Understanding Lobha with Jnana Yoga

Swami Ratnashakti Saraswati

Human beings are capable of incredible things, of infinite knowledge and bliss, if they take steps to raise their level of awareness. Yoga systematically unlocks the portals of higher consciousness and leads them beyond the horizon of limitation to a greater vision of fulfilment within this life.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The connection with yoga vidya shows us the way to improve the body, but also our thoughts, attitudes, feelings and emotions. Yoga sees the individual not only as a physical body, but recognizes the progressively subtler layers of existence, the subtle bodies formed by the pranas, the mind and mental energy, the psyche and ultimately the state of pure bliss. Vedanta asserts that the essential nature of every being is divine, and that divinity is experienced as bliss. To come closer to realizing and experiencing the pure, positive and luminous nature within we need to learn how to disconnect from the negative and unhelpful aspects of mind and emotions. This is the challenge of the second chapter of yoga.

For aspirants who are serious about taking the next step, an integral approach to the management of lobha has been given. Observation and analysis of lobha through jnana yoga leads to greater understanding and you learn to introduce the opposite quality as the antidote. The hatha yoga practices help to reduce the physical and pranic imbalance caused by lobha and rectify this through purification. The raja yoga techniques refine the interaction between the senses and mind and then yama and niyama are used to change the vritti and create a positive input. Finally, transformation happens through cultivation of positive qualities that have been given in the lifestyle yama and niyama. This is the progression of sadhana that leads to lifestyle, where the positive qualities you experience inside are strengthened by expression in daily life. When life is guided by the positive, creative and joyous qualities of mind, then spirituality can be experienced.

If you work towards adding more positive qualities to your nature, you will remain constantly aware of the improvement that you are trying to make for yourself, and this will shift your awareness from the negative to the positive. This is a simple method of cultivating the virtuous and the positive qualities in life. Ignore the detrimental and the bad and keep in focus the positive and the good. This is point one. The second point is to become aware of the six conditions and their interaction in life. The role of passion, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy in life must be observed, as they are the root cause of all psychological disturbances and misbehaviours. Spiritual life flowers when you manage these six enemies. As long as you are unsuccessful in managing these six states, you are only an aspirant, a sadhaka, trying to fine-tune your nature. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the spiritual journey begins with self-discovery.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Jnana yoga begins with awareness and observation. To practise swadhyaya, or self -analysis, you need objective observation. Objectivity is the beginning of drashta bhava, the attitude of the witness. It is like treating an illness. When you start feeling sick the first thing you pay attention to are the symptoms. The symptoms are observed and monitored in order to make the correct diagnosis. When the illness is of the mind and emotions, objectivity goes out the window. Instead of being able to clearly see the reactions of mind and emotions, the opposite happens.

To be conscious of the defects only in one’s own self, and to be conscious of only the virtues of others, is to see God in all.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

The tamasic and rajasic complexes of inferiority or superiority, projection, justification and associated distorted perspectives take over. It is always easier to identify the shortcomings and negative behaviour of others but much more difficult to be honest about your own. Therefore, swadhyaya begins with the positive intention to connect with truth. Connecting with truth means being able to deal with the negative aspects of your own personality and make the effort to transform them. Don’t project individual mental hang- ups and frustrations onto other people or situations. Outward projection of negativity is a complete waste of time which only delays further the prospect of spiritual evolution in life. Instead of going forwards, you go backwards. In the spirit of sadhana, maintain the inspiration that sustains your connection to yoga and have the courage to be honest and sincere.

Once you are able to observe the different experiences and expressions of tamasic or rajasic lobha, it is possible to find the triggers, the conditions that catalyse the reaction. Once you identify the trigger, work to disconnect from that. For this two important techniques have been given by Swami Niranjanananda, the first is the SWAN sadhana and the second is Review of the Day. SWAN helps you identify the internal causes of lobha by analysing and fine- tuning the different components of the personality. Review of the Day helps you become aware of the external circumstances and interactions that trigger the reaction of lobha.

Published in Transforming Lobha