H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

AKINCANA (devoid of material possessions)

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: The 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

Other meanings: not searching for material objectives, simple, non-possessive

We find this principle in an important passage of Patanjali's Yogasutras1, where it is said that in order to attain perfection or samadhi, the yogi must renounce two attitudes: asteya and aparigraha, respectively misappropriating things we do not own and cultivating a sense of possession towards things or persons.

Many psycho-pathologies are not very explicit; in the name of affection some people morbidly control others, something that is absolutely not favorable to anyone's growth, development or maturity, including one's children, spouse, patient or disciple. When there is a sense of possession, the carrier of this sensation is unable to grow and remains on a childish stage for the rest of his life, frivolous and incapable to cope with the needs and problems of everyday life, unable to think with his own brain.

We should never desire to deprive others of their ability to reason and decide, of their intellectual faculties, by blocking and inhibiting them. On the contrary, we should favor the development of such abilities and potential.

Someone could think that if we seriously consider Krishna's words in Bhagavad-gita we could remain conditioned by them, but this would be an excellent conditioning: it would be an honor to depend on the words spoken by Krishna or by the Spiritual Master; only when the Master is blocking us in our development we need to understand that we are not facing a Guru but something else.

The Guru is a friend and facilitates the expression of all potentials, virtues, qualities and talents. He rather tries to offer some orientation and to purify the qualities that are often covered by innumerable anarthas.

A person who is culturally and spiritually immature will think he needs to keep a distance from everything and everyone lest he compromises the principle of akincana; actually we need to keep our distance from the sense of possession, not from the utilization of what is useful. The money that we need to live in a healthy, honest, sattvic way is called lakshmi and is a blessing, while the extra money, that serves vice and mere sense gratification generate attachment, and we should be wary against it. To own warm clothes for the winter does not break the virtue of akincana; possessing a collection of overcoats does. Having a pair of sandals to walk and spread the glories of the Lord is very good, while having wardrobes filled with shoes produces confusion in the mind.

In order to be in harmony not only with the principle of akincana but also with the principle of ahimsa, we should avoid purchasing leather clothes or shoes: they are not required to protect ourselves from cold and rain. Fur coats are much better suited to the animals: killing animals to get clothes or food belongs to a barbarous and unevolved mentality.

If for some reason we had to live at the North Pole and there was no other way, then eating fish or meat would be acceptable, but in the place where we live there is no need to inflict violence to other beings.

The sense of possession blocks, inhibits, dulls our consciousness. Even persons who have serious personality disturbances still have intact talents deep in their consciousness, but they do not know how to activate them any more, because they are not even aware they have them. Our intention is to operate in such a way that our interlocutor rediscovers it and reclaims his natural talents.

Akincana is an important virtue; one who possesses it does not desire anything for himself, he only wants to have the instruments to benefit others and be useful. He finds satisfaction in awakening others and because he is not interested in their body, their possessions or their minds, he can be trusted. Such a person sees others as traveling companions, helpers to spread his mission. Abstention from material and psychic possessiveness helps us to unblock our complexes.

This is why dhana (donating) has a crucial importance in the culture of classic India. One can donate things and eventually oneself; we must remember that if we are not trained to donate objects, we will never come to the level of donating ourselves.

The beautiful prayer called "Gurudev" asks the Master to liberate us from the desire for personal honors: this is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most important acts of renunciation. In fact, as stated in Isha Upanishad, we are not owners of anything, nothing belongs to us in this world and the proof is that at the time of death we must leave everything. So for what reason should we desire honors? The radiant path of bhakti rather asks us to respect and honor all creatures, not to feed our thirst for personal honors.

Some people make important choices for the life of others, thinking that in this way they will be possessing them; this is a very widespread phenomenon. Instead, we should start from the concept that our interlocutor has his own personality and the right to decide. We can offer some perspective but we cannot demand anything from anyone. In some relationships, such as between parent and child, Guru and disciple or therapist and patient, there is naturally a pact or we make a pact by which the one who is responsible for the other can have a justified measure of authority, but he should always use it very cautiously. There is also a pact between parents and children, by which parents have the duty to educate the children, but we need to make a distinction between educating and controlling choices.

A head of State in a dictatorial regime decides by himself also for the others, disregarding the will and wishes of innumerable persons, creating discomfort, dissatisfaction, fear and resentment.

Some foolish and ignorant people read the stories of the Puranas, Mahabharata2 and Ramayana3, and confuse the Vedic kings with the modern kings, but the monarchs of the classical Indian times used to take care of their subject as their own children. Kings of this type have disappeared long ago, and considering the trends of the present kings, the disappearance of monarchy has been a blessing.

Nobody can have dominion or possession on the lives of others. We must teach people to think with their own head, to take care of their own needs, to respect others and to express genuine sentiments. This is the purpose of a master, a therapist, a parent. Being surrounded by capable and self-sufficient persons is a great satisfaction; on the other hand it is very painful to be around people who move like robots, without any creative ability.

If we do not re-establish our spiritual health we will simply chase mirages, because it is precisely this loss of connection that caused the pathology. The disconnection on the ontological level where we belong is the origin of alienation. When we say we care about someone we should demonstrate it with what we do to wake him up spiritually. Even those who will not listen to deeper, metaphysical discussions can be offered unlimited information and be greatly influenced by our personal behavior. A person can pretend he is not watching, he may act as if he is not interested, but in time the model will become ingrained because it is already engraved into the heart, because it is Truth, Reality. For example, everybody knows that animals have the right to live; simply they pretend they do not know.

The model has an archetypal function. We can make good sculptures only when the model has penetrated deep within ourselves, thus we first need to absorb it. This is why it is important to have a relationship with the Guru, to work with him and perform activities that enable us to be corrected; this helps us proceed towards perfection.

Akincana is the practice of detachment, a sort of vairagya, it means renouncing what is unfavorable to spiritual realization and immediately utilizing all that is favorable.

1 Author of the famous aphorisms on Yoga (Yoga-sutras) and codifier of the Yoga Darshana. Tradition also ascribes to him a study on Panini's Sanskrit grammar and an authoritative treatise on medicine.

2 Famous epic poem of ancient India, the greatest ever written by mankind, constituted by more than one hundred thousand stanzas in classical Sanskrit, a vast catalogue of divine and human personalities, an encyclopedic poem expressing the spiritual, ethical and social values of Indo-Vedic society. Also called "the fifth Veda", Mahabharata is traditionally ascribed to the great sage Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa.

3 Literally, 'Rama's journey'. Epic story (Itihasa) composed by Valmiki in 24.000 stanzas in splendid classical Sanskrit. It narrates the descent and the divine deeds of Rama in the role of the perfect monarch.

No comments:

Post a Comment