H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Friday, 17 July 2009

SAMA (Equally disposed)

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: The 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

Other meanings:


not depressed by suffering and not excited in joy

The virtue of equanimity is typical of very evolved persons and can be developed gradually like all the others. In a sama individual even selfish personal interests become intolerable, what to speak of favoring the selfish interests of others. We cannot even become accomplices for our wife, husband, children, party fellows, fellow church goers or others, because partiality becomes impossible.

There is a popular doctrine of equanimity elaborated in the psychological and sociological field, by which people respect a pact as long as their interest is equal to the interest of the other party; people like these are destined to remain alone, even if they live in a group, immersed in a crowd.

Serenity and emotional detachment are fundamental requisites for equanimity. If a person is not serene, or is a victim of attachments, he cannot have a good judgment and discernment, and therefore he cannot have equanimity. Equanimity is the opposite of partiality and thus of attachment. Ideal and complete equanimity requires the attainment of inner enlightenment, although there are various degrees of equanimity and even a sincere desire to develop this quality is a good beginning. It is not possible to make an appropriate analysis, what to speak of coming to the correct conclusions, if we do not observe in depth the reality that is in front of us. The ability to really go in depth is given by equanimity, on which we also build the true core of empathy, of compassion and love, without which this valuable quality cannot really be true - rather the choices will be dictated by liking and disliking, by selfishness and in general by the many movements of the ego, of the "I" and "mine".

A first step to become sama consists in bhajana kriya e anartha nivritti, respectively the performance of spiritual activities according to a discipline or sadhana, and the parallel uprooting of the anarthas, that we have analyzed in the introduction of this book. We should also work on the sentiment of trust: in many cases we lack in self-confidence and this leads us to a lack of trust in others, too, to prejudice about others, and to always remain doubtful. In order to practice equanimity we need to develop a foundation of trust, otherwise it will remain wishful thinking. Another essential point on which we should strongly work is our way of reacting, connected to the couple of opposites known as raga and dvesha, attraction and repulsion. As long as our mind and senses oscillate from one of these poles to the other, equanimity will remain something very distant. In brief, we should try to center on our higher nature, going beyond the level of the senses, the mind and buddhi1. It will be a good feeling to gradually taste that inner freedom, that lack of dependence on external situations that represents a condicio sine qua non for the development of equanimity. In fact equanimity does not necessarily requires the exchange of objects, benefits or services; it is based on divine grace, a higher quality that makes this approach a natural and inevitable way of living. In that state of consciousness our satisfaction does not depend on our interlocutors but on the relationship we have with the Divine. The relationship between the guru and God should give sufficient satisfaction to make anything else irrelevant; we say "should" because this is a goal to be attained. When a person is satisfied in his heart, when his affection is totally fulfilled, he can have equanimity in all circumstances, because he does not need to search for satisfaction elsewhere.

Let's start from our ontological basis, from our constitutional nature of sat, cit and ananda2. A person who experiences ananda is satisfied at the highest level; bliss is a state where everything else is eclipsed: sometimes we have the ecstasy effect, sometimes amazement manifests, breathing becomes blocked, the function of breathing becomes suspended, and we are almost disconnected from the surrounding world and projected somewhere else. It is as if the ordinary level of reality disappeared, sounds become muffled and then totally disappear, forms fade out, lose their brightness, become dull and then disappear because everything is pervaded by the inner light; even external sounds are absent, because the inner music prevails.

These experiences, described by the mystics of all traditions, are generally short lived, because the jiva is encaged in a physical world that involves many limitations.

Thus there is a dimension of the being that is not only accessible but above all existing. One mere drop from that ocean can nourish and satisfy us for our entire life.

A Puranic story tells how Dhruva Maharaja could see Narayana, the Supreme Lord, only for a few moments, but he remembered Him for the rest of his life, and that satisfaction was the cause of his salvation for the entire course of his reign (thirty thousand years).

The pleasure that comes from spiritual satisfaction is the real life saver, because it enables us to feel uncomfortable, restless and dissatisfied in all those circumstances where the transient sense gratification is trying to allure us.

Considering that ananda is a fundamental and inalienable component of the ontological personality, there still a echo, a need, a memory even within the conditioned jiva. In fact, the jiva-bhuta will continue to search, with all means and faculties, their lost bliss, trying to adjust to temporary sensory pleasures, trying to substitute them to the need of bliss that the soul loudly calls for, especially in the beginning of the purification process. Transient pleasures do not bring the satisfaction we crave for; the Puranas warn us that they are like water drops in the desert - they can just increase thirst.

Without developing the twenty-six qualities it is not possible to build the appropriate recipient to receive the divine Grace, thanks to which we can become free from the many conditionings that are characteristic of the embodied life.

1 See Bg. III.42.

2 These are the three ontological qualities of the atman: eternity, awareness and bliss.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

SATYASARA (truthful)

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: The 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

Other meanings:

fixed in the Absolute Truth

living in truth

finding strength in truth

Sat means "eternity, existence, essence, what is, what never ceases to be"; it is the same root originating the noun satyam ("truth") and the adjective satyasara ("truthful")

One who is truthful is a friend to everybody, because untruthfulness is a source of confusion, it misleads and takes people astray, causes loss of time and is always the cause of suffering.

In all the spiritual traditions and in all the revealed Scriptures satyam, truthfulness, has a major place.

Liars are dangerous, unreliable, irresponsible, ready to cause huge damage in order to get a very small advantage. Lying is a serious character defect, a serious moral disqualification.

However, blindly following the principle of truthfulness does not bring true advantages and the best interaction with reality; sometimes stating a truth in an inappropriate moment, that is not the adequate time, place and circumstance, can cause sufferings. Also, consequences of actions will not be neutralized by the intention to be truthful: a karmic debt can also be generated by an inappropriate affirmation of truth.

Truth is not a free ticket for all situations. Calling hunchback a hunchback, blind a blind, constitutes an offense that intelligent people avoid. In Bhagavad-gita1 Krishna reminds us that a wise man is wise also because he avoids disturbing the mind of the persons who are immersed in ignorance. If in accordance to place, time and circumstance we need to speak about a temporary and lower aspect of the physical or psychic life of our interlocutor, there must be important pedagogic reasons to do it, it must be for his good and it must be done in the proper way.

Reminding someone that he was convicted for some crime or he has committed a serious blunder, mentioning some improper behavior he has had in the past, constitutes a serious offense even if these were facts, when the circumstances do not require it for his good.

Therefore it is necessary to apply a certain maturity, a discernment that enables us to utilize satyam in an ethically correct way.

In professional guilds, professional discretion is necessary. Persons who are part of a professional group have the privilege of not being forced to talk even in case of police investigation. When circumstances are so serious that a professional secret must be revealed, such disclosure must be done in private, and those who receive the confidential information become consciously responsible for it. Thousands of years of juridical civilization have explained through practical experience what happens when such confidentiality is not respected. Satyam should not be treated absent-mindedly, justifying oneself on the basis of the fact that we have told the truth anyway.

In all Scriptures, false testimony is one of the most heinous crimes, also punished by the codes of law, and similarly spying, even when about truthful things, is an ethically incorrect form of affirmation of truth.

Reflecting on satyam, elaborating concepts by understanding how many mistakes we have made in life, a well defined visualization of the various circumstances where we can make mistakes within satyam, brings as an immediate consequence a greater level of attention for our future behavior.

In devotional service, dedication to the spiritual Master and to sadhana bhakti - the discipline by which we purify our heart and mind through the loving service to the Divine - attention to satyam becomes relevant, and we will notice that everyday or almost everyday we have opportunities to be satyam or asatyam.

Persons who are not interested in spiritual realization, to the perfecting of their character, act in an opportunistic way; when it is convenient for them they tell the truth, and they lie when it is not convenient.

Being satyasara, behaving according to truth, corresponds to the eleventh virtue described by Krishna at the beginning of the 16th chapter of Bhagavad-gita, where the virtues of the men of divine nature are listed.

On many occasions, Krishna mentions these two categories, indicating four psychological types of those who have a divine nature and other four types of those who have an asuric or dark nature. We could describe them as the devotees of the light and the devotees of the darkness.

1 See Bg. III.26.