations. What is our emotional problem? Our unwillingness to face difficult situations.
These two are the laws of life.
I have to face difficult situations. My natural, emotional attitude is - I am not willing to confront difficult situations. These two diagonally opposite situations create a lot of problems in human life.
One has to face difficult situations in life. But our natural, emotional attitude is - We are not willing to confront difficult situations. These two diagonally opposite situations create lot of problems in human life. Difficult situations are bound to come - is one law. My mind is not willing to face it is another.
Whenever there is difficult situation, either it has arrived or there is a possibility of arrival - The moment that looms in front of my mind, parallely along with the arrival of the difficult situation or the possibility of the arrival, internally within my mind - the emotional resistance also rises.
Therefore, at any time, when a difficult situation comes, we have to confront two problems simultaneously. One is the external difficult situation, the other is internal mental resistance - unwillingness of the mind to go through the situation.
Difficult situation is external problem. Mental resistance is internal problem. Thus, parallely, every time a difficult situation comes, I have to face two enemies simultaneously.
Unfortunately when these enemies are there, we generally notice the external enemy, but we don't recognize the internal enemy of resistance, which is perhaps more powerful and dangerous than the internal one.
Adverse consequences of Mental resistance
This resistance is a serious mental problem because, it causes several adverse consequences. Only when we understand the consequences, we will know how serious this internal problem is. When I don't know how serious it is, I will never try to remedy that.
One problem the emotional resistance produces is, it magnifies the difficult situation. It becomes a magnifying glass and the magnitude of the difficult situation is enlarged.
1) First adverse consequence -
Magnification of the external problem
The magnification of the difficult and the pain, is directly proportional to the resistance. Greater the resistance, greater the magnification both of the difficult and pain.
So, the first adverse consequence of our inner enemy is the magnification of the external problem.
2) Second disadvantage of resistance -
Obstruction of problem solving skills
The second disadvantage is when the problem or the difficult situation is magnified multifold, naturally my mind perceives a larger than life problem and therefore the mind is overpowered by the magnified problem.
The mind is overwhelmed, overpowered and it gets paralyzed. A paralyzed mind cannot use its resources, its skills to handle the difficult situation.
Thus the second problem is resistance obstructs my problem solving skills.
3) Third consequence of resistance -
The third consequence is - resistance always generates negative thoughts about the future. Even though we don't know the future, when there is mental resistance, I look at the difficult situation, what all events will happen I don't know. But my mind becomes highly creative, negatively.
I imagine future negative events in all directions. Any direction of thinking my mind goes - it generates negative events. All are worst types of negative events.
Therefore, resistance is the cause of thinking negatively. The negative thinking is directly proportion to resistance.
There is an important law. Negative thinking attracts negative events. The mind has got such a power, it is called sankalpa shakti, which we are applying negatively.
Mind has got tremendous power - that any thought will attract an event similar to that thought.
Any thought when it is repeated several times, that repeated that will attract the event and an event similar to the thought.
Positive thought will attract positive event. Negative thought will attract negative event.
Resistance generates negative thoughts. And by my own negative thoughts, I attract negative events. Somebody looked at the astrology [jatakam] and said, it is bad period. Because the astrologer has said, one keeps on repeating that this is bad period and negative event should happen.
I do this meditation [dhyanam]. Whether the planets brings the event or not, by my sheer thought, I crystallize the negative event. Like the cloud seeding by Silver iodide - which can crystallize the clouds and bring rain, we crystallize the possibility of negative event and make it happen.
This is called self-fulfilling prophecy. I myself repeat the thought and make sure that astrologer is right. I validate the astrologer by my cooperation with negative thinking. Thus, resistance produce negative thinking, attracting negative events. This is the third danger.
4) Fourth danger of resistance - STRESSThe fourth danger is resistance generates stress. When I am not willing to go through difficult situation in keeping with the intensity of my resistance, a tremendous tension or stress is created in my physical body and in my mind also. Generally it is experienced, all over body and everything is stretched. This is stress generated by resistance.
We think stress is generated by difficult situation. Unfortunately, stress is not generated by difficult situation. Stress is generated by resistance to difficult situation.
Now a days, we are reading continuous stress will create several health problems viz., short term health problem, long term health problem, physical health problem, psychological health problem, reversible health problem, irreversible health problem. All because of stress medically proved and the stress is generated by not by difficult situation, stress is generated by resistance.
Therefore, we should understand our unwillingness to face difficult situation in life is a powerful internal enemy which strengthens the external enemy also and it creates several problems for me. Like anti-national people within the country who are supporting the terrorists outside.
This is the fifth column. Resistance is like the fifth column. It magnifies our external enemy, weakens our skills and creates all this negative problems. Therefore, I should understand that my primary enemy in life is resistance. Resistance meaning my unwillingness to face difficult situations which is inevitable in life, which is the law of life.
To remember these problem, we can remember these four points.
2) Obstruction of the skill.
3) Negative thinking.
4) Fourth one is stress.
Take the first letters to remember, MONSTRESS.
N-Negative thinking and
STRESS - Stress
Hence, resistance generates a MONSTRESS. The word "MONSTRESS" word is only refers "male gender", there is no female gender word for word "MONSTRESS". This is the consequence of resistance. Therefore, if the quality of our life has to be improved and if we want to avoid health problems caused by resistance, we have to address this problem.
How do I solve the problem?
Very simple, you have to bring the opposites. If there is darkness is the problem, what is the only solution, light the opposite has to be brought in.
If unwillingness to face the difficult is our problem, what is the opposite of that. The opposite of unwillingness is WILLINGNESS to face the difficult situations, as a life's package. Life includes whether we like it or not, difficult situation. Therefore, I should be intelligently, skilfully, willing to confront the problems. Therefore, I have to generate deliberate thoughts of WILLINGNESS.
Because, unwillingness is a habitual thought which is there. Unwillingness thought, you need not entertain. Why? We are naturally "not willing". Therefore, willingness is not going to naturally come, we have to deliberately practise saying "in life, difficult situations will be there and since it is an integral part of life, I am willing to go through difficult situations".
This practice of willingness not one thought. The willingness thought must be also be repeated several times. Therefore, I will call it as meditation of this particular thought. This willingness thought is called ACCEPTANCE. The opposite of resistance is ACCEPTANCE. The opposite of unwillingness is WILLINGNESS. Therefore, acceptance meditation we all have to practise regularly to neutralise the psychological problem of resistance.
Acceptance meditation has to be practised to neutralise the the weakness of resistance. This acceptance meditation must be regularly practised, whenever difficult situation is arriving at that time, acceptance meditation should be practised more vigorously. Because, only at that time, resistance is going to come up. Therefore, whenever difficult situations are arriving or they have arrived, we have to practise acceptance meditation. If that is not practised, what will happen? Resistance will come. If resistance will come, who will come. MONSTRESS will come. Do you want MONSTRESS to come.
This acceptance meditation we can practise effectively. If we practise this as a Bhaktha. This is where bhaktha and bhakthi is going to be very handy. While practising the acceptance meditation, I medidate as a Bhaktha and I invoke the Lord and creates an utmost fear of Bhakthi by certain thoughts which will promote a healthy attitude.
What are the those thoughts that will create an ideal Bhakti atmosphere?
I will mention three of them to create ambiance.
To mediate that, "I am willing to go through the difficult situation", I need an ambiance of Bhakti.
First Thought pattern
The first thought pattern is, as a bhakta I note that the entire universe is the creation of Bhagvan. Bhagvan is an intelligent creator. He has created a wonderful universe. Everything in the creation is meaningful and purposeful. I intensely appreciate and acknowledge this.
If everything in the creation is meaningful and purposeful - as a part of the creation - Bhagwan himself has kept difficult situations also, which is an integral part of the creation.
If difficult situations are also, integral part of the universe, therefore created by God, that also has got a meaning and purpose.
Every difficult situation for anyone, at any time has got a purpose and meaning, whether the meaning is explicit or hidden, whether I can recognize this now or later, I am convinced as a Bhakta - Every difficult situation is meaningful and purposeful. Therefore, I accept the purpose, validity and necessity of difficult situations in life. This is the atmosphere I have to create.
Second thought pattern
The second thought pattern is - whatever difficult situation I face, it is all the result of my own past karma. The situation is karmaphalam. As a bhakta I know that Bhagvan [Lord] is in-charge of distributing karmaphalam. The department of karmaphala daanam is presided over by Bhagvan. He is defined as karmaphala dhata.
As a bhakta, therefore I know that every difficult situation is given by Bhagvan Himself as a karmaphalam - not by the local people. As a bhakta, whatever comes from Bhagvan - it has got only one name - it is not called difficult situation or comfortable situation - it is a blessing. Iswara Krupa - whatever comes from Bhagvan. I never have unwillingness to receive it. There is no resistance at all. I accept the difficult situation.
It does not mean that I should not take-up remedial measures. I am going to take-up remedial measures and I also know that the difficult situation will pass away. Until it passes away, I have to go through that. Until that, my attitude is - (natural resistance will come), but my deliberate approach is "I am willing to go through the difficult situation, until it passes away".
It is there, I am accepting the difficult situation.
So, the second thought pattern is - Accepting everything as Iswara Krupa. Whatever difficult situations I go through until it is remedied, I am willing to go through it.
Third thought pattern
The third pattern is - because of my devotion to the Lord, I have got the most stable and reliable relationship - through that I can draw any amount of strength and therefore with the strength that I borrow from the sacred relationship - I am confident that I will be able to come through the situation and I will be able to become purer, stronger and wiser.
I am confident that every difficulty has got a hidden blessing. And the blessing is that I will come out purer, stronger and wiser. Like a washerman, when he washes a cloth, what all things he does - rubbing against his hand, he will beat and all those things.
We can say that the washer man is torturing the cloth. But, we say that the washer man is cleaning the cloth. It is the difference in perception. Similarly when I come out of this washing machine called difficult situation - I will come out purer, stronger and wiser.
And having thought these three points - therefore because of these three reasons I am willing to go through the difficult situation, I don't know how long it is going to last, if it is a treatment, the treatment may cure the disease in a day, in a week, in a month or in a year.
I don't know how long I have to go through. Let the treatment proceed, until it goes through, I am willing to go through it.
And the beauty is as even I practice this acceptance meditation, we find that the resistance will become weaker.
And you can physically and emotionally feel the monstrous disappearing from the system, as even willingness thought is repeated, unwillingness thought will go away. As even unwillingness thought goes away, monstrous disappears. The churning sensation in the stomach, which one can literally feel, at least you take a tablet, fever will subside only after 20 minutes. But, acceptance meditation will remove this churning of the stomach instantaneously.
You can practise this acceptance meditation and feel the result.
Acceptance meditation is surrendering the resisting will. Acceptance meditation is sarangathi dhyanam.
Sloka from Mukunda Mala
For practising this acceptance meditation - we have got so many beautiful slokas and prayers. One is from Mukunda Mala.
naasthadharme navasunilaye naive kamopabhogeyadyartbhavayam bhavatu bhagavan purvakarmanurupametatprarthyam mama bhahumatam janma janmaantarepitvatpaadamboruhayugagataa nischalaa bhaktirastu
yadyat bhavyam bhavatu bhagavan - that is our slogan - let whatever happen. Bhavyam means the difficult situation, which I have to necessarily go through. I will willingly, without any complaint go through that.
Not only I should verbally say that, my facial expression also should not get changed when I am talking about that. I avoid facial changes, the language is also not negative, bodily expression is also not negative, there is a difficult situation - I am willing to go through it without any grudges. I should learn to talk about that, without frowning.
I should hold on to Bhagavan's feet. I should be confident in my Bhakti, Calmness, Cheerfulness and Confidence - all these three are part of Karma Yoga. I should have the confidence that I will go through the situation successfully and come out purer, stronger and wiser. So I remain calm, cheerful and confident.
Sloka from Sri Rudram
If we read Sri Rudram, we find a greater statement there. Difficult situation is not Iswara Krupa. Difficult situation itself is Iswara!
Sri Rudram says, "World is not created by Bhagavan; World is nothing but Bhagavan himself in the costume of things and beings". Therefore, difficult situation is not something coming from Bhagavan; difficult situation itself Bhagavan. So, I have no resistance, I will successfully go through it.
Another sloka in Sivananda Lahiri. Sankaracharya says, "Lord Shiva is Panchamukha: Panchamukha: word is used in double meaning. One meaning is Lord with five heads. (Lord Siva has got five heads). Another meaning is a lion. The word pancha has another meaning wide. Panchamukha: means - a wide mouthed animal, a lion.
Panchamukha: (Lion) always lives in mountain aves. And panchamukha: siva also lives in caves - the heart cave of beings. If lion is with me, why should I be afraid of facing other local animals?
When panchamukha Siva is there, why should I fear?
Adisankara gives various descriptions - all of them have got two-fold meanings. One description is for Siva, another is for lion.
karalagnamruga: karindrabhangoghanashardoolavikandanostajantu:girisho vishadaakritishca ceta:kuhare panchamukhosti me kuto bhi:
Why should I fear? I am Bhakta, I willingly go through the difficult situation. I am not at all afraid. Monstress can never come near me. I can certain come out of it. And I will come out purer, stronger and wiser.
Sloka from Bhagavad Gita
The third sloka is from Bhagavad Gita itself.
macchittaha: sarvadurgaani matprasaadaat tharishyasi
Using these verses [slokas] or independently, when I practise this acceptance meditation, I am solving the internal problem. The general mistake that we commit is, we always focus on the external situation. We never address the resistance problem.
If we are giving fifty percent of our time for solving the external problem, we have to give fifty percent time for acceptance meditation. Whenever any problem comes, forget the problem and spend one hour exclusively for acceptance meditation. Then work on the problem for one hour. Again practise acceptance meditation.
We have to attack the external enemy, as well as the internal enemy. When internal enemy is tackled, there is no magnification of the problem. Once resistance is gone, the de-magnification takes place. That is called shrinking of the problem. For this, there is a sloka (verse).
De-magnificationFor Hanuman, ocean became puddle of water. De-magnification took place, because he doesn't have any resistance. And all the rakshasas of Lanka became mosquitoes! For killing mosquitoes, do you strain yourself.
By practising acceptance meditation, all problems become simple. We can cross over any problem. Therefore, Bhakthi is useful for acceptance meditation. It will remove all resistance. Once resistance goes, monstress goes away. Once monstress goes away, our life will become healthier. Thus, Bhakthi has got a practical benefit also.
Source: Talks delivered by Swami Paramarthananda.