Who are we, really? As human beings, we are a mystery to ourselves - a jigsaw puzzle of biology, ideas, concepts and illusions. Then, there is this intangible, invisible part of our nature, which we call by many names - spirit, intuition, soul, divine spark etc. At some point, we all ask ourselves: "What is human nature? Are we inherently good or evil?"
Countless philosophers have answered this question, but most of those answers have not found much traction in real life. When it comes down to it, we have to find our own response, one that allows us to live with ourselves. We have an inherent need for life to make sense. Sooner or later we settle on an idea that we are comfortable with, so we can get on with the business of living.
Our reality is defined by our culture, religion, our social networks etc. Based on this, we develop a set of concepts and beliefs that determine what we consider as "good" and "bad". Being good is usually rewarded, and bad behaviour is punished. Therefore, we strive towards what is labelled as good and begin to fear whatever is considered flawed. This is how we develop a shadow, a part of our psyche that we are barely aware of. It contains all the aspects of our mind we have rejected. Yet, we are driven by those rejected parts of ourselves even if we are not conscious of it.
In the context of Naad Yoga, we actively work with the shadow side of human nature. I always encourage my students to step away from labels and judgements, because to condemn or go to war with yourself doesn't help. Denial invites unhealthy coping mechanisms such as blaming others and an "us versus them" mentality. Worst of all- denial blinds you to reality and leaves you open to manipulation. If you don't know what drives your decisions, you have no control over the outcome. Therefore, I am introducing you today to the concept of the five drivers, another pillar of Sound Alchemy.
The forces we call the five drivers are known as the five enemies in other Schools and considered as vices or cardinal sins. They are often associated with extreme negativity and the corruption of the mind. Why is that? The answer is easy: whenever these five drivers overpower the mind, life often turns into a path of devastation. Therefore, many schools of yoga and the world's religions ask humanity to completely renounce or abandon them.
According to Nankian philosophy, these five drivers of human consciousness are considered neither good nor bad. Attachment to worldly desires can bring pain and suffering, the attachment to spiritual ideals can bring peace and contentment in life. Where intense anger can destroy relationships like fire burns wood, the same anger can be used as fuel to achieve a positive goal. Uncontrolled lust can ruin a couple's marriage, the same lust can bring about new life and the blessed moments attached to it.
By understanding these drivers' nature, a person can use their energies to compose a beautiful life full of happiness and joy. Realising how much influence the five drivers have on your day to day life, it is intriguing to learn how to control and manage them. This gives you the freedom to choose and create your reality.
Let's take a closer look at one of the drivers:
Anger or Krodh is a form of life force, an energy that keeps us moving. Without anger, life would not be possible because no action would be taken. Think about the focused energy of a falcon hunting and catching a rabbit - the hunt is crucial for the falcon's survival, and there is an intense drive behind his actions. Adrenalin, instinct, raw power - all of this is contained in the hunting falcon, but he harbours no animosity towards its prey. Anger as a driver encompasses a lot more than what is commonly associated with the word "anger". Only when this driver is out of balance does it manifest as aggression. The driver's force supplies us with the energy that can manifest as willpower, excitement, determination, ambition, physical strength, endurance, perseverance, authority, leadership, focus, charisma, and many more.
Imagine that you are getting by using a taxi and get into the backseat. The taxi driver asks you where you want to go, but you don't pay any attention at all and say: "Just drive!". You could end up anywhere, and you would most likely be presented with an expensive fare to pay at the end of your journey. You could hardly blame the taxi driver for the outcome since you did not provide any instructions, and paid no attention. In the same way, you can't blame the drivers within your psyche for how your life plays out. So, let's get out of the backseat of life!
In my last blog post, I talked about emotional signatures and the importance of self-awareness. This time I would like you to delve a little deeper, and pay notice to what drives your actions, what animates your thoughts and feelings. Turn your focus inwards and look towards the shadowy places: the thoughts and feelings you usually avoid, the dreams you have given up on, and the desires you disowned. You might fear to face certain truths about yourself, but the shadow also hides talents and strengths you simply never noticed. The shadow of your psyche can be a treasure-trove of healing, personal growth and untapped potential. The key to unlocking this potential is simple: approach yourself with the kindness and patience you would show a shy animal. Don't judge, don't be harsh and most importantly, don't assign evil intent where there is only a struggle for survival.
Let's take an even closer look at the driver Krodh and how we can use it. Imagine a situation where you feel fearful and helpless, for example, when your car breaks down at night on a deserted highway. The fear of the dark emptiness surrounding you is paralysing, and you remain sitting in the car, unable to move. At the same time, you know that you need to get out and walk to the next emergency telephone to call for help. Fear means that you don't have enough access to the energy of Krodh. If you can tap into the driver anger in a moment such as this, you might experience a rush of adrenaline, a sudden sense of wild determination, or feelings of confidence and strength. Aggression lies at the other end of the spectrum, and if you catch yourself wanting to break things or shouting at your co-workers when something goes wrong, it means that you rely too much on Krodh to keep you going. It is quite common for people to use anger to fuel them when they need to rest or feel mentally and emotionally exhausted. Using anger in this way eventually turns against you. It causes your body to exhaust itself, with no concern for long-term consequences.
The five drivers are a fundamental part of our lives, and we can guide their energy into any kind of activity or action. However, I have found that sound, especially the human voice, is the best channel to work with these energies. You can release excess amounts of anger while singing or use singing as a way to draw out and activate this driver if it has been suppressed and diminished by lack of use. And using anger while singing doesn't mean that your voice becomes shrill, loud or out of tune. You can sing Raag Suhee with anger as its primary driver, and the result will be magnificent. Raag Suhee is the Raag of unconditional, divine love, a love that tears down the illusion of separation and asks you to let the world into your heart. You probably think that anger would be a strange choice for this Raag, right? But Krodh provides the strength and courage to fully open your heart and embrace life without reservation. It fuels the passion and ecstasy brought about by unconditional love because this kind of love is fierce and burns hot - and anger is the perfect fuel for that kind of flame.
In my next blog, I will introduce you to yet another driver, so make sure to stay tuned. But for now, I invite you to take a closer look at how you live your life. Does anger play a prominent role, or have you relegated it to the background? Are you comfortable around this driver, or do you fear its power? Approach it with a sense of curiosity and with an open mind - you might be surprised how bright this shadow of yours actually is!