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 Aatmaavrajanam; to 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.