Chapter 13: Reducing resistance that stands between you and fulfilling your desire.
Fair warning: although we may deliberately and consciously want something, our subconscious can be a formidable obstacle to achieving our desires. One of the most interesting aspects of the process outlined in the four desires is how our subconscious (the part of our consciousness we are generally not aware of) can have as much to do with fulfilling our desires as anything. The irony is that the part of ourselves that we are b
arely aware of, the subconscious, can often trump our conscious desires, thereby keeping us from leading the fulfilling life we aspire to. How strange! Why would this happen?? Because our consciousness is not aware the subconscious is playing at all. Why would this matter?
According to yoga, the relationship between the subconscious and the conscious is like an iceberg. On average only 1/9th of an iceberg is visible to a ship traveling in the open ocean. The remainder of the iceberg is submerged and not visible to sailors who would otherwise prefer not to sink their ship. Our conscious mind is like the small fraction of the iceberg above the surface of the ocean; our subconscious is the majority of the ice we cannot see because it is submerged.
Our subconscious is the totality of all acquired experiences, both gross and subtle, throughout our lives. Yoga would even argue that the subconscious carries all these impressions from past lives as well. These subconscious impressions have as much to do with our decision making as anything, and the tricky part is we may not even be aware of it. When we view our mental faculties as a whole, we can quickly see how the subconscious is a significant player in shaping our lives and our path toward fulfillment, whether we are aware of it or not.
There are two kinds of resistance: internal and external. Internal resistance or vikalpas. Rod explains vikalpas as “mental constructs or beliefs that spilt or separate you from your highest self and from the destiny that your highest self would have you fulfill.” Vikalpas are our internal obstacles keeping us from fulfilling our soul’s desires. A vilkalpa could be a habit, or a false story about yourself you hold onto, for example.
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says “you are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is so is your will, as your will is, so is your deed.” Your deepest driving desire controls your thoughts and actions. Before going on we need to make sure that our deepest driving desire supports what we want (our prapti). When it is not, then that is the basis for internal resistance.
We can identify what we want, but until we also identify the aspects of our subconscious that are not serving our fulfillment, we are still working on a superficial level. Trying to manifest your sankalpa without identifying the vikalpas is analogous to carving a marble block into a statue with your toothbrush.
“It’s important to unearth any potential desires you are holding on to that are in conflict with your sankalpa.”–Rod Stryker
I love the analogy of the garden that Rod illustrates in this chapter. He explains that in oder to fulfill your desires, you must till the soil of your subconscious. That way all unwanted and in many cases deep rooted weeds (vikalpas) are discarded. Those weeds not only take up space and can strangle your crop (sankalpa), but they also take the nutrients from the soil that can be beneficial to your crops growth (sankalpa shakti).
What to do with this information?
- First of all we should acknowledge that our unconscious has more power than our consciousness (you may see this as you begin to uncover some vikalpas).
- Start to do the work to recognize the weeds or vikalpas we may have deep in the dark earth of our unconscious.
The Four Desires leads us though the vikalpa exercise to help us start recognizing those deep driving desires that are not sankalpas. The writing exercise asks us to write our own eulogy in the voice of someone who truly knows us. It may be a little daunting to imagine your life coming to an end. However, if you don’t unearth those weeds, the crop you planted will no longer grow, and as a result you will have nothing to nourish you.
The vikalpa exercise helped me to address something that I constantly have come back to in my life; “when something is no longer serving us, let it go.” We may not be aware of a habit that does not serve our fulfillment, because it is usually in the subconscious. However when we “see” it, or make it conscious, it is easier to begin the process of releasing it.
A yogic story illustrating the need to let go of things that don’t serve us is illustrated by the man who climbs atop his house to escape a raging flood. Even after the flood is over and the earth is dry, he stays on the roof. When is neighbors ask him why he is still on the roof, he replies “because I don’t want to drown in the flood.” As ridiculous as this man is, how many times have we “stayed on the roof” clinging to an idea, habit or thought construct that is no longer needed, long after the storm has passed? Solutions from the past can be limitations in the present.
This exercise is also beneficial to double check your dharma code. Note if your dharma code addresses unconscious resistance you’ve identified as your vikalpa. Make certain that it does.
My suggestion is that you set out a chunk of time to do it, make some tea, and get weeding!!!!
How was your experience of the vikalpa exercise? Please remember we are not sharing our vikalpas just the process of writing our own eulogy.
Learn more about Rod Stryker and ParaYoga at RodStryker.com
Read The Four Desires book review on Elephant Journal.
The Four Desires: YouTube talks with Rod Stryker
Read other discussions about The Four Desires
Instructions: How the book club works
Rod Stryker travels to the largest spiritual pilgrimage in history in 2013. I’ll be there. Will you?