DISPASSION


Babaji, could you please define dispassion?

It means “without passion.” But the term dispassion in yogic language is more subtle. We translate it as dispassion, but the term is vairagya. Rag is the attachment which connects us to every object. Vi = without. So dispassion means “without that attachment that connects us to every object.” You have a child and you love your child. It's natural. In a state of vairagya, your love doesn't change. Your duty doesn't change. But the mind understands that your connection is only an idea. How we create an idea which appears very real? In marriage, what makes two people wife and husband? When they divorce, what breaks? That idea. So it's only mental conditioning and de-conditioning.


Why was Arjuna's desire to know God not directly seeking for God?

Because it was out of fear that he wanted to know God. In reality, God is known by dispassion for the world. His attachment to his family and friends possessed his mind and he was afraid that they all will get killed. So he wanted to renounce the world and live like a recluse.


Is it true that the only way to know God is through dispassion and not through fear?

There are four conditions out of which a person seeks for God. 1) Arta or out of pain which includes fear. 2) Artharti or desire for worldly prosperity. 3) Jigyansu or out of desire to know God. 4) Jnani or one who has knowledge of God principle. Dispassion is in all four conditions in degrees.


Can a person feel dispassion and compassion simultaneously?

Compassion is our nature. It is blocked by the ego and develops when the mind is pure. The mind is purified by dispassion. Compassion means deep sympathy for the sufferer. Because we have experience of sufferings and we understand the sufferings of others, so we develop compassion. But it is still a lower type of compassion. The highest compassion is with dispassion. We are not attached to the act of compassion. It automatically happens.


How can one develop dispassion or a disinclination to be attracted to the world?

How do you get attached to the world? When our senses enjoy the world, they create an illusory reality of the world and, hence, get attached to it. By understanding that in the absence of sensual pleasures, there is pain, we remove ourselves from that momentary pleasure. That is dispassion.


In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras it says that in order to achieve dispassion we have to shun desire for experience. What is a good way to approach this? Should we take the attitude of “it is my duty”?

One can also find fault in the object of desire in order to weaken the desire for the world. Think how it ends up causing pain. For example, wealth: it is an attachment. It creates fear of losing, being stolen. But you can still deal with it without attachment, like a bank manager deals with money as his duty and doesn't develop attachment to it. In the same way, when the mind is not attached to worldly activities, but still must be engaged in activities, it will not harm. Non- attachment creates dispassion.


Is vairagya (dispassion) created by understanding or by practicing austerity?

1) Knowledge of reality is viveka. 2) Detachment from unreal is vairagya. When you attain knowledge of reality, you become detached from the unreal. They both develop simultaneously. But when we say develop vairagya, or detachment, we mean developing good qualities which will remove bad qualities. Austerities are practiced to weaken desires for the world. When the desire for the world is weakened the mind automatically becomes dispassionate.


I'm wondering whether it is appropriate for Westerners to focus on death and dying as a method of learning dispassion toward the body.

Death creates dispassion in any person in any country. It's a reality of life which is seen. We struggle for our whole lives for possessions, for pleasure, and for self-gratification. And then what do we see? A person is dead.

© 1995 Sri Rama Publishing    
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