Nowadays, self-improvement books are very trendy. Authors claim that answers to all our problems can be found within ourselves. In addition, they preach that there is no need to chant mantras, perform mantra rituals (Pooja) worshiping deities or ask advice from spiritual teachers, because according to their idea, people can change their life, achieve their goals and become happier persons simply by the power of thought. In these books everyone can read common statements about life written in beautiful language and how everyone should love and forgive each other.
On the one hand there is nothing wrong with such a view, but on the other hand these authors entrap readers into a dangerous illusion making them believe that everything depends solely on their attitude towards life. Meaning that if you have the ‘right’ attitude, you will succeed. Of course, it would be great, if we could solve all our problems with the simple phrase ‘I forgive you’. Well, if it happened like that, we would all live in peace and prosperity. We simply would need to think about something what we wish to happen in our lives and it would occur in that very moment. Soulds like fairytale to me. For instance, someone would say: ‘I want to quit smoking’ and all of a sudden he would be free from the nicotine addiction and kicked the cigarette habit for good. Just like that. Like a miracle. But it does not happen like that in reality, does it? No matter how credible the bestselling authors may seem.
Our thoughts and attitude towards life in general and specific situations depends on karma. In other words,
our thoughts and attitude towards life are not the cause of the situations we experience, rather they are the effect of our karma.
Actually, you choose neither what you want to think, nor your attitude towards situations or people, because it is determined by karma. In order to govern your thoughts and change your attitude towards life, you should continually develop your consciousness to clear bad karma and escape from its trap. In the Vedas it is called ‘moksha’ and it is the highest state of consciousness that a human being can reach in life. Everyone wants to reach this state, even those who know nothing of yoga and have never heard of karma and moksha.
Bestsellers promise to do the trick and offer you instant answers to all your questions so that you would not need to sit and meditate or chant mantras. They claim that you would not need to do anything, because you are such a unique person! Awesome, is it not? I wish it were so simple. Everybody wants to be told that he/she is unique and special. It is called lip service. But then a question arises – why do all these ‘unique people’ live in poverty, face health problems, cannot maintain relationships and experience misfortune etc.? Karma does not care what we think of it or how we get high – be it alcohol, cigarettes or so-called spiritual bestsellers. In order to break this karmic cycle, one should practice detachment. In Sanskrit it is called ‘vairagya’. A single book of advice will not help you understand and learn life. Each person’s life is the best for cultivating vairagya – however, a passively reading a book will not help much, you have live and experience life situations. Practice makes perfect. Ideally we all want to be beautiful, wealthy, healthy and therefore, we blindly accept everything, what is written in a book, which promises to make our dreams come true. However, not everyone is ready to put effort into longterm development one’s own consciousness in order to reach these life goals.
People tend to choose the easiest ways in life. In yoga it is called priya. At the beginning you may experience pleasurable and ‘sweet’ moments, but the end result is “bitter” – full of disillusions and difficulties. However, yoga is shreya, meaning that a person may face difficulties at the start (bitter) and it might seem impossible to deal with them, but it bears “sweet fruit” in the long-term.
There is a tendency in society that people try to find ‘get rich quick’ schemes, because there is a view that rich and successful people have achieved such a life-style without any effort. Of course, who would not like such a luxurious life, successful relationships and good health? However, people rarely want to work hard to reach these life goals. They want to borrow money from the bank trying to get everything as quickly as possible. Yes, why should we save money if we can take out a loan and live the dream of a life of luxury right now? It is very easy to choose the priya way of life. The more difficult life is (more negative karma), the greater the tendency for the person to choose the priya way of life.
The public’s appetite for promises of easy and successful life is insatiable and that is why they are so marketable. That is why there appears such motivational books as ‘Ten ways to become a millionaire’, ‘How to quit smoking in no time’ etc. All these books promise the reader to become rich, successful or healthy right after reading the book. Expectations have been built up and if nothing changes (as it was promised in the book), they feel disappointed and deceived. People are often attracted to things and goals seemingly easy to achieve.
If we look at the spiritual world, you can find different kinds of training offering you a quick development of consciousness. Just like fast food promises to make everyone’s life easier and bring quick satisfaction. The less effort – the better. The faster – the better. Nowadays everything happens so quickly and dynamically. Whenever you look, you can find fast cars, fast communication, fast relationships, children grow up faster than ever.
Vedic lifestyle helps you slow down, learn to distinguish between rubbish and authentic knowledge and, moreover, gives you tools to eliminate the cause of your problems and the obstacles to your success. It’s up to you. Who you are priya or shreya?