More articles by

Vandana Kohli
Vandana Kohli


Halves of a whole


The first step to realising your potential is to accept your shortcomings

One of our deepest desires is to veer towards purity. Here, rather than a moral value of any particular tradition, purity is defined more as our ability and the process to touch peak potential and to express ourselves. When unimpeded, we are led to feel fulfilled and content. Both spark joy within.

By this measure, all that is impure is what holds us back from knowing our potential and expressing it. These could be impulses from outside or from within our own selves.

Those from the outside, irrespective of what they are, have one thing in common. They are usually distracting—things and processes that dilute the power of our concentration. We may fail to see their impact on us and may give in to them time and again, till we recognise their true nature and are ultimately unmoved by their power to distract.

Recognising impurity within

The internal impediments are usually indicative of conflict within. Conflict, for whatever reason, holds us back from flowing freely and lightly towards better expression. Somewhere at the root is a desire to resolve it, but since we may not have identified it clearly to begin with, it persists.

Thus, the impurities within can prove more challenging to spot and work on. Some, like a propensity towards addiction, may be more obvious to identify. The less obvious ones usually manifest as defiance, aggression and resistance.

Interestingly, the approaches we adopt to deal with them often reflect the same tone. We either indulge the impurities within us defiantly or we tend to ignore them, trying to resist acknowledging them. A third approach is that we tend to fight them.

These are all aggressive strategies and, therefore, throw up their own wheels of reaction that then complicate the inner landscape, adding to the confusion and noise within. Another, more effective way of dealing with internal impediments to peak potential involves a gentler, more restful method.

Transforming impurity

A conscious mind is usually aware of its internal impediments. A step ahead is to observe and then accept internal impurities, in any form and measure, which hold us back. These could be personal traits of stubbornness, passion in excess or reactions to events in our upbringing and environment. In accepting them, whatever they are, we take the sting out of them and loosen their hold on us. Each time we are consciously aware of their workings in us, a little of their force dissolves and that energy, instead, is transformed into things more creative.

This is done through personal effort and experience. Each one makes his or her effort. It is a simple and profoundly effective method to cut the pulls and pushes of things that hold us back.

Pure and impure

While direct experience is the method, the advaita (non-dual) philosophies of India that stress the concept of oneness in all things, validate this process of transformation. Pairs of opposites—pain-pleasure, light-dark, high-low—are considered two sides of the same coin. Pain defines pleasure, the dark gives meaning to light, low supports high and so on. If all is of one essence, then nothing need be rejected. All is of use, even the impediments within.

Impurity, then, is another means to purity. The key lies in including it within a larger, gentler awareness. Our acceptance takes the force out of it, as with all things dark. The dark, after all, is in want of love.

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The Week

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