Shubhechha – the First Foundation

From Yoga Chakra 3, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The first bhumika, foundation, of jnana yoga is shubechha. Shubechha means positive intention or desire and this positive intention is the outcome of recognizing a condition which you want to change, to alter and make better. For example, you have an awareness of physical health and bad health worries you instantly and propels you to treat it so that it can be rectified. In the same way, one has to have an understanding of what is the general health of mind, and any pimple, rash or boil that comes up in the mind has to be treated.

Three attributes of shubhechha

Shubhechha is the awareness and recognition of a condition that is developing and is going to deteriorate your peace and happiness, and must therefore be dealt with instantly. That intention to not allow the negative to set in and disturb your health, and to make the effort to ensure that it is not affecting you, is the firstbhumika of jnana yoga. In this bhumika the intention is to remain positive all the time. Secondly, there has to be intensity in that desire to remain positive at all times, there has to be shakti in that sankalpa to remain positive.

The third point is that the desire is not just to know, but to change and apply the change. You have to understand the change and apply the change. If you get a rash, you get the medicine and then apply it. You don’t just hold the medicine in your hands knowing ‘it is good for my rash’. Knowing is not enough. You have to apply the medication on the rash. The ‘desire’ here is not just to know the change but to live the change, to apply the change.

In order to live and apply the change, seriousness, sincerity and commitment have to come in. Without these three you cannot do it, you cannot remain positive. You will fall back in the trap of the negative. Therefore you can live a change when you have understood and imbibed the knowledge, the vidya.

When the vidya becomes part of you and it is a natural expression then you can live it, but if it is not a part of you, today you will do it under compulsion, but tomorrow it won’t be your natural behaviour. For example, today you do your asana class under my supervision, under compulsion, but if it is left to you, you may not do many of those asanas as they are strenuous. Or instead of doing them ten or twenty-fivetimes, you will say, ‘Today I will do it only fivetimes’, as in your free time your mind is guiding you, and there is no discipline in that.

You have to live the vidya, you have to identify with it. You have to identify with the change and the idea in order to make it naturally applicable. If you cannot identify with it then it will not be naturally applicable, it will be an imposed application. An imposed application will never survive more than a few days in your life, but natural application remains a part and parcel of your life till the very end.

The sankalpa of shubhechha

The sankalpa of the shubhechha, the firstfoundation, is not just saying, ‘May I change for the better.’ It is not just thinking, ‘I will change for the better.’ It is the resolve: ‘May I understand the teaching so it can become a part of me.’ That whole connection from self-oriented awareness to knowledge awareness, vidya awareness, has to come in. When you say, ‘I want to feel better’, you connect with yourself and your needs, and you know that ‘the moment I feel better I will stop’. So the ‘I’ has to be overcome. Instead the connection has to be: ‘May I understand the teachings so that they become a part of me, a part of my expression.’ Now your focus is on understanding and imbibing the teachings and making them a part of you.

In that process you will become better no doubt, but then you have to allow the time. You cannot plant a seed today and take it out every day to see if it is sprouting or not asking, “Why has it not sprouted, it has been there for one week now?” How can it sprout when you are taking it out every day? Why don’t you just leave it there and let nature do its work? When the time is ripe the seed will sprout. In the same manner, you have to protect your positive intention and let nature do the work. The problem is you don’t protect your positive intentions, and animals eat it up, or you don’t allow nature to do its work, you try to do the work instead of nature. That is where failure happens.

When this sankalpa to understand the knowledge and make it a part of your own expression becomes the driving force in your life, then you begin to develop an understanding of your dharma and how you can live it. Then linear education becomes redundant. You no longer say this will follow that. The expression now is an artistic expression, not a linear, logical continuation of knowledge or understanding. You are not creating encyclopaedias of information in the mind, you are living the information. To come to this state, there has to be strength in your sankalpa. How do you strengthen your sankalpa?

In order to give compost to the seed, to strengthen the sankalpa which you have planted, you need to do two things: have association with good people who support, inspire and encourage you, and come to spiritual centres where you can reconnect with the teachings from time to time. Reconnect with the teachings, become inspired and go back with a strong positive motivation to continue your connection with and exploration of the vidya. This is the shubhechha aspect of jnana yoga, the firstfoundation.

—2 November 2015, Ganga Darshan, Munger