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The Psychic States

By Swami Sivananda


Sit in silence in a solitary room and watch the various mental phenomena, mental states, moods, impulses, emotions, sentiments, whims, fancies that occur in the mind. It will be of absorbing interest to study the subtle states of the inner psychic world.

Instincts

There are two powerful instincts in the human beings and animals too. They are the instinct of self-preservation and the instinct of reproduction. Hunger is a manifestation of the self-preserving instinct. Lust is a manifestation of reproductive instinct. An instinct is an involuntary prompting to action.

The Jiva or the individual soul with egoism wants power, name and fame. This is for self-aggrandisement. Exploitation is greed. It is the act of using for selfish purposes. Domineering is to command haughtily. The Jiva wants to exercise power over others. This is Jiva-Bhavana. The root cause for industries, business, commerce, etc., is greed and self-preservation. If you want to have constant Brahma-Bhavana, you will have to give up exploitation and domineering.

There is another third instinct, viz., the herding instinct (the instinct for company). Woman take delight in the company of men. Men take delight in the company of women. The root cause for this is reproductive instinct. Another reason is that a weak man gains strength in the company of a strong man. But, a man who wants to realise God should shun ruthlessly company-particularly, the company of women and worldly-minded persons. He should live alone. Then he will become very powerful and strong. He will develop a strong individuality. One will find difficulty in the beginning in the practice of living alone. Fear will come in. You will have to overcome all difficulties, one by one, if you want to attain immortality (Amritatva). The reward is very great: Brahmavit Paramapnoti (A Knower of Brahman gets the Highest); Amritamasnute (He drinks the nectar of immortality).

Impulses

An impulse is a sudden propelling force. There are three kinds of impulses, viz., impulses of thought, impulses of speech and impulses of action. Mouna (silence) checks the impulse of speech. Meditation checks the impulse of wrong thinking and wrong action.

There are two important impulses. They are the sex-impulse and the impulse of speech. There is an intimate relation between impulse and imagination. Imagination induces the impulse. Impulses must be controlled by reason and will and meditation on God.

Emotions

An emotion is a combination of thought and desire. Every idea is charged with emotion. Emotions are desires which are penetrated by the thought element. In other words, emotion is desire mingled with thought. The vibrations of emotions will arouse corresponding excitement in purely mental matter and all the man's thoughts will be disturbed and distorted.

There is emotion-desire. There is emotion-feeling also. If the desire element is predominant, it is emotion-desire. If the pleasure element is predominant, it is emotion-feeling.

Raga and Dvesha (love and hatred) are the two important emotions of the mind and all the different emotions can be classified under these two headings. Wonder is a compound emotion. It is admiration and fear combined. Reverence is a compound emotion. It is awe and respect combined. Amarsha is a compound emotion. It is anger and jealousy combined. As soon as the man is pulled down to a lower level, the anger of the inferior man who was jealous vanishes.

Pleasure is a particular kind of emotion in the mind. The mind expands during pleasure. Coolness prevails in the mind. What takes place of the mind when pleasure feeling arises is not exactly understood by the western psychologists. It is incapable of being understood also by ordinary persons. Only a Yogi or a Jnani knows this psychic phenomenon. During pain, the mind contracts. Considerable heat is produced in the mind.

Many of the physical desires and emotions in man are akin to those of the lower animals. Anger and sex-impulse in man are the brutal instincts. In the undeveloped man, these desires and emotions which belong to the lower nature (Aparaprakriti) predominate and overpower the higher nature (Paraprakriti).

It is a symptom of weakness to have emotions in the mind. They should be controlled by the intellect and the will.

How To Control Emotions And Impulses

When emotions and impulses trouble you much, be indifferent (Udasina). Say to yourself: "Who am I? I am not the mind. I am Atman (all-pervading Spirit, Suddha Sat-Chit-Ananda. How can emotions affect me? I am Nirlipta (unattached). I am a Sakshi (witness) of these emotions. Nothing can disturb me." When you repeat these suggestions of Vichara, the emotions will die by themselves. This Jnana method of controlling emotions is easier than the Yogic method of driving the emotions and struggling with the mind (Yogas-chittavritti-nirodhah).

Sentiments

Religious sentiment, moral sentiment, aesthetic sentiment (or sentiment for the sublime and the beautiful) are the three important sentiments of the mind. Feeling and sentiments are illusory. They are not in Atman. They are deceptions created by the mind.

Moods

Mood is a mental state. The Sanskrit term is Bhava. This term also does not express the true significance of the word 'mood'. We say, "Mr. Naidu or Mr. Atkinson is a moody gentleman." This means he becomes a slave of the mood quickly. We also say, "That gentleman is in 'good mood' or 'happy mood.' "I can approach him now for a short interview or talk" or "He is in a very 'angry mood.' I should not see him now."

The English people, during the course of their conversation, use the term 'mood' in a broad sense. They say: "He is in a talking mood"; "He is in a silent mood"; "He is in a mood of hatred"; "He is in a mood of love"; "He is in a mood of selfishness"; "He is in a mood of jealousy"; "He is in a mood of separateness"; "He is in a mood of unity." In the light of Vedanta, these are all Vrittis (thoughts or emotions) only. Dr. Bhagavan Das, the reputed author of "Science of Emotions" classifies these under emotions only.

The Two Kinds Of Moods And Their Effects

In Vedanta, there are only two kinds of moods, viz., Harsha (joy, exultation or exhilaration) and Soka (grief or depression). In the mind, these two kinds of moods prevail. Now there is joy. Five minutes later, there is depression. These currents alternate. They belong to the Shad-Urmis (six waves). They are two waves that affect the mind-ocean.

People of gloomy moods attract to them gloomy things and gloomy thoughts from others and from the Akasic records in the physical ether. Persons with hope, confidence and cheerful spirits attract thoughts of similar nature from others. They are always successful in their attempts.

People with negative moods of depression, anger, hatred do positive injury to others. They infect others and raise these destructive Vrittis in others. They are culpable. They do great damage in the thought-world. People with happy and cheerful moods are a blessing to society. They bring happiness to others.

Just as a young, beautiful lady covers her face and does not like to come out to mix with others in society when she has a nasty festering sore on her cheeks or nose, so also you should not come in public and mix with your friends and other people when you have a mood of depression, a mood of hatred or jealousy. For, you will infect others with these moods. You are a menace to society.

How To Control Negative Moods

Sadhakas should try to eradicate depression by prayer, meditation, counter-thoughts of joy, chanting of Om, Vichara and singing divine songs. Never give room for gloomy depression. Repeat Om with Bhava. Repeat "I am Ananda-maya," "My Svarupa is Ananda." Depression will vanish. There are various causes for this depression. Cloudy day, association with evil persons, indigestion, influence by astral spirits, revival of old Samskaras of depression-all these induce depression.

When you get a talking mood, practise at once 'Mouna' (silence). This is an antidote to the talking mood. When you are in a mood of hatred, develop the opposite virtue of love. This mood will pass off quickly. When you are in the mood of selfishness, begin to do selfless work. When you are in the mood of separateness, try to mix with others through service, love, kindness and Kshama. When you are in the mood of laziness, do at once some kind of active work, drawing water, gardening, running, brisk walk or biking, etc.

A Jivanmukta is absolutely free from all moods. He has controlled all moods completely. He has become a master of all these moods. In Atman, there are no moods. It is pure consciousness. Identify with Atman. You can destroy all moods very easily.

The Meditative Mood

But, there is one good mood in those who practise meditation. It is termed the "meditative mood." Those who practise concentration and meditation feel this kind of mood. When this mood manifests, you must immediately give up reading, writing, talking, etc. You must immediately sit on the usual Asana (posture) and begin to meditate. Meditation will come by itself without effort. This mood is very favourable for contemplation. Watch for this kind of mood. If light disturbs you, close the windows or put on a curtain along the window. Dark room is favourable for the beginners in meditation.

Whims And Fancies

A whim corresponds to the term 'Taranga' in Sanskrit. Taranga means a wave. When a sudden change arises in the mind, it is a whim. Whims are Tarangas that arise in the mind. They rise up and break quickly. They drag you hither and thither. They upset you.

Everybody has his own whims. Very often you say, "He is a whimsical man," when anyone is swayed by whims. Whim is also termed caprice. Eccentricity is an exaggerated form of whim. Whim tosses a man hither and thither, if he yields to it. Whimsical actions bring on misery. It is through whim that mind tempts and deceives men. Mind cheats through whims. Whims should be checked by reason.

Do not do actions through whims. Action must be done through Viveka and wisdom. Destroy whims as soon as they arise, through Vichara. Always enquire whether the proposed action will bring you pleasure and spiritual gain or not. Be on the alert.

The word 'whim' always goes with the term fancy. We say, "whims and fancies." A fancy is a phase of the intellectual faculty of a lighter and less impressive cast than the imagination of the active play of this lighter faculty. Fancy is a new and pleasing thought or conception due to this faculty. Fancy is a form of imagination. It helps a poet, but not an aspirant. It is a hindrance in meditation. It builds castles in the air. Check it by Vichara and Viveka.

Just as waves and ripples rise on the surface of the ocean, whims, various caprices, fancies and wrong determinations also arise on the surface of the mind-ocean. The whims represent the ripples. You need not be afraid of these. They come and pass off quickly. You must be careful about the strong waves, wrong determinations. The strong thoughts must be eradicated by strong Vichara and proper reasoning.

Imagination

Prakriti never creates a vacuum in the mind. If one anxiety or worry is over, another anxiety immediately manifests. Mind can never become vacant. It has got infinite preoccupations.

Carefully mark the ways of the mind. It tempts, exaggerates, magnifies, infatuates, unnecessarily alarms through vain imagination, vain fear, vain worries and vain forebodings. It tries its level best to divert you from concentration on your Lakshya.

It took me many years to understand thoroughly the subtle workings of the mind. Mind works havoc through its power of imagination. Imaginary fears of various sorts, exaggeration, concoction, mental dramatisation, building castles in the air, are all due to this power of imagination. Even a perfect, healthy man has some imaginary disease or other due to the power of imagination of the mind. Much energy is wasted on account of imaginary fears.

When his mind is fully occupied with the affairs of the war, the soldier does not feel any serious injury as a gunshot wound in the leg. He is not aware of the loss of a large quantity of blood also. He is filled with enthusiasm. He is not conscious of his body-so to say-for the time being. When the excitement is over, when he sees some blood-spots on his clothing or when some of his friends points out to him the wound in the leg, he gets the consciousness. Then he is alarmed a bit. The power of imagination plays havoc now. He gets a collapse now. The power of imagination always exaggerates.

A man may have a little weakness. When he becomes your enemy, you at once exaggerate and magnify his weakness and Dosha. You even superimpose on this or concoct many more weaknesses and Doshas. This is due to evil imagination on your part.

Whenever the mind of two friends are strained by ill-feelings, these minds begin to exaggerate and concoct things. Fault-finding increases. It is very difficult to get at the truth of the statements of these two broken friends with broken friendship. Their utterances are always coloured by their inner feelings. The power of imagination does havoc now. Maya plays havoc through the mind and its power of imagination.

Mind tempts and deceives. Think of one as a good friend of yours and there the thing is created as a reality. Think of him as your foe and then also the mind perfects the thought into an actuality. He who knows the working of the mind and has controlled it by practice is really happy.

I shall explain to you the nature of "mental dramatisation." Mark the ways of the mind. During conversation with your friends, the mind sometimes imagines in vain that it has hurt the feelings of your friend. It spends much of its energy in unnecessary feeling. You think: "How can I see him tomorrow morning? He may be displeased with me." Next morning when you meet him, nothing happens. Your friend starts a pleasant conversation and smiles. You are surprised. To your great astonishment, the subject of talk takes quite a different turn altogether. A family-man imagines when a severe epidemic of plague ravages: "What shall I do if my wife develops plague and dies now? I have got six children." This is his vain imagination. Nothing happens. Sometimes, when the train moves slowly on the Pamban Bridge over the sea near Ramesvaram, the mind imagines, "If the bridge gives way now, what will become of me? I shall be smashed to pieces." A touch of fear creeps in. There are thousand and one ways of mental dramatisation like these. The power of imagination plays a vital part in mental dramatisation.

When your mind is deeply concentrated, period of two hours passes like five minutes. If the mind is distracted and wandering, half an hour hangs on as two hours. This is everybody's experience. In dream also, many events that represent a period of fifty years take place within ten minutes. Through the play of the mind, a Kalpa is considered by it as a moment and vice versa. Time is but a mode of the mind. It is Kala Sakti. It is also illusory like the objects.

Through the trick of the mind, one furlong at times appears to be a great distance and three miles at other times appear to be a very short distance. You ought to have noted this in your daily life.

Marichi Chaitanya, M.A., Ph.D., a Brahmachari of Rumania and myself sat for dinner in the Kailasa Kutia, Svarga Ashram, on the bank of the Ganga. A dish of potato soup was served. Marichi, who has no idea of Indian preparations, took it for a soup of meat. The colour and appearance of the potato soup was exactly the same as that of meat-soup. This is a case of "mental projection." Marichi projected the idea of meat from his own Samskara within the mind into the potato-soup. Mental projections are all false.

Kalpana in the mind means mental creation or imagination. This is the real Yogamaya. You will have to destroy these various Kalpanas. This is the aim of all the spiritual Sadhanas. Then you will be established in Nirvikalpa state of bliss. Pure Nivritti is needed to attain this after you have got Chitta-Suddhi through Nishkama-Karma Yoga.

Temperament And How It Can Be Modified

There are secretions from endocrine glands which are ductless viz., Thyroid, Thymus, Parotid, Pineal, Suprarenal, etc. These secretions are directly absorbed into the blood. They play a vital part in constituting the temperament of every individual. The temperament of a man can be greatly modified by environments, education and experience. It can hardly be changed in toto. That is the reason why the Gita says: "Sadrisam Cheshtate Svasyah Prakriter-Jnanavanapi-Even the man of knowledge behaves in conformity with nature" (Gita, III-33).


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