This week’s Golden Nugget “Meaning of Character” is inspired Vedic philosophy and books published by Sri Ramakrishana Math.
“Personality is who we are when everyone is watching; and character is who we are when no one is watching”. The meaning of character proposed by Vedic philosophy can be beautifully described by taking analogy of a lake. In a lake, winds create waves, and those waves not just disturb the surface of the water, they also affect shores and bottom of the lakes as well. Over a period of time these waves gradually build banks of sands and rounded pebbles on the lake bottom. The shapes of sandbanks and pebbles created by waves are much more permanent and solid than the waves themselves. Now taking this analogy to humans, the mind (like lake) is continuous flow of thoughts (waves). And over a period of time these thought-waves create tendencies, capabilities and habits, which are more permanent than the thoughts themselves. In Vedic terms these are called – samskaras. Samaskaras build up by the continuous thought-waves; and samaskaras also create new thought-waves. Hence, there is a continuous cycle. If you expose your mind to pleasant thoughts and perform selfless acts of kindness, you will experience joy in your daily life. A person with selfless-giving samaskara will be known as “a kind person”. If you expose your mind to constant thoughts of anger and resentment, you will find that these anger-waves build up anger-throughout your daily life. A man with well-developed anger-samskaras is said to have “a bad temper”. The sum total of our samaskaras is our character at any given moment. As the sandbank can shift and change their shapes as the tide or the current changes, so also the samaskaras may be modified by the introduction of other kinds of thought waves into the mind.
The seeds of good and evil are latent in all of us. It is up to us to decide which ones we want to cultivate. The ones nurtured more by our thought-waves will become our dominant character. Yoga offers the process of reflection and meditation to ensure we are building intended samaskaras.I wish that all of us will feed the goodness with our thought-waves, so we can look forward to a better future of Joyful Living.