I have borrowed from Sri Aurobindo the term of the title but I may be pardoned in using the same in a different context. In the initial articles for the column, I wrote more about the practical way of life and how do we learn to relax, be more absorbed in our work etc. In the later part I tried to bring out how each aspect of our Life can and is meant to be used to hasten Inward and taste the True Happiness such a change in practical way of living brings in one.

In this piece, I am focusing on how both need to come together to enable one not only taste True Happiness but also even live a normal contented and happy life. Let us assume one has a physical weakness. Something as simple as not perfect eyesight. . One overcomes the weakness with the help of an external aid, i.e. spectacles or lens etc. Similarly, one finds it difficult to exercise. What does one do? One works with a group or a trainer or somehow makes one body flexible enough to bend, stretch etc.

What has happened in the above examples? One had a weakness. It was observed and identified as preventing one from living a normal or active or full life and therefore one set about correcting the weakness with external support, effort and most importantly spent time to do the same. When the weakness was overcome one felt a surge of happiness (when one wears a powered glass for the first time and the sharpness with which one sees items around one brings a delight or simple joy).

Let us assume one does not even realize one has a weakness or inability. For example – one does not realize he / she cannot see properly. Then will we try and correct the same? No for sure. Or for some reason even after realizing there is a weakness one does not want to change. Then also no effort is made to change things. This is the starting point of the journey or progress one wants to make in one’s Life. By normal logic one starts with observing oneself as compared with how one wants to be and then tries to progress to a better state or improved faculties of the body in the first case. When making that effort that change can happen or may not happen at all or partially. Also the time frame may vary – may be quick or take a long while.

Thus there are basically only two types of choices available to one always. To be happy with one’s body faculties (in this case) as they are or when the need to change is felt, make the effort. Again there is a choice to accept the outcome or not and continue the effort. . Now it is also becoming clear that the choice is not with the body as it is commanded and obeys something which observes and identifies the need for change or effort. But it also seems the body can refuse to cooperate for the change. Even all effort whether medication or exercise etc. can still not guarantee success in treating an illness of a particular organ in the body. What is the conclusion one can draw from this. In a way the body seems to have a will or choice of its own i.e. it can listen to the command of the Mind (or the observing faculty) and change or improve itself or it may not?

Thus the body becomes one independent part which seems to have a will of its own but at most times, it tends to obey and go by the will of the Mind. This then leads to one more logical conclusion. The observing Mind has to seek / cajole and command in this case the body to change to ensure a goal or target kept is obtained. Now let us look at one more example – I want to sit upright to enable me meditate. I have never practiced this in the past hence the back refuses to cooperate. Now what do I do? I have to seek the body’s cooperation by training the muscles with discipline etc. Assume that still I am not able to correct, then what do I do? I have to find through the right guide what method I can use to attain my goal of starting to meditate. Here again unless the Mind and Will are strong & determined, the Body can easily give up its effort or an alternate solution cannot be found. Thus the faculties have to work together to develop determination and discipline to achieve a common goal.

We saw in so much detail the Body example. Let us apply the same to the Prana or feelings, reactions etc. One sees oneself getting angry or hurt by someone else’s actions or words. Many times one will know reacting will not help but still we will identify with the reaction and blame the other person either mentally or talk about it to others as why so and so is bad. Even when one knows this will not help, one is unable to stop or distance oneself – why? This is because the vital or feelings also have a will of their own and they are even more stronger than the Body(s). Thus the observing part or Mind has to work overtime to change this habit. The same is the case with a few who do not tend to react or be too sensitive about what others say. Instead these persons will take at face value whatever they see, hear, i.e. it is a seemingly helpful habit.

Now the body’s abilities or inabilities are able to be traced to the genes. I am sure the same genes will soon be traced back to one’s feelings, reactions etc. It does not seem to matter why this is so but it definitely does matter for our quality of Life to be able to try and change whatever one deems as preventing one from attaining one’s goal.

(This is the first article of a four-part series on ‘The Integral Yoga’. The second part will appear next Friday.)

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(The writer is the Joint Managing Director of TVS & Sons Ltd., and MD, TVS Logistics)