stillpoint yoga

yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn Fraser
in the Himalayan Tradition of H.H. Sri Swami Rama


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Good Mindedness –
from a talk by Swami Veda Bharati

 Eupsychea means good-mindedness, a habit and practice we all need to cultivate. We can define a healthy or an unhealthy mind in many ways. A healthy mind, for example, remembers pleasures; an unhealthy mind remembers pains. An unhealthy mind resents being asked to give anything in any form, be it love, comfort or physical service; a healthy mind rejoices at the opportunity to give. An unhealthy mind suffers pangs of conflict when asked to give; a healthy mind is thankful when asked to give. We can continue the definition of a healthy and an unhealthy mind in many, many different ways. 

We need to consider the fact that most human beings have never figured out what kind of a personality they would like to have. It is amazing that people never actually sit down and say to themselves, “What kind of a person would I like to be, how can I become that kind of a person; what kinds of qualities ought I to cultivate in myself; how do I cultivate those qualities so that I become the kind of person I want to be?” Most people have never invested a week, a month or preferably many, many years in their own self. A person who is serious about life will always do this the way one spends time making oneself successful in a career.  Success in life is not success in a career, is not success in an examination, but it is success in cultivating the kind of ideal one has for one’s personality. 

Have you written down the qualities you would like to cultivate, the kind of reactions you would like to have to situations, what your actual convictions about life are?  If you want any kind of happiness, any kind of success in life, do sit down, spend your spare minute thinking about what an ideal personality is like. We have guidelines from all the ancient masters, saints, great men and great women of the world as to what an ideal human being is like and how to set that as one’s goal in this life.  

One of the qualities that a human being needs to cultivate is pleasant-mindedness, not just an outwardly pleasant smile. A healthy mind is a pleasant mind, a mind in which pleasant thoughts arise. Cultivate the habit of thinking pleasant thoughts.  People ask how they can think pleasant thoughts when they’re so miserable?  They want to think pleasant thoughts but they feel there has been so much pain in life.  As I said at the outset, an unhealthy mind remembers a pain, the healthy mind remembers pleasures. Everybody has had a lot of pleasant experiences in life. There have been painful things in life but there have also been pleasant ones. Can you remember the pleasant things that people have done to you and for you? Can you cultivate those memories and on the basis of that, on the basis of those pleasant memories say, “Yes, this life is good; yes, people are nice; yes, the world after all is not such a bad place in spite of a few people going around with unlicensed guns”? If you take the average goodness and evil in the world, the goodness goes unnoticed. The day nobody is shot, there is no headline in the newspaper, “No one was shot today!” 

We take that people’s everyday goodness for granted, but the evil rubs against our grain, so we notice it.  The newspapers and television teams try hard to find bad things, evil things, that they can report, so people take notice and their ratings go up. Nobody is being paid to dig out good and happy news and all the pleasant things people are doing for each other.

According to what is known as the Sankhya-yoga system of philosophy all objects, all situations, all choices, all persons, all things in this world are composed of three possible attributes. They are known as sattva, rajas and tamas:

  • Sattva: harmonious, illuminating, gentle, pleasant; that which has a feeling of lightness to it;
  • Rajas: the energy of movement. It imparts movement to anything, towards the right or towards the wrong;
  • Tamas: the quality of heaviness, inertia, darkness.

 Our choice of colors, our personality, our face, our food, the way we give something, the way we expect something, is either predominantly sattvic or rajasic or tamasic. The entire chemistry of the universe, of tangibles and intangibles, consists of the interaction of these three attributes. And so some things are predominantly more sattvic, some predominantly more rajasic and some are predominantly more tamasic. White is sattvic, red is rajasic, deep blue, dark or black is tamasic, and so on.  Furthermore, all objects in the universe exist on a scale of refinement, a scale of subtlety. If you deal with the very gross, very heavy, very tamasic, very inert, your mind becomes filled with obscuring thoughts, a confusion and stupefaction that turns one into an idiot.  

 Moving from the tamasic through a degree of refinement you come to the sattvic qualities. A person who is trying to cultivate good-mindedness is trying to cultivate in himself, in herself, the sattvic qualities. For example, laughter is sattvic except when laughing at somebody else.  

The human mind is considered by the Sankhya-yoga philosophers to be the most sattvic energy. It is made of the sattvic-most part of matter, the lightest, the most illuminating –– and that is why it can grasp, it can understand, it can comprehend, it can respond, it can reflect. A mind is a good mind because it is made of sattvic qualities. It becomes obscured by rajas and tamas occasionally (sometimes more than just occasionally). But sattva is the innate nature of the mind. When this sattva is given its freedom to act, when this sattva of the mind dominates over rajas and tamas, when rajas and tamas serve as its instruments, as its tools and servants, then such a mind is said to have a positive momentum towards goodness.


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