Practising Titiksha

From Yoga Chakra 5, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Titiksha is the process of balancing out a given condition by using its opposite to become stable and comfortable in it. Whether you endure heat, cold, pain or joy, if there is an experience of stability in that condition, then it is titiksha. You are not disturbed by the condition. There is harmony and stillness in the mind.

From this point of view, titiksha indicates a nature of mind in which there is, first and foremost, awareness. Without awareness, you cannot observe yourself, your expressions and reactions, nor can you understand them. When you can be aware of the process and the outcome both, then some understanding begins to develop and gradually you can practise titiksha.

The second necessary ingredient of titiksha is pratipaksha bhavana, knowing the opposite. You have to be able to identify the opposite element, the opposite thinking, the opposite emotion through which you can balance out the emerging feelings and thoughts. To do this, you have to know the positive side of everything.

The oneness of love

The most important aspect of titiksha is that you should not want to run away from a contrary situation, but accept and accommodate it. This happens through an effort towards balance in expressions and behaviour, and such balance cannot be attained without love. Love indicates that there is no opposition; instead you understand the situation and are finding ways to manage it. You give it the right direction, but lovingly.

The moment a feeling of opposition takes birth in the mind, it becomes difficult to bridge the gap, just as when two people fall apart it is difficult for them to come close again. Therefore, from the beginning you have to rein in the feeling or reaction of opposition, and that is an aspect of titiksha.

The reaction of opposition has many forms. An example: you have to walk barefoot on a pavement and the stone is hot. Some people will jump and scream and run to reach the shady part. This means there is an opposition and not acceptance. You want that your feet should be immediately at a cooler place. Another person thinks, ‘I can put up with it. It is only a matter of a few seconds’. Without jumping up and down, he reaches the shade though he is aware of the discomfort. A third person just walks down in a relaxed manner without a trace of discomfort, absorbed in his own joy.

The heat is the same for everyone, yet the different states of mind create different reactions. One who opposes expresses it by jumping up and down. One who accepts is able to practise restraint. However, even with acceptance there can be impatience or there can be peace and steadiness. When acceptance is combined with joy and love, then there is peace. Therefore, you will find that you are truly able to accept a situation, person or thought if there is a coat of love in the inner painting of your mind.

If you consider someone your enemy, you will never be able to accept that person. If he comes before you, no philosophy, no guru and no words will be of use. When the storm of hatred and enmity breaks in your mind, you will not be able to remain unaffected by it. Therefore, the third important point is that there should be love.

Just as salt remains dissolved in sea water, love remains dissolved in human nature. It remains hidden, that is why people are not able to experience it. When you meet a stranger, your first response is to have an upper hand in the interaction.

You assess that person by his looks and words. This assessment takes place spontaneously; you don’t have to think about it. At the first glance you say, ‘Yes, this person is all right’, or, ‘This person is not all right.’ In the first moment there is acceptance or non-acceptance.

If there is acceptance, then you have a conversation. If the conversation is good, then an intimacy develops. The love which was hidden gradually becomes manifest. You meet more often, go to each other’s homes; a relationship is established between you. From being strangers you have become friends. How did this happen? Some people may say due to a selfish interest. No, it is due to love.

If there is no love, then a distance will be created. You will think, ‘Oh he doesn’t know anything. I cannot have a conversation with him. He is not at my level. I say one thing, he understands another thing. We have no mental or social compatibility’. Such thoughts will come, create coldness, and you will not say hello to that person again.

In one situation, you develop intimacy and in another situation you try to keep your distance. There is plus and minus of only one element here: love.

If love was not an inherent part of human behaviour, then the moment you saw a stranger you would shoot him down, for you would see him as a threat to you. The instinct of self-preservation would kick in and you would try to eliminate him. That is why the wise have said that love maintains balance in society and hatred creates distortions.

Look at your own life and you will find that whenever thoughts of hatred have come into your mind, your peace has gone away and the mind has become disturbed. On the other hand, whenever thoughts of love have come into your mind, you have experienced peace and joy. This happens every moment in your life. This love which is an inherent part of you has to be applied in different situations. A small thing: when you smile at someone, they feel good; when you glance at them with annoyance, nobody likes it. When you smile, there is a feeling that this person supports me. If you look at someone with irritation, they think, ‘Better stay away’. People are always looking for a positive connection, and this positive connection is not possible without love.

If you can maintain the state of love, your whole perspective will change, and as a result your thoughts and actions will also change. This is how you can maintain inner and outer peace.