In the first article of this series, we explored Rasa Sadhana, the ancient Indian yoga. We learned how emotional fasting exercises can free us of unpleasant emotions, with anger rasa as an example. In this article, we explore how to deal with the other disagreeable rasas of disgust, fear and sadness.
The disgust rasa [Vibhatsya] is an overall feeling of dissatisfaction with yourself and the world around you. If you are simply dissatisfied with the world, you get angry. But if the feeling also includes you, you are disgusted. This feeling is also the essence of a state of depression, though in prolonged depression, other unpleasant rasas may occasionally manifest.
The feeling of disgust often leads to bad behaviour towards others. When this mood is dominating, the person has really given up. The king [the ego] has forsaken the country [the body]. Thus, the intellect loses its power and mind and is freed from control, which frequently leads to unhealthy behaviour. The desires of the senses easily get the upper hand, producing bad body chemistry and disturbances in relationships.
Very often, personal mistakes lie at the bottom of this feeling. The shame causes you to loose self-confidence. The cause may also be other people: the feeling of not being loved, the feeling of being cheated and humiliated, the shame of not being able to defend oneself. Bad-blood chemistry is also one of the main causes of the disgust rasa, especially if you cannot see what event directly triggered it. It is frequently preceded by constipation due to bad food and/or sleeping habits. Disturbance of the liver function through alcohol abuse or food addictions decreases natural blood purification.
The disgust rasa typically manifests as a downward emotional spiral. It causes adharma, actions that go against the laws of nature. These actions usually produce more bad-blood chemistry, which further cements the feeling. In cases of prolonged depression, this means that blood purification is a requirement to get out of it. Fasting, sweat baths, clysma – all elements of panchakarma are highly recommended in this case. And so is a change of lifestyle.
While other disagreeable rasas such as anger or fear still have some function, some value in communication between people for example, the feeling of disgust really makes no sense. It simply leads nowhere, except to the point where you decide it is enough and you direct your energy away from it. Whenever a feeling of dissatisfaction with self arises, the best thing to do is forget about it. Maybe it can tell you to get rid of some bad habits if those are at the root of it. But usually the feeling just needs to be dismissed to disappear.
The good news is that disgust sadhana is the easiest rasa sadhana. Promise yourself that today you will not allow any negative feelings or thoughts about yourself. It is no use to have inner arguments about it or discover the causes of these feelings. Whenever they develop, just tell them to wait until tomorrow and direct your attention elsewhere.
The best antidote to dissatisfaction is the shringara rasa: love and beauty. Meet your friends and family and if that is no option, go for beauty in nature, music, home decoration and so on. Clean up the place, take a bath, put on new clothes and move forward. Further enhance your self-confidence through physical exercise with sports, asanas or martial arts. Spicy food will also be helpful.
The fear rasa [Bhayanaka] is expressed in worries, nervousness and anxiety up to real terror. It causes the mind to work very fast. The spreading panic then easily makes an elephant out of a mouse, reducing your ability to think rationally about life’s challenges.
Fear always concerns the future and fear sadhana must include understanding the nature of the future. If you evaluate your past, it becomes clear that good or bad luck often determined your success. Whatever plans you made, unexpected problems and opportunities always caused you to change your plans. It stands to reason that this will be no different for the future.
Fear sadhana requires to live in the now and do what you can now. Your responsibilities towards others may create a duty to make some plans, but this should be done without attaching too much importance to them. The main thing is to stay open-minded and flexible. Good planning may require some repetition, but when you find yourselves thinking about the same problem over and over again, you are worrying.
Truly, such worrying is of no use – often it prevents you from seeing the obvious solutions to your problems, or the opportunities that hide behind them. To a spiritual person, every problem is an opportunity for improvement. You always worry about losing things to which you are attached, whether you have them or hope to attain them. Fear sadhana thus requires you to evaluate your attachments. Nothing in this universe lasts forever.
Change is inevitable. Losing is part of the game. Substitute the feeling of fear for the unknown with the feeling of wonder. If life wouldn’t be full of surprises, it wouldn’t be worth living.
On the level of the body, the Vata [wind] dosha must be subdued. Avoid garlic, onions, cabbage and pulses unless properly cooked with Hing or Ajwain and sufficiently hot spices. Wearing a pearl necklace and taking pearl powder is very powerful. Drink water stored overnight in a silver cup. Make sure your blood sugar level does not get too low: this is no day for food fasting.
Many agreeable rasas counter fear. Practice calmness, especially by doing pranayama exercises that reduce the breathing rate. Meet your loved ones so that you feel more protected. Practice courage and focus by performing some physical exercises.
Doing fear sadhana means that for a day you postpone all thoughts about the future until after the sadhana. Whenever they develop, chant the most powerful mantra “Aum no problem, aum no problem”.
The rasa of sadness [Karuna] may come as personal sadness, feeling of pity for others or true compassion. Compassion is a feeling of universal kindness, in which the sadness of sadness has largely been replaced by the deep understanding that we are all facing the same problem: the illusion of being individuals.
While the highest karuna is compassion, the original Sanskrit word karuna means “sadness”. This more popular meaning of the karuna rasa finds expression in many kinds of art, literature, and theatre in India. Sadness is a feeling that comes when you have to let go of attachments. In pity, you forget that other people’s problems are essentially the same as your own.
To directly counter any sadness, you must first understand that sadness may come but goes just as well. In adolescents, periods of sadness may come when you feel neglected and try to produce pity in others. Loneliness in general is a main cause of karuna. When you get older, sadness may come because of waning strength and beauty, of achievements becoming meaningless. If one accepts everything and finds meaning in all that is still left, then there is no problem. The same goes for sadness that may come when nearing death. If you believe that the end is near, then obviously sadness will come. If you believe in eternity, then you can still enjoy everything around as a beautiful life in progress.
Mastering this rasa means to convert our more self-centred sadness into genuine compassion. This involves the recognition that the suffering of others is also your own. Nobody has any problem that is not related to ignorance and ignorance is the fate of all who are not enlightened. If you can feel sorry for others without feeling any better than them, you leapfrog the pitfall of pity and open the possibility of experiencing the highest karuna.
True compassion is without discrimination and can be felt for humans as well as for animals, plants, or enemies. It makes you kind, extending loving kindness to every being you meet. It is the cause of many spiritual thoughts and ideas.
In case of sadness, it is good to cry. However, it is not advisable to let yourself sink into it. When a natural numbness occurs, nothing seems interesting and you are no longer able to find personal desire, you should try to devote your energy towards helping others. There lies the true healing. To prepare your body chemistry to do that, you can use fenugreek, saffron and pumpkin.
Karuna sadhana consists of pure karma yoga, devoting your energy entirely to the benefits of others, without any expectation. Any thoughts of personal loss are postponed until the period of the sadhana has been completed.
The next part talks about how to promote aggreable rasas.
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