As I was doing some early spring cleaning of the audio recordings on my phone, I came across a Vedanta lecture titled “Do You Remember?” from a 2017 visit by Swami Tyagananda to Cleveland. I remember his visit clearly, and the impact it had on me, and so, in this week of remembrance of my Mother’s transition, I decided to listen again. Allow me to share some highlights from the talk.
The phrase ‘Do you remember?’ was often used as a greeting by a particular senior monk when he met other monks. The question served as a reminder to the monks — to think back to their energy, enthusiasm and idealism when they first decided to become a monk. Of course, the analogy can be extended to us – do we remember the excitement when we first stepped into a project, relationship or spiritual journey in our lives? How does our current enthusiasm compare with that of when we began?
The opposite of remembrance is forgetfulness. What makes us forget? Let us examine. As humans, we tend to form attachments because they make us feel more safe, give us security. With attachments, come desires and expectations – we want people to act and behave in certain ways. When these desires aren’t met, we tend to respond with irritation, and then anger. Anger changes us, and causes us to act in ways contrary to our nature — we can become anger itself. Anger creates delusion — a state of mind where we lose awareness, forget what is appropriate, forget how to live and how to think.
This is the process of forgetfulness according to the Bhagavad Gita. Attachment, unfulfilled desires, anger, delusion, forgetfulness, loss of memory — we forget who we are. So how does one strengthen the memory and the mind? We strengthen the awareness of what we feed our mind. We are often very mindful of physical health, and the quality and purity of what we feed our body. The mind-body connection also gives us feedback from our mind about what we are feeding the body.
But what about what we are feeding the other senses that directly feed our mind? What is the purity and quality of the books we read, the media we consume, the conversations with our friends and family, and such? In order to strengthen the mind, the mind needs our commitment to purity in all the ways we feed it. It is that daily commitment through our spiritual practices, of awareness of the ‘junk food’ we feed our mind, that will help keep the mind in good health and keep our memory strong. With a strong memory, we won’t easily yield to delusion, anger, desires and attachments, because we will have clarity of mind. With clarity of mind, remembrance of our values, our principles, our purpose, and our path, will become our lifestyle.
May our practices be such that they yield an unqualified Yes to the question – ‘Do you remember your true Self?’
P.S. Join us in our weekly twitter chat with the #SpiritChat community, Sunday February 20 at 9amET / 730pm India. I will remember to bring tea and questions – you bring the cookies! – @AjmaniK
The rose – a great example of the mind and its thorns…