Austerity

I was watching the movie Ring. A little girl is put through a lot of psychological and physical torture, and finally is pushed into a well and she dies alone there. She would have starved to death. The movie is about how the girl haunts and kills after that. This reminded me of other similar movies, including Mummy. In Mummy, the villian had been sealed alive in a coffin with a special treatment that had killed him slowly and painfully.

All these movies convey the idea that when a person is forced into extreme physical and mental torture and subsequently to a slow and painful death, the spirit gets enormous occult power and cause havoc in the world of humans. This concept is there in all traditions.

The Indian tradition also has several such stories. But the difference in the Indian stories is that the candidate is not forced into torture, but takes it up voluntarily. Several people – some good, some evil – undertake severe austerities of the body and mind. Their objectives are to gain occult power, to get back lost kingdom, to get divine weapons, or even to get the favor of one’s own father. There are several cases of evil people getting enormous power by self-mortification and finally a divine force equally powerful has to emerge to destroy the evil force. The divine force is also the result of similar self-mortification, but by a good person.

The concept of austerities, penances, fasting, etc are present in all religious traditions. This concept was introduced into politics by Gandhi as satyagraha, civil disobedience, non-violent protests, etc. Concepts like discipline, charity, etc which are hailed as positive virtues are other forms of austerity. There are several books like “Magnificient Obsession” by Lloyd C. Douglas, which bring it to modern everyday life.

I have experimented with these and can vouch that it works. Acts of austerity, charity, abstinence, etc do produce results. For example, is there is a problem for which a solution is not in grasp, taking up a vow of austerity brings forth solutions from unexpected quarters. These miracles do happen. I have experimented enough on this to convince myself of this and I suggest curious and adventurous people to try it out too.

Now how does it work? How does austerity yield results in seemingly disconnected areas. The answer is:
1. Things are not really disconnected. Everything is a part of the whole system. And, at the least, the person involved is a very improtant link to seemingly disconnected things.
2. Law of causation works here too. If I deny myself something, there has to be an effect. Nature has its balance of cause and effect. If I do some work and deny the fruits, Nature will thrust it on me. If I deny it in one form, it will push it to me another.
This is the secret, which explains all these miraculous phenomenon.

Now, let us see the implications. If I deny something physically, it creates a positive effect in the mental plane. The law of Nature is that the balance has to be maintained. To go still further, I have to deny fruits in the mental plane also. All the texts on Yoga and Spiritual practices warn the aspirant that these exercises will bring a lot of occult powers. If the aspirant uses them or even gives importance to them, then it will lead to his stagnation and downfall. The aspirant should carefully ignore the powers and proceed further to get the final fruit of all Yogic and Spiritual practices – Jivanmukti or Nirvana. The Yogic texts advocate development of a strong sense of values and virtues before attempting the practices so that the aspirant can handle the powers properly and willfully ignore them.

Denial at the physical plane brings mental powers. Denial at the mental plane brings Will power. And finally surrendering the Will brings Jivanmukti, the ultimate and real goal.

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2 Responses to Austerity

  1. Anonymous says:

    At the outset, I completely agree with the concept of “Acts of austerity, charity, abstinence, etc do produce results. For example, is there is a problem for which a solution is not in grasp, taking up a vow of austerity brings forth solutions from unexpected quarters.” buAt I have a question, WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUSTERITY AND RENUNCIATION? IF AUSTERITY IS A FORM OF RENUNCIATION THAN BY DOING THESE ACTS OF CHARITY OR ABSTINENCE ARE YOU NOT ACTUALLY EXPECTING FRUIT OF RESULT OF A WORK? ISNT IT TOTALLY CONTRADICTORY TO THE DOCTRINE OF “KARMANYE VADHIKARASTE MA FALESHU KADACHAN”?

  2. Gomu says:

    Renunciation is the next step. Renunciation of something is always in return for something else. No one can renounce anything for nothing. You always renounce something which has lower value to you in return for something which has higher value. That is what comes out in the posting as “Denial at the physical plane brings mental powers. Denial at the mental plane brings Will power. And finally surrendering the Will brings Jivanmukti, the ultimate and real goal.”

    When Krishna asks us to renounce the fruit of action, it is towards a higher goal. When the fruit of action is renounced, the action becomes Karma Yoga. So, instead of merely serving a material end, the very same action serves a spiritual purpose. The action perfects our personality and leads us to spiritual fulfilment.

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