Embracing Non-Attachment and Self-Control

“Make a significant transformation within yourself, for I despise the actions you choose!” This recognizable proclamation is a resounding denouncement of behavior we find disagreeable in others. Yet, too often, we find ourselves lamenting the world’s circumstances, yearning for change, all the while ignoring our own need for personal growth and refinement. The pursuit of altering external factors serves as a mirror reflecting the turmoil festering within our own hearts.

The Battle with Inner Turmoil

When external circumstances turn sour, a tempestuous sea of restlessness often emerges, unleashing the monstrous demon of anger, which swiftly devours the peace within us. As Swami Sri Yukteshwar ji astutely remarked, “Anger is a child of thwarted desires,” and dislodging these seeds of desire deeply embedded within us can prove an arduous task.

Unchecked anger is the catalyst for turmoil, wreaking havoc on familial and professional relationships alike. The scars of past suffering, both endured and inflicted, as products of our uncontrolled fury, serve as reminders, urging us to exercise restraint. Regrettably, with each subsequent thwarted desire, we amnesic allies relinquish past lessons, allowing the engulfing darkness to guide us astray once more.

This vicious cycle perpetuates the torment, where our lack of self-control opens the door not only to the demon of anger but also to the insatiable demons of lust, greed, and attachment. Ensnared in a web of illusion, the tighter the grip of these demons becomes every time we unleash our ego, indulging recklessly in fleeting sensory pleasures.

At the heart of egoic consciousness lies an intense attachment to people and possessions, fuelling desires for the fleeting pleasures they offer. Consider the mother’s boundless love for her child, which, while unconditional, often harbor the seeds of expectation, nurturing hopes that the child will conform to her desires.

This oversight neglects the fundamental truth that each person is a unique individual, shaped by the nurturing environment yet fundamentally distinct, deserving of respect. A child, regardless of parental influence, may evolve into an adult with a disposition and mental framework vastly different from that of their parents.

In parallel, excessively binding attachments in other relationships pave the way for strife, rooted in the inescapable web of expectations we cast upon those we ostensibly love. But who is truly in need of transformation in these scenarios? While we may demand that others adapt to our peculiarities, it is, in fact, the perfect time for us to redefine our path by casting off these chains of attachment.

This is the wisdom that P. Yogananda imparted, “Observe life with detachment, and gradually free yourself from the shackles of this dream world.”

The Power of Self-Mastery

As we traverse the spiritual path, surrendering to our Guru’s guidance and discipline, we gain insight into the futility of hedonistic behaviors. Slowly but surely, we nurture the power of self-control and discipline.

Yoganandaji emphasized, “Self-control isn’t self-torture; instead, it leads to the bliss of the soul.” He furthered, “Even in the face of immense provocation, self-control must not waver.” Regardless of life’s twists and turns, the ability to regulate our reactions becomes the cornerstone of tranquility. For those earnestly seeking truth, life’s battleground is a stark reality where they courageously confront the illusions, armed with the shield of self-control, ever ready for defense.

These spiritual warriors conscientiously cultivate non-attachment to people and material possessions, ardently pursuing the eternal bliss of the soul. It is not indifference; rather, it’s an intimate connection with the universe, fostering a heart that understands and empathizes with all.

Thus, through the practice of self-control, we develop the discernment to make optimal choices from life’s multifaceted offerings, refining our ability to discriminate wisely.

The Metaphor of the Tree of Life

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Ashvattha tree (the holy fig tree) symbolizes the illusion of the material world. It illuminates the tripartite existence of humanity, embodied in physical, astral, and causal layers, represented by the triple inverted tree—its roots entwined with cranial nerves, life force rays, and consciousness, while its branches extend downwards, signifying the connection to the external world.

This human tree of life, deeply rooted in material habits, is described as having three types of leaves: sensations, life force, and thought perceptions, linking the body with the external realm. To ascend to cosmic consciousness and realize one’s divinity, one must, like a lumberjack, wield the axe of non-attachment to feel this tree of material delusion.

Meditation sharpens this axe of non-attachment, as the joy experienced in meditation surpasses the pleasures of the world.

The Wisdom of Sister Gyanamata

Sister Gyanamata, an advanced disciple of P. Yogananda, bestowed her students with invaluable counsel: daily meditation and adherence to three guiding principles—recognizing that God alone is the doer, cultivating unwavering patience, and practicing non-attachment.

The practice of Kriya Yoga, a simple yet potent pranayama, grants control over the life force energy coursing through the spine. This control fosters a serene response to life’s challenges, preventing the demons of anger, lust, greed, and attachment from establishing a stronghold in our consciousness. Faith in God, coupled with patience in waiting for a divine response to the heart’s yearnings, epitomizes humility.

To reshape our thought patterns and effect transformative change in our demeanor, ‘affirmations’ emerge as formidable tools. Yoganandaji has provided a repertoire of scientific healing affirmations that lift our consciousness from the abyss of delusion.

Prayers, too, wield immense power, ushering in the Divine Light where it is most needed. Sincere, heartfelt prayers enable communion with the omnipresent divine force, manifesting as grace or blessings. Sister Gyanamata’s counsel extends to seeking the Guru’s prayers, mirroring the example of Brother Lawrence, who, in the face of failure, entreated God with humility, saying, “This is who I am; this is who I’ll remain unless You guide me.”

Undoubtedly, the capacity to dismiss the many demons of delusion arises from the spiritual realization that life is a divine play, and our earthly existence is a schooling for the soul, leading it to reintegration with the divine light.

This realization, however, doesn’t dawn effortlessly, as we’ve grown accustomed, over lifetimes, to the obscurity of delusion. Much like a rope repeatedly rubbing against a rock leaves its mark, the relentless assault of the demons on our immutable selves eventually leaves an indelible imprint on our consciousness. This mark acts as a catalyst, prompting us to seek divine guidance.

In our quest for transformation, we must internalize these teachings and carve out a path of non-attachment, enabling us to soar beyond the limitations of the material world, back into the radiance of the Divine.

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