Titiksha is the fourth sub-qualification of Discipline. Titiksha can be defined as endurance or forbearance to withstand all forms of challenges in life.
In this sub-module we will discuss:
1. What it Titiksha?
2. Why our likes and dislikes are subjective and relative?
3. Why we should accept situations without resistance?
4. How our minds label situations?
5. Why Titiksha is listed as a qualification?
6. The link between Titiksha and Viveka (discrimination).
What is Titiksha?
Titiksha is the endurance of heat and cold and other pairs of opposites.
In engineering, there is an endurance test that measures the extent to which a metal is able to endure stresses and strains. A metal may endure heat well, but break down when it is subjected to cold temperatures.
Another metal may endure cold temperatures well, but break down when it is subjected to heat. We consider a metal acceptable only when it endures certain variations of both heat and cold.
Similarly, our ability to withstand both ups and downs in life is called endurance. We need to cultivate the ability or strength to endure stresses and strains so that we don’t get upset or distressed by little changes that happen around us.
Life Consists Of Pairs Of Opposites
Similarly, the very same person who is agreeable now can become disagreeable later. The very thing that I love right now can become an object of my hate. A thing that gives me joy now can also give me pain later.
Such is life; everything has the potential of giving pleasure and also pain.
Our Likes And Dislikes Are Subjective And Relative
What appears beautiful to one person may appear ugly to someone else. What is conducive to one person may seem just the opposite to someone else.
What is agreeable to someone may be disagreeable to another. Not only that, but what is agreeable to me at a certain time and situation, may be disagreeable to me at another time and in another situation.
The cup of coffee that I love at six o’clock in the morning may not necessarily be an object of love at two o’clock at night when I am fast asleep and someone wakes me up to offer it.
We should understand that our likes and dislikes, and our ideas of agreeable and disagreeable, are relative.
A thing is agreeable with reference to a particular time, place, and condition. At another time, place, or condition, that very thing, which is now an object of love or agreeability, can just as easily become an object of aversion. This is the nature of creation.
If there were consistency, life would be easier and predictable. Nothing in life is predictable; particularly ourselves. When I go to sleep at night, there is no way for me to say how I will feel when I wake up in the morning. I cannot even say how I will feel five minutes later.
Things are unpredictable, the human mind is unpredictable, and life is unpredictable. And even if life were not unpredictable, the way I respond to life is always unpredictable.
Endurance Is Needed For Changing Situations In Life
As long as situations are pleasant, no one has to endure them. Pain is a fact of life and, therefore, we have to learn to accept it.
If an individual is constantly subjected to happiness and pleasure, he will get used to that. If an individual is constantly subjected to pain, perhaps he or she will get used to it as well.
In countries where there is much poverty and suffering, people carry on with life because they get used to it. When we live in a given situation we get used to that. If it is cold year-round, it is fine. But the problem arises when it is cold and, later, it is warm. Once we get used to the comfort of heat, it becomes difficult to bear the cold.
Similarly, in life, we are constantly subjected to opposing situations and there is no consistency or predictability in these situations. This is the nature of life and we cannot get away from this fact.
Titiksha Is Acceptance Of Situations Without Resistance
Objectivity to all pains without any anxiety, complaint, or any attempt of revenge is called Titiksha.
The bearing or endurance of all hardships, physical or emotional, without resistance is Titiksha. We usually resist situations.
We cannot accept situations as they are; we always want things according to our preferences. We are so busy making things agreeable that there is no time to appreciate life as it is.
To retaliate to every situation so that it becomes agreeable is not a good habit. We should develop the ability to suffer a little bit, to endure.
Even in an air-conditioned room, there may be some people who feel it is too cold and some others who may feel it is too warm. There can never be a perfect situation or what we call an agreeable situation and we have to accept this fact of life.
There cannot be people who are totally agreeable to us. We may also encounter agreeable and disagreeable behaviour from the same person on different occasions.
We always want to change everything around us so that everything is agreeable to us. I change things around to suit my tastes, but my own fancy changes and I don’t like the changed circumstances.
I may like Spanish furniture today, but six months later, I may fancy Mediterranean furniture instead. The mind is fanciful. It will dislike later what it likes now.
Our Minds Label Situations
I should neither swell nor shrink. In fact, situations are neither agreeable nor disagreeable. They are what they are; the world is what it is, and people are what they are.
It is the fanciful mind that brands them as agreeable or disagreeable. The happiness that I feel when I meet with something agreeable is a reaction. The sadness or unhappiness that I feel when I meet with something disagreeable is also a reaction.
Generally speaking, our state of mind is governed not by us, but by situations, people etc. When someone smiles at me or speaks to me nicely, I am happy. When someone does not smile at me or does not speak to me, I am unhappy.
We have to understand that it is our own minds that determines that a given situation is unpleasant. It is my own mind that labels a given thing as honour or dishonour, pleasant or unpleasant, and happiness or unhappiness.
All of these are simply fancies of the mind and we should not be influenced by them. In the world, there is no honour or dishonour and nothing agreeable or disagreeable. The world is what it is.
Titiksha Is Equanimity Of Mind In All Situations
We cannot change the nature of things, people or situations; we can only change ourselves.
Knowing this, we realize that everything is created by the Self (technically, Isvara.. see Module 7.6) and that the Self presents different situations before us.
We look at them with the understanding that if the Self has given an unpleasant situation, there must be a purpose behind it. We accept it, learn from the experience, and shake it off.
An ability to shake off unpleasant things is Titiksha.
We should not be so sensitive that a little frown on someone’s face or one offending statement can bother us for a week or a month.
Sensitivity is fine. It is nice to be sensitive to the feelings of others or the beauty of life. But if we are prone to getting hurt for small things, it is a symptom of instability and a lack of endurance, not sensitivity.
We want to maintain a poise of mind in all situations.
Titiksha Is Both Internal And External
But Titiksha is not merely suffering without resistance. If I put up with it outwardly, but resist it inwardly, it is not Titiksha. Titiksha means endurance or forbearance, not suffering; rather, it is the ability to put up with the unpleasant without suffering internally.
If one is able to improve the situation, one should go ahead and do it. Sometimes, we can do something about a situation. However, there are many things over which we have no control.
It is necessary to develop Titiksha so as not to get perturbed in unpleasant situations.
Why Is Titiksha Listed As A Qualification?
What is the relevance of Titiksha in the context of the pursuit of Self-Knowledge?
While pursuing Self-Knowledge, we want a mind that enjoys poise, objectivity, or equanimity. A so-called “sensitive” mind that loses its balance and poise in every little situation is going to be unable to apply itself to the study or to contemplation of Vedanta.
Therefore, endurance, rather than a tendency to resist or retaliate, is required. If somebody tells me something, I need not retaliate.
Some people are concerned that by not retaliating they will be taken for granted. However, that is not the case.
If you don’t retaliate, nothing will happen to you.
There is a famous story of a snake that came as a disciple before a saint in India. The saint advised the snake to practice non-violence by not biting, hurting, or killing anybody.
The snake returned to the wise man in three days and said, “I don’t retaliate at all. But people keep throwing stones at me and bothering me.”
Then the saint said, “I told you that you should not bite anybody, but that does not mean you should not pretend as though you are about to hurt or bite someone, particularly when they are bothering you.”
The saint meant that the snake should not retaliate from within.
If you have to take a stand and do certain things in your day-to-day life, you may do that; internally, however, there should not be a spirit of retaliation.
You may be pragmatic, but not aggressive or retaliative. The aggression and retaliation that we are brought up to show in modern life are opposed to the very thing that we are seeking.
The Self is not aggressive and it does not retaliate. The Self abides equally everywhere. It imparts existence and awareness to everybody equally, whether tiger or lamb. There is no discrimination at all.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
I (Self) am the same in all beings. There is no one I dislike nor do I have a favourite.
Titiksha Is Discrimination
For the unreal (Mithya), there is never any being. For the real, there is never any non-being. The ultimate truth of both of these is seen by the knowers of the truth.
There are no such things as heat and cold, pleasure and pain, and honour and dishonour; they are all unreal (Mithya). The situations created by the world are not real and, therefore, the resulting reactions are also not real.
We should focus our mind upon the reality and become free from the influence that the unreal things create in us. This is difficult, but it is the final level of Titiksha.
It is the attitude that it does not matter whether something is agreeable or disagreeable; both are unreal. When one is able to dismiss all situations through Viveka (discrimination), he or she displays Titiksha.
The topic of Mithya will be discussed in sub-module 7.3.
Titiksha is not an easy value to cultivate or follow, but is essential for our growth. We have to work on our ability to endure without outward or inward resistance.
|Titiksha is defined as endurance or forbearance to face all challenges in life. Titiksha does not mean suffering without resistance, it means forbearance, the ability to put up with unpleasant things without suffering internally.
|Everything in life has the potential to manifest in an opposite manner. The person who is agreeable now can become disagreeable later. The thing that gives me joy can give me pain later.
|Our likes and dislikes are subjective and relative. What is beautiful to one person may be ugly to another. What is agreeable to me at a certain time and situation, may be disagreeable at another time and situation.
|The nature of life is unpredictability and we have to accept this fact. We have to learn to accept situations which cannot be changed. Titiksha is acceptance of situations without resistance.
|Whether a thing is agreeable or disagreeable is not an objective fact but a subjective perception of our mind. It is our mind that labels people and situations as agreeable or disagreeable.
|Titiksha is listed as a qualification because a mentally strong mind, which can maintain its equanimity in the changing situations of life, is conducive for Vedantic study and contemplation.
|The final level of Titiksha is realizing that all situations created by the world are unreal (Mithya). By focusing our mind on the reality (the Self), we can become free from the influence the unreal things create in us. This is Viveka or discrimination.