By Anahita Sanjana
“If we are resentful towards a particular person, it is a much more serious problem than one impaired relationship. That resentment is preventing us from attaining our native state.”
Asmita`s mind darkened with resentment as it registered the praise being lavished on her best friend Aanya for winning the `Employee of the year award` in the finance company they both worked for.
“So glad for you,” Asmita said mechanically to Aanya, with an arrested smile that could not reach her eyes.
Even as she said this she felt an unsavoury taste in her entire being. She tried to recollect all the ways in which Aanya had stood by her through thick and thin to alleviate her resentment, but to no avail. Inadequacy and resentment closed in on her like a prison from which there was no escape!
Words of her yoga teacher arose from her depths like rays of a sun so powerful that momentarily the opaque walls of her prison grew transparent to them.
“Escape there is. The exit from the prison of resentment is the entry into the sun within! The Vedas speak of the hrudayamguhayam or the cave of the heart where the unseen sun of your truth resides. Visualise this warm bright sun at the centre of your chest, behind the sternum bone and use the first six Surya mantras to pave your way to what the Buddha calls the “heavenlyabode of `mudita` or joy in the virtue or success of another.”
Asmita looked to the sun within and addressed it by the first Surya mantra `Om mitrayanamah` (salutations to the universal friend, the sun, who gives his light equally to all without discrimination). With this mantra she invoked the potential of the sun within to be friendly towards every coming and going of life. Asmita visualised Aanya within the sun in her heart, and replayed the scene of Aanya being praised with the background repetition of `Om mitrayanamah` inviting a willingness to be friendly towards Aanya’s success. Then while focussing in her heart, she cultivated mudita with phrases directed to Aanya: “May your success grow”, “May your happiness multiply”, over and over again. A resistance gnawed at her heart strings, weighing her down with a sense of foreboding, “What if my wishes for Aanya’s success actually come true?”
As if in reply a buoyant breeze within her transported her into Aanya’s shoes. She tasted Aanya’s happiness, and more importantly, felt her own happiness at being able to be happy for Aanya!
She felt a growing lightness in her mind and body, which she took to be a direct indication that she was in the flow of the Universe. She knew from experience that whenever the opposite happened, i.e. her mind and body tightened, it was Providence indicating to her that she was going against this flow.
Motivated by her success with the first Surya mantra, Asmita moved to the next one: `Om ravayenamah’ (salutations to the One who shines in His own light). This again brought to mind words of her teacher: “Deep within each of us is a light of awareness which the Upanishads promise us, ‘no fire can burn, no water can wet, and no sword can cleave’. It is something we can come home to in each estranged mind moment.”
Asmita brought Aanya into her heart space and replayed the moments of resentment while chanting `Om ravayenamah’, so securely anchored in her own light that she could sanction Aanya her moment in the limelight without feeling diminished. An uplifting sense of mudita arose with phrases like “May your success grow” or “May your good fortune not leave you”.
This was followed by a contemplation of the third Surya mantra `Om Suryayanamah’ (salutations to the slayer of darkness).
“Darkness is not just an absence of physical light,” Asmita thought. “Darkness can be ignorance, the absence of the light of Truth. When I allowed resentment to cloud my mind, I fell into the ignorance of thinking that Aanya’s ascent was necessarily my descent. I forgot the Supreme Intelligence governing life that brings to each of us our exact due. What is mine will know my face and come to me, and what is Aanya’s will by the same logic be hers.” With this understanding, Asmita chanted `Om Suryayanamah’ followed by the before mentioned phrases of mudita.
The fourth Surya Mantra `Om bhanavenamah’ (salutations to One who illumines, who sheds light on things in order to make them visible), brought with it the reminder of the quality of mindful awareness which can embrace a dark moment till the illusion of darkness is dispelled.
She embarked further on her journey from ill-will to mudita softly chanting `Om bhanavenamah’ in her heart space with an aspiration to be illumined by the `Truth that would set her free’, followed by phrases of mudita.
It was the time of sunset as Asmita gazed out of her window. She witnessed a flock of birds being guided homewards by the sun who Himself appeared to be a huge golden bird rendering as if His last service to the earth before dipping down into the waters to rest.
“My thoughts and emotions were like the birds who had detoured into ill will and resentment,” Asmita thought.
Eyes moist with gratitude she thanked the sun within, her unfailing and faithful inner guide.
Lines from Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem, Savitri, drifted into her mind,
“Even through the mists of mortal thought
Infallible are Thy mysterious steps”
Fervently Asmita invited those `infallible and mysterious steps’ into the remnant mists of ill will and resentment that still lingered in her by softly chanting `Om khagayanamah’.
Asmita’s contemplation led her to the sixth Surya mantra`Om pushnenamah’ (salutations to the giver of strength and nourishment).
“To give in to ill-will and resentment is a moment of weakness,” she thought. “However justified and right the mind appears to make the movement of ill-will, deep inside I know it is wrong, wrong not in a moralistic sense, but wrong because it makes me go against the current of the Universe.”
“So much strength is required to cultivate mudita in a moment of resentment,” she mused. She traced the source of this strength to fullness of the sun in her heart that breathed faith into her, faith that the Universe is abundant, that success and growth are not limited commodities that we are robbed of when we sanction somebody else`s moment in the limelight. The universe has enough space and abundance for every flower of creation to bloom, and have its moment in the sunshine!
As the sun finally disappeared into the horizon leaving behind its visual echoes of gold and orange, Asmita felt a freedom and lightness that was so joyful that it brought a smile to her lips and tears to her eyes. Silently she thanked the One within her for taking her to a greater victory than the one Aanya had won.
“We are mesmerised into believing that outer outcomes give us self-worth, but the real self-worth comes from inner outcomes, “Asmita thought with a smile of contentment, loving the experience of being herself in that moment.
“Even if I would have won the ‘Employee of the Year’ award, the euphoria of winning would have passed away but what I have won today, will be mine for good.” Her teacher’s voice played in her mind: “Any emotion you allow yourself to feel gets a stronger place in your subconscious archives.” The mudita that had arisen in her today would pave the way for a greater inflow of mudita in the future.
Words of the celebrated poet Rumi sang in her mind like a beautiful song of redemption. “We pluck out our wings for the sake of an illusion.”
As Asmita watched the colours of the sunset yielding to the black of the night, she promised herself that no matter how many times the dark illusions of the mind attempted to swallow the colours of the sun within her, she would fight, battle with every resource available to her to not ‘pluck out her wings for the sake of an illusion’! What battle could be more exhilarating and worth fighting than this?!
Author’s Bio: Anahita Sanjana is a disciple of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. She teaches hatha yoga in the light of their teachings in schools in Mumbai, and also holds classes for adults.