How do we practice viveka in daily life?

Namaste to all

Last two weeks, for ttc students, the concept of viveka was the main topic of study and practice. Based on some doubts asked by some of them, I am sending this mail.. it is exhaustive as it is meant for ttc students.. but since these are relevant to all yoga students, and also because many of you are thirsty for knowledge, just sending to the group mail..


What is viveka?

Viveka refers to both the practice of distinguishing, as well as the eventual insight of what is what, where things are mixed together; such as when a crystal and a proximate red flower causes the phenomenon of a red crystal, a discernment is required to know that the crystal is colorless, and the color as just a passing phase super imposed due to the flower.


In a more exalted sense, viveka is about 1)distinguishing the ephemeral name/form aspects of objects, 2) recognizing its transitory, impermanent nature, 3) knowing its inherent non dependability for lasting happiness and peace, and 4) discarding the tendency to cling on to names and forms, and 5) the occurrence of awakening wisdom, of that which is permanent and non-changing underlying all the changes (the pure consciousness, instead of the ideas, thoughts etc which forms in consciousness).

How to apply this concept in daily life?

In daily life,one wayto practice viveka is distinguishing between sreyas and preyas. Sreyas denotes that which is
auspicious (shuba) and preyas denotes that which is pleasure (sukha). Thoughtless indulgence in pleasures ultimately brings about deterioration and suffering in the mind and body, whereas abidance in the auspicious ultimately brings about joy and peace.


Now, for many people they cannot distinguish these two and just goes about life. But for a discerning student, the clear knowledge is there, as to which thoughts and actionsare right, and whichare not. However, one is not able to abide in the right, as the other current is just too strong to resist.
Rama, now and then!

So how to overcome this strong current of preyas? This was a question asked by Leng Hee, the man who enacted Rama in the Yoga Vasista drama a few years back for Guru Purnima celebrations.

Thousands of years back, the original Prince Ramaalso asked his preceptor Vasista the same question, ‘ there are two vasanas
(dispositions) in my mind. Shuba (auspicious) vasanas and ashuba (inauspicious)vasanas. How to overcome the stream of
ashuba vasanas?

Vasista replied, ‚ÄòO Raghunandana, samyak prayuktat paurusat samavapyate’, meaning, ‚ÄòRama, by well applied self-effort,
it can be accomplished’.

Consciousness, the fuel!

Now, how should the well applied effort be, in overcoming the inauspicious dispositions?

One way is reduce the effort-ing on continuously thinking and staying with such dispositions.
The fuel of both these auspicious and inauspicious currents is our awareness itself. If we spend lot of time thinkingor musing onthese
tendencies and desires, then they will garner strength, and can form a sticky layer on our consciousness.

In the first place, we should develop the ability to maintain uninterrupted, minimally reactive awareness of the happenings around us, and within us. Then only we can detect the subtle presence of certain unwholesome dispositions. Otherwise we become one with it, and cannot objectively see it.
Inclining towards sreyas

Once we noticethe presence of such thoughts, we have to try to immediately break its hold on our consciousness. One way is to immediately become aware of the present moment- notice the sensation of touch of body against chair, notice breath, notice sky etc..

And then just try to incline the mind towards the What we know is correct.

Do not worry how many times we fail, still be inclined to the right path…
Similar to Sai Yeang’s attempt at handstand‚Ķ

Even as the vortex of gravity and wrong habitual techniques kept pulling her down every time she attempted hand stand, her inclination towards succeeding in the pose eventually pulled her up.


Similarly we have to be inclined to rise above the weakness, and keep attempting. Do not self-judge at each failure. Each time you fail, you are getting stronger, if you do not label and conclude yourself as a failure.

Our association

Now, another important ingredient towards progress in the path is right company. Scriptures such as Yoga Vasista gives great importance to being in the company of wise or similarly inclined people. People with satguna (spiritual tendencies) and durguna ( selfish, evil tendencies) abound around us. Satguna people are about compassion, commitment, conscience driven ethics etc, while durguna people are about money, pleasure etc.

They will say things like:
‚ÄòThere is only one life, enjoy to the max.. there is no meaning to commitment and loyalty.. cheat and make money when you can…. everybody cheats, so you can also cheat..’
These are people who can inclineus to the stream of confusion..
So it is important that such people are not given too much dominance in our decision making.. However this kind of people are sometimes cute, jovial people.. not really sinister..
Now to close this article, just a reminder of the four aspects by which our satgunas can be strengthened, as mentioned in scripture yoga vasista-1) quiet mind (shama), contemplation (vichara), contentment (santosha) and association with wise people (sadhu samgama).


The quietness can be developed by trying to abide in the moment, noticing breath etc, which dislodges the mind from getting preoccupied with desires. In the quietness, you will also realize the flavor of the consciousness, whether things you are perhaps doing for pleasure, whether it is giving you a pungent taste deep down in the consciousness etc. Contemplation and inquiry is straightforward in its application. Contentment is really about recognizing and being grateful for what you have.. and how perhaps in your yearning for
satisfying certain tendencies, you might be damaging what you have and cherish most…and lastly, very important is association with sat guna people, who will stoke the sattwic, spiritual tendencies in you..