THE ART OF SPIRITUAL LIVING :
From the beginning of human history, the ideas about Spirituality included a desire to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in all of man’s internal and external relationships, while man exists in a physical environment as a member of a social community or society. Both religious thinkers and philosophers have contemplated that Spirituality involves a potency associated with a Principle called Soul or Spirit. In Indian tradition, the term “ATMA” or “ATMAN” refers to Self, Body, Mind, and Soul depending upon different circumstances. In the YOGA System of India, the YOGA practice uses the term ATMA to describe Mind. The purpose of Yoga is to control the Mind and to draw it away from its attachment to sense objects. The term ‘Sensual’ refers to the body and the senses as distinguished from the Intellect, Spirit, or Soul. Sensual pertains to or it is about preoccupation with bodily or sexual pleasures. The term ‘Sensuous’ refers to a variety of things affecting, appealing to, or perceived by the senses. It implies easy susceptibility through the senses, enjoying the pleasures of sensation, and a strong appeal of that which is pleasing to the eye, ear, touch, etc., Since experience of sensual enjoyment involves the Mind, in Indian tradition, Mind is the Chief Sense Organ or ‘INDRIYA’. The term austerity describes a variety of spiritual practices. Austerity in relation to the Mind is a process that includes attributes such as Simplicity, Solemnity, Purity, and Control. Austerity aims to find Satisfaction through the use of Self-Discipline and Self-Restraint. A variety of spiritual practices like austerity, repentance, penance, expiation, and purgation involve accepting Satisfaction, a mental state that relieves the burden to take action to gratify the desires that seem to hold the Mind in a captive condition. In other words, the goal of Spirituality demands finding Contentment, Satiation, and Satisfaction in the living experience of man.
THE SIX INTERNAL ENEMIES OF MAN :
In Indian tradition, the six internal enemies of man constitute a group called ‘ARI VARGA’ and these are 1. KAMA or Lust, 2. KRODHA or Anger, 3. LOBHA or Miserliness, 4. MADA or Arrogance(Self-Pride), 5. MATSARYA or Jealousy, and 6. MOHA or Ignorance + Illusion known as Infatuation.These behavioral traits drive man onto a path of Self-Destruction. These six kinds of behavior are aspects of Desire. The Art of Spiritual Living deals with this problem called ‘DESIRE’ that takes charge of Mind to drive man to take actions that leave him restless, agitated, confused, irritable, resentful, and frustrated if the overpowering Desire is not gratified.
Behavioral Science includes any of several studies such as Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, etc., that examine human activities, conduct, aptitude, manners, and responses that are observable. In Biology, Behavior explains an organism’s responses to stimulation or environment and the observed Behavior is often described as Biotic Interactions which could be Interspecific(interactions between different groups or species) or Intraspecific( within the same group or species, or within the same organism which could be a complex living system). The term Behavioral Therapy and Behavior Modification involve the use of techniques that seek to modify Human Behavior through application of the principles of conditioning in which rewards and reinforcements or punishments establish desired habits or patterns of Behavior. In Indian tradition, the analogy of a Chariot(“RATHA KALPANA” or the Metaphor of Chariot) helps to discuss the relationships between human body, organs of sense perception(Senses), Mind, Intellect which together constitute ‘The Lower-Self’ and Soul that constitutes ‘The Knowing-Self’ or ‘The Higher-Self’.
Pandava Prince Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter VI, Verse#34 stated the utmost difficult problem called controlling Mind :
“Chanchalam hi manah Krishna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
Vayor iva su-dushkaram,”
For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate, and very strong, and to subdue it is more difficult than controlling the wind. Mind is unsteady and unbridled for it gets easily distracted by the strong appeal of things which are pleasing to the senses. Mind when left alone to act by itself, will not be able to cope with the powerful influence called Desire.
The word DESIRE or craving involves strong, persistent, and passionate feelings to covet, wish, or long for something and it specifically suggests a longing for something lacking or needed. Craving suggests a desire to gratify a physical appetite, an urgent need that stresses intensity or ardor. The term Covet apart from eagerness, earnestness, and wanting ardently, it involves wanting something that another person rightfully possesses. The term greed and avarice describe excessive desire for having especially wealth, a desire for more than one needs or deserves. Greedy behavior involves wanting or taking all that one can get with no thought of others’ needs. Being greedy implies an insatiable desire to possess or acquire something to an amount inordinately beyond what really needs or deserves. A miser is a greedy person, who is stingy and hoards money for its own sake, even at the expense of personal comfort. Miserliness is often makes the person wretched and unhappy as there is no experience of satisfaction even though the desire is gratified. The greedy behavior that involves the habit or act of eating or consuming too much food and drink is gluttonous or gluttony. A voracious person is greedy to devour or gorge large quantities of food. A ravenous person is wildly hungry, is very eager for gratification. Ravenous may also describe insatiable pursuit for praise or social recognition. Such behaviors make the person rapacious; a person who takes things by force, by plundering, robbing or exploiting others. It leads to establishment of a pattern of behavior called predatory in which the person is waiting to seize the opportunity to take by force and is akin to an act of preying. The term lust describes excessive sexual desire especially the zeal or enthusiasm for unrestrained sexual gratification without idealized or spiritualized feelings like love, empathy, friendship, affection, compassion, respect, and commitment to defend the well-being of the person involved in the sexual interaction. The term Carnal describes preoccupation with bodily or sexual pleasures, sensual preoccupation with gratifying the bodily senses that generally involves grossness or lewdness. The behaviors characterized by greed, lust, and gluttony are acquisitive in nature as they stress exertion of effort in acquiring material possessions to an excessive amount or using people like material objects. The term grasping suggests an unscrupulous eagerness for gain that manifests itself in a seizing upon every opportunity to get what one desires. The problem of Desire is often accompanied by emotional feelings of anger, the feelings of resentful or revengeful displeasure that motivates the person to fight back at the supposed cause of the feelings. While anger is expressed in bodily language, facial expressions, words, and acts, the term rage describes a sudden, violent outburst of anger in which self-control is lost. Greed when combined with feelings of anger is often transformed into jealousy, envy, animosity in which the person is resentfully suspicious of a rival or a rival’s influence. It arouses feeling of strong dislike, hatred, ill will and hostility. The degree of a person’s susceptibility to Desire gets shaped by arrogance, or feelings of self-importance which manifests as overbearing or unwarranted self-pride. Along with arrogance comes a behavior in which the arrogant person claims or seizes things for which he has no natural right. In Indian tradition, the problem of DESIRE is manifestation of an underlying phenomenon called “MOH” or “MOHA.” Intense desires are primarily driven by ignorance, problems of sense perception, and operation of a force or influence called ‘ILLUSION’. Moha is operation of a false idea, a false conception, belief, or opinion which is not in accord with facts. Moha or Infatuation causes man’s alienation or estrangement from his true or real nature. The problem of Moha leads to obsession in which ideas, desires, emotions, etc., rule or take possession of a person and the resulting persistent desire cannot be gotten rid of by the use of reasoning or discernment.
In The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter III, KARMA YOGA, verse #5 Lord Krishna instructs that men act helplessly according to the impulses born of the Modes of Material Nature or PRAKRIT; therefore, nobody can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment. The term ‘DRIVE’ describes any of the basic biological impulses or urges such as self-preservation, hunger, sex, etc., The term ‘Motivation’ explains the motive, the forces influencing people so as to control the making of their decisions that further provides incentive and causes a person to do something or act in a certain way. The term ‘Instinct’ describes an inborn tendency to behave in a way characteristic of a species. The behavior contributed by instincts is natural, unlearned, and is often involves a predictable response to an external, environmental stimulus. Impulsive behavior involves a sudden inclination to act, usually without premeditation. For impulsive behavior, the driving force, push, thrust, impetus and incitement to action arises from a state of mind or some external environmental stimulus. Psychologists find relationship between behavior and external environmental stimuli, Psychoanalysts define Instinct as a primal, psychic force or drive such as Fear, Love, and Anger. In Freudian Psychoanalysis, instincts are of two kinds, 1. The Life Instinct(EROS), and 2. The Death Instinct(Thanatos). Some instincts may help in a secondary or subordinate way just like an accomplice who aids or abets commission of an unlawful act .
The Art of Spiritual Living involves the Mastery of Mind to review, to guide, to regulate and to refrain man’s actions and responses to his Enemy called Desire which can overwhelm man’s ability to preserve and support his mortal existence. The coping mechanisms involved in Desire and its Gratification determine the degree of Satiation, Contentment, and Satisfaction man may obtain at any given instant of his life. Contentment and Satisfaction are the building blocks to give the living experience called Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility. I would further examine the practice called Self-Discipline, the chief ingredient of Spiritual Living in my next article.