One of the most talked-about aspects of ISIP during the recent retreat in Mumbai was “burning.” This is mainly because burning usually deals with our responses, especially our habitual tendencies, to objects with which we have relationships —whether those objects are related to money, position, health, or anything else. More importantly, relationships with other people are where most of our tendencies interplay and interact.
What happens is that we begin a relationship with an object or person outside ourselves in the hope of finding happiness and comfort. But later on, as we move more deeply into that relationship, we commonly begin to experience a “toxic” dependency, where we feel the poison of attachment and fear in addition to the original happiness and comfort. Joy and happiness are then experienced mixed with sorrow and pain. Deep attachment and dependency usually are the cause of such feelings.
That is when we use and experience burning as a means to break free from that toxic dependency on the object. However, I have seen that most sadhakas “over-burn”— that is, they go through the process of burning over and over again by being attached to the story instead of the physical sensation triggered by the story. This creates a sort of obsession with the outside object that drains and frustrates them, and invites more and more suffering into their lives.
To avoid this, it becomes important to address the issue of how to prevent over-burning, and how to practice effective burning to remove the seeds of attachments and fear—of toxic dependency.
We know burning is a critically important aspect of ISIP, and an essential part of vasana practice. Burning is so important that I call it the “Vasana- Killer.”
But before you begin the actual burning, it is necessary to prepare yourself. Set aside a place and time—at home for 20 minutes, for example. Bring the object or person of obsession to mind, and follow these five steps for effective burning:
1) Know the problem is my fault:
Whenever you get triggered or agitated by someone or something, always tell yourself, “It is always my fault.” It is NEVER the trigger’s fault. It is very easy to blame someone or something for what is happening within you. But it is vital to remove the blame from others and instead move it to yourself, and what needs addressing inside you. In this way, you will be ready to deal exclusively with what is happening within you—the Truth—instead of getting distracted by the mind. The mind does not allow you to know the Truth, while coming back to yourself does.
2) Recognize the plan of Consciousness:
Everything in this Universe, whether we recognize it or not, is designed to break our attachment and dependency. Therefore, know that if Consciousness recognizes that you are over-dependent on anything, it will create situations to break you out of that illusion. The sooner you recognize this plan, the freer you will be. It is meant to be this way.
Consciousness recognizes that an over-dependent, toxic relationship with anyone or anything needs to be got rid of for your ultimate freedom. Consciousness wants you to be detached from things and people. It wants you to be in a loving, not dependent, partnership with people. If you are in a dependent relationship with something, you will in due course feel some hostility and negativity towards it. The inherent sense of captivity you begin to feel suffocates and eats you from within. The sense of having a sturdy base that you think can support you is false; it always has some imperfections that will invariably disillusion you.
That is why Consciousness has a plan for your detachment and freedom. The more attached you are to a relationship with an outside object or person, the more you will suffer. That is why you need to understand that the play or game of Consciousness causes certain relationships to fail or move away, or certain desires to not be met. Consciousness wants to set you free!
3) Do not believe the Mind :
When you get triggered by something or someone, the mind conjures up various thoughts about it. “He did that.” “I should have said something.” “It’s all her fault.” The thoughts go on and on and do not stop. Do not believe all this rubbish!
The mind is the number one culprit in keeping our attention away from ourselves, and moving it onto the world. The mind is the one that is solely responsible for making us believe that we NEED something outside ourselves. It creates the web of toxic dependency.
Consider this: in deep sleep, when the mind has gone back into the Source, there are no objects and no people. Yet we are completely still and in the deepest bliss and joy. However, when the mind returns upon waking, it tells us we “need” to get more things, work on our relationships, and countless other things in order to be happy. The truth is we really do not need any of that.
But the mind is always trying to trick us, and to hypnotize us by repeating, “You need more money.” You need a bigger car.” “You need a bigger house.” There is absolutely no end to the mind’s madness. So do not believe it. The mind may not stop thinking, but we can choose not to believe it.
Once you stop believing the mind, you can stop believing your unhappiness is someone else’s fault. Then you can burn properly.
4) It is all Karma:
I said earlier that often when our relationship with someone falls out, whether at home or at work, with a loved one or business associate, we instantly want to find fault in the other. When we are in pain from disappointment or betrayal or other negative emotions, we cannot remember the good these people have done for us. The tendency of the mind is to always sway towards negative thoughts about people. We simply cannot remember the good times we had together. It is a Herculean task to do so. We just remember how nasty and horrible those people were. We cannot see the totality.
So let us make an effort to also remember and acknowledge the positive things these people have given us. When we do this, the negativity towards them dissipates. We can see a bigger, more honest picture of who they are.
We forget that it is all karma. In the relative world, we humans are nothing but the interplay of karma. That is why someone who showers us with so much love and attention sometimes suddenly moves away from us, and it appears like we no longer understand or know that person. The reason is karma. Consciousness can cause karmic shifts that take place beyond anyone’s control.
5) Thank the Trigger:
Knowing that Consciousness plans things as they are for our freedom, and knowing that relationships are all karmic interplays, we then can surely not blame the trigger for anything. Instead, we must thank it for being chosen by Consciousness to help us dive deeper into ourselves, where we can collect the fragmented and broken parts of ourselves that need to be brought back together. This is where we can realize how free we actually are, and how independent we truly are. The hypnotic spell of the mind is broken.
The trigger, therefore, actually helps us get free. So thank the triggers! Do not be worried or obsessed about them. Instead, thank them for giving you this opportunity. So whatever the obsession, thank the triggers for making you realize the toxic dependency you have on them. Then restrain yourself from indulging in the thoughts or acts that would induce even more dependency.
We often label people in various negative ways. “He is like that.” “She is like this.” But we can also easily label ourselves in the very same negative ways: “I too am like that.” “I too am like this.” These are all mind games, and none of them matter. What matters is honestly acknowledging what is happening within ourselves, and what contribution those people have made to our lives.
When gratitude and thankfulness are felt deeply in the Heart, they automatically blossom into unconditional love.
At that time, the mind does not just stop; it actually dissolves. We go into a state of deep silence and love. The Heart opens and sings. Love pours forth to everyone. Is not this what we want? What else are we looking for?
We can also clearly see the self-imposed limitations of the triggers, and the sufferings they undergo. This gives rise to compassion. And it is gratitude, unconditional love, and compassion that really help us dive deeper into our SELF, and dissolve any pain or suffering we may feel. At that time, we can truly identify the physical sensation arising as the pain body, effectively merge with it, and burn the vasanas of attachment and fear.
Fear of being hurt has kept us from loving deeply. We fear the people who trigger us, separate ourselves from them, and become self-obsessed with our own thoughts. That is why we do not feel the gifts these people bring into our lives.
But without those triggers, burning is impossible. Without the people who bring us pain, it is impossible to know love. They are the gifts we inherited in this life.
So do not fear anyone. Be completely open. Enjoy and accept what is. Please have love and gratitude for everyone you meet, including those who despise and hurt you. This will free you from feeling like a victim. You can then experience what you truly are— Joy and Love for everyOne!