Living Harmoniously

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Today, the theme is 'Yoga and Lifestyle'. You have to understand the word 'lifestyle' in its correct context. What is the meaning of lifestyle? Lifestyle and life routine are two different things. Routine is what you do on a daily basis and lifestyle is how you live.

You wake up at four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten o'clock. That is your choice and your routine. You eat your breakfast at whatever time you want, go to work at whatever time is defined, come back at a specific time, do your things at specific times. That is your routine, not your lifestyle.

Definition of lifestyle

Lifestyle is an expression of your personality, your traits and your character. If your personality, traits, character and habits are conducive to the attainment of peace, contentment and prosperity, and if they are conducive to the development of your spiritual awareness, then you are living a perfect life. If you find, though, your expressions are contradictory to your own inner aspirations, you need to modify your lifestyle, as lifestyle is an expression of the maturity of mind and emotions.

How you live, how you act in the world, how you respond to situations, all happen because of an inner quality and strength. That inner quality and inner strength is contained in the mind. You become what you think. Thinking and becoming, however, both have to be in sync with each other.

Becoming and being

A banana cannot think, 'I can become an orange,' and become an orange. A lemon cannot think, 'I am an apple,' and become an apple. No. There is a difference between thinking and becoming, yet human beings have the ability to become what they think. That is the only sentient life form in nature that has this ability: to become what they want to be. Therefore, in the life of a human being two processes take place: one is becoming, and the other is being. First you become, and then you be.

The process of becoming is adopting new qualities in life, and being is the expression of the best that you have to offer. Becoming is sadhana, and being is expression. Becoming is Munger, and being is Rikhia. Therefore, Sri Swamiji says, "Before you come to Rikhia, spend time in Munger." Becoming and being are the two expressions of Sri Swamiji's mission.

Here in Munger you have to work hard and confront yourself, transform yourself and transcend the limitations. There in Rikhia you just have to be: one with the environment, one with the spirit and one with the energy of the place, that is all. These are the two aspects of Sri Swamiji's mission. There is nothing more important or less important. This is neither more important nor less important, and that is neither more important nor less important; they are both complementary to each other, just as Swami Satsangi and myself are complementary to each other.

We are talking of lifestyle and this is the process: first you become through the process of transformation, then you be, living that creative expression. That constitutes the lifestyle. Lifestyle is an expression of the traits, habits, nature and character of your inner self, what is known as the 'personality'.

Six powers of Prakriti

This personality is constructed not only by your friends, family, society and culture, religion and belief, ethics and morality that surround you, or the education or environment in which you grow up and live, but also by the six powers of Prakriti, which you have inherited when you came into this life and took birth.

These six powers of Prakriti are both binding and liberating. They are realized in our tradition as friends and foes. When they bind, they become the enemies. When they liberate, they become the friends. In real life, it happens the other way. When we are born, they begin to help us in shaping and constructing our nature and our personality. Who are the six friends? Kama, passions, desires, obsessions; krodha, motivation, aggression, dynamism; lobha, greed; moha, infatuation; mada, arrogance, superiority complex; matsarya, enviousness of other people. These are the six qualities of tamoguna that attract the mind in this dimension. They become friends with the mind and construct the personality of your mind. What you express in life is what they have given to you as input. Your thoughts, ambitions, interactions and perceptions are guided by them. They become your nature and your personality.

Then there comes a time when the mind and spirit connect together. When the six friends and mind connect together, you forget the higher self, the higher nature and the higher qualities. Sometimes it happens, though, that a flower blooms even in the desert. Sometimes it happens that a connection takes place between the mind and spirit, and you realize that 'Those things I used to consider mine and was proud of are actually detrimental to my growth, and are impediments to my development. Those things that have made me what I am today are in reality my enemies, containing me in this dimension of suffering, desires, vasanas, and not allowing me to experience the freedom and beauty which is the purpose of life.'

Applying sanyam for a harmonious life

The six friends are then seen as six enemies. The six enemies are then controlled by the process of sanyam, just as you control the horses by holding the reins in your hands. If you leave the reins, you do not know how the horse will run; you have no control over it. In the same manner, through sanyam you restrain the six: kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya. They do not disappear, as they are a part of you, yet they are restrained with sanyam. Nothing disappears in this life, habits and traits do not disappear, yet they can be channeled, controlled, modified, converted and transcended. This is the purpose of yogic lifestyle. Yogic lifestyle is not defined by how many hours of yoga and meditation you practise. That is irrelevant. Yogic lifestyle is the concept of living a harmonious and correct form of life.

—Welcome Address, 26 October 2013, Polo Ground, Munger