Vivid Values

…anchors to life


Viveka, vairaagya; discrimination and detachment

Each of the words presented in A-Z here has related to ‘Vedantic saadhana’, (practice), for it is immensely practical and as pertinent to life now as it was millennia past. We can all use words or phrases to make life more positive for ourselves, regardless of where we are on our life path.

That said, for the serious student, there are some very succinct ‘codes’ in the Saadhana Chatushtaya, which has been discussed in several posts of  Aatmaavrajanamto give the names of the four practices, they are, Viveka, Vairaagya, Samadhi-shatka-sampatti and Mumukshatvam. The latter refers to the fact that the seeker, to progress with these saadhanas, requires having such determination, such fervour, it’s as if their hair is on fire. Have a sense of urgency in spiritual research! The penultimate saadhana has a clue in its name that it is split into a further six categories; shama (control of thoughts), dama (control of senses), uparati (withdrawal – keeping oneself to oneself), titiksha (forbearance, fortitude), shraddha (faith – not blind belief, but trust in the Higher) and samadhaana (contemplative turn of mind in daily activity).

Before engaging in the more ‘nitty-gritty’ parts of saadhana, though, it is necessary to understand why one would follow this particular path and how best to do it.

Viveka is the application of upayoga, plus lots of raising doubts, questioning, with the aim of discerning the Real from the UnReal. In Vedantic terms, this means seeing the world/Maya for the illusion that it is and seeing only Brahman everywhere, in, through, around every rock, creature and human being. Viveka doesn’t get caught up in small talks, gossips, flights of fancy. It sees clearly and cannot be tricked.

Vairaagya supports viveka by endeavouring to loosen attachments to the material. This is not to say that one must become cold and unemotional. Not at all. However, it is the control of one’s emotions which allows the mind to move cleanly through troublesome times. There is no useful purpose served in wailing and gnashing of teeth; those things can be cathartic, but they must not be allowed to overwhelm and muddy the waters of discernment. Learning the art of self-containment is what vairaagya is about.

When V&V are in harmony, the shatka-sampatti readily can be applied, and further support the purpose of viveka, reaching towards the goal of Unity with Self.

What use is this to the regular reader here, you who have so willingly come along for this ride? Thinking a little more about what is worth investing your time in and what is not; prioritising the importance of things – for so much of what goes on in life really doesn’t matter – no it really doesn’t. Learning to keep emotions in check is a lifetime’s work but is worth attempting. We can have the feelings, but expressing them appropriately in place and time is a skill which can be developed. It will serve well – whether or not one is taking up a spiritual and devotional activity or not.


Author: Yamini Ali MacLean

Through blogging I teach (Advaita Vedanta), I blether (and cackle), and I share (with images). Philosopher, meditator, seeker (finder), reader, creator... striving to be the best human being I can be on any given day.

7 thoughts on “Vivid Values”

  1. To me Viveka spells common sense or the thinking brain which can distinguish right and wrong – thats how I understand it. I loved reading about how Vairagya influences it to ready self for a higher connect. Something to ponder upon for sure.

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    1. Hari OM
      That’s the essence of it in practical terms, Shalini! Though, one has to be clear that one’s concept of what is right and what is wrong is in proper context… and that requires the element of ‘real/unreal’ discernment. Right and Wrong can be very subjective! Yxx

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  2. I really love how you’re layering this all together Yamini. Kudos to you for the fabulous job you’re doing, taking us on this exploration of such fundamental, powerful and fascinating concepts AND doing it within the constraints of a strict alphabetical format – nice going!


    1. Hari OM
      Thank you, Deborah – but I have to say, too, that it is one of the things which has amazed me with the whole process here and on the teaching blog itself; the system of learning is so ancient, so well organised, that one can approach from almost any angle and it will all still fall into place! I am the instrument of its delivery only… and in there lies the individuality &*> Yxx
      (ps as you’ll see from next post, am absent for a bit, so I will catch up with you when I get back!)


  3. I like your words to the effect that having the emotions is not the issue, but expressing them appropriately. Self mastery is key! Great post.

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