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Contentment: Does it elevate us or stop our Growth?

Con­tent­ment is some­thing that all of us seek. When one is at com­plete ease with one­self with­out hav­ing any feel­ings of dis­sat­is­fac­tion, we call it con­tent­ment. There is a cer­tain accep­tance of one’s own state of being. One feels that what­ev­er one has gained so far is enough and there is noth­ing more that one needs to feel hap­py.

How­ev­er, con­tent­ment can also lim­it our growth. What if we are con­tend­ed and become aspi­ra­tion less? What if the con­tent­ment is more of “these grapes are sour” (rec­ol­lect the fox and grapes sto­ry) thought? What if con­tent­ment is com­ing from an atti­tude of res­ig­na­tion? There is no way to fig­ure this out on our own.

The Sankhya Kari­ka high­lights such con­tent­ments that can lim­it us from attain­ing high­er states of being. Some of these also come from Vairagya and part­ly ben­e­fi­cial as well. The text calls it Nava Tushti or 9 con­tent­ments. Read­ing about this can reveal so much about our mind.

The Sankhya Kari­ka talks of 4 inter­nal and 5 exter­nal tushtis.

Prakri­ti: When the Sad­ha­ka reads about or lis­tens to Gurus talk about Prakri­ti and how the whole uni­verse is because of the moola Prakri­ti and every­thing is gov­erned by it, he/she gets a feel­ing that “Vive­ka (dis­crim­i­na­tion) is noth­ing but anoth­er mod­i­fi­ca­tion of that Prakri­ti. It is Prakri­ti who decides when that Vive­ka dawns and hence I per­son­al­ly do not need to prac­tice med­i­ta­tion”. Just being sat­is­fied with this thought is Prakri­ti Tushti.

Salila: When we think that “Vive­ka can­not be attained even by Prakri­ti because if Prakri­ti were to bring it, then every­one in the world would have got it because Prakri­ti func­tions in each one of us. The only way is to take to Sanyasa. Then where is the need to prac­tice med­i­ta­tion?”. The Sad­ha­ka becomes con­tend­ed with Sanyasa and does not take any more effort. This is called Salila Tushti.

Kaala : When the Sad­ha­ka thinks “Even if one has cho­sen Sanyasa, only time will grant Muk­ti”. Such a fatal­is­tic atti­tude is called Kaala Tushti.

Bhagya or Vrishti : Think­ing that “Nei­ther Prakri­ti nor Time nor Sanyasa can give Muk­ti. It all hap­pens only because of luck” is called Bhagya or Vristi Tushti. The Sad­ha­ka also thinks of anec­dotes of peo­ple attain­ing Muk­ti and attrib­ut­es it to sheer luck. For exam­ple attribut­ing the mok­sha of the chil­dren of Madalasa (who attained Muk­ti due to her instruc­tions) to luck.

The exter­nal Tushtis are caused by a cer­tain Vairagya and stay­ing away from the activ­i­ties of the sens­es.

Paara: When it is thought “How can one work under some­one else.One can­not suf­fer under the hands of anoth­er.” Abstain­ing from acquir­ing wealth through oth­er means and the con­tent­ment aris­ing because engag­ing with the sens­es caus­es pain is called Para.

Supaaram: When wealth is acquired, one thinks of the var­i­ous ways by which it can be destroyed: thieves, fire or floods. When one abstains from enjoy­ment think­ing about such caus­es of pain it is called Supaaram.

Paar­avaara: Con­stant­ly think­ing that such wealth gained through lot of effort is wast­ed when enjoyed leads to a Tushti called Paar­avaara.

Anut­ta­maamb­ha: Think­ing that “One can get addict­ed to enjoy­ment and one feels mis­er­able if the objects of enjoy­ment are not avail­able”. This leads to a cer­tain absti­nence from enjoy­ment and the con­tent­ment called Anut­ta­maam­ba.

Utta­maamb­ha: Some­times, we abstain from enjoy­ment by think­ing of all the neg­a­tive aspects of enjoy­ment like peo­ple deriv­ing plea­sure by killing ani­mals. We feel con­tend­ed with what­ev­er we have and this is called Utta­maamb­ha.

All of these are such relat­able atti­tudes that we have. The guid­ance of a Guru becomes extreme­ly rel­e­vant or impor­tant as there is no oth­er way to fig­ure things out by our­selves. Whether it is a set­tled con­tent­ment or a false notion, only the Guru will be able to resolve.

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