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The Human mind is very complex. It has very delicate, beautiful as well as rough and tough aspects. In life you come across both. But neither life, nor mind states occur with our permission. In fact they often occur in direct defiance to our wishes and desires. As sadhaks (seekers) we have made a commitment to see past the frustration of everchanging mindsets and impermanent desires. In order to do that, however, we must understand two opposing aspects of the mind, as well as how to understand the mind.

Sometimes you are so tough and hard, that there is resistance in you. Other times, you are very soft and sweet. When you are in touch with satva- the soft, beautiful, and very delicate aspect inside youyou feel good and elevated. But you can’t be like this all the time; otherwise, you will be very vulnerable.

The whole exercise in life is to develop your ability to switch back and forth between these two aspects. Usually when you feel rough and tough, you have had a difficult time . Then your tough and rough aspects come into play, and sometimes, you get stuck in that. Then you become completely insensitive to the soft and delicate aspects of life. And the reverse is also true: people who are soft and nice all the time crumble when someone just stares at them with a tough look. They start crying and feel shattered, often shutting down all communication.

What one has to develop is to be able to be ‘rough and tough’ one moment, and next moment, be able to switch and become soft, beautiful and non-resistant. This switch is tuning into the ‘Yes’ mind that is your true inner spirit. Children are expert in making you feel and experience these opposite aspects of the mind because with them you feel the inner connection.

But when you analyze and reflect, you learn why can’t you be that way with the rest of the world. In some situations you always say “no” and act resistant, whereas in other circumstances, you are unable to do that. Suppose you are in the company of friends, and they start drinking and smoking. Do you definitely say ‘no’? If so then you have strength. However, if you get pulled in- even if you don’t like drinking and smoking then you just float in that direction, and your rough and tough aspect is not playing its role properly.

Furthermore if you compromise all the time, then your rough and tough aspect is not playing its due role. It’s a delicate balance requiring viveka (discrimination) to know where to play this role, and where to play that role. A wise mother who is not overly attached to her child knows when to put her foot down and say “no”. In this way, parents play the role of the guru, or mentor. A guru or mentor knows that he is dispassionate, and can be very affectionate and soft or strict and stiff wherever it is needed.

Suppose you had a very tough day in your office. That mood doesn’t end in the office; It gets carried into your house. In the same way, when you feel nice, soft, and delicate, you want everybody to respond to you that way too. At that point, a small little thing can upset you. So you start self pitying yourself. You are in that state, no doubt, but you are unable to perceive grounded reality of what is happening at that moment. That’s why when some one feels really good, soft, and delicate they often complaint that no body understands them.

Ironically, these two states come one after another. You begin in that delicate state, and when somebody does not understands you, you become rude. All rude people have a hurt, soft mind inside. Similarly, rude peoplewhen they realize that they have been very rude- becomes delicate and soft. So, this swing happens in mind. Life continues with that sort of misery. Only knowledge can lift you from this mess. That’s why it is called the hridaya daurband- the weakness of heart. A warrior like Arjuna who has come on the war field starts tumbling and crying. This is because his soft aspect has come into play. Then, Lord Krishna gave the knowledge; “Come on Arjuna, stand up, drop this emotional weakness inside, weakness of the heart, weakness of the softness.”

The heart can make you strong and weak too. With knowledge, emotions give you enormous strength, whereas, with ignorance, your emotions can make you utterly weak. Through meditation and letting go, you can switch from the ‘rough and tough’ aspect to the delicate aspect within you. You can stand up when needed be, and you can relax when needed be. This ability is within everyone, and meditation enables you to play these two roles effortlessly. So, when you feel very rough, resistant, or angry, sit and relax, observe, and mentally let go.


SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR The writer is an Indian yoga guru, a spiritual leader, founder of The Art of Living

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