Many of us have a family member, sometimes it is the whole family, that
cause us serious agitation and all that goes with it – ill will,
resentment, hostility, jealousy – and all of that coming from self-will
(the desire to have one’s own way). I had been practicing and meditating
some time, but this agitation at family gatherings was not going away
and was quite frankly, a plague that I wanted to be rid of. Through
meditation and practice of the eight point program my awareness of this
problem had come into sharper focus; so I really wanted it to disappear.
My early tries at this were not successful. I would use my intellect to tell myself not to be agitated when my family gathered together for holidays; it took me some time to figure out the truth of Easwaran’s words, that a bad self-willed habit (a samskara, he calls it) cannot be controlled very well with the intellect; the intellect just gets steam rolled by the power of the habit. It was a lesson that I had to experience to really believe.
First Turning Point
One evening after the Tuesday night satsang in Petaluma, as we were closing the church, my friend Diana and I were discussing the video talk of Easwaran where he been exhorting us to practice, practice, practice. We both agreed: “we don’t practice enough.” So I set about changing this, and started spending hours with the mantram in the week or so before a family gathering. Standing at the kitchen sink, I would think about being at the gathering and repeat the mantram, 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and every time the mind went to thinking about family, throughout the day, more mantram. I also interspersed that with repeating the passage of Jesus that Easwaran liked, three to four verses, “judge not that you be not judged. . .” Day after day, as I sat down for meditation, I would remind myself of the desire to be rid of this self-willed problem, but nothing overt occurred during meditation, no distractions or insights of any sort ever came up. It was a matter of relying on Easwaran’s assurance that when we meditate, there are effects occurring deep in the unconscious that we are not aware of.