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Tapa (Meditation)

Tapa: Voluntary Self Discipline. Tapa is training the mind and It is self-discipline voluntarily imposed by yourself with total cooperation of the mind and intellect.

Tapa is the third principle of the Five Fold Path of life.

The six crocodiles that trouble us are passion, anger, greed, attachment, pride and envy. Unless the trouble from these crocodiles is reduced we are not going to be happy. Constant pursuit of material objects will never culminate in finding worthwhile solutions to our problems. The problems multiply, giving rise to a built-in mechanism which defies all solutions. The problems are resolved only by practice of Tapa.

Tapa is an effort to exercise control over Prana, the life energy that connects us with the cosmos and pulsates through us. Control over Prana means control over mind.
Tapa sensitizes the body, makes the flow of PRANA harmonious and the will power is strengthened. The resistance that the body and mind offer in the pursuit of the Path of Light is broken and the bodily vehicle becomes a more sensitive instrument of consciousness. Tapa unburdens the mind by transformation of the attitudes.

Control over the body brings about harmony between intellect and emotions. This is Tapa, the process of character building through discipline. Tapa establishes us in a state of fearlessness born out of love. Tapa begets utter humility which accentuates our journey on the Path of Light. Tapa grants us true understanding wherein love synthesizes with discipline and duty takes the total coloration of bliss. Tapa improves our perception and grants us the ability to see through the vicissitudes of life. By practice of Tapa we bear with fortitude unpleasant situations in life and experience without infatuation the pleasant ones.

If a desire is fulfilled it gives rise to two more desires. If it is not fulfilled it leads to anger. Thus a satisfied desire leads to hunger for more desires and an unsatisfied desire leads to anger. What is the way out? A person feels that the moment of gratification of his desire is his highest moment of happiness.
However, a little more examination will show us that it is not the gratification of the desire that has brought about this happy state of mind but it is the eradication of the desire that makes us happy. There is no more burden of the desire on the mind and hence, we feel happy. If we are able to bring about this happy state of mind by eradication, then our work is done.

There is a difference between appetite and hunger. Hunger is a natural demand by the body. Supposing one evening you have over-eaten and you go out for a stroll. While walking through the streets you pass by a restaurant. From the glass show window you see sizzling food being cooked inside and your eye is stimulated. You go a few steps ahead; a waft of breeze brings the smell of food and you hear soft music being played inside. Your ear is stimulated. These stimulants create an appetite and quietly you enter the restaurant and help yourself to your heart's content. The momentary contents of the heart however, are not shared by your overwrought stomach, contributing to ill health.

Someone abuses you or says something bad about you or you think he has said something bad about you and you get angry. If you decide to cut your own fingers because of this, you would be called a fool. Now look what happens when you get angry. The pupils of your eyes expand and your breathing becomes fast. The metabolism is affected; the endocrine system is affected. This puts a strain on the nervous system and the mind is disturbed. Is this not similar to cutting your own fingers, if not worse? What do you gain by getting angry? You hurt yourself and in no way do you improve the person who you think is the cause of your trouble.

The intellect thus tells us that one should not get angry. However, mind is in certain grooves of habits and it needs to be trained to get out of those habits. This is Tapa. Practice of Agnihotra helps a good deal in this effort. Most misunderstandings and quarrels arise because we cannot control our tongue. Hence, we may start practicing a few things. The list is not exhaustive but merely illustrative:

Do not show your importance while you speak.
Do not use harsh or spiteful language. Truth can be told in a palatable manner.
Do not indulge in backbiting.
By describing other persons' faults you wish to show that you are superior. Avoid this. With speech much energy is consumed. We should learn to conserve it.
If someone speaks ill about another person in his absence, treat him as an uninvited guest.
Get rid of the habit of blaming others when things do not come about the way you wish them to be.
Never speak ill of others. You create evil thought forms which impinge upon you and weaken the mental fiber.
Do not get into a holier-than-thou attitude.
A wrong thought, word or action creates a groove in the mind and your future thought, word or deed tends to flow in a similar pattern. This puts a great burden on the mind.

The moment we are disturbed we feel we must get away from this state of mind and be happy. Happiness should be a natural state of the mind. This is possible when all our reactions to outside conditions flow from LOVE. In fact, when the mind takes the total coloration of LOVE the journey on the Path of Light (Divine Path) is nearly done. Methods to achieve this state are Tapa.

From the cradle to the grave vanity takes a heavy toll of mind energy. Due to vanity we are unable to see the other man's point of view. Opinion is ultimately an end product of intellect expressing itself as an attitude of the mind. There can be several attitudes out of which ours may be only one.

Religious dogmatism is the worst kind of vanity which has taken a heavy toll of the human race. The swollen ego struts about the stage of life and we become miserable at every point of friction.

Vanity breeds smugness and intolerance. Our errors come disguised as righteousness due to vanity. So-called self-righteousness is also the manifestation of ego. Vanity is the breeding reactor where fanaticism, orthodoxy, dogma and cultism thrive. Bigotry never admits mistakes and invents long-winded defense for its misdeeds. Anger and vanity thrive upon each other. Therefore, practice the following:

· Do not hanker after name and fame.
· Do not make a vulgar show of your possessions or your academic accouterments.
· Avoid talking about yourself. Listen more. Talk less. We have two ears but only one tongue.
· In conversation, avoid dogmatic self-assertions.
· Be humble. Humility is the hallmark of a person on the Divinity.
· Do not try to pose as what you are not. Attempt to become as you wish others to see you.

Envy is grudging desire or discontent at someone else's success. Envy coexists with prejudiced hostility or animosity. Envy blinds us to our own blessings. Envy clouds the intellect and disfigures the mind. Envy leads us off the track of discrimination between right and wrong. The Law of Karma is inviolable and hence, there is no place for envy. To overcome envy learn to be happy at the success of others.

Sex, when permitted to run riot, becomes lust. When sex becomes the instrument of self-indulgence much energy is drained off and the will is enfeebled. The more we are trapped in sex the cloudier the intellect becomes. Passion haunts all humanity and keeps people in a tantalizing state. It dangles the carrot of pleasant sensations before us and makes us labor like the proverbial donkey. When the sap is squeezed we are fit for the trash can. When sex is not channeled, it envelops the mind and all the sensory stimuli apparatus is enslaved towards this end. Sex then acts like a parasite on the whole organism. This leads to violent emotional disturbances. To restore the sexual instinct to its natural function and to bring the emotions under the control of intellect is Tapa.

Greed chains us down to the objects of phenomena, draining all our energy over trivial things. The same energy needs to be harnessed to higher achievements. Initially, a person starts piling up material things as a means for comfortable living. Later on he gets dragged into the habit of piling up things for their own sake. People try to adopt devious ways to acquire wealth not realizing that they have to reap as they sow. Just think for a moment what all this is for. lt only hardens the chain of desires around us and chokes us further.

To eliminate the tension on the mind which comes due to attachment, practice DAAN, the second aspect of the Fivefold Path. Bear in mind that wealth is merely the means to an end and not an end in itself. If robbery is sin, so is amassing material objects without the habit of giving. Tapa is training the mind. This training could be considered from various aspects, e.g.: Removal of tension on the mind which comes due to bodily causes. Practice of Yoga Asanas (physical postures) is helpful in this regard.

Removal of tension on the mind which comes about due to disharmonious flow of Prana (Life energy) through the nervous system. Pranayama (Yoga rhythmic breathing) helps eliminate this tension. Yoga Asanas and Pranayama lead to good health and better performance ability.

Removal of tension on the mind which comes due to atmospheric pollution. Agnihotra is the most scientific method to remove this tension and simultaneously nourish plant life around us.

Removal of tension on the mind which comes due to wrong habit patterns. For this, we have first to deal with the six crocodiles mentioned above. Mind is in the grooves of habits which exact a great toll of energy for purposes that take us away from the Divinity (The Path of Light).

You like to eat your favorite dish because it grants you moments of happiness. You like to read a novel or watch T.V. or play at the pool table because it grants you moments of happiness. However, you soon get tired of these external stimulants. Their capacity to make you happy becomes marginal. Later on, sometimes, they even tend to play on your nerves. By practice of Tapa you realize that no external stimulants are necessary and you can be happy all the time when the Light within shines.

The mind training which is Tapa needs to be undertaken with the cooperation of the intellect. The methods have to be within the reach of the average person. The Fivefold Path presented here takes into consideration all the above aspects of the psychosomatic man and teaches new bio psychological habit patterns which act as reinforces to Tapa.

Tapa purifies the body and the mind and enables us to notice subtler aspects of behavior. lt strengthens our perception and improves the evaluation of that perception. This results in better action. When the mind gets purged of these six crocodiles KNOWLEDGE dawns. This is knowledge transformed into wisdom. We enter into higher tiers of consciousness and we feel LOVE towards all creation.

This is happiness that is not followed by unhappiness. Tapa is the key which unlocks the hidden treasure and accentuates our journey on the Path of Light. The traveler on the Path of Light experiences intellectual illumination, peace of mind and total joy. Tapa enables us to perform better in any given situation in life as we land ourselves in higher consciousness where Universal Love is the ultimate value.

The Kingdom of Light is within you. This is the Eternal Truth. LOVE is the key to this Kingdom....from writings of Shree Vasant Paranjape.

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