This article is based on a book recommended to me by my yoga teachers. It is ‘The Path to Liberation’ by Osho. Half commentary on Kaivalya Pada of the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, half responses to questions posed by students, this book contains a number of interesting thoughts. I have copied the passages and quotes that resonated with me the most. In this article, I want to expand my perspective and experience on one of these quotes.
Our minds have a strong habit of constantly choosing, evaluating, assessing, judging. Try to observe yourself diligently for one day. How often do you make an evaluation? Just walk down a busy street for a couple of minutes. You observe people and things around you. “This lady has beautiful hair.” “I don’t really like that man’s shoes.” “Why is the music in that restaurant so loud?” “People are really rude to me today.” “People are so nice to me today.” We are endlessly making tens and hundreds of assessments every single day.
Why is that the case? According to yoga philosophy, all these assessments come from our ego. The ego is desperately trying to create and maintain an identity. It is our ego which is telling us who we are — I’m really good at running, I suck at running, I like to cook, I don’t like to cook, I’m a big fan of football, I hate football. We have a tendency to define ourselves, compare ourselves to others and then either make friends or enemies.
But is it really you making these choices? Can you pinpoint a moment in your life when you made a conscious decision that you as a human being will like this and not like that? More often than not, the environment that we grew up in has the decisive say as to our preferences. More often than not, if you like something, it is an extension of what people close to you like. If that is the case, are you really fine with being almost an automatic machine, walking around and spitting out pre-programmed assessments? What good does it bring you? Very little, I would argue.
Of course, making judgments is a natural response, and to some extent it is necessary. When you’re driving and you encounter a dangerous situation, it is crucial to assess it as dangerous and correspondingly avoid it. I’m not talking about such situations. I’m talking about situations in which your judgment is completely excessive and it will not change anything except for clogging your mind with useless thoughts. In those cases, drop the judgment.
“Sometimes just sit in the garden, don’t choose. Don’t say what is beautiful, what is ugly; don’t divide. Just be there, present to everything. Sometimes move in the marketplace, not saying, not condemning, not appreciating. In many ways learn how just to be, without any evaluation. Because the moment you evaluate you have chosen.”
What to do
If you choose, if you let your ego take control over your mind for most of the day, you are essentially unconscious. You are not present. Your mind will constantly be in the realm of what may be, what should be, what was, what wasn’t, what could have been. Very rarely will your mind be in the present moment. Very rarely will you actually live, here and now. Osho says that people are afraid of dying because they have never lived. Make sure that your life is not happening without you in it.
So try to stop assessing and accept things the way they are. Practise santosha, contentment. If your mind starts making choices, observe that and disassociate yourself from it. Our ego has a strong belief that it is in the centre of the whole universe. You yourself don’t have to believe that. Be consciously choice-free. Instantly, you will be much calmer and happier. You will be alive.
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