Adweshta – Care and Concern

From Yoga Chakra 4, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The meaning of the word dweshta is one who perceives duality, and the meaning of the word adweshta is one who does not perceive duality. The word duality is not being used as a philosophical idea here, we are talking about the actual experience of ‘me’ and another object which is ‘different from me’, such as ‘me’ and ‘you’. My life is reality for me, your life is reality for you. That is the case with everything. The life of a tree is reality for the tree. If you chop it down tomorrow, that will be the reality for the tree, and also for the person who is chopping it down – and their realities will be different. In this way, each one lives their own reality.

In living your reality, you begin to form an association with things that are before you and which you desire. The awareness of ‘me and you’ creates a relationship initially, in the first stage. With the formation of the relationship, attraction and repulsion, raga and dwesha, come into play naturally and spontaneously. In fact, the inherent quality of any relationship is raga and dwesha. Today you like somebody, tomorrow you don’t. Today you like this object, tomorrow you don’t. Today you like this car, tomorrow you don’t. A sensory contact, sambandh, always creates raga and dwesha.

Attraction and repulsion are intensified by the emergence of a vritti that is self-oriented and selfish. This is the dimension of the tamasic ego. Connection, desire, attraction-repulsion, the self-oriented selfish nature – the emergence of all this is the tamasic dimension, where I am different from you, and from everything else. It is not ‘I am better than everything else’, that is something else. Dwaita is ‘I am different’. This differentiation is dwaita, the separation from the world.

The dwaita awareness takes one towards the tamasic nature, towards the tamasic expression and behaviour. The opposite of this is advaita, lessening of duality and finally absence of duality. Absence will only happen if there is a process of lessening. Therefore it is not the absence that you have to think about; you have to think about how you can lessen the experience of duality. The more you lessen dwaita the less the separation will be, and maybe one day, before you move on to the next class, you will realize that it has become so much less that it is absent altogether.

Atmabhava: the path to adweshta

The concept of adweshta has been explained by most people as an idea or philosophy; no one has indicated a practical method to apply the yama of adweshta. Sri Swamiji gave a solution: he used the word ‘atmabhava’ to define the progression towards adweshta.

Atmabhava means the ability to see oneself in others. This is exemplified in the relationship between parent and child. Throughout the ages, it has been found that parents and children share a special link and connection. They may be far apart, but if something happens to the child, somehow the mother is able to sense or feel it. She may not know exactly what has happened, but she will sense a disturbance in herself, in her mind and heart. Later on she will realize, ‘Yes, that was the moment I was feeling something in myself while that was happening to my child over there.’ There is some connection, and that connection is known as atmabhava.

Normally, atmabhava is experienced only with your own people, not with strangers. A stranger’s child is always a stranger, but your child is always the special one with whom you are connected, although you have two separate bodies, two separate personalities, two separate lives, two separate karmas and two separate destinies. There is something that makes you identify with that person as your own extension. That is atmabhava, and it leads to adweshta.

That feeling of adweshta is there in parents when they are dealing with their child. Whether your child does right or wrong, you simply smile and accept it. However, the same mistake committed by an adult will become the cause of strife. So at one level, you are able to ignore a shortcoming and smile; while at the other level, there is an aggressive confrontation for the same shortcoming. With one you are able to play the role of adweshta, ‘I can pardon everything’; whereas with the other it is dweshta.

When you become accepting, it is because you perceive something as part of your own nature, and when you reject something it is because you don’t perceive that as part of your nature. It is not the mistake that you accept or reject, it is the connection with the child or the adult.

Lessening attachment

Sri Swamiji used to say that you should extend the connection of atmabhava that you have with your child to other people who are not connected to you. He would give an example to explain how to lessen attachment. In one pot there are three mugs of water. You pour three drops of black ink into it. The blackness of the ink clouds the clarity of water and it becomes darkish. Now, without throwing anything out, can you again bring clarity into the water? Yes, you can. Put ten more mugs of water into it, and the three mugs of water that was looking darkish will become clear. You will not see the darkness any more. The ink is there, but it has been overpowered by the ten clear mugs of water.

Similarly, in your relationships, there may be attachment, but it can be overpowered by bringing other people into the fold of your connection. It is not just two or three people with whom you identify; anybody whom you bring into your fold and connect with becomes yours through atmabhava. When they become yours, there is adweshta bhava, there is no separation between you and them.

Thus the process of adweshta begins with concern and care, just as in your life connection begins with concern and care. That concern and care in the form of atmabhava leads the way to adweshta.

12 July 2016, Adhyatma Samskara Sadhana Satra, Ganga Darshan, Munger