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Instructions to Aspirants

by Swami Sivananda

Take up memory-culture in the beginning. Take to any exercise that suits you best and put it in daily practice. Keep a daily record. This is very important. Mere skipping over the pages will not do. You will not be benefited. If you really want rapid improvement, if you want to become a real man, put the lessons in practice and take down notes. You can watch your progress and correct your mistakes. I want to make you practical man quickly. Keep special notebooks. Send me a copy of the notes of exercises that you have done in a month. I will make corrections and give you very valuable suggestions. I will put you in the right path. If you are very earnest and sincere, you can finish up the memory exercises in three months. For a mediocre, I allow six months. For a third-class type, I allow one year.

After you are well up in memory-culture, you can take up will-culture. You have gained now some success and power through memory-culture. This will give you a great impetus in the will-culture. You will be rejoicing now. You will be training your every nerve in the practice of will-culture. You have already started the current. It will keep up your zeal and enthusiasm. Practise the assertions boldly and calmly. Finally understand the meaning of every assertion and try to feel it. The feeling will slowly manifest. Do not be discouraged. You will have to fight against your old enemies, the old Samskaras. Wait coolly. Try to develop patience, attention, power of endurance, balance of mind, presence of mind, etc. These qualities are very necessary to develop your will. Develop attention also. Practise will-culture for three months. You will feel your inner strength. The things that appeared difficult sometimes ago can be done with ease now. You will feel that you now have an unruffled mind. Things that easily upset your mind cannot do so now. You can turn out immense work quite smoothly. Your walk is graceful. Your speech is powerful. You are quite a changed man. There is a glow in your cheeks and a peculiar charm in your smile. You are now able to influence many. Your friends notice a magnetic aura in your face.

The practice of concentration should go hand in hand with the memory and will-cultures. Concentration is an auxiliary in all cultures. No culture is possible without concentration. Have regular concentration daily in the morning for half an hour or one hour. Have a spiritual basis in your concentration. You practise concentration not only for developing your memory and will, but mainly for Self-realisation. That is the chief aim. Never, never forget this point. This is the fundamental difference between my system and the various other systems. Brahmacharya and Self- realisation are the keynotes of my system. I harp on these two points in various places. I want you to develop your memory and will for success in life and achievement of Brahmic bliss eventually. Concentrate on the picture of Lord Krishna or Lord Rama or Lord Siva or Lord Jesus or Lord Buddha or Prophet Mohammed, according to your inclination. The practice of concentration will immensely help your memory and will- culture also. Keep a record of your experiences in concen- tration in your diary and send a copy to me every month.

The fourth point is the development of virtues. Go through the articles "Character Building" and "Subconscious-Mind." You will understand the method of developing various virtues. Develop that virtue which you are hopelessly lacking in. Courage, mercy, universal love, nobility, forbearance, contentment, frankness and honesty, must be developed one by one. Take up one virtue every month and meditate on that virtue regularly. You will manifest that virtue in your character. If you develop one important virtue, all other virtues will cling to you. If you have humility and courage, all other virtues will come of their own accord. You should spend daily some time, say half an hour, for development of virtues.

If you are established in Brahmacharya or truthfulness, all other virtues will cling to you by themselves. Take up one of these virtues-humility, courage, Brahmacharya and truthfulness-for development.

The fifth point is eradication of evil qualities. The development of virtuous qualities will itself remove the negative qualities. But, it is better to make a positive attempt also in the eradication of these evil qualities. Then the progress will be rapid. It is a double attack on the enemy. Then success becomes easy and sure. If you could remove lust or anger or egoism, all other evil qualities will disappear by themselves. All evil qualities are the attendants of egoism. If egoism is destroyed, if the commander is slain, all the soldiers and retinues will take to their heels, out of fright, because they have lost their head. All vices originate from anger. If anger is destroyed, all sorts of vices will vanish. Therefore, concentrate your attention in killing egoism or anger. Then the whole work is done, and done perfectly, too.

The sixth point is the discipline of the Indriyas. This is very important. If the Indriyas are turbulent, you cannot have concentration. Watch every Indriya carefully and curb it by suitable methods, such as fasting, Mouna, Trataka, celibacy, renunciation of articles, Dama and Pratyahara (vide the article on "Discipline of Indriyas"). Indriyas draw you out and make your mind outgoing. Curbing of the Indriyas really means the curbing of the mind. The Indriyas cannot do any independent work without the direct help of the mind.

The seventh point is physical culture. I again remind you that no culture is possible if you do not possess a sound and healthy body. Keep your body strong and healthy, vigorous and active, by regular exercises. You must have a beautiful, symmetrical body.

The eighth point is the keeping up of a daily diary. If you want quick and rapid progress, if you want substantial growth, keep this diary daily. Let this be a true diary with a clean conscience. Having armed yourself with the above Sadhana, you can become a mighty emperor of this world. You can enjoy health, wealth, spiritual bliss and longevity. I have shown graduated exercises according to the capacity of the students. Now it is left to you to expand and grow. You will have to apply yourself diligently. A hungry man will have to eat for himself. A thirsty man will have to drink for himself. Now drink the nectar of Immortality and become a spiritual darling and hero. Get success in every department of your life. These practices will now become part and parcel of your nature after one year. You can go on developing them till you attain perfection.

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