Debugging the Mind
Its hard to find an unhappy baby, whereas its very easy to find unhappy adults. Something specific has to be done to make a baby unhappy. On the other hand, something specific has to be done to make an adult happy. Same thing happens to all of us as we grow from innocence to experience. Something affects the functioning of our mind over time causing all sorts of misery and suffering. Its important to debug these problems in order to lead a life of enduring peace, harmony and bliss.
These fundamental human problems are not new to the modern world. Mankind has been facing them for a very long time and a large number of intellectual and enlightened people have thoroughly analyzed, root-caused and solved these problems over thousands of years. All we need is to pay heed!
As per them, every source of unhappiness, every reason for misery and suffering, every cause of a negative emotion like anger, greed, lust, delusion, arrogance, jealousy, etc. – basically each and every problem in life boils down to five impurities (Kleshas) of the mind. These five impurities exist in every human mind in varying degrees and every affliction originates from one or more of them. They are present since birth and keep increasing as we grow older. That’s why even children are not the epitome of happiness. That entitlement is reserved only for those who are able to get rid of these impurities completely.
These five impurities are:
- Avidya: Avidya is the ignorance of our true nature – the pure inner Self that is an infinite ocean of peace, harmony, bliss, freedom and knowledge. Its not an intellectual ignorance but an experiential ignorance, which means that only having an intellectual knowledge of our true nature does not remove the ignorance, we have to actually experience it. This ignorance is the root-cause of the other four impurities. Just imagine, if you are able to experience this eternal, pure, blissful Self, all problems of life will evaporate instantly!
- Asmita: Asmita is egoism that gets developed by identifying our selves as the body and mind since we are ignorant of our true Self. The pure Self can never be bruised but the ego can be easily bruised causing misery. This false “I” soon expands to “my” and “mine” and forms various internal and external attachments like “my prestige”, “my title”, “my money”, “my family”, “my people”, “my house”, “my car”, “my property”, “my religion”, “my country”, etc. These attachments increase the chances of misery even more because when any of them is hurt, the false “I” hurts.
- Raga: Raga is attraction or liking towards an external entity (person/object/situation) that is a source of pleasure for us. These likings evolve into desires and cravings as we constantly seek happiness from the outside world. And whenever its not fulfilled, we suffer.
- Dvesa: Dvesa is repulsion or dislike towards an external entity (person/object/situation) that is a source of pain for us. These dislikes evolve into aversions and hatred as we constantly try to avoid things that bring us unhappiness. And whenever we encounter such a thing, we suffer.
- Abhinivesa: Abhinivesa is clinging to life. Every human being, in fact every living creature, wants to continue to live forever. Even though we are very well aware that the body and mind have to perish one day, we still have a strong inclination to keep living. This results in a fear of death and hence misery from anything that could indicate death.
Take any problem in life and try to get to the bottom of it and you will arrive at one or more of these five impurities. E.g. Whenever you are angry, its either because something you want is not happening or something you don’t want is happening. Its all a play of likings, dislikes and egoism. Whenever you are anxious and worried, its because you are thinking too much whether something you want will happen or not or whether something you don’t want will happen. Again, a play of likings, dislikes and attachments. Whenever you feel jealous, its because someone else has something you want. Again, egoism and likings. Whenever you are afraid, its usually because of the fear of losing something you like or losing life itself. Whenever you are in physical pain, its because you are identifying yourself too much with the body. And so every affliction invariably originates from these impurities.
This is known as the philosophy of Kleshas. Most major Indian spiritual texts like Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, etc. as well as teachings of Gautama Buddha talk about it in one form or the other, but its best elaborated in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
These impurities can be removed by a meticulous process of purification involving austerity, self-discipline, self-study, contemplation and meditation. It can also be done through complete self-surrender to the Divinity. Patanjali calls this process Kriya Yoga (not to be mistaken by the Kriya Yoga popularized by Paramahansa Yogananda). This Kriya Yoga is a part of the overarching Raja Yoga.
We can notice results as soon as we start removing these impurities and life becomes increasingly more wonderful as we keep making progress. Along with working on these impurities, if we also keep filling our minds with a purity – love for all – we naturally start developing all the attributes of goodness (Sattvik attributes) listed in an earlier blog post. This process also helps with Self-realization or the experience of the pure inner Self which is the only way to completely annihilate Avidya – the ultimate root-cause of all impurities. And its all under our control as all the changes have to be brought within ourselves. We are not dependent on anyone or anything for it. But remember, its a marathon not a sprint! Happy Debugging!
(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/123120544220/debugging-the-mind)