By Janet (Janaki) Murray
“As a yogi you are not normal.” I have heard Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda say this during her talks many times. It’s true. I remember this when I listen to people conversing. I find it most noticeable in conversations about wicked or corrupt things happening around the world. I notice how upset and agitated people get about these things. I notice how I often do not. It is not that I don’t have feelings about it or don’t care. It just doesn’t affect my inner state. Since this yogic way of seeing things is not “normal,” I often stay quiet and just listen.
I do find that the closer to “home,” the harder it becomes. Very recently two people lied to me. It was not exactly wicked or corrupt. But to me, as a yogi, this was not satya (truth). The first was someone I barely know. They were doing some work for me, and I discovered the lie quickly. Interestingly, my first thought was some karma was catching up with me.
Beginning to reflect on the situation, my mind got caught up in a whole big tangle about it. I got annoyed. I felt taken advantage of. I thought about whether I should confront the person. My mind churned with whole range of thoughts and emotions. I particularly noticed how all this coloured my opinion of this person. I became skeptical of their integrity and their capacity to complete the work satisfactorily.
Two things came from this: firstly, it’s likely that my thoughts undermined the worker’s efforts. Secondly, and more significantly, it destabilised my inner state. Not a great result.
The second person who lied to me recently was a close relation. It did not escape my attention that I had discovered two lies within a few days. Bearing in mind the tangled web I created in my mind previously, I took a different approach. I was not going to fall into that trap again and let my mind become a tangled knot.
A bit miffed, I did have a whinge to my husband about it. However, I recognized that the relative told the lie because she was in her own mind “stuff,” yet I did not have to go into my “stuff.” I was able to untangle the two. This really was about me and my reaction or response.
So I picked up the phone and called the relative. We had a lovely chat. I made no reference to the lie, choosing to ignore it completely. Needless to say, she was fine, I was fine, my mind quiet and my inner state was still intact.
In her April Teachings: A New Normal, Swamiji talks about “indifference to vice” as one of the practices recommended by Patanjali. Even though the article arrived in my inbox too late to assist me with the situations, I did apply some yogic skills to the latter. And Swamiji’s April Teachings have encouraged more reflection.
I have been able to see some of the ways I get entangled in my mind. Dealing with vice in others is clearly a difficult one for me especially when it affects me directly. This one is going to take more work. As Swamiji says in the article about her journey with these practices, first you have to remember to apply it. That is the first challenge. Having become skilled at that, then you can apply it to yourself. Unsurprisingly, I notice dealing with vice in myself is even harder. I look forward to practising indifference to my own vice — what a freedom!