In my experience so far, the hardest challenge in life is to transcend one’s own mind. Mind acts (or rather pretends) as a friend, interpreting every happenings, and everything around me. But I wonder how much can I trust my own mind. As I innocently indulge in that comfort of being served by my mind, it blocks my vision with perceptions, takes me through a roller coaster ride, and blocks me from living the moment Now. I think, it is the very epicenter of great illusion.
Can one transcend the mind? Occasional ‘aha’ moments, as well as state of extreme happiness and despair, points to existence of ‘mind’less existence. What is interesting is the serene charm in such situations.
Refreshing charm of ‘aha’ moments and state of extreme happiness must be obvious for many but is that true for state of extreme despair as well? I think so. As adage goes ‘necessity is the mother of discovery’, my experience is that such states too are good in that it brings forth new solutions. For instance, Gandhiji may have born but may not have such an influential life without colonial rule. Deep within what appears to be an unsurmountable problem lies the seed of a great new future.
In my understanding, it is this challenge of transcending the mind is essence of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Each one helps you transcend mind differently, and choice of method depend on individual’s inclination.
I was caught between two conflicting views in my early attempts in understanding and following Karma Yoga. On one side is ‘worldly’ success which is achieved only through significant and focussed effort. Though one may argue that luck plays a role, nothing is ever achieved without any effort and no effort goes totally unrewarded. On other side is popular invocation to work without expecting results.
What I have learned over years is that true joy is not in achieving but in the process; not in the event of getting what you expect but rather in the act of doing. After all, any achievement is only an event and after that, it is history and one has to move on. I have come to conclude that it is about engaging oneself so much into action that mind has no role to play. Mind gradually disappears, leaving you in absolute unqualified peace.
My philosophical pursuit and my experiments with Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga seems to tell me that each of these Yogas are apparently different means to the same end. I said apparently because even the differentiation seems to be blurring.
Karma Yoga is about acknowledging inevitability of action (not futility of action, as it is often made out/appears to be), and performing action can be with full commitment and dedication. In its true form, such an action is not driven by achievement of a desired object, position or relation but the very joy of action. A scientist involved in a scientific research of his interest, a true musician participating in a concert, an artist working on his masterpiece, an athlete in action etc are not so much driven by achievement as much by the joy of action. In its purest form, one transcends mind and its reasoning, through Karma, and starts enjoying the very existence for its own sake.
In Jnana Yoga, one becomes aware of deceptive game of mind and, thus, tends to disconnect from mind. Generally, this happens through disillusionment brought in with hard experiences in life. Contemplations on hard experiences, one realizes that every object of desire, and every relation, tend to give pain just as it does happiness. That is, happiness (or sorrow) does not exist in objects, positions and relation outside of you but rather it is within yourself. With this realization, one would consciously stop listening to the mind, and gradually mind loses its influence.
Bhakti Yoga is about surrendering mind totally to a supreme power, so that it has no influence in daily existence, and living life in control of that supreme power just every other being in the world. Does such a power exist? I think, answer is irrelevant