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Mind - Its Forms, Its Disciplines and Its Subdual

by Swami Sivananda

I. MIND AS THE TREE OF SAMSARA

The universe is nothing but a mode of mind. The mind manifests itself as the external world. Time is but a mode of mind. This mischievous mind dances in the theatre of this universe to the music of the organs. The mind constitutes the root of the tree of Samsara or Ajnana which ramifies in all directions with branches full of flowers, tendrils, fruits, etc.

All that you are now, is the result of what you have thought. You build your own future by the thoughts you think. Entertain divine thoughts. You will attain God-realisation. Conquest of mind means conquest of the world. You may overcome a thousand men in battle, but he who conquers his mind is the greatest victor. Mind-control is the indispensable discipline for those who seek to obtain the knowledge of Atman or the Supreme Self. Illusion is the vibration (Vritti) of mind under an imagination which makes one thing appear as another thing. Mind is the cause for the appearance of Aham - I and Idam - this. One cannot attain everlasting peace without the extinction of mind (Manonasa).

The seed of Ajnana or ignorance is no other than the sprout of Sankalpa or thought. With the checking of all thoughts, your mind will perish. Do not for a moment think of the universe. Do not dream of walking in the path of Sankalpa or thought. Cut asunder the bond of desires through the destruction of Sankalpa (thought, imagination).

II. THE HIGHER MIND

If your mind is free from cravings, desires and attachment, you will not be born again. You will attain freedom and perfection. Mind is an instrument of the Self. If it is disciplined, stilled and purified, it is your useful servant, but if it is left unbridled and undisciplined, it brings misery and sorrow.

If you allow your lower mind to get pampered with earthly things, then true Jnana (wisdom) will recede to a great distance from you. So long as there is the centering of affection in this body which is not Atman and the mistaken identification of it with Atman, so long will the mind grow fatter and fatter in its association with the Samsara of wife, children, etc. A stainless mind without attractions, though engaged in worldly acts, will never be bound thereby. A mind with attractions, though engaged in innumerable Tapas, will ever be in bondage. Mind coloured by desire drives man to search for personal satisfaction. Man is the creature of thought. Whatever he thinks, that he becomes. As the mind itself, which thinks, feels and wills, is a modification of ignorance, it cannot know Brahman or the Absolute. Cogitation, emotion and volition are the three aspects of the human mind. Which the mind. Restrain it.

Have a well-directed mind, which confers very great benefits. Make straight the mind. Restrain the mind. A subjugated mind is conducive to happiness. Focus the entire mind at its source. The source of mind is Atman. The mind will be absorbed in the Atman. The Atman alone will shine in all its splendour. The regular practice of Japa with Bhava and concentration will ultimately remove all fickleness of mind and make it steady and calm. Carry on the Abhyasa or Yoga practice continuously. It is Abhyasa that overcomes all Vikshepa or mental oscillation and steadies the mind. The mind may run about a little in the beginning due to previous habit but the repetition of the divine Name is the magic wand to subdue the turbulent and irregular mind. He who has controlled the mind is awake in that which is night to all beings. When the mind is serene, the body also becomes healthy. Let the outward and inward man be at one. He who has controlled his mind and subdued the senses is the greatest hero. Be steadfast; you will control the mind. Wake up. O Man! Conquer your mind and then conquer the entire universe with your spirituality and divine force. A mind, devoid of pains, which has developed an equal vision over all, through quiescence, will attain Para Brahman or the Eternal which is the plenum of complete bliss. This is Moksha.

III. EGO AS THE FUNDAMENTAL MODE OF MIND

The fundamental mode of the mind is Ahankara or ego. It manifests as the self-arrogating little - I. Egoism is the most inveterate and incurable disease. But there is one sovereign specific to cure this disease. It is wisdom of Atman or the Soul. The whole life of man is centred in the idea of Self. Minus the Self the world is nil. There is then no experience whatsoever. All your relative experiences in this world turn on the pivot of the ego. Without the - I there is no experience, no life in this world. The self is an experiencing unit which is endowed with the faculties of conception, perception and sensation. The root cause of egoism is ignorance or Avidya; Ego is the false self. After destroying all conceptions of - I in the hosts of visible objects, it matters not where you live, whether in a house, a hill or a big city. The abode of a householder who has a calm mind and is not tainted with egoism can well be termed a forest.

With the annihilation of - I (egoism), the body will perish like a tree felled to its root. In the absence of objects this little - I does not exist, or these objects do not exist in the absence of - I.

Separate yourself from the objects with the idea that the - I does not belong to the objects or the objects do not belong to the - I. The ego of a devotee is harmless. It is Sattvic. It helps to develop, to realise God. The more you annihilate the Ahankara or egoism, the more will the Brahmic principle dawn in you. The offering of ego in the fire of wisdom is the greatest form of sacrifice. When this little - I or ego is traced down to its source, viz., Atman, it will disappear. It will be absorbed in Atman, like the water in a hot frying pan. The source of egoism or this little - I is Atman or the Supreme Self. Meditate on Atman. It will be absorbed in the Atman. The little - I will vanish. Atman alone will shine in all its glory. When the ego is non-existent it is liberation, when the ego persists it is bondage.

When the mind is attached to the objects, it is bondage; when the mind is not attached to any object, it is liberation. When the mind desires anything, grieves for anything, rejects anything, accepts anything, and gets pleased with one and angry with another, it is the state of bondage.

When the mind desires nothing, grieves for nothing, rejects nothing, accepts nothing, and gets pleased or angry with none, it has attained liberation. Absolute consciousness of Self-awareness destroys the ego and bestows the final emancipation.

IV. OBSTACLES TO MIND-CONQUEST

The greatest obstacles to Self-realisation are desire for property, desire for wealth and desire for name and fame. Desire is born of ignorance. The fundamental desire is the urge for mate. Destruction of desire is destruction of ignorance. Desire arises from a sense of imperfection or limitation, by identifying with the finite body, mind and ego.

Desire is the seed from which sprout ceaseless births. As is your desire, so is your will. As is your will so is your action. He who is desireless will have an absolute free will. He is ever blissful who longs for nothing and fears nothing. If you crave for objects, then only they come in the way of your God-realisation.

The tendency to think of sense-objects is indeed the cause of bondage or transmigration. Lust and greed are hindrances to renunciation. Kamini (lust), Kanchana (gold), and Kirti (fame), are the three obstacles to God-realisation. A lustful and greedy man is not fit for spiritual life. Anger, lust and greed are the basic enemies of spirituality. A weak will is overpowered by the strong desire. Wherever there is Raga, there is fear. Reduce your desire and live self-contented. Root out desire by Viveka and Vairagya, discrimination and dispassion.

V. THE IMPURE MIND

The mind is the slayer of Peace. The mind is the slayer of Truth. Make your mind your friend. Control your mind and the senses. This is the greatest victory. The mind is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and pain. Control of the mind is the highest Yoga. If the mind is controlled, it is then capable of great service. If it is not subdued, it creates endless pains and sufferings.

He alone who has controlled his mind will be ever peaceful and joyful. Use your mind as a filter, watch and do not allow any useless thought to enter the mind. Filter all useless thoughts. The greatest weakness is doubt. Doubt is thy enemy. Doubt is the greatest sin. Slay this doubt. Slay the slayer mind. A man of perverted mind and a doubting person do not get spiritual knowledge. The intellect is a hindrance. Too much of arguing is the bane of modern civilisation.

Belief determines conduct. Thought determines character. Man is changed by every thought he thinks and by every action he does. All that you are is the result of what you have thought. It is founded on your thoughts. It is made up of your thoughts. The root of evil which has brought about your bondage is Moha or infatuated love. Moha is delusion. It is not pure love. It is attachment to flesh, but not to the Soul. Control the lower emotions. Emotion is a waste of energy and power. It clouds the light of reason and wears the physical body.

The spectator derives more joy than the actor. So, be a witness of your thoughts. You will enjoy more lasting happiness.

Annihilate double-dealing, diplomacy, jealousy, self-conceit and hypocrisy - the enemies of devotion, peace and wisdom. Hatred, pride, harshness, revengefulness, anger, cruelty, greed, etc., are brutal qualities. Seek wisdom, and not powers. Powers are obstacles to God-realisation. O Mind! Go back to the original sweet home, Brahman or Atman wherein alone lie everlasting peace and eternal bliss.

VI. THE INNER TRAINING

True glory lies in the silent conquest of mind. If you control your mind, you are a conqueror of the whole world. Mind is at once the venue of man's bondage and release. Control of the mind is higher than the control of Prana or control of the body. The greatest war is the war with the Mind. The practice of the control of mind is a key to open the lock of the temple of Silence. Detach the sense-organs from objects and rest them in their respective centres. This is self-control.

Close the doors of the senses through abstraction and self-restraint. Self-control is the very key to beatitude. Self-control is the restraint of the outgoing tendencies of mind and the senses. Development of will-power and also the strengthening of the intellect, will control all the sense-organs. Do not allow the mind to react to external stimuli. This is mental poise.

Raise the rod of Viveka (discrimination), when the senses hiss. Through Pratyahara or abstraction, the greatest control is exercised over the senses. The mind functions under distinct limitations. Therefore it is unable to grasp the Infinite. The Mind is like a laboratory. The sense-impressions are poured into it for conversion into thoughts. The cooperation of the mind is necessary for both perception and action. All sorts of loose thoughts of diverse kinds come and go in the mental factory.

If you want rapid progress in the spiritual path, watch every thought. A vacant mind is ever distressed. It is the devil's workshop. Be thoughtful. Keep guard over your mind. Watch every impulse and thought. Spiritualise or sublimate your instincts. Evil thought is the most dangerous thief. Slay this thief with the sword of wisdom. Generate daily new divine vibrations or thought-waves in your mind. Make your thought pure, strong, sublime and definite. You will gain immense spiritual strength and peace.

Every thought must be constructive and noble. Thoughts are only refractions. Slay all thoughts. Go thou within the Light of lights. If you wish to attain Self-realisation, imagination and speculation must stop. Purify and control the emotions. Beneath your conscious life, there is a very wide region of subconscious life.

All habits originate from the subconscious plane. Subconscious life is more powerful than your ordinary life of objective consciousness. Through the practice of Yoga you can modify, control and influence the subconscious depths. Take one evil trait. Meditate on its opposite virtue every morning. Practise it during the day. The evil quality will vanish soon. Meditate on mercy in the morning and practise it during the day. You will soon develop mercy.

Purity is perfection. - Purity is the highest good. - Purity is my goal, - I am all purity, All thee are the methods of meditation upon purity. The tricks of the mind are most subtle. Only constant Vichara will keep you alert and safe. Through introspection, analysis, discrimination, vigilance, enquiry and prayer, you can understand the tricks and jugglery of the mind and escape from its deceptions. Sit and introspect. Study the mind as though it were a thing apart from you.

There are external and internal distractions; it is difficult to understand the internal ones. Self-analysis and inspiration are needed to know the internal distractions. Introspection purifies the mind quickly. Wherever the mind goes, see the One Lord there. There the mind will easily come under your control. Constant Japa and prayer will calm the mind and fill it with peace and bliss. Still the mind. Herein lie freedom and bliss eternal. Draw the mind inward. Hold it still to obtain the priceless Atmic treasure within.

Tune the radio of mind to the voice of the Inner Self. Restrain the senses. Withdraw the mind. Fix it on the Lord. This is the essence of Sadhana. Negate the personality and affirm the University. This is Sadhana. This is Yoga. He who has controlled his mind will have an absolute free-will.

To concentrate is to exclude every thought, but one. Through the practice of concentration and meditation you attain clarity of mind, increased grasping power, retentive memory, increased intelligence, confidence, optimism, peace of mind and control of mind and senses.

VII. POWER OF THOUGHT

Thought is a finer manifestation of being than ether or energy. You think, because you share the universal thought. Thought is both force and motion. Thought is dynamic. Thought moves. Thought decides the future. As you think, so you become. Thought makes a saint or a sinner. Thought can shape a man. Think that you are Brahman and become Brahman.

Sacred thoughts generate and sustain divine thoughts. Thoughts of hatred interfere with the inner harmony of the heart. Every useless thought is wastage of energy. Useless thoughts are obstacles to spiritual growth. Every thought must have a definite purpose. Negative evil thoughts cannot overcome fear. Patience overcomes anger and irritability. Love overcomes hatred. Purity overcomes lust. Mind is not daily made; in every minute it changes its colour and shape. The thoughts that we perceive all around us are only the mind in form or substance. - Manomatram Jagat. Mind creates; mind destroys. Bitterness and sweetness do not lie in the objects, but they are in the subject. They are created by the mind.

Through the play of the mind in objects, proximity appears to be a great distance and vice-versa. The Mind has the potency of creating or undoing the whole world in the twinkling of an eye. All objects are unconnected in this world. They are connected and associated together only by the imagination of your mind. It is the mind that gives colour, shape, qualities to the objects. Mind assumes the shape of any object it intensely thinks upon.

Friend and enemy, virtue and vice are in the mind only. Every man creates a world of good and evil, pleasure and pain, out of his own imagination only. Good and evil, pleasure and pain do not proceed from objects. These belong to the attitude of your mind. There is nothing good nor pleasant in this world. Your imagination makes it so.

VIII. NATURE AND FRUITS OF MEDITATION

Dharana or concentration matures in due course into Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (superconscious state). Meditation is prolonged concentration. The process of meditation is like the pouring of oil from one vessel into another in a steady, unbroken stream. Meditation is an effort in the beginning. Later on it becomes habitual and gives bliss, joy and peace. Only when you have practised preliminary stages of Sadhana such as Yama, Niyama, you will obtain the full benefit of meditation. In the one-pointed state, there cannot be more than one idea. One idea can go only if another idea enters the mind. However intellectual you may be, you cannot concentrate without the help of some image or symbol in the beginning.

Success in meditation is quick to those whose practice and dispassion are intense. Meditation is a positive, vital, dynamic process. It transforms man into divinity. Through regular meditation you can build an impregnable and invulnerable fortress. Maya cannot assail thee. Meditation is the key to intuition. Meditation is the key to unfold the divinity or Atman hidden in all names and forms. Meditation is the key to spiritual illumination. Meditation is the only passport to the satisfaction of life. Meditation is an antidote to death.

Meditation is a vital part of daily living. Therefore, meditate, meditate daily. Even a little meditation daily will raise you a little higher, and a little nearer to God. The mind is refined by devotion and meditation. As gold purified in crucible, shines bright, so constant meditation on Atman makes the mind pure and effulgent with spiritual lustre. A purified mind can grasp anything. It can dive deep in the subtlest subject, and understand even transcendental things.


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