By Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar┃Posted: November 15, 2018
The mind doesn’t always get attracted to negativity! Let’s understand what negativity is. When would you call something “negative?”
- When it doesn’t give you pleasure.
- When it causes a lot of pain.
- When it appears to give you pleasure, but in fact it causes pain.
Let’s take, for example, smoking. Smoking appears to give you pleasure, but it doesn’t really.
Look at the faces of all those people who smoke. Are they full of bliss and serenity? Are they happy and content? No! There’s stress and anger. Now, why are they unable to quit smoking? It’s because it promises them pleasure but gives them pain – that’s negativity.
So, what’s the definition of negativity? It’s that which appears to give you pleasure, but in fact gives you pain and suffering.
A small story to illustrate negativity
A gentleman went to a magic fair that had many magical things. There were magical flowers, a magical pond, and so on.
Among the different items, there was this magical conch (a spiraling ocean animal shell that’s often used as a trumpet), which was priced very high. The other items had low prices, but the attractive conch had a price tag of $50,000.
You know, when things cost a lot of money, then people think – there must be something to it, otherwise why would someone pay $50,000 for a shell?
So, this gentleman asked, “What’s this?”
The shopkeeper said, “This is a magical speaking conch. If you ask this conch for something, it will double it for you. That’s why it’s selling for $50,000.”
Very greedy people go for such offers. And so, this man bought the conch and took it home.
At home, this man said to the conch, “Give me one million dollars.”
The conch said, “Why ask for one million? Ask for two million dollars.”
Then the man said, “Oh, okay, two million.”
The conch said, “Why two million, ask for four million.”
The man said, “Okay, give me four million.”
The conch said, “Why four million, ask for eight million.”
At this point, the man got frustrated and said, “Fine, give me eight million.”
The conch said, “Why ask for eight million, ask for 16 million.”
The man said, “Okay, give me 16 million.”
The conch simply kept multiplying but did not give him anything.
So, negativity is like this – empty promises of giving joy at some future point in time, but it simply doesn’t give you anything.
How does complaining make you feel?
You sit and gossip about somebody – it appears to give you some pleasure, but what does it leave you with? Have you noticed? Your body feels odd, and your mind feels awkward.
When you sit and just complain and complain, sometimes you find that it gives you some sort of pleasure, but in fact, it leads you to a state where you get so disgusted with yourself and your own mind. You feel like running away from your own mind.
Running away won’t help, because wherever you go, your mind will go along with you. It’s like trying to run away from your shadow.
Why does the mind tend to cling to negativity?
The mind clings to negativity because it has moved away from its own true nature. A child doesn’t do that – so it isn’t our innate nature to cling to negativity. It’s become our second nature.
If you hear ten positive compliments and one negative criticism, the mind clings on to the criticism. So, it’s wrong to say that negativity is our innate nature! It appears as though it’s our nature, but it has become our second nature because of stress.
How to overcome this clinging
The mind craves for some things and is averse to other things – that’s all right. But at least for some time, the pendulum motion of the mind can stop. When it stops, it feels so nice, and that’s why the practices of yoga, pranayama, and meditation are important. These practices change the tendency of the mind from swinging back and forth, and clinging onto negativity, to peace and stillness.
The mind oscillates between cravings and aversions. It needs rest sometimes, and doing these spiritual practices will bring that calmness to the mind.
Also, wisdom gradually helps one get rid of all the cravings and aversions of the mind.