I have been intrigued with the deep seated taint or "dramatic flaw" that is carried within humans, it is like a blind spot infection running through an individual's life. There is no human exception to this kind of taint. It is an inevitable, psychological seed patiently waiting for the right evolutionary, environmental moment in which to bloom. For example, a "48 Hours" story, on CBS, presented a classic presentation of the taint's arrival upon a decorated and esteemed fighter pilot. After his successful career ended he gave in to a progressive sexual deviancy: from steeling women's panties to murdering women. Some people try to explain this taint in terms of genetics; in that the human genes encodes a map that predisposes the particular taint to manifest. The trouble with that explanation is it places the primary cause for the taint on genetics. The body, from my experience and insight, is what the genetic code primarily affects, character and behavior are not, however, fixed by a genetic code-and thank goodness for that; if it were the case, our life on this earth would be totally hopeless. The most precious asset a human has, is the ability to change himself.` As a verification of that capacity we have only to scrutinize the changes in behavior and character occurring within our immediate circle of relatives and friends. This desire to change ourselves reaches back to our earliest history, and has vigorously survived to this day. To those thinkers among you who are asking themselves, "If the desire to change is equivalent to an innate, human, universal urge, then why is it so damn difficult to change? What is resisting the desired change?"
If we were to ask psychologists, psychiatrists, brain-scientists, to explain our questions, their answers would be all over the map, with differing names for the same type of mental effects or syndromes or behaviors. We would become greatly confused, and our understanding would reverberate in every possible relevant and irrelevant direction. Believe it or not, a much clearer and adequate explanation of these questions were provided some 5000 years or more ago, in what might be called an ancient confluence of spiritual hymns, rituals, and worships, wrapped around profound commentaries. The historical source for this spiritual wisdom came from the fusion of two cultures, the Aryan and the Indus Valley, Indian civilizations. As time pasted, the mixing of these two civilizations produced commentaries called the Veda that was said to have been created by, Vyasa. The part of the Veda called the Upanishads is were we will place our attention for finding the clarity involved in the process of changing our self. The meaning of the Sanskrit word Upanishads is, "sitting down near" or at the feet of an illuminated teacher possessed with the wisdom of life and death, and the nature of the Godhead. Another point of attention, will be placed on the great epic of India called the Mahabharata, particularly an episode called the Bhagavad-Gita, which means, "the song of god himself" or "the song celestial." Our last point of attention will be focused on the Dhammapada, a collection of practical verses gathered by the direct disciples of Gautama the Buddha, their intention being, to preserve the Buddha's teachings.
Why is it so difficult to change? St. Augustine asks the same question, only in a personal way, ..."I can tell my hand what to do, and it obeys; why can't I do the same with my mind?" Let us start to answer our question by stating a universal truth spoken by the greatest spiritual psychologists that ever walked the earth, Gautama the Buddha, he said, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought;" and lets not stop with the present tense, we will add, 'All that we shall become is the result of what our thoughts are now." This universal truth, the Compassionate One has given us, is the bedrock upon which, if applied with a laser focused mind, would reveal the key to the understanding of our essential Self. A subtle, implied distinction the Buddha makes is in his use of the word "thought." He thus establishes that the faculty which is the primary cause of creating our destiny is not the workings of the brain, but the more comprehensive and superior faculty of the mind. As we advance our discussion, it is important to keep in "mind" that the mind is not an objective entity, it is a conceptualization, and that all the different qualities that make up the mind are unified, interdependent, interconnected, and operate under the highest quality of mind, namely consciousness. The lower qualities of mind are concerned with the many sundry, sensations that strike us daily, also with classifying these sensations and distinguishing them as sensations of like or dislike or pleasure or pain or neutral. The Buddha reiterates, ..."most of us live at the mercy of circumstances, going where ever life takes us." As babies, our entire conscious spectrum is primarily based on attention to sensations: hunger, sounds, tastes, smells, touch, etc., and whether they are agreeable or disagreeable or neutral; and as we mature our relation to the perceived sensations expand and become reinforced. The Buddha has broken down the cognition of sensations into three elements: the eyes, the object, and the act of attention. When all three elements unite there is sensation.
We have now established the groundwork upon which we can begin to answer our question. Let us begin to pursue the answer to our question by defining the meaning of two Sanskrit words: "asava" and "samsara." The mind attends to a sensation, and than relies on its subaltern components to classify and emotionally mark it as to like or dislike or neutral. For a simple example, you eat a piece of chocolate, you classify it under something sweet, and stamp it with "like." If this were a part of an early experience of eating chocolate you might have stamped it with "neutral," meaning you could, at this threshold take it or leave it. So we build a experiential, sensation's grid of likes, dislikes or neutral. These grids are not grooved in bone because they can change places, For instance, something that is liked can be moved into the dislike grid or something that is disliked can be moved into the liked grid. In the Bhagavad-Gita, chapter three, Krishna instructs his disciple Arjuna, in the workings of Universal Nature, ..."All creatures act according to their natures; what then will restraint effect? In every purpose of the senses are fixed affections and dislikes they are the enemies of man."...
When sensations are first encountered, there is little or no emotive force. But, lets reboot our chocolate example, when you start thinking about the feeling of pleasure of eating chocolate, over and over, a craving begins and so does the process called asava. The meaning of the word "asava" is an intoxicant, like whiskey or wine, out of fermenting fruit. The more chocolate we eat, the greater the asvavic fermentation; the greater the fermentation, the greater our intoxication. This cycle will progress until the craving has lodged, and at this point we cannot talk about our chocolate eating as a sensation. It has transformed into a fully bloomed obsession, and now we cannot help thinking about eating chocolate, and it cannot help thinking about itself. This "thinking about itself" is an intimation of the power of obsession. Think about the wide spread, human obsession of drugs and alcohol, and if that is not enough lets add jealousy, rage, lust, greed, fear, anxiety: you think of some. If that doesn't seem powerful enough for you, lets add that obsessions have the capacity to engage our heart, mind, and soul; not enough power, here's more, if you believe in reincarnation as I do, think of the many, many life times we have spent thinking and building upon our obsessions. Here is another point of the power of obsession, and here also is were we enter the realm of the esoteric. Most of us have little understanding of the comprehensive power of our mind, believing that it is naturally given to flitter here and there, and that it cannot be mastered; taking our darting conscious mind and use it to clarify and understand our unconscious mind-seems impossible. It isn't impossible, but very difficult, and those who have worked to master the mind tell us, 'It is like lassoing the wind.' Mind is conceptual, but like all manifestation, conceptual or objective, it possess energy/force; and behind mind are the directing forces of desire and will. (note the first position of desire, think about it) The strength and power of our conscious desire manifests the desire into a living astral form-our thought has become manifest, and that is why it is "thinking about itself." In the parlance of the esoteric realm, the concentration, over time of the force of our thought, has created an astral, one tracked, being, called an "elemental." To those of you who may be familiar with the contemporary mystic, Eckhart Tolle, he uses the same idea as the elemental when he explains the "pain body." You may find this last expression of mental power difficult to take seriously, it may smack of science fiction, (there is an old 1960ish film called "Forbidden Planet" whose theme you may find, as Spock might say, is "fascinating"), yet it represents a philosophy of life way beyond life's objective field.
Asava is then, the process of bringing a sensation, through the power and force of desire and self-will, into obsession, and finally into an astral, elemental form. Samsara is an umbrella term for a fully processed asava, from a sensation to a full blown obsession/elemental. To quote from the Mundaka Upanishad: ..."Such rituals, (primarily religious rituals intended for self reward) are unsafe rafts for crossing the sea of samasara, of birth and death. Doomed to shipwreck are those who try to cross the sea of samasara on these poor rafts. Ignorant of their ignorance, yet wise in their own esteem, these deluded men proud of their vain learning go round and round like the blind led by the blind."...
Hopefully, you now have a grasp of the power of our thoughts, and their deep effect on our behavior to direct our current and future destiny. These deep behavioral mind groves are the resistance behind our ability to change ourselves. Our experience with life should have shown us that there are degrees of depth of mind groves, from Lilliputian sized mind groves to the giant, obsessive/elemental sized mind groves.
I will not leave you with the absoluteness of your predetermined destiny. In my next blog, using the wisdom of the same 5000 year old resources, I will help show you how to use your innate capacity to change yourself.