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How to Develop the Will-Power

by Swami Sivananda

Attention, power of endurance, overcoming aversion, dislikes and irritations, fortitude in suffering, Tapas (austerities such as standing on one foot, sitting in the hot sun) or Panchagni Tapas before five fires, standing in cold water in piercing winter, raising the hands above and keeping in the same position for an hour, fasting, patience, command of temper, forbearance, clemency, mental power of endurance, firmness in meeting danger, power of resistance or attack, Satyagraha, keeping up daily diary-all pave a long way in developing the will. One should patiently hear the words of others even though they are not interesting and charming. He should not fret and fume. Patient hearing develops will and wins the hearts of others. One should do actions or tasks that are uninteresting. This also develops the will-power. The actions that are not interesting will become interesting after sometime.

Never complain against bad environments. Create your own mental world wherever you remain and wherever you go. There are some difficulties and disadvantages wherever you go. If the mind deludes you, at every moment and at every step, try to overcome the obstacles and difficulties by suitable means. Do not try to run away from bad, unfavourable environments. God has placed you there to make you grow quickly.

If you get all sorts of comforts in a place, you will not grow strong. Your mind will be puzzled in a new place when you cannot get these comforts. Therefore, make the best use of all places. Never complain against surroundings and environments. Live in your own mental world. Nothing can upset your mind. You will find Raga-Dvesha even in the eternal snowy regions of the Himalayas, near Gangotri. You cannot get an ideal place and ideal surroundings in any part of the world. Kashmir is very cool; the scenery is very enchanting; but Pissus (small insects like fleas) trouble you at night; you cannot sleep. Varanasi is a centre of Sanskrit learning, but it is notorious for hot winds in summer. Uttarkasi in the Himalayas is beautiful, but you cannot get vegetables or fruits there; the cold is so very biting in winter. This world is a relative plane of good and evil. Remember this point at all times. Try to live happily in any place, under any condition. You will become a strong and dynamic personality. This is a great secret. Keep this in your pocket and unlock the Elysian regions, the spiritual realms and the immortal abode. You can get sanguine success in any undertaking. You can conquer any difficulty.

The practice of concentration is of great help to strengthen the will. You must have an intelligent understanding of the habits of the mind-how it wanders and how it operates. You must know easy and effective methods to control the wandering of the mind. The practice of thought-culture, the practice of concentration, the practice of memory-culture, are all allied subjects. All these are of immense help in the practice of will-culture. You cannot draw a line of demarcation to denote where the practice of concentration or memory-culture ends and the practice of will-culture begins. There is no hard and fast rule. For further particulars on the practice of concentration, please see the article "Control of Mind-wandering."

Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Balfour could go to deep sleep the moment they went to bed through mere willing. They had such a strong will. Even Mahatma Gandhi had this practice. They could get up in the morning at any time they wanted, to the very minute. They had so trained their subconscious mind. The subconscious mind was their obedient servant. It would wake them up at the very second. Every one of you should develop this habit through will and become a Gandhi, a Gladstone or a Balfour. Generally, the vast majority of persons simply roll in their beds for hours together and do not get sound sleep even for half an hour. It is the quality of sleep, and not the quantity, that gives refreshment. Sound sleep for even an hour is quite sufficient to refresh the body and revitalise the mind. The moment you go to bed, simply relax the mind and give the suggestion, "I will have good sleep now." Do not think of anything. Napoleon had this habit. Even when the bugle was blowing and the drums were beating on the battlefield, he would be snoring. His subconscious mind would wake him up at the very second he wanted to get up. With a cool mind, Napoleon would appear like a lion on the battlefield. One should train himself to sleep in running cars, trains, and when moving in the aeroplanes, even in a sitting posture. This practice is of immense help for busy medical practitioners, advocates and businessmen, who have to do immense work daily and a good deal of travelling. Life has become so very complex nowadays that busy people do not find time to get enough sleep. Whenever they find some leisure, even for five minutes, they should close their eyes in any place and go to sleep for a short time. This would give great rest. They can continue their further activities. This kind of practice is a blessing to busy people. Their nerves are under great tension and pressure. By relaxing them every now and then, they could refresh themselves and keep quite fit for further activities. One should be able to sleep on the platforms of Howrah or Bombay railway stations when trains are moving at all times. This is a wonderful practice that gives immense strength.

Dr. Annie Besant used to write editorial columns when moving in the cars. There are some busy doctors who read newspapers even when they are in the water closets. They keep their minds fully occupied. The practice of keeping the mind fully occupied is the best of the practices for keeping up physical and mental Brahmacharya. Those who want to become magnetic and dynamic personalities or prodigies should utilise every second to the best possible advantage and should try to grow mentally, morally and spiritually, every second. Idle gossiping should be given up entirely. Every one of us should realise the value of time. Will is bound to become dynamic if one utilises his time very profitably. Application and tenacity, interest and attention, patience and perseverance, faith and self-reliance, can make a man a wonderful world-figure.

Capacity and Will

You will have to apply your will according to your capacity. Otherwise, your will deteriorates. You will be discouraged. This is one important point. Make a programme of work or daily routine, according to your capacity, and see that it is carried out daily. Keep only a few items. If you keep several items which cannot be executed in a day, which are beyond your capacity, your interest will slowly wane and your enthusiasm will gradually decline. Your energy will be dissipated and scattered. You will get brain-fag. Whatever you wish to do daily must be carried out to the very letter. Nimbarka Acharya willed that the sun should not pass beyond the Nim tree that was in front of his house; it came to pass exactly. Nalayani willed that there would be no daybreak; it came to pass accordingly. These people had strong will-power. If you also 'will' like this in the beginning, when you are a neophyte, when you have developed your will to a very small extent, you cannot succeed.

Thinking too much is a hindrance in the execution by the will. It brings confusion, diffidence and procrastination. There is slackening of the force of the will. The opportunity will slip away. You may hesitate to put the thing in action. Think for sometime correctly and then decide. As soon as you have resolved, you must 'will' immediately. There must not be any unnecessary delay. Sometimes you 'will' and do not succeed. This is due to lack of right thinking and right feeling. You must think rightly and, at the same time, feel rightly. Then the 'will' is bound to succeed. Right feeling should invariably accompany right thinking.

Desire and Will

Divine will is all-powerful. God wills, and everything comes into being the very second. Man wills, but it takes a long time for attaining a thing or materialisation of the desired object as his will is weak. Man thinks, wills, and slowly gets the desired objects after some time. Man also creates. If his will is pure and strong, man also gets the objects in the twinkling of an eye. Mere wish will not suffice for the attainment of the desired thing. You will have to add to it definite purpose. Wish or desire is a small ripple in the mind-lake, but 'will' is that power which executes the desires. Will is volition. It is the power of choosing or determining.

Desire and will are different things altogether. 'Desire' is a longing for certain possessions, while 'will' is the power of determination (Sankalpa) without any motive whatsoever to enjoy anything. Desire is Vasana which pertains to the mind; will is Ichcha, which is identical with the Law and is characteristic of the Self-the universal consciousness. God's 'will' and God's 'law' are one and the same.

When the 'Self' determines the activity, uninfluenced by attractions or repulsions towards surrounding objects, the 'will' is manifested. When outer attractions or repulsions determine the activity and the man is drawn hither and thither by these, deaf to the voice of the Self, unconscious of the Inner Ruler, then the desire is seen.

Free Will

The man must learn to separate himself from the vehicles in which he desires, thinks and acts, to know them as part of the not-self, as material external to the life. Thus, the energy that went out to the objects in the lower desires becomes the higher desires, guided by the mind, and is prepared to be transmuted into 'will'.

As the lower mind emerges into the higher, and the higher into that which is wisdom, the aspect of pure 'will' emerges as the power of the spirit, self-determined, self-ruled, in perfect harmony with the supreme will, and therefore free. Then only all bonds are broken and the spirit is unconstrained by anything outside itself. Then and then alone can the 'will' be said to be free.




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