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Psychology of Sentiment, Conscience and Spiritual Progress

by Swami Sivananda

S
entiment becomes a habit. It is more permanent, while an emotion is temporary. Sentiment is a thought occasioned by feeling. It is an exhibition of feeling as in literature or art. It is a thought expressed in words. It is the second division of the moral faculties.

A sentimental man is affectedly tender. He abounds in sentiments or reflections. He has an excess of sentiment or feeling. Sentiment is of two kinds viz., high and low. Sexual sentiment is a low sentiment. Aesthetics is sentiment of the sublime and the beautiful. A sentimental man who is swayed by low sentiments, who is easily upset by low sentiments, is ever perturbed and restless. But a man of sublime sentiments, who has kept his low sentiments under control, is peaceful and advances in the spiritual path. A man of sublime sentiment is very sympathetic and kind. He is easily moved when he looks at the sufferings of others. Control low sentiments, cultivate high, sublime sentiments.

Conscience is a moral faculty. It is a delicate instrument or sense that tells you then and there what is right and what is wrong. It is the inner voice without sound, that shows you the path of virtue and godliness. It raises the voice of protest, whenever anything is thought of or done, contrary to the interest of his Master (Atman). He is an ambassador in the durbar of King, Atman. He is an advocate of judge, Atman. Through misuse it becomes blunt. Through abuse or misuse it is even destroyed. Through wickedness it becomes perverted. Untiring falsehood and taking bribes destroy the conscience altogether. A pure, clean conscience helps the aspirant, to reach the goal quickly. Therefore cultivate a clean and pure conscience, by adhering to truth and Dharma. Keep the conscience bright, sharp and delicate. Pin-pricks in the heart, shame and depression indicate that you have done something against conscience.

Saints and Yogins will never think that they have controlled the mind. Only the deluded Sadhaka imagines that he has controlled the mind, and gets a terrible downfall. It is the very nature of life, mind and Prakriti, to be constantly in motion. When there is the idea in the mind that the Highest Goal is yet to be achieved, you will always move towards it. If you imagine that you have gone to the top, you will anyhow have to move, and that movement will be downward: you will have a downfall. Aspire for higher and higher realisation till the breath ceases in the nostril.


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