Disappointments in life are inevitable. As long as we have desires there will be disappointments since life just cannot fulfil all our wishes. With such disappointment comes mental afflictions of fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, arrogance, coveting, etc. When mind is consumed by mental agony, actions will always center around selfishness, which may in turn cause hurt and disappointments to others. So the endless links of vicious circles continues ad-nauseum from one person’s action to another’s. That in a nutshell is Group Karma. That is why it is so imperative to choose appropriate friends and environment that will always foster a righteous life style of humility, selflessness, and faith in God. Walking in the path of light requires a balanced understanding of moral codes- the commandments and social etiquettes of your immediate culture. While social etiquettes change with time, moral codes have remained constant across generations, cultures, and religions. In Patanjali’s Astanga Yoga these guide posts on the walk of life are called Yama and Niyama. However exercising restraint and observance of all do’s and don’ts of life does not guarantee a worry free-living.
I have not been exempt from disappointments as a result of any or all of the various desires a human may experience. Desire for financial security, desire for reciprocation of sincerity in friendship, desire for recognition of my abilities by friends and families, desire for reciprocation of love and affection from friends and family, etc…etc. Unfulfilled desires lead me to be unhappy, angry, insulted, hurt, and many other emotions at different times. This does not mean that I was not able to continue with my life. Some incidents I ignored, some incidents I buried. Nevertheless I festered for days about the perceived let down by friends and family. The common solution/advice I would get from well wishers were- forgive and forget; or don’t take is personally, or let me be the devil’s advocate and give you another perspective…….may be you could have acted or reacted differently, look within yourself to see where you can change. While these words of wisdom may have meant to be helpful and supportive, I never really felt fully healed or at peace when I tried to put them to practice. While they were somewhat useful in calming my nerves temporarily, I never seemed to stop festering within myself. Those were the days when my understanding of spirituality was quite non-existent or at best limited.
Spirituality can be a very effective tool to stop mental agony in its tracks. Initially it may at least decrease the intensity of emotional reaction to the situation. However I think with regular practice to alter perceptions to various situations, the emotions can be neutralized or nullified. Disappointments cannot be avoided as long as a human existence continues because desires will always surface. Learning appropriate coping strategies to overcome the emotional reactions is very important.
The basis of differed or alternative perception to the world is in the three stages of Yoga as taught by Krishna in the Gita:
- Karma Yoga- do all your God-given duties for God alone without excepting a return or reciprocation. You love your family and friends because that is your obligatory duty prescribed by God. The relationships and friendships were made by God for a purpose beyond human comprehension. So the fruits of the labor should not be anticipated and all expectations should be surrendered to God himself.
- Bhakti Yoga- The mortal coil is temporary and just an instrument to fulfil the journey of life as God intended it to be. So surrender the journey to God
- Jnana Yoga- The physical body as perceived by human senses is temporary and perishable. It is not the true self. The true self is the spirit within that is the driving force to keep the body alive and functional. When the spirit is gone the body is useless.
Raja yoga is the use of all three forms of Yoga in a balanced way to successfully complete the journey of life. The recipe for each traveler is individualized depending on their duties prescribed.
When the yoga principles are deeply rooted in the mind, it is easy to then use the advice or words of wisdom to our advantage.
- Forgive and forget- meaning forget and let go your desires, then the disappointment following the desire is reduced, and thus emotional reaction is reduced, and so it is easy to forgive
- Don’t take it personally- meaning be a Karma Yogi. You are only doing your obligatory duties for God, everything is God’s work. Surrender and don’t dwell on the results of your efforts. The expected and perceived fruits of your labor is imaginary, they never belonged to us to begin with
- Let me be the devil’s advocate- meaning your actions are a result of your desires, just as the other’s actions are a result of their desires. [Does not mean that your disappointment should not be validated. However if the situation recurs despite the change in your actions to accommodate their desires and disappointments, then move away from the relationship. Anything or anyone that thwarts spiritual progress should be discouraged until they are ready to make spiritual changes themselves.]
- Look inward- meaning do not try superficial means to decrease the intensity of emotional reactions to situations without first understanding the cause. Understand the desire from which the emotions stemmed from. Remove the desire from your being and then the emotion will naturally die down. Otherwise the mental agony will fester inside and cause physical and mental anguish and afflictions despite efforts to improve overall well-being.
Meditation, medication, exercise, yoga can all be useful tools as long as the weed of desire is uprooted.