Jamie Shane: The lifetimes of pain from a life unexamined

Critical to the law of karma is the concept of samskara. Like a scar, a groove or a rut, samskaras are patterns that prevent us from attaining our highest evolution.

At times they are a result of our previous karma. At times they are current issues at play. But they always speak to our constant need and duty to self-study. If we are to reach an understanding of our own god essence — if we are to find liberation — we must resolve our samskaras by learning what they are, how they affect us and what we must do to avoid repeating them. Only then can we evolve.

Our human race is deeply flawed. This is just a plain and undeniable fact. It is these flaws that help give shape to who we are. But blind acceptance of these flaws can also prevent us from living beyond the worst aspects of our selves.

A samskara is the result of our inability to free ourselves from these comforting — if harmful — facets of our humanity. Just as a knife wound cannot heal if one continues to slice over the same spot time and again, so it goes with our souls. The longer we repeat behaviors that reinforce these negative features of our being, the deeper and more pronounced our samskaras become. A terrible soul scar is then created, one that becomes increasingly more difficult to overcome or surpass. If we do not make a consistent effort to do so, we can find ourselves caught in a rut of self-fulfilling behaviours that overshadow our desire for happiness. This is what it means to have samskara, and nobody, nobody is free from them. You cannot be completely free from them; it is the nature of being human. All one can do is study the self and do the very best to avoid making them worse.

Now it may seem quite simple to just say, “Well, I’ll just stop the obvious bad stuff (drinking, smoking, drugs). Samskara avoided, 1-2-3.”

But it is quite more than that. Samskaras can be created by any type of base behavior. Perhaps you run a constant dialogue of negative thought: This is samskara. Perhaps you persistently denigrate a family member: This is samskara. Perhaps you allow someone to treat you badly time and time again: This is samskara. Perhaps you live on coffee and cupcakes: This is samskara. Perhaps you gossip and badmouth: This is samskara. And on and on it goes. Samskara is the result of the unexamined. They are scars created by the basest aspects of humanity run amok. And they can take lifetimes to heal.

In order to completely change detrimental actions, one must change not only the primary activity but the secondary activities that support it. In order to sidestep the reinforcement of samskara, one must change all behaviors that lead up to the primary deeds. The thought patterns around the deed must be identified and modified. The environment in which one practices said activity or pattern must be avoided. The people who support the behavior possible must be eliminated from your social cast. In sum, avoidance of samskara behaviors must be total. You must be diligent and aware of yourself, your thoughts and your deeds to prevent new samskara from forming, and old ones from growing stronger. Unless they are closely observed and studied, you can easily lose control and discover how remarkably sneaky samskara are in their efforts to stay alive.

The solution is both remarkably simple and diabolically complex. Learn thyself and remain aware. Develop the ability to see that which hovers in the dark corners of your mind. Accept that you are human and you are scarred, and you don’t have to stay that way.

But you do have to do the work.

Jamie Shane teaches yoga at her studio, Bija Yoga. Reach her at yoda@bijayoga971.com.

© 2007 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features