Article by Shilpa shah director in-charge, HKBBA college
For thousands and millions of years, religions and scriptures have taught the people importance of asceticism. Because asceticism is the path to liberation, but until liberation or asceticism is properly understood in its true sense, we will continue to torture or annoy ourselves in the name of asceticism which can perhaps increase perversion but does not lead to liberation. Only the feeling of grief and bondage intensifies. According to the scriptures, VAIRAGYA means “beyond the colors” which means to come out from the colors, to get rid of the colors, getting rid of the different forms and colors of life and worldly desires. But people took “liberation from colors” in a slightly different sense and many questions arose. The practitioner of asceticism began to cut through the colorful world as well as the seven colors of life and began to live life as dull. In fact, liberation from colors means to go beyond colors or come out from the worldly desires and try to be transparent (color-free) without falling into the illusion of colors.
That’s right! Because we experience pain and bondage throughout life because we cannot be transparent, that is, we cannot see life as it is. We look at everything from our own colored spectacles i.e. prejudiced spectacles of RAGA-DWESHA that is likes-dislikes, due to which we miss to see the real and do not enjoy the relationships as well as creation in its true form. When we like someone or we are influenced by someone, our respect for him increases we try to be very good and polite with him. Moreover, we cannot see any faults or vices in that person. In the same way, when someone does something bad to us or wrong according to us we feel that person is not “up to the mark” that is all as per our prejudice vision that is our colorful glasses by which we normally see the world. As we begin to understand like this then many of his good things stop appearing to us. In both cases actually we are not seeing the reality this is called complete lack of transparency because we are seeing matter according to our colorful glasses. To cultivate true asceticism, one has to be transparent or color-free, that is, free from prejudice, free from influence which cannot be done throughout life that is why the Scriptures advises witnessing. But witnessing also we do not understand in depth, witnessing means not to be a doer of any work. This does not mean sitting idle and lazy without doing anything.
But people understand that not being a doer means not doing any work. Doing nothing like this means giving up life or giving up relationships and going to the cave of GIRNAR or ashram. But life in the ashram or in the cave of GIRNAR is the same everywhere. Only your spectacles change your outlook of life. Even so, where will the person run away from life? Because wherever you go, life is there life has to exist. Thus asceticism means not running away from life but seeing life in its real form. (Be transparent, be colorless) In life, neither tries to be humble, nor arrogant, nor angry, nor calm, nor compassionate, nor uncompassionate. Because trying to be anything is to miss the self or the original. Only by becoming calm and stable just to experience the existence or see the world with full awareness is the only true witnessing. This is how the entire world and the whole existence begins to look like means we can see the real existence as it is that is in a real form and automatically asceticism comes. Because if you are going to be humble and you are not really like that, then the act of being humble will be a burden to you and you will get tired of it. And one day it will be certain that you will become a rebel and start hating humbleness and again an unnatural event will happen which means you will be further away from yourself. In short, to be transparent is to be aloof. Seeing as it is and not trying to change it. Just abandoning the spirit of the doer because when we can’t see the thing as it is, we either find it inappropriate or right, that is why we unnecessarily try to change it and as we try we become the doer. Now as soon as we become doer either sorrows (despair) or ego has to come in life. Because the thing we tried to change could have only two consequences, success or failure. If success is achieved then pride (ego) will increase and again and again we will keep trying to change something and become the doers of the work.
Moreover, we will continue to see the world through our own prejudiced vision and, unfortunately, if we fail to change the situation, we will fall into the abyss of despair and frustration. Which will break our confidence and we will not be able to do anything. That is, we will miss seeing reality or enjoying life. Moreover, anger will arise from the ego or despair that will be gained due to being a doer, because we naturally get angry when we do not get what we want. In addition, those who help you in fulfilling your desire will become your friend and who creates obstacle becomes enemy. In this way the vortex of RAGA-DWESHA that is affection and jealousy will grow. Becoming a doer, thinking that “this is not right” will lead to a loss of SAKSHIBHAVA that is witnessing. That is, we cannot see existence as it is. Not being able to see as it is or seeing with one’s own intellect and prejudice (through colorful glasses) is nothing but AVAIRAGYA which is nurtured by lack of witnessing. That is why the scripture advises witnessing and practice to cultivate asceticism. Another important point to understand is that who are we to judge the justice of nature or God? Because when we say “this is right” and “this is not right” or trying to judge unnecessarily, we forget that this is what God approves of because without God’s will, not a single leaf can move in this existence when we see someone suffering, we feel pity for them and we become doer to alleviate their suffering, whether we succeed or not. But then if we think that nothing happens in this world without the will of God, maybe we are not able to understand the logic of karma, the sadness we feel today, the situation we are trying to change may be the result of our own karma and the same is acceptable to God because without god’s wish nothing is possible to happen.
Thus we are trapped in a whirlpool of good-bad, right-wrong, true false, equality-inequality, etc. all our lives and try to see the world according to our own understanding i.e. through our own colorful spectacles because of which we cannot see the world as it is and witnessing cannot be achieved, without witnessing it is impossible to attain asceticism and without asceticism liberation is not possible. In short, renunciation of happiness, renunciation of pleasure, renunciation of relationships renunciation of the world is not true asceticism. But abandoning your colored spectacles to see the world is true asceticism which is obtained by being colorless or transparent. Thus the art of seeing what is as it really called asceticism. Through which one is automatically freed from raga-DWESHA, affection, jealousy, ego, despair, sorrow and pain and to be free from such evils is true salvation. Such salvation is possible through renunciation or asceticism that can be achieved through witnessing. But to get this SAKSHIBHAVA requires regular practice that is penance as it is not easy to cultivate witnessing. For that, regular efforts and hard penance are inevitable. That is why the scriptures advise such endeavor regularly which is very scientific. If this is understood, one can experience the joy of living and enjoying the emancipation of the living being in the midst of a blissful relationship. I hope after reading this article the individual can become ascetic or recluse in a real sense.