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Yoga Vasistha, Part 2

Focus: Chapter II begins

1. The liberated sage: Mention ‘a liberated sage’ and the mind instantly conjures fantastic ideas of what this person should be and even look like. What does it mean ‘to be liberated’? Just like two people, one free of debt and one in debt may not necessarily look different – the liberate sage may not appear to be any different from the average person. Today, there is much emphasis on ‘conformity’ and so, the liberated sage may even seem like a rebel of sorts. Two important qualities are mentioned: he is truly a liberated sage: who by nature is not swayed by sense pleasure, and, who does what needs to be done without the motivation of fame or other incentives.

2. Self-effort: The effort that arises from right understanding which has been felt in one’s heart, exposed to the teachings of the scriptures and the conduct of holy ones. This type of self-effort is natural action but may take some inner strength as the old ways of habit insist and must be overridden. Habit or conditioning interferes with a fresh take on things and the right response to each situation. It must be overcome by inner strength which Vāsiṣṭha calls ‘grinding one’s teeth’ – which is the inner grinding of resistance by habit. —In this way one should overcome evil or habit by good doing what is needed and thus change fate by present effort.

3. Essence of all scriptures: Overcoming habit is not easy as we go against our own grain so to say. But, with inner strength, one should continually divert the impure mind or conditioned mind to pure action by persistent effort. This takes inner resolve, relentless vigilance and courage to stay the course.

4. The course of action: Action or doing things is not for the purpose of accomplishing the outer but to see and transform the inner while acting in the outer. This is intelligent action and it gives us a steady window to the deepest reaches of the mind along with a way to free it of its conditioning. In the course of action, we see our conditioning which is the conditioned mind with which we are very tightly identified. When we live an examined life, the inner intelligence sees each situation in the moment and does what needs to be done and not what is preferred, beneficial or otherwise. In this way, while living wisely, we thin conditioning and gradually revert to the unconditioned self. The purpose of action is to be acted on.

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