Message to Som Gollakota

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Hyderabad, India
Darkness of Mind
April 10, 2010
ecently, someone asked me a question regarding darkness. "When there is a power outage at night, I can light up a candle and distance the darkness. But, what is wrong with the darkness in the mind? Why is it so difficult to remove that darkness? Why can't I just "light a candle" to distance it? I thought about it for a while, and the ensuing response from those thoughts is the text of this post.
Assuming that each one of us has a good side and an evil side, the Darkness of mind can be twofold: One - Evil side (dark side) of us, and Two - Darkness of ignorance. I further assume that the reference here is to the darkness of ignorance and not the evil side.
There is a phrase in Sanskrit - Agnyanaandhakaram - meaning the Darkness of Ignorance. In Bhagavat Gita, this darkness is termed as darker than the darkest substance in the universe.
The darkness of mind (that of ignorance), is the hardest kind of darkness to remove. Why? The only thing that can remove the darkness of ignorance is the Light of Knowledge. Light of Knowledge, again, is twofold. One, the knowledge itself, and second is the wisdom coming from the deeper understanding of such knowledge. "When intelligence matures, and lodges securely in mind, it becomes wisdom" (C. Rajagopalacharya).
Why is it so difficult to bring the Light of Knowledge into the mind? What is the knowledge we are talking about?
To bring the light of knowledge takes work - a lot of work. Knowledge, here, is the knowledge of the physical self (I, me, etc., and Jeevatma in spiritual terms), and the knowledge of Self (the Supreme Soul or Paramatma in spiritual terms). To bring in the true knowledge of self (me, I), it takes knowing about ourselves, questioning ourselves, knowing the good side and bad side of ourselves, admitting to ourselves our strengths, and more importantly, our weaknesses and shortcomings. Beyond that, it also entails making a conscious effort to expand our strengths and good side, and marginalizing our weaknesses and bad side. We all know (and strongly advocate) our good sides. But then, we all know and advocate only half (at most) of ourselves. If everyone has good and bad in them, then what about the bad side?
While most of us admit that everyone has good and bad in them, as a natural human tendency, we first see only the bad side in others and only the good side in ourselves. Seeing (and admitting to ourselves) the bad side in us and making concrete effort to change the bad side in us takes real (moral) character and tremendous inner strength. Once we posses that strength and gain the knowledge of ourselves, we get half way across in bringing the light of knowledge. If you are not spiritual at all (and don't much care about the Supreme Self), then you are all the way there. If you are spiritual, then the remaining half is to gain the knowledge and understanding of the Supreme Self.
Even if you are spiritual, not gaining the knowledge of the Supreme Self is not the end of the world (and does not mean you are any less of a human being). If you just attempt to gain that part of the knowledge, you are better than most of us. As is said in the Bhagavat Gita (and adapted to the current world population numbers), "For every few million people, somewhere in some corner, one person attempts to know the Supreme Self. Among those who attempt to know the Supreme Self, only a hand full are distained to learn the truth about the Supreme Self and gain complete knowledge". Therefore, the fact that you even attempted to know puts you in a different plane (making you one in a few million). Even if you gain a tiny little bit of such knowledge, you are better off than most of us. If you gained full knowledge, then there would be a shrine built for you and you would be named Buddha (or someone similar).
In any situation, when things go wrong, we are quick to look around us to find reasons for failure. How often do we (even have the courage to) look within us for the reasons for failure? And when we actually muster that courage to look within us, how often do we actually find any reasons within us? And finally, when we do find a measly reason or two, how often do we really admit the validity of those reasons without offering justifications? The first step in identifying the weaker side of us is to offer no justification during introspection. When you are tempted to say "Yes, this was my mistake. But, I had no choice because...", STOP! You always have a choice. Consciously, sub-consciously, or un-consciously, you chose to act in a particular way! Admit it! The realization that we have a choice at every juncture is the first step in a cquiring knowledge of ourselves. Then, we dissect every point of failure and identify our weaknesses (or the "wrong" choices we made). Then, we use that knowledge as a shield when faced with similar situations to not repeat the same mistakes.
It takes a long time for each of us to gain the knowledge of all our weaknesses and shortcomings. It also takes a lot of dissection of ourselves and asking really hard questions without offering any defense. That... as a natural human tendency, is almost impossible (well, almost... not impossible).
Hope that explains why it is difficult to handle the darkness of mind. Simple answer is, it is not easy to bring the light of knowledge that distances/removes the darkness of mind.