The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit word sam which means complete or connected together and kara which means action, cause of doing a thing. Though samskaras suggest generalized patterns, they are in addition to individual’s impressions, ideas, or actions. Samksaras lead to conditioning of our mind. There are either good or positive samskaras and bad or negative samskaras. Our past experience and subtle impressions shape our samskaras. As long as we are alive, we continuously perform actions, but not all of them contribute to the formation of samskaras. Actions that we perform with full consciousness are the ones that make the most impression on our mind. In other words, it is the intention behind the action that gives power to an action. Repeating samskaras strengthen them, creating a groove that is difficult to resist. Each time the action is repeated, the impression becomes stronger. This is how a habit is formed. The stronger the habit, the less mastery we have over our mind when we try to execute an action that is contrary to our habit patterns. We all repetitively experience how our habit patterns subtly yet powerfully motivate our thoughts, speech, and actions.
Samskaras can be positive: remember what Swami Vivekananda did in reinforcing the message of spiritual unison and creating new consciousness amongst youth of India. Sindhutai Sapkal, affectionately known as the “Mother of Orphans”, is an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for her work in raising orphaned children in India. On the contrast you can see numerable criminals supplying weapons serial bomb blasts in Indian states, so called enlightened Gurus raping devotees.
Education makes an individual civilized, refined and cultured. For a civilized and socialized society, education is the only means. Its goal is to make an individual perfect. Every society gives importance to education because it is a remedy for all evils. It is the key to solve the various problems of life. Two samskaras are most important one is social consciousness (social conduct) and other is education (Vidya). It is therefore said that “Vidhyadanam sarva dhanath prdhanam” – amongst all the formational rituals and riches of life, education is the supreme. Education is more important because the other (samskara) does not come without it.
Another fact about samaskaras is that genes play a greater role in determining key personality traits like social skills and learning ability than the way we are brought up by our parents. We usually see that children are mirror image of their parents. We see doctor’s son/daughter wanting to be doctor, engineer’s child wanting to be engineer, similarly a robber’s son’s desire to rob others…… genetics are most influential on people’s sense of self-control and also affect their social and learning abilities and their sense of purpose.
Addiction also grow out of smaskaras: it is a condition that results when a person absorbs a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity such as gambling, gossiping, sex, fighting that gives him/her pleasure. In such people, the continuation becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. Therefore being aware of what samskaras our mind adopts becomes vital.
When our habit patterns become so ingrained that they alter our body chemistry, it is called “addiction.” At this stage we no longer remember when or how this process started. And without introspection or retentive power we fail to discover the realm of the mind where these samskaras are stored. When our mental world is totally under the influence of these powerful impressions they become the determining factors of our personality, and due to these samskaras we perceive this world in our habitual ways.
The best part of samskaras is that when we get stuck in a rut, we can break free from them. We can create healthier patterns in our mind through yoga, through meditation, which examine the emotional realm and they can be tremendously effective in the battling against negative samskaras. The bad samskaras and vasanas are our own creation. If we commit ourselves to inertia and make no effort to discover an alternative, then these subtle impressions of our past deeds will have effect the force of destiny. Those who lack self-trust and self-confidence, destiny cannot be altered.
Good deeds create positive samskaras, bad deeds create negative ones. In the long journey of life, we perform all kinds of actions: right and wrong, good and bad. Our mind is a store of positive and negative samskaras, and it is up to us whether or not we exercise our willpower and determination to strengthen or eliminate a particular group of them.
Negative samskaras can be eradicated so that they don’t resurface. Life is a process of constant activities; our positive and negative samskaras and their influence on our life are in constant flux. The tragedy is that we don’t realize that our positive samskaras result in good fortune, health, wealth, and happiness. Similarly, intoxication of any kind only abuses our body, mind, and senses. We forget that someday this wheel of fortune will rotate downward and we will need immense strength and stamina to push it upward again. Sadly, we think of altering our destiny only when we suffer misfortunes. However, it’s never too late to make a good beginning. When we get depressed deeply, we tend to lose hope. But, deep inside us, the will to live and the desire to find some meaning in life never end.
When your endeavor is to erase the negative traits, simply try to compose yourself. With a calm and tranquil mind, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Then decide whether at this stage you should place greater emphasis on eliminating your negative samskaras or strengthening the positive ones. Don’t have very high expectations initially, give yourself ample time and you will see the result.