The Homa Therapy in-residence drug/alcohol de-addiction program.

Teachers Guide

Class 8: TAPA. The Process of Character Building Through Discipline.

The practice of serving and then watching with a smile while others eat our favorite food is certainly behavior modification for us addicts. We are accustomed to taking what we want, how we want it and when we want it. So perhaps you can see that focusing on some disciplines other than the fact that we are clean and sober can help us to bring the body and mind under the control of the will. We start to break down the resistance of the body and mind to what we really want.

All we really want is what?? -- happiness, peace, maybe even bliss. There is no reason why we should be denied this human right. Others have it, but if you take a closer look at the others who have it they are not our drug taking buddies or alcoholic friends. They are, in fact, just the opposite. How can one be happy if he must depend on chemical substance to sustain himself? How can one be happy if he constantly takes and never gives? How can he be happy when he is out of control.

Tapa is self discipline voluntarily imposed by one's self with total cooperation of the mind and intellect.

The addictive person finds self-discipline an impossible concept. We either care so little about ourselves that we feel incapable of self-discipline or at best, try and fail to give up the object of our obsession due to self-sabotage. Addicts will try any means necessary to convince others that they are unable to be reformed, a hopeless case, to be pitied and worthless -- let's have another drink. That is the "mind talking". We cannot fall into the trap of feeling sorry for the addict. Recovery has to be top priority for the addict. They say in AA,

"It's not for those who need it. Only for those who want it."

Tapa connotes exercises undertaken with a view to purifying the body, controlling the sense organs and strengthening will power. Tapa is an effort to exert control over Prana (life force). If we accomplish this it establishes us in a state of fearlessness. By the practice of Tapa, we bear with fortitude unpleasant situations in life and experience without infatuation the pleasant ones. Tapa disciplines our actions and the attitudes of the mind are unburdened.

There are several areas of Tapa that we can focus on which will accelerate our journey toward freedom from the bondage of drugs/alcohol. Anger, greed, attachment, pride, passion and envy are the mind traps that give us the most trouble. Once we try to get rid of them, we see that these habits are old friends. They are so much a part of us. We think, `If I get rid of them what will become of me?' It is like the story of a journalist who went to interview a man who had lived to be 100 years old. The journalist asked him, `Do you smoke?' The man said, `No.' `Do you drink?' `No.' `Do you gamble?' 'No.' `Do you stay out late at night?' `No.' `Then what have you been doing all these hundred years?!' So let us say that at least we must attempt to reduce the trouble from these mind traps. This is Tapa. It gives us strength and confidence. When the mind traps are removed automatically the mind becomes full of love.

On the day we are born in human frame we are given the gift of free will. If man were merely a puppet in the hands of destiny, then I would not waste your time or mine by talking about how to be happy. We have free will to change our habits. We are given the inherent ability to choose between right and wrong, and positive and negative. The capacity to do this varies from person to person. More indulgence in habits which drain mind energy lessens the ability to use free will in the proper direction.

The right use of free will is the key. By proper use of our free will we can override pangs of destiny which are yet to be.

We must learn to do everything with a smile. When we begin our journey on the spiritual path it is no occasion for a long face. Some of us may have more material things than others, but all of us can smile. By smiling we can actually become happy. Smiling is a positive action and it serves as a catalyst to the mind for more positive action and attention. We can see the wonderful effect it has on the other person.

This mind training is not a separate practice, but is something which goes on from moment to moment. It is being practiced by families on every continent. When we take half a step it soon becomes second nature. Then automatically we are given the strength to take the next step.

We need to take another look at the specific areas that cause us most of our problems such as: anger -- lets say someone abuses you or says something bad about you or you think he has said something bad about you and you get angry. Now look what happens when you get angry. Your blood pressure goes up and your breathing becomes fast. The metabolism is affected; the endocrine system is affected. This puts a strain on the nervous system and the mind is disturbed. What do you gain by getting angry? You hurt yourself and in no way do you improve the person who you think is the cause of your trouble. The intellect thus tells us that one should not get angry. However, mind is in certain habits and it needs to be trained to get out of those habits. This is Tapa. Practice of Agnihotra helps a good deal in this effort.

Most misunderstandings and quarrels arise because we cannot control our tongue; hence, we may start practicing a few things. The list is not exhaustive but merely illustrative.

Do not show your importance while you speak. [Teacher should site examples of how information is presented without "I-ness".]
Do not use harsh or spiteful language. Truth can be told in a palatable manner. [Learn to say how you feel instead of making an attack.]
By describing others faults you wish to show superiority. Avoid this. With speech much energy is consumed. We should learn to conserve it.
If someone speaks ill about another person in his absence, treat him as an uninvited guest.
Get rid of the habit of blaming others when things do not come about the way you wish them to be.
Never speak ill of others. You create negative thought forms which impinge upon you and weaken the mental fibre.
Do not get into a holier-than-thou attitude.


A negative thought, word or action creates a groove in the mind and your future thought, word or deed tends to flow in a similar pattern. This puts a great burden on the mind.

The moment we are disturbed we feel we must get away from this state of mind and be happy. Happiness should be a natural state of the mind. A method to achieve this state is Tapa.

From the cradle to the grave vanity takes a heavy toll of mind energy. Due to vanity we are unable to see the other man's point of view. Opinion is ultimately an end product of intellect expressing itself as an attitude of the mind. There can be several attitudes out of which ours may be only one. Religious dogmatism is the worst kind of vanity which has taken a heavy toll of the human race. The swollen ego struts about the stage of life and we become miserable at every point of friction.

Vanity breeds smugness and intolerance. Our errors come disguised as righteousness due to vanity. So-called self-righteousness is also the manifestation of ego. Vanity is the breeding reactor where fanaticism, orthodoxy, dogma and cultism thrive. Bigotry never admits mistakes and invents long-winded defense for its misdeeds. Anger and vanity thrive upon each other. Therefore practice the following:

Do not hanker after self recognition.
Do not show off your possessions or your academic accoutrements.
Avoid talking about yourself. Listen more. Talk less. We have two ears but only one tongue.
In conversation, avoid dogmatic self assertions.
Be humble. Humility is the hallmark of a person on the Divine Path.
Do not try to pose as what you are not. Attempt to become as you wish others to see you.

Envy is grudging desire or discontent at someone else's success. Envy coexists with prejudiced hostility or animosity. Envy blinds us to our own blessings. Envy clouds the intellect and disfigures the mind. Envy leads us off the track of discrimination between right and wrong. To overcome envy learn to be happy at the success of others.

Passion haunts all humanity and keeps people in a tantalizing state. It dangles the carrot of pleasant sensations before us and makes us labor like the proverbial donkey. When the sap is squeezed we are fit for the trash can.

Greed chains us down to the objects of phenomena, draining a11 our energy over trivial things. The same energy needs to be harnessed to higher achievements. Initially, a person starts piling up material things as a means for comfortable living. Later on he gets dragged into the habit of piling up things for their own sake. People try to adopt devious ways to acquire wealth not realizing that they have to reap as they sow. Just think for a moment what all this is for. It only hardens the chain of desires around us and chokes us further.

Tapa is training the mind. This training could be considered from various aspects, e.g.:

Removal of tension on the mind which comes due to bodily causes. Practice of Yoga Asanas (physical postures) is helpful in this regard.
Removal of tension on the mind which comes about due to disharmonious flow of Prana (Life energy) through the nervous system. Pranayama (Yoga rhythmic breathing) helps eliminate this tension. Yoga Asanas and Pranayama lead to good health and better performance ability.
Removal of tension on the mind which comes due to wrong habit patterns.

You like to eat your favorite food because it grants you moments of happiness. You like to read a novel, watch T.V., shoot pool or go shopping because it grants you moments of happiness. However, you soon get tired of these external stimulants. Their capacity to make you happy becomes marginal. Later on, sometimes, they even tend to play on your nerves. By practice of Tapa you realize that no external stimulants are necessary and you can be happy all the time when the Light within shines.

Tapa needs to be undertaken with the cooperation of the intellect. The methods have to be within the reach of the average person. Homa Therapy takes into consideration all the above aspects of the psychosomatic man and teaches new biopsychological habit patterns which act as reinforcers to Tapa.

"Tapa purifies the body and the mind and enables us to notice subtler aspects of behavior. It strengthens our perception and improves the evaluation of that perception."

"This results in better action."