Subjective or objective? I was re-listening to one of Br. Siddhartha Krishna’s (my teacher) Upanishad classes as taught at the Omkarananda Patanjala Yoga Kendra in Rishikesh and, in this particular class, the subject of subjectivity and objectivity came up. Listening to the class for the second time, it got me thinking about this topic because if the difference between subjective and objective is not fully understood, then lack of vairagya will inevitably be the result.
So what exactly does it mean to be objective? I thought about this for a while and if we want to avoid giving examples, which could further confuse us, I think that objectivity has certain simple qualities. First of all, there is a ‘truth value’ to it. Therefore, if there is a truth value to it then if there is a disagreement, someone will be wrong. To establish this, there must be a method for determination, such as sight, sound, or touch. Example: Fire is hot, it will burn you. If someone disagrees, you can tell them, ‘touch the flame and you will see’. This is objective. It is not a matter of opinion (opinions are a waste of time…but that is for another post!)
If something is subjective, the total opposite will be true. There will be no one truth and people can disagree without being wrong. A subjective claim is a matter of preference.
I think everyone will agree that everything has an objective value to it.
Why is this important to us? Because, it is at the base of vairagya. We must try to be as objective as possible. If you give something more value than what it objectively has, you end up clinging to it.You give it a subjective importance that can only lead to attachment.
To begin to be more objective, we must start asking ourselves honestly how subjective we are, how opinionated we are, and then try to change our mindset. If there is anything, anyone, any place, or any situation that you think you cannot live without or without which you could never be truly joyful and at peace, you are giving that thing, person, place, or situation subjective value which eventually will lead to disappointment and misery. This is unavoidable. I think we have all experienced this many times over.
Vedanta teaches us to be as objective as possible. If we are not objective, we are inevitably holding on to something. This clinging or longing fogs our minds and makes it impossible to discriminate; vairagya becomes impossible.
From what I have understood, vairagya doesn’t mean getting rid of everything and going to live in the forest. I believe Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita that tyaga is the best form of renunciation because one gives up the results of all activities, not the activities themselves, which is literally impossible if one is to survive. This must be assimilated into every pore of our being. Renounce the results.
So, it doesn’t matter if one owns things, it’s important that the things don’t own us. Being objective is fundamental.