By: Swami Chidananda
Invoke Shiva, Brahmā and Vishnu
Robin Sharma, the famous author of The Monk who sold his Ferrari (first published in 1997), advises his followers in a recent video on getting rid of bad habits and living a new life marked by good habits. The motivational speaker asks his students to first destroy bad habits. He in fact has a model of how we may change, in which he claims that it takes 22 days of diligent practice to destroy a bad habit, another 22 days to install a new, good habit and lastly yet another 22 days to integrate the new with the whole of our life.
In view of Shivarātri that is around the corner, I connect the first step ‘destroy’ with Lord Shiva. The flame that emerges from the third eye of Lord Shiva perhaps symbolizes intense and clear seeing, on our part, of the tremendous damage a bad habit has caused to us all these years in our life. If we truly perceive the harm that wrong ways of thinking, speaking and acting have brought about, that perception helps us destroy our sinful tendencies.
“You cannot awaken to this liberating wisdom unless you quit your evil practices,” warns1 the Kathopanishad. That is one of the many places where an Upanishad connects morality with Self-knowledge. Dharma is shown to be the stepping stone to Moksha. Our struggle begins with the exercise of will but the elimination of disorder truly takes place in the light of understanding.
In its sixteenth chapter, Geetā describes in detail both divine and demonic ways of living. Fearless and transparent transactions2 are in the forefront of the list of 26 divine attributes that Lord Shri Krishna presents before Arjuna (and, through him, before us)! Hypocrisy3 on one hand and, on the other, not knowing where to step forward and where to step back4 are in the lead when it comes to listing the ways of the deluded. The Lord declares in no uncertain terms, “The divine qualities lead to liberation. Endless bondage is the result of staying with wrong behaviour.”
May we live in awareness. May direct perception of our flawed thoughts help us move away from bad conduct. May Shiva be victorious in this inner battle!
1 nāvirato duscharitāt ..Kathopanishad 1.2.24
2 abhayam – Geetā 16.1
3 dambhah – Geetā 16.4
4 pravrittim cha nivrittim cha – Geetā 16.7Tags: Swami Chidananda