Articles by Sri Rajen Vakil

Article 61 - Double-Arrowed Attention


Normally, we have three states of attention. The first is near zero attention where we may be walking along the road but dreaming of some desire being fulfilled. The walking becomes automatic. If, while reading a thriller novel, we are totally absorbed then it is attracted attention. And when we are making an effort to pay attention to something - it could be a lesson or a lecture - that is directed attention.

There is one more state of attention called double-arrowed attention. Any student of spirituality aims to observe the workings of his own mind. To be able to do so, he must be able to divide his attention into two parts. That is, one arrow of attention on the events of life and the other on his reactions to them. His aim is to slowly take a ray of light in the form of attention into the deeper layers of his own mind so he can understand his psychic nature. The great sage Raman called this the quest - 'Who am I'.

Dividing attention is an art. It has to be done in the ratio of 10:90. That is, ten percent inside and ninety on the events of life. If we pay more than ten percent of attention on our inner life, our reactions change and we will not be able to, then, authentically observe our psychic nature. Say, if I look at my irritation with more than ten percent of attention, it will vanish and I will not be able to understand the mechanism of its working and with what intensity it occupies space within my subconscious mind. In meditation, we try to pay hundred percent inner attention and this is meditation's biggest flaw because we can never really observe the reality of our psyche.

The specific aim of learning rhythmic breathing is that with this technique, we automatically divide our attention into this 10:90 ratio. It gradually leads to the perfect double-arrowed state of ninety percent attention on life and ten percent on breathing.

Arjuna asks Krishna to lead his chariot in between the armies. He was seeking double-arrowed attention but was instead hypnotised by what he saw, leading to despondency.

Viveka – II

Article 60 - Viveka – II


(Continued) Ganga comes from the Sanskrit root ‘to go’ and also the root forming ‘gyan’ or knowledge. It is a river that flows from the higher realms to lower ones. In today’s language, we can call this the flow of intuition or intuitive intelligence. The seeker on the path experiences this flow of truth as intuitive intelligence or the birth of viveka. To be able to use this flow of truth that has sprung up in the heart of the disciple, it must marry the logical mind, depicted by Shantanu.

Before the intuitive intelligence can connect with the logical mind, there is a long period of waiting where the student first holds and digests the truth experienced. This is shown where Ganga first goes to meet King Prateep and sits on his right thigh. The flow of truth can only be expressed by the logical brain and initially there is a mismatch as it tries to find expression through a wrong instrument or the non-logical brain. Here the non-logic is shown as she having to wait for her instrument of expression to be born. The experience of truth is a flash, fast but one has to hold it because the speed of the logical brain is too slow to have clarity in expression and this requires the patience of waiting for one full generation.

Once the inner viveka starts flowing within the disciple, like the river Ganga, one must look after it like a soft flower. Then, one can feel the truth while our logical brains can see only the fact. Shantanu as the logical brain thinks Ganga is killing her sons while Ganga, who feels the truth beyond the fact of sons, is providing freedom to certain souls. As long as we have only our logical minds to guide us, we will keep mistaking the facts we see as truth.

If a disciple, at any time, with his logical brain starts doubting his viveka, it will desert him that very moment, and it will take a long cycle of suffering and pain for it to return. He has to let it flow and just act the way it directs him. The minute Shantanu questions Ganga, she leaves him.

Viveka - I

Article 59 - Viveka - I


The seeker experiences truth in two stages – first, there is the feeling of truth and later, there is the seeing of truth. Sage Patanjali calls the seeing of the truth ‘pragna’ and its unfolding in seven stages has been explained in the yoga-sutras. He calls the feeling of truth ‘viveka’ and four sutras in the yoga-sutras explain the various aspects of viveka.

Let us see how in the story of Shantanu and Ganga, Ganga represents the feeling of truth, and Shantanu our logical mind. Even though they marry, Shantanu cannot understand why Ganga drowns his seven children.

The great king Prateep was doing penance on the banks of the Ganga to be graced with the birth of a son. The river, in the form of the maiden Ganga, appeared before him and sat on his right thigh. Seeing her, the King said, “O bearer of good fortune, what can I do to please you?” She answered, “O King, I saw you and have desired you, please do accept me.” The king replied that only a daughter sits on the right thigh, the wife sits on the left and so he would only accept her as a daughter in-law, promising that she could marry his son who was yet to be born.

Shantanu was born to King Prateep and was crowned king when he came of age. Before retiring to the forests, Prateep told Shantanu of the promise. Shantanu then spent his time meditating upon the river Ganga. When the beautiful and celestial Ganga appeared before him, he fell in love with her immediately. Ganga agreed to marry Shantanu on the condition that he would neither question anything she did nor utter a negative word to her, to which Shantanu agreed.

Seven children were born to Shantanu but Ganga drowned each of them in the river immediately after their birth. When the eighth child was born, Shantanu stopped Ganga from doing the same. Since he violated his promise, Ganga left Shantanu and took along with her their eighth son. She came back to return Shantanu his son when he was sixteen. She explained to him that the eight children were the great Vasus who were cursed to be born on earth and she had promised to free them from mortal bondage as soon as they were born.

Concept of Will

Article - Concept of Will


I spent several years with Swami Ramdularay and one of his many one-liners was: “Main manobal ke paksha mein nahi, atma bal ke paksha mein hoon” (I am not in favour of willpower but spiritual will). What is the difference between the two?

Using willpower we try to change the circumstances of life. Many great businessmen and statesmen have willpower. We use our will to control people and situations and the more willpower we have, the more successful we are. Willpower is the force and power with which we are able to fulfill our desires.

With spiritual will, we do not try to change outer circumstances but we change from within. It is a kind of self-control wherein we understand ourselves and try to change. We do not spend our force in fulfilling our desires but in understanding them and trying to be free of their hypnotic hold.

The first step in spiritual will is a deep acceptance of the facts of life, whereas with willpower we are impatient to change them. Thus in spiritual will there is a state of deep relaxation which brings peace and stillness in even the most difficult situations in life.

The Lord’s Prayer says, “May thy will be done”. What does this mean, what is the Lord’s Will? Is there some higher form of will with which we can connect? Every student of spirituality tries to connect with God’s Will. If we observe situations in life, we will find that some of our desires are fulfilled very easily and in some we face a lot of friction, struggle and, more often than not, failure.

Is it possible that when our will and God’s Will are together, things move easily and when they oppose each other, there is struggle and failure? The yogi tries to see what His Will is in every situation in life. This art of reading His Will is called ‘viveka’ or the discerning capacity in the scriptures. It lies hidden in all of us and every student works to awaken it.

The yogi always keeps his personal will aside so he can allow himself to become an expression of this higher will. In doing so he feels great joy and happiness.