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Our Compassionate Mindfulness curriculum (gurukulam) is known by the Sanskrit name Hansadharman. This curriculum is placed sixth among the seven levels of the Teachings. This curriculum develops a clear understanding of important distinguishing concepts; themes such as compassion, kindness, dispassion, noninjury and mindfulness. For example, one learns if striving is necessary when one is mindful and how dispassion with persistent spiritual practice makes way for a compassionate state of being. The teachings on how to let go and how to be present wherever one is make up the core part of this curriculum.

Mastering the art of duty with feelings

It is assumed that the aspirant has embraced the salient features of the previous five levels of our holistic curriculum. Thus concepts relating to habitual engrossment (samāpatti), states akin to anaesthesia during a meditation session, an exhilarating sensation of subtle energy currents during breathwork, value of the middle path and how meditation gently resolves the issue of right or wrong should feel familiar or achievable to an aspirant.

The twelve pillars of dharma as per Sāṅkhya philosophy, the practical aspects of the ten vows of Yoga philosophy and the contemplative thesis (upāsanā) of Vedānta philosophy are revised and revisited. The balance between dispassion and spirited service is understood to bring about clarity of purpose. Thereafter all salient wisdom teachings on the nature of the mind, memory, moment and mindfulness are taught to establish how mind, ego, and intellect function distinctively, albeit seamlessly in tandem. This is the stage when an aspirant has transformed even healthy skepticism to an understanding of the true nature of things. The aspirant understands how a doubt-free state of mind rooted in a state of compassion enables one to walk with tenderness and exude nonviolence. The body language becomes that of a meditator! Clarity of perception through mindfulness is in the offing.

HH Swami Sharadananda feeding monkey.

Through the teachings the aspirant is able to delineate the function of the ten subtle sense organs (five organs of sense perception and five organs of motor action) and understand the meaning of subjugation (pratyāhāra). The prānāyāma practice taught through the Hansayogin curriculum purifies the sense organs while through the Hansapathin and Hansadharman curricula the participant is able to experience pratyāhāra (unstimulated sensory state) and periods of steady ideation (dhāranā), even if only momentarily. One is able to clearly see how the subtle sense organs gather impressions through an extroverted urge which when controlled allows the seeker to break the cycle of pleasure, pain and stupefaction.

This curriculum guides on how mindfulness overrides the relationship between affliction (kleṣa) and the expansion of experience of the world. Egoism is said to be the basis for expanding our experience of the world. Hansadharman teaches us that all worldly experiences ultimately bring suffering! That which brings about suffering and impedes discriminative understanding is then known as affliction. Attachment leading to jealousy, aversion leading to hatred, and the general dread leading to fear of death are said to be subsequent to egoism in the chain of afflictions. Hence the non-striving state of mindfulness is the forerunner of compassion.

When these teachings are inculcated, one is able to perform actions with a sense of duty. Furthermore, the aspirant masters the art of duty with feelings which entails taking ownership of duties (or projects) but also knowing when to let go. Mindfulness grips to clearly establish the true tenets of service and in the process weakens egoism.

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Cultivating Compassion by Developing Dispassion

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