He whose mind is free of the passions of desire, fear and anger is easy of mind in happiness or misfortune, and steady-minded, he is said to be a sage. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 56
One who is not overly excited by happiness or unhappiness is free of desire, fear and anger. He is said to be a sage who thus finds his pleasure in equilibrium.
In this one verse we are told what leads to wisdom and what can undo it.
A person who remains composed in any situation without resorting to suppression is free from the influences of desire, fear and anger, for they are the essential causes of the loss of a steady mind and equilibrium.
NOTE: The verse refers to someone who is never anxious or agitated, but it also applies to anyone in any situation in which they would otherwise be agitated and are not, without resorting to suppression. So one may have moments of wisdom without being a ‘sage’. And these moments can grow and multiply.
When you are not overly excited by happiness or unhappiness, you will not be inclined to chase one or avoid the other. You will be happy at times, and unhappy at times, but if you are not affected by either, they cannot cause agitation and your inherent joy can surface. Therefore it is said that the sage finds pleasure in this state.
Your inherent joy can arise
when you stop chasing happiness.
Being free of desire, one is free of fear and anger, for it is desire that begets these two—if there were nothing to lose, there would be nothing to fear, and if there were nothing to fear, there would be nothing to be angry about. One produces the other in serial order.
Desire is the fuel for fear and anger.
Desire, fear and anger are the Toxic Trio to the seeker of Truth. Fear appears when something you don’t want arises or threatens to arise. Anger appears when something that you have and are attached to is lost or threatened. Both fear and anger revolve around desires (wants and don’t wants). If you don’t care, you won’t have a reaction, and neither fear nor anger will arise.
As long as there is a sense of doership at the core of the mind running things, one must contend with the desires of the mind. Though there may be other kinds of desires, these are the ones to look out for if we want to achieve and maintain wisdom and reach yoga samadhi.
The desires of the mind are at the root of the emotions that disturb one’s equilibrium, but it is not the emotions themselves that are the culprits, it is the agitation they can cause, and there is a way to deal with this.
I think it is fair to say that abandoning desires for happiness, and quitting fear and anger, are not easy tasks. So what shall we do?
We must place ourselves in the hands of That which is already free of such disturbances: Absolute God, Absolute Truth, the True and Absolute Self. Surrender to the Absolute in the meditation room puts us in the position of having abandoned the role of ‘doership’, and we can gain experience with this through its practice. Outside the meditation room, we can apply techniques designed to take the charge out of reactions and unwanted feelings. In time, union with God/Truth will overtake us and bring us the freedom and joy that we seek.
In the next installment, we will discuss how to go about distinguishing desires of the mind from other kinds of desires.
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