Seeker: I’d like to know what arrogance is and how it blocks us.
Arrogance is an impulse or expression of ego that becomes a block in the nervous system to the free flow of consciousness. Actually any habit affects the nervous system, whether it is good or bad. Arrogance thickens the “me” expression of ego, which not only blocks the nervous system but also emboldens ego. Let’s assume for discussion’s sake that a certain nerve is two inches in diameter and ego is correspondingly one and a half inches in diameter. When arrogance comes into ego, it fills in the remaining space within that nerve, and the flow of consciousness is blocked.
Whenever the mind confronts a vice such as arrogance, it becomes identified or colored by it, so the personality becomes arrogance personified. What happens in the nervous system is that you become emotional and restless. Any vice or excitement will always make you restless; therefore, the stability of the nervous system is disturbed and your peace of mind is gone. As long as anyone is arrogant, he or she cannot be peaceful. Then that disturbance of mind becomes a block in itself.
The body complex has five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether or space. There are vices correlated with each element except ether. All are based upon ego but some embolden the ego, some weaken the ego, and some keep ego intact as it is. The fire element is the most predominant in us and responsible for much of our life force. When the fire element reduces, our vitality reduces. The enjoyments of life are dependent upon your fire element more than any other. Jealousy, competition and hostility are from the fire element; therefore they create quarrels and wars. Fiery vices are more dangerous because they consume your fire and leave you weaker afterwards. Therefore a proud person often becomes weak. Other vices, such as from the water element or earth element, do not embolden your ego.
An example of a water element vice is flirtation. It does not embolden the ego - it weakens it - but still a portion of your consciousness could travel through the nervous system. The stability of the nervous system depends upon the water element, so if your water element is weak, your vitality will also be weak. It will show up in ways such as nervous debility. Any vice is bad from the point of view that it weakens you. The nervous system has to be strong in order for your consciousness to flow freely. The yogis and sages in ages past explored why we should be virtuous, not only because this is a societal norm, but scientifically or physiologically. They found that vices weaken the body and the consciousness, and that virtues strengthen the body and consciousness. Therefore any identification with vices takes us further away from Pure Consciousness.
Is it helpful to identify certain urges as being one of these four elements in order to dissolve these blocks?
It is not necessary to know the technicalities or science. We should judge by how we feel; that is our best indicator. When I ask, “How do you feel?” or “How are you?” I am actually seeing where you are choking or blocking your consciousness. Any hesitation in your voice or frankness or boldness or truthfulness or fearfulness expresses when you speak. So how you feel is more important than knowing technicalities. It is for scholars and surgeons and yogis to know the technicalities. For a common man or a seeker it is not necessary.
When we have something come up that makes us feel uncomfortable, or like we are out of our center, do we need to consciously try to identify what it is, such as arrogance or flirtation or whatever?
That will help a lot. Ask yourself why it is happening. This is a must because otherwise you will find an easy way to escape, and that has to be discouraged. If needful, stay away from others; go into your room, close the door, but see yourself thoroughly. Face yourself when you find you are identified with arrogance or any other vice, just as you go to a doctor to find out why you are ill. Anyone can know the cause of identification, even if in your subconscious mind you are trying to escape or not see it. When someone says, “I don’t know the reason,” I say, “The fire is burning there, I’m seeing it and you’re not seeing it? If your house is on fire, you should be the first one to see it!
Take the example of anger. You may say, “I don’t know the cause,” and that can be genuine. In that case you need to consult with someone. But in ninety-nine percent of cases, you do not want to see the cause; you want to escape it. Then another block enters in: stubbornness. When you are told the cause and still you say, “I don’t know,” as if maybe someone else is to blame, that is stubbornness, which has to be transcended. Then if you hesitate, that is a third symptom. You are caught in a tight corner and even then you are too rigid to accept it. This is a fourth symptom. And if you cannot do anything about it, eventually tears begin, which is a fifth symptom. This is not surrender yet, just tears of defeatism. But if you go in the right direction, if you apologize and repent, your consciousness will be released. This is generally the process, though details differ for each one. Due to false identification our minds play this symptomatic game to find any way for ego to save itself. If you cannot find the cause, ask your Master. He or she will tell you. Then see it and accept it.
© 2009 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsang of Swami Amar Jyoti, The Science of Virtues and Vices (N-10). For further information on the recorded Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti, please see truthconsciousness.org.