Yesterday was Mother’s day and I took my mother out to eat to celebrate it. Actually I also invited my best friend of 42 years and her mother. And we had a nice time. While on the way to the restaurant we were talking about how some people as they become old cannot control their anger. We were actually talking in reference to our friend who gets angry easily and simply cannot help himself. At that point it dawned on me that it had to do with one’s samskaras. For once, I understood what the word samskara meant.
What are samskaras?
Well what are samaskaras or tendencies? When we act in a certain way out of compulsion, then we call that as our tendency to act in that way in spite of not wanting to.
As children we are born with certain tendencies that compel us to behave in a certain way. As we grow up and gain more experience, it gives us a chance to change those habits or tendencies thru self development we learn from school and associating with other people.. But developing new habits takes a lot of work and discipline.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. As a child I might be short tempered or get angry very easily. But thru associating with others I am made aware of this weakness of mine and on suggestions of others I try to control my anger. As years go by I seem to have gained some control over my anger during my youth and things look good. But as I grow old and successful, I become egotistical and arrogant and soon I lose perspective of my values and revert back to getting angry easily at the slightest provocation. All that work I put into my self development has gone waste. I have reverted to my original self who gets angry easily. Why does this happen? We take so many births and develop so many habits that they are so ingrained in us that it is hard to change them. The new habits we developed are not strong enough to overcome our previous samskaras.
Unfortunately, even after working the better half of our youth trying to cultivate those good habits, it seems as though our tendencies take control of us during old age and we seem to have lost what we tried to develop thru our youth. So how do we change our samskaras? It is only thru meditation that we can change our tendencies. To this question and answer the following email I received in my inbox today is an appropriate answer and so I decided to post it here on my blog.
There is no shortcut.
One thing has to be remembered about meditation; it is a long journey and there is no shortcut. Anyone who says there is a shortcut is befooling you.
It is a long journey because the change is very deep and is achieved after many lives – many lives of routine habits, thinking, desiring, and the mind structure you have to drop through meditation. In fact it is almost impossible – but it happens.
A man becoming a meditator is the greatest responsibility in the world. It is not easy. It cannot be instant. So from the beginning never start expecting too much and then you will never be frustrated. You will always be happy because things will grow very slowly.
Meditation is not a seasonal flower which within six weeks is there. It is a very very big tree. It needs time to spread its roots.
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