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Obstinacy

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

26 October 2021

A person sticks to his position; he does not change it. He says, “I want this to be done like this only.” Or, “I want to go to a certain place.” In his decision to do or in his decision to go, he is not able to come to any terms. The flexibility is not there. Rigidity overtakes him. Any such rigid note associated with any aspect of behaviour or character goes by the name obstinacy.

Harih Om Tat Sat.

Obstinacy is a common trait exhibited by people. Animals do not appear to be having this quality. At times, when they are in distress they may perhaps become obstinate. I do not know much about the animal psychology. But here we are concerned with human behaviour – how obstinacy affects the character and behaviour of a human being.

When do we say that a person is obstinate? What does an obstinate person do, and how does he behave? How to identify whether you have an obstinate nature or not?

See, a person sticks to his position; he does not change it. He says, “I want this to be done like this only.” Or, “I want to go to a certain place.” In his decision to do or in his decision to go, he is not able to come to any terms. The flexibility is not there. Rigidity overtakes him. Any such rigid note associated with any aspect of behaviour or character goes by the name obstinacy.

What I want to say is that obstinacy is dangerous. It is even sinful. Whenever people are obstinate they have been punished immensely. We should generally have a flexible mind. We should have a mind that is prepared to accept and assimilate any situation. Suppose a person is sick and he says, “I will not go to the hospital. I will not like to take this type of treatment or that type of treatment and it is this and it is that.” This kind of attitude is another example of obstinacy.

Sometimes, obstinacy can be in a subtler form. It can even be in the sphere of intelligence. Something strikes the intelligence and the person wrongly understands that to be right. Then he holds on to it adamantly. Any other point of view he will not accept. Some may express their obstinacy verbally while some may not express it, but inwardly the feelings may be the same. Whether he expresses his feelings or not, his inability to listen to others’ point of view, his failure to make adjustments or his refusal to correct himself is indeed a subtle form of obstinacy – no less dangerous than the other forms.

One may become obstinate when faced with certain events or accidents in life. Here too one’s reaction may become rigid. Suppose a person’s wife has died and he says, “I cannot accept her death! I cannot reconcile with her departure!” and goes on lamenting, magnifying the whole thing, clinging to the unfortunate incident. Then it becomes another form of obstinacy. The right attitude will be, “My most beloved wife has died. This should not have happened, but death has been a fact. What shall I do? Either I should die along with her or I should continue to live. In living, I have to reconcile with her departure.” Then his attitude becomes proper and even beneficial.

Flexibility of the mind, assimilation of the external events and reconciliation with whatever comes from persons, places and events – these are the qualities that relieve you of afflictions.

Any obstinate note is a killing factor! It takes away peace; it takes away the blessedness; it takes away health; it destroys inner wealth; it destroys the person.

Kind-heartedness, contentment, compassion, generosity, sacrifice etc. elevate and expand your personality. Pride, ostentation, intolerance, obstinacy on the other hand would make the mind constricted and heavy. The aim of spiritual life is to make the mind free of trouble or torment.

Sri Krishna tells Uddhava the story of a crane. A crane was flying with a piece of meat in its beak. Finding a large piece of flesh in its beak many other cranes swarmed around it and they started attacking it, wanting to seize a share of the flesh. The crane concluded that the flesh is the cause of its trouble and torment. It dropped the flesh. Immediately, all the attackers also followed the flesh falling to the earth, leaving the crane alone. Relieved of all torment and fear, the crane went up flying high in the sky, happily and freely.

If anything causes torment in your mind, the minimum that you have to do is to drop it from your mind, keep it away from you. Let it be anything. It may be born out of attachment or concern. Let it be this or that. Even if your children bring you trouble, you can say very nicely, “You are my child. My sense of responsibility makes me suffer. Hereafter, my dear son, if you don’t listen to what I say, I am not going to suffer on this account. Be prepared for your own consequence. I wish you well.” Unless the parental heart strives to foster this attitude, there will be no redress for the distress.

So, look for obstinacy in your mind – either gross or subtle. In whichever form it is there, it will never allow you to be peaceful. Remember, the best is to harmonize oneself with whatever comes. God himself accords with the heterogeneous world, where so much of corruption, evil and treachery are going on. In spite of it, God does not lose heart. He accepts everything. In the same manner you too should not have any grudge, any adverse memory about anything or anybody in the world. Come what may. This should be your attitude.

Harih Om Tat Sat

– From Vicharasethu-Feb 2002

“Look for obstinacy in your mind – either gross or subtle. In whichever form it is there, it will never allow you to be peaceful. Remember, the best is to harmonize oneself with whatever comes.”

“Sometimes, obstinacy can be in a subtler form. It can even be in the sphere of intelligence. Something strikes the intelligence and the person wrongly understands that to be right. Then he holds on to it adamantly. Any other point of view he will not accept.”

“Kind-heartedness, contentment, compassion, generosity, sacrifice etc. elevate and expand your personality. Pride, ostentation, intolerance, obstinacy on the other hand would make the mind constricted and heavy. The aim of spiritual life is to make the mind free of trouble or torment.”

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