Making a promise
Two fractions, two cousins were fighting a war. Lord Krishna was on the side of the 5 brothers (Pandavas) against the other cousins. So Krishna and the king- eldest of the 5 brothers- were walking on the battle ground one evening, to check the losses and take stock of what happened on that day. When they were walking, one beggar asked the king for some money. The king wasn’t carrying his wallet so he told him “Come again tomorrow and I’ll give you”. So the beggar left and Krishna started laughing uncontrollably. The king asked “I haven’t cracked a joke, so why are you laughing?“ He replied, “I am laughing because of the irony. We are staring at the battle field in the midst of war and you are sure you’ll be return alive tomorrow to give money to the beggar. I am not.” So, an avatar, Krishna was not sure whether he’d be alive tomorrow, but the ignorant brother was very sure – tomorrow he would come and pay this beggar.
This is the way we are operating. The ignorant are very sure and those who know have no surety. So, tamas is also ignorance, non-understanding. We may think that this is a very innocent action, e.g. the beggar has come, I said that I don’t have money, come tomorrow. But unthinkingly, we have made a commitment there. In consciousness, we have made a promise that we will do a particular action. If it doesn’t get fulfilled, we will come back and fulfil it. This is how karma works. Because the word is the second level of creation (thought is the first level, action is the third level). So when you spoke, you wrote “This is a pending matter”. Every thought, word and action has a value, so let it not be indiscriminate. If we cannot handle tamas (inertia, our laziness, sleepiness, non ability to counter such things in our system), life is going to be tough. The only way to counter tamas/inertia, is to opt for action, movement. If you are bound by tamas, all the activities also will be in that line, for example, ‘‘I will rather do yoga, I cannot jog“. Yoga is not bad, but you tend to be lazy about yoga also. Yoga done without awareness will not give that effect. The idea of yoga is to unite the wandering mind to this physical form and unite the consciousness of the higher and the lower. So, there are various unifications happening through yoga.
Q: How do you erase all the commitments you’ve made?
Through action. First of all, prevent unnecessary commitment. Don’t make promises unconsciously. But at the same time, if you promise something, make sure you deliver.
Q: Say if you don’t have enough time, say for example, you can’t do it.
Then you better say so. That’s why when asked “Can you come again this year?” I said I cannot. Because if I say I will try, that means it’s pending. I said that the whole year I’m busy. I would rather tell the truth and say there is no hope. Next year yes, we will plan. So, that way we can make a program, but next year if I have to come, I should be alive to come. So there is always a…
When you make a promise, keep it. Otherwise, do not make a promise. Promise could be even a word.
There are various signs through which we can understand how tamasic we are. Number one is postponement. “I am lazy today, let me do it tomorrow.” In real time, there is nothing called postponement. A particular incident has to happen in a particular time. It’s not in your hands to postpone first of all.
Q: Does that apply to thoughts as well?
Yes, but you have no control over thoughts. Thoughts are like your children; they appear and then you understand your thoughts.
Q: In Christian faith, there is the option of repentance in case we do make promises and we do not keep them or we make other sorts of mistakes.
Have you thought what makes you make promises? What is the provocation? One is social acceptance; number two is that we are trying to live up to somebody else’s expectations. So, if we are aware of these two things, we will probably not promise. We will say – if I can do I will do, but I’m not so sure. If it’s kind of an escapism, it’s not good.
My point is – try not to repent. Repentance has power, no doubt. In yesterday’s meditation, the Power of Purity, we blessed everybody, so it’s in a way repentance and forgiveness. You can do these very powerful techniques, provided there is a lot of backlog. But what I’m trying to say is – do not have backlog.
So, what provokes us to do this is our attempt to be socially acceptable. We are trying to please others or prove ourselves. Realistically, you cannot do more than what you are capable of. That should be very clear.
When I was running the company, if I say yes – it’s done. I know that this can be delivered. So the promises given are to be delivered. Otherwise, I will say that I cannot do it.
Some people may be angry with you, but our conscious is always clear. There is no need for repentance. Tamas, like cancer or garden weeds, binds and disables you by itself. You don’t have to do anything. To cultivate the good plants in the garden, you need to nurture and put the right materials, but weeds grow without effort.
Another clear sign of tamas is that we blame other people for our deficiency or our incapacity. This is escapism. We say that our failure is due to some other person. In that context we don’t understand what is expected out of us. What is expected out of us is actually, what is our capacity.
When we practised yoga today, we did not expect ourselves to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, right? We just expected to have flexibility. So that is the kind of understanding of our capacity, limits and duties towards society that we need to have all the time. That is – use the intellect. That is number one. In corporate and real life, you can see this all the time – people will say “I could not complete this job because of that man”. People will never accept that it’s because of tamas.
Comfort zones are again a sign of tamas. The moment we try something new, mind blocks.
Tamasic time of the day
Now, what is the negative side of tamas? Look at it this way (before we go to the negative side), look at the whole 24h of the day. 12 hours is tamasic time, 3pm to 3am. Heavy, dense time. So if you look at the three times of the day, the subtlest, softest and the most sensitive time is 3am to 6am. Then the slightly denser rajasic (action) time is 6am to 3pm. Then come the 12 hours of tamasic, heavy dense time between 3 pm to 3 am. This is why in old times, people used to say – sleep maximum during tamasic time, because that is actually a dull time. It’s dense and heavy, so sleep. That is why our schedule also is to go to bed at 9 PM. Let us finish with tamasic time. That’s useless time, it does not rejuvenate you.
I said “sleep early” because if you sleep during the dense time, you are actually saving your body, mind and yourself from the dense energies outside. All the ghosts in ghost stories are active in the night, right? Not in the morning hours. Because they are dense, they are not trying to elevate people to higher consciousness. They like tamasic time. The darkness helps them. Whether there are ghosts or not, that’s not the question. Another thing is that, people go to pubs, bars and indulge in alcohol in the evening because the time favours it. The same thing is not possible in other times.
Q: What about trying to meditate during this time?
It’s not easy, because mind is active. During tamasic time mind is more fertile, active and not be very stable. So it is not easy to meditate. But if you are continuously meditating over time then it’s different- time has no value.
Q: In the Autobiography of a yogi, I think Paramahansa Yogananda said that you stay awake and meditate in the morning time and the late time when everyone is going to sleep.
Once you cross the barriers of time, then time has no value. But until you reach there, all this has to be followed. I’m talking about the people here, who are trying to cross the barriers.
Tamasic time instigates tamasic activity, such as eating tamasic food (alcohol, dead organisms that have no prana). Like that, there are various foods which have no value per se, these are more instigated during tamasic time. Likewise, if the character is also tamasic, we tend to drown ourselves with statements like “Oh this is not my cup of tea, I cannot do this.” The whole constitution is controlled by tamas, that is why we are not able to see beyond. Then we become stagnant, dull, wasting the whole life and going completely anti liberation.
We can talk for days about the many sign of tamas but mainly it’s like this: “I’m lazy, because of other persons, this situation is not right and that is why I’m not acting…‘‘ We point our fingers at various factors for our inaction, but the world exists expects you to just do what you can. Not the way somebody else wants; the way you can. So, once you are clear about that, there is no conflict, then you deliver- “Ok, this is the best I could deliver“- and you will try to deliver more, do more.
Then the next symptom is that you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Depression occurs.
Resistance to change
Another sign of inertia is that, if we cannot change, better to change the guru. If we cannot walk the path that doesn’t mean that the guru is not good. These are excuses mind finds for itself (“This is not your path”). That is why I always say – it doesn’t matter whichever guru, religion, path you choose. Whatever suits you, you can choose. But go until the end of the road. Otherwise, we just taste every bit, but the stomach is still empty.
Guard yourself from tamas like a soldier
It is very important to guard ourselves from tamas like a soldier. I tell people “Don’t practice yoga now, go for jogging!” Be physically active now, that is more important. When you are suffering from tamas, shake yourself up. Do an activity. Activity is the only way to counter inertia.
First of all, desire to get up early in the sattvic time (3am-6am); that itself is a big breakthrough. There are various reports and case studies where thieves were interrogated and they say that the best time to steal is 3am-6am. You know why? All the people are in deep sleep. Because 80-90% of the population is tamasic. He is the one who said that most people cannot wake up in the morning hours. The stealing happens at that time.
It is important to wake up in the early hours, so that you start to work in the right time, moving then into rajasic time, the action time. If we sleep through the entire subtle time, detoxing cannot happen in its full potential.
When I was a student I read a story of a very famous thief, written by a lady. She interviewed him when he was in jail. He gave various advices to the police. He said “I can open any lock, it’s just a technique. But there is one university professor who is more skilled than I am. He is not a thief, but that’s his skill.” Then the lady went and asked this professor “Can you do all this?” He said “Yes, but there is one thief who is better than me, he is behind bars now.” So, they were mutually appreciating each other. He gave many psychological insights into our sleeping patterns, which sync very well with Upanishadic principles.
Q: Is it better to get up at 3am and then if you have time, to take a nap in the afternoon?
That’s ok, still better than sleeping through. One it is easy to stay awake in the night (until morning if you like), because tamas suits the mind. But the mind is not happy when you wake up early in the morning. Mind is not required in the subtle; that is the issue. Mind is dissolving in the subtle. Basically, if we cannot wake up, it’s the mind in control. Are we a slave to the mind, or are we in control of the mind?
From a satsang in Serbia, May 2013
Transcribed by Tamara Bobić
Edited by Aviral Srivastava