Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, April 10th 2022
At the End of Explaining is the Beginning of Listening
Disarming the Mind for Freedom—last year we had several online programs around this topic, and just recently in Pranavadipa Vol. 89 a Testimony written by Karuna was published under the same theme. And in in a recent Asana & Meditation class, Karuna was also sharing with us about “the mind of complaint” that is one of the concrete things we can go against in order to work towards “disarming the mind” (Echo From the Cave: 178). Actually, there is another mind habit that we learn is important to work against, and one that I’ve been trying to understand better and shift in myself, and that is “making excuses and explanations,” which very much goes hand in hand with the “mind of complaint.” Or perhaps to be more accurate, I have often heard through senior disciples that “explanations” are more or less a form of “making an excuse.” And how difficult it is to learn or receive anything new when we’re busy making excuses!
After being pointed to the importance of improving in ability and depth of listening, and the importance of being humble, I started to bring my mind more towards looking at what’s getting in the way. It’s a small thing, but one thing I see is that the mind holds a fear of others’ negative opinions or impressions of me. So, as a result I may find myself explaining…explaining in hopes of not being misunderstood, explaining in hopes of not being taken as thoughtless, explaining in hopes of … well it doesn’t even really matter in hopes of what … it’s all different shades of the same hope of “giving a good impression.” Ultimately, this is all based on ignorance of the Self. And as Shri Mahayogi teaches us, how vain and unnecessary it is to allow oneself to be dependent on the changeable and uncontrollable thoughts and opinions of others. Truly I would like to come to trust in and depend fully on the Truth, which is what Shri Mahayogi points us towards again and again, not just through thinking that I am, but through the content of my actions. Right now, this is something that I am working towards and trying to find the ways to really make it come to be more concretely so.
Though this may not be a very well developed way of going about it, one thing I decided to do is to just stop with the explaining. If something is being pointed out to me, whether or not I have thought of it, whether or not I have done it, whether or not I think I have been misunderstood, I can just give it all up and I don’t need to say anything about it. Because I see that as soon as I do, the conversation goes to “let me tell you…” and it becomes about me justifying, defending, or showing something about myself—and once it reaches words, the impetus has already proceeded forth from the thought and the mind has already painted its lens in a way that “listening and considering” is greatly lessened, even if it may appear to happen at a certain level.
I don’t have much to conclude or share about it yet. It’s not something I’ve been doing actively for a long period of time, maybe only for about one month, and I can’t even say that I’m doing it very well. But I see it as a starting point, a way to work backwards, towards weakening the grip of the small self, and putting the validity of its dependence to the test. In a way, I also see it as a test that can be done in the scenes of daily life towards one of the great objects of meditation that Shri Mahaygoi teaches us: “Who am I?”
We always hear from Shri Mahayogi the importance of practicing empirically—and if Yoga is science of the mind (See Echo from the Cave: 177), certainly it must be true that philosophizing, imagining, or intellectualizing just won’t do. The mind needs evidence to learn, and the only way to find evidence is through consistent experimenting and testing. Satya’s Testimony that was recently published in Pranavadipa Vol. 89 is an excellent example of that, and one that we can gather a lot of hints from.
In that same article, Satya shared Shri Mahayogi’s words: “It sure is easy if you’re free from obsession!” I think, most likely, a lot of the explaining of ourselves, the making of excuses, and the complaining—all of these are “peas-in-a-pod”—and they’re all coming from the mind’s obsession to defend some idea or concept of this small self, “myself”, the ego…which is completely unrelated to the real Self and the Truth. And that obsession seems to constantly be standing in the way of deepening our ability to listen to the Truth and receive It.
How nice it must be to become utterly defenseless! And as Shri Mahayogi reminds us often in various ways, by throwing out and resolving this mind-stuff, practically and empirically in daily life, more and more space opens up for the Truth to emerge.
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