The Shivasutras say that a seeker is one who makes right effort to find the truth, seeking moment to moment application of viveka, discrimination; the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. In sadhana, we need to be vigilant in applying discrimination, which is part of being awake, aware and clear.
Right effort means to get engaged in sadhana without distractions. Different thoughts, feelings, sensations, attitudes and impulses are distractions which arise from our ego and mind. Discrimination helps us to examine our mind and ego and put right effort to engage fully in sadhana by warding off distractions.
Adi Shankara, in ‘Vivekachoodamani’, talks about discrimination: “Neither by weapons, nor by wind, nor by fire, nor by millions of actions can this bondage be destroyed. By nothing, save the wonder sword of knowledge, which comes from discrimination and is sharpened by purification of the mind and intellect, can we end this bondage.”
Viveka destroys ignorance which binds us, causing sufferings, and is sharpened by cleansing of mind and intellect. Purification can be done by reducing vasanas, desires. When desires are controlled, agitations of the mind are calmed down. The quieter mind enhances contemplative power which makes the ability to discriminate, sharper.
Dhammapada states that a wise man calmly considers what is right and what is wrong, and faces different opinions with truth, non-violence and peace. Thus, viveka becomes a great blessing and can be used in every walk of life.
Discrimination is essential in our relationship with others and to differentiate between saintly appearance and a true saint. Not all situations that are pleasant are spiritually beneficial. Our inner growth lies in learning to differentiate between platitudes and real spiritual truths; between sentimentality and true compassion.
Viveka has great transforming power. Viveka brings about true wisdom in us and by use of it we are able to entirely change our whole nature from negative to positive. It is the ability of discrimination and thereby earned wisdom which facilitate victory over anger, jealousy and negativity in totality.
There is yet another level to the process of cultivating viveka. In the spiritual journey, one needs to know not only what is good or bad, but what is real or unreal; what is Self and ‘not self’. Here, viveka is more than a capacity of the mind; it becomes the property of Soul.
The challenge lies in cultivating the ability to discriminate in order to progress in our sadhana. Any practitioner of any tradition can develop his discriminative ability through studying scriptures, contemplation, witnessing consciousness, practice and through interactions with his guru and fellow seekers. Our conscience and intuition is also helpful in its cultivation, provided we heed our inner voice.
Sit quietly and meditatively; watch what arises in the mind and in the inner sky of awareness. If it is a thought, feeling or sensation which asserts,’that’s mine’ or ‘me’, it comes from mind or ego. Keep watching the flow of thoughts, feelings and impulsive sensations and say silently to yourself about these,’that’s not me or mine’, in response to whatever arises in your spacious awareness and you would reach a point where there would be a space of emptiness. Viveka would now be at a developed stage and will allow you to see the difference between form and emptiness, real and unreal, with clarity.
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