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Scriptural psychotherapy and happiness

Explaining the last chapter of the Uddhav Gita, which is part of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Swami Visharadanand of Prashanti Kutiram, Bangalore, commented that Indian scriptures give deep insights into psychotherapy: “All unhappiness is born out of psychological condition of mind called vritis or modifications.” Four such conditions of mind are: spardha or competition, asuya or jealousy, tiraskar or hatred and ahankar or ego. These four vritis destroy our happiness.

Normally, competition normally occurs among equals. Jealousy is felt towards those who are thought to be better off than or `superior’ to us, and hatred or contempt is directed towards those we think are `inferior’ to us. Ego is in respect of self. Ego is a feeling that I am someone special.

What is wrong in competing; doesn’t it lead to progress? Swamiji replied: Competition brings about the attitude of ‘doing something only to win’ rather than ‘excelling to bring out your best potential’. When ‘winning’ and not ‘doing the best possible’ is the attitude, it may also lead to use of unfair means as also compromise on quality of work input.

Jealousy is a counterproductive attitude of mind because it prevents a person from seeing good qualities in another person. If someone is wise, a jealous person may think he is a hypocrite, and so not learn from the other’s virtues. Hatred and contempt are also negative emotions. Ego makes you do things only to win approval of others. If such approval does not come once in a while then the mind is disturbed and that makes an egoistic person very unhappy. “When all others appreciated my work, why did that fellow not do so?”-- This is a typical reaction that prevents one from experiencing peace and happiness.

What, then, is the solution for removing such negative emotions from one’s mind? One must feel samatvam or oneness to overcome competition, jealousy and hatred. And one must understand the true nature of atma, that is, sat-chit-ananda, to overcome the ego. The same atma is the indweller of the body of all other persons, whose outward forms may be different. If you understand the real nature of atma as the creator of this entire Universe, where is the need for you to feel superior or inferior to others and be egoistic? Also, where is the need to get approval of others in order to be happy?

It is not easy, however, for everyone to remain with this understanding of soul-consciousness versus body-consciousness. What then is the way out? The Uddhav Gita gives the road map to reach this stage. First of all, you have to keep doing your given duty to the best of your capacity without ulterior motive, ego or ‘doer-ship’. This is the path of Karma Yoga. This then will lead to purity of mind which is absolutely essential for enlightenment.

After achieving a near-pure mind you could get on to the path of devotion and trust in God, known as Bhakti Yoga. Soon after that you might spontaneously begin to feel the oneness of all beings and supreme love for all, which is the ultimate bliss that one could ever hope to achieve in this world. It is a state of long lasting bliss which can also be carried forward from this birth to the next birth also, as promised by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

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