Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vairagya - Disinterestedness (Words of the Master)

Grapes Are Sour?

"The fox who longed for grapes, beholds with pain
The tempting clusters were too high to gain;
Grieved in his heart he forced a careless smile,
And cried ,‘They’re sharp and hardly worth my while"

The Fox and the Grapes (example of not true detachment)

"This Fox has a longing for grapes:
He jumps, but the bunch still escapes.
So he goes away sour;
And, 'tis said, to this hour
Declares that he's no taste for grapes"

"Pleasures are dear and difficult to get.
Feasting the eye, fat grapes hung in the arbour,
That the fox could not reach, for all his labour,
And leaving them declared, they're not ripe yet."

by Aphra Behn, Walter Crane, Isaac de Benserade respectively, from the original "The Fox and the Grapes" traditional Aesop's fables


The fox that gave up in attempt to reach the grapes, that were too high for it, saying that the grapes were sour, was not an embodiment of true disinterestedness.

When one lacks capabilities, and therefore shows disinterest in otherwise interesting objects, then one is not really disinterested. If you are sick, and you have no desire for food, you need not have to praise yourself foe being sparing in your food habits. The real test of your disinterest lies, when in spite of good appetite and tasty food available you, show disinclination to eat it.

It is often found, during pathological conditions e.g. psychiatric disorders, that one loses one's urge, for normal biological activities of life. This should not be mistaken for any spiritual development. You may lose your appetite, when you are under influence of anxiety and fear. But when you are free of such anxiety and fear, the appetite returns. Thus, we see a lot of sadhus and sanyansis showing their pseudo-spiritual qualities of unworldliness, etc. however, when they are in a favourable situation to partake of material pleasures, they go about uninhibitedly indulging in their secret cravings. They betray a lack of any true disinclination to material objects.

Rise of a spiritual understanding of the real from the unreal, is an important ingredient of yogic disinterestedness.

One has to have faith in a spiritual destiny to begin his attempt at self improvement. It is said that to create such an attitude, one must enjoy a certain amount of tranquility of the mind. Clarity is poor with us, when our mind is confused and we are overpowered by hatred, jealousy and such negative feelings. It is therefore recommended that one begins cultivating his disinterest, by experiencing positive feelings of friendliness, compassion, etc. these emotions when not excessive, remove toxicity (mala) from our mind.

It may happen that, with the rise of positive feelings, certain amount of disinterest develops. We have to therefore find out what sensory stimuli have been mastered at this stage, and what sensory objects still remain active. This sort of understanding of the mind is not so easy to obtain.

Yogis at this stage show disinclination to the gross material objects, and yet they remain attached to the subtle ones. Some of the tallest individuals in our society, disinterested in wealth and material comforts, may yet very attached to power.

The final stage of disinterestedness is when one gains a sense of mastery over material things. However, this too is considered inferior, if a corresponding understanding of a spiritual life is not available.

Disinterestedness based on spiritual knowledge culminates in final liberation from bondage.

From "Stray Thoughts on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" by Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, published by The Yoga Institute of Santacruz, Mumbai - India.