–by Sivaji, Resident Spiritual Teacher, Chinmaya Gurukul
Many of us are used to making and breaking New Year resolutions again and again! Lose weight, Exercise more; Eat less, Eat right; Save more, Spend less; Work less hours, Spend more time with family etc., etc. In our experience, we find such New Year resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep!
So, as spiritual seekers, how to break the rut this New Year? Is there an approach to help us make the Resolutions which not only we can ‘Make it happen’ in the New Year but continue to improve on it? Let us turn to Bhagavad Gita for the right approach in arriving at workable New Year Resolutions.
From B.G. CH2.47, we can derive that it is better to make resolutions about what we will do instead of what we will achieve. That way, we can focus on what we can control. Throughout Bhagavad Gita, especially in the later chapters, Lord Krishna has mentioned so many such things which we can do, and which are in our control.
As an example, let us take Verbal Austerity (vak tapas). Speech is an important instrument of communication between human beings and more problems arise from words than even action. Adi Sankaracharyaji says “The first doorway to Yoga is discipline of speech” (योगस्य प्रथमद्वारं वाङ्निरोधः yogasya prathamadvāraṁ vāṅnirodhaḥ ) in VC368.
Lord Krishna (CH17.5) gives a technique to practice verbal austerity. Lord asks us to apply four filters to do a quality check on the speech before it comes out of our mouth. They are:
अनुद्वेगकरं सत्यं प्रियहितं
anuvegakaram satyam priyahitam
1. Anudvegakaram – Speech should not hurt others i.e., no verbal violence,
2. Satyam – Speech should be Truthful,
3. Priyam – Pleasant and
4. Hitham – Beneficial.
Based on this Teaching, we can have a New Year resolution:
“I will apply the four filters before the words come out of my mouth”.
Over time, this will create inner impressions in us thereby helping us on a healthy auto-pilot that will make sure these filters are applied before the words come out. This inner transformation is discreet, and it is definite. And it will eventually transform our speech and our relationship with other human beings at large. Such a New Year Resolution which is centered on what we can control is in line with Lord’s call to work without attachment to results (CH2.47).
This example can be extended. From Lord’s Teachings, one can pick set of New Year Resolutions to suit one’s own needs.
Since this approach of making the New Year Resolution is based on Lord’s Teachings on what we can control, it will surely be successful. Each Resolution will turn into a habit. One can ‘Make it Happen’ in the New Year and keep improving on it year over year!