character. It is said that within every heart dwell two dogs, a bad
dog and a good dog. The bad dog represents our debased tendencies of
envy, anger, lust, greed, arrogance and illusion. The good dog is our
divine nature, represented by forgiveness, compassion, self control,
generosity, humility and wisdom. These two dogs are at battle with one
another. Which dog will win? The one we choose to feed! Virtue is to
keep the bad dog away and nourish the good dog through the choices we
make and the use of our time.
We have been in this material world a long, long time and our
conditioning runs deep. After so many births and deaths, our habits
and character traits have become deeply ingrained. We truly believe we
are our bodies and minds and that we are alone in the struggle to find
a place of contentment in the world. In illusion we fall prey to the
Being fed by our own choices, this dog has become a powerful predator
whose howling reverberates in the mind and dictates our life.
Meanwhile the good dog, weak and undernourished often can only
whimper, begging for our attention. Yoga means to neglect the bad dog,
however difficult it may be, and keep our focus on feeding the good
dog, our divine nature.
The Bhagavad Gita explains that we all have both a divine and demoniac
nature. Our divine qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the
demoniac qualities make for bondage. Due to neglect many people have
allowed a selfish egoistic nature to dictate their lives. We can
assess which dog people have been favoring by their words and actions.
We have conditioned our minds with each choice we have made both in
this life and in past lives. The resultant karma we create not only
affects physical and mental reactions but more importantly it shapes
our proclivities, desires and perceptions of the world. All of this
further affects the choices we will make today and tomorrow. If we are
not careful we can find ourselves in a destructive cycle in which our
lower nature dictates our fate. Drug addicts, alcoholics and smokers
became obsessed with their habit by choosing to feed that inclination,
again and again. What is easy for one person to refrain from is
excruciating for another who has fed the habit.
It is very difficult to just stop the mind and give-up our lower
tendencies. Our conditioning is too powerful. Bhakti is the process of
channeling our dynamic pleasure-seeking energy toward the Divine. The
Gita teaches that one can overcome all of our lower tendencies by
experiencing a higher taste, the taste of gradually awaking the source
of all pleasure, God's love.
- HH Radhanath Swami
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