Most people have experienced unconditional Love: maybe through love of pets, children, parents, or grandparents but often this unconditional love does not extend beyond those special in our life; and self love is something many people struggle with. Why is it that we find it so difficult to truly love ourselves and others?
Swami Vishwananada says love is everything, every part of creation has it and it's because we are so much bound by the brain, by the mind, that we forget about it.
Essentially the mind, something we value so highly especially today in the modern world, is hindering our ability to love.
So what exactly is this mind ?
In yogic philosophy the mind is comprised of four aspects:
- 1) Manas is our sensory and processing mind, our outward facing faculty coordinating our sensory system: it is a mental monitor of thoughts and images.
- 2) Chitta is our storage bank where we collect our impressions, desires and experiences: these stored impressions are what make up habitual behaviours and desires.
- 3) Ahamkara is the sense of I, ego, individuality, independence; it filters decision making by prioritising the individual identity and therefore it corrupts, stains, and pollutes the decision-making process.
- 4) Buddhi, which translates as intellect, is the discriminatory faculty of the mind: clear, neutral, and discerning; it is that first intuitive voice we hear.
It is clear that the destructive nature of Ahamkara will impede spiritual growth and restrict our ability to love unconditiontally; this is one of the reasons we do our Sadhana: by practicing Atma Kriya Yoga (AKY) we help avoid strengthening the ego. The practice of AKY subdues Ahamkara by purifying the Buddhi; it also improves the habits of Chitta i.e. changing the bad habits and unhelpful reactions of Chitta and creating and storing beneficial, healthy habits.
Once the Buddhi is clear it has the capacity to turn inwards and look towards what is within: to the conscious, dharmic decision making Atma, the Soul. With the grace of AKY we are able to expand this innate ability to love unconditionally to everything and everyone, and most importantly to love ourselves.
As well as our Sadhana practice Swami Vishwananda has said that in order to love ourself we need acceptance: the ability to accept everything right now, all the positive, all the negative, and from here we will learn to go beyond all that. Once there is self acceptance the ability to accept others follows: which will lead to the development of loving ourselves and others unconditionally.