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Practical Sadhana-A Discussion II

by Swami Sivananda

We have examined that how the whole of the living of the divine life, the whole of the process of Yoga and practical Vedanta, takes place primarily within the mind. Outwardly these processes that take place inside, have their expression; they manifest themselves in the form of certain behaviour of the person and his reactions to external influences, in the form of certain actions that he indulges in, but primarily they take place in the inner Kurukshetra, the mind.

An eternal tussle is going on in the mind between the lower instinctive urges and the higher spiritual aspirations, between that part of the mind which is drawing the senses outward, which is filled with Rajas and Tamas, and the Sattvic portion of the mind, the Vivekayukta Buddhi, the Vicharayukta Manas, or that part of the mind where discrimination has begun to manifest, where the selective power of the human intelligence has begun to function. It begins to select which is proper, which is improper, which ought to be done, which ought not to be done, which is conducive to one's progress, which is detrimental to one's evolution.

When this discriminative faculty begins to operate, man begins to think of the why and the wherefore of things. This discrimination arises due to Satsanga, or due to hard experiences, knocks and blows of life, or flowering of Purva Samskaras, or any of the innumerable factors that go to awaken the discriminative mind. The instinctive mind, filled with desires for objects, tries to pull one down, whereas the higher mind pulls one up. Ultimately it is the spiritual part of man that establishes its own supremacy over the lower instinctive, sensual part of his being, and fully establishes him in Atmic consciousness, which is the ultimate stage of Yoga.


In this process, we have discussed before how the mind works, how it tries again and again to catch the individual in its vicious circle of experience, Samskara, Vasana, Kalpana, Ahankara, Ichcha, Kamana and Cheshta. When you do Cheshta, you again repeat the experience, and a Samskara is formed; from Samskara Vasana originates; Vasana becomes a Vritti, which, taking the help of imagination, becomes an Ichcha; Ichcha takes the help of egoism and becomes a Kamana; Kamana, intensified, becomes Trishna or strong desire; and Cheshta or actual fulfilment of the desire follows Trishna; and enjoyment again strengthens the Samskara. Thus the whole process is repeated again and again.

Therefore, if a desire comes and if you fulfil it, that Samskara which caused that desire, gets more strengthened. The implication is that by fulfilling a desire, the desire never ends. You can never put an end to desires by fulfilling them. Just as the hungry flames will not subside by any amount of ghee poured in it, similarly the desire gets strengthened by fulfilment.

Non-cooperate with the mind. Do not fulfil desires, when they arise in the mind. It is the nature of the mind to desire. Mind and desire are synonymous. Non-fulfilment of desire is the only way of attaining mastery over the mind. Countless desires may arise; be silent. Do not say, "Come along, I will fulfil it." It is only when you make the mistake of saying, "I am the mind," "I am desiring," you commit a blunder.


Only when the mind is purified, it becomes your guide. Till then non-cooperate with it. Then the mind will cease to be the mover of man, and man will become the mover of the mind. You should be the independent mover of the mind. Then you become Manojit or Indriyajit. That is what an aspirant has to become. The law is, desires never perish by fulfilling them.

The desires that come on the surface of the mind have their roots in the subconscious, and in as much as the roots are hidden, you will have to do daily the digging of the mind, and delving to the root of these desires. Set apart a time when there is no external distraction, sit in a secluded place and feel that you are the witness of the mind. Just allow the mind to wander for a while and see how it behaves and try to delve within.

All our time we are engaged in drawing the mind outward. Now make the mind go inward and try to see within yourself what is going on. It requires regular practice, or else we will be thinking we are looking into the mind, but in the processes, we would be drifting with the mind. You should delve inward and introspect. You must do twofold process. One is diverting the mind's rays inward, and when you go inward, focus keenly on a certain part of your mind and analyse it, dissect it.


If you cannot see an object which is in darkness, you direct the beam of a flash-light upon it. Similarly, focus the rays of the mind inward and examine its characteristics. Supposing a thing is very minute, you are not able to see it. You squint through a microscope. Similarly, you should analyse the part of the mind which is not visible, more minutely; you should analyse it in detail, separately, like looking through a microscope. Then you will come to know more of your mind, what kind of Vrittis are there, whether they are Sattvic, Rajasic or Tamasic.

You have to analyse intelligently. Here, we require a little bit of Viveka. We have to be careful of two things. One is that we should not go inward with partiality. If you are studying the mind, be impartial, because this introspection is done with the purpose of ejecting out all that is undesirable and supplying all that is required. Therefore, you should humbly go about this work.

If after studying the mind, you are full of self-satisfaction, if you are satisfied with whatever is there in the mind, such introspection and self-analysis will serve no purpose. You should have a critical attitude. Just as you find out the defects of other persons, with the same critical mind, you should find out your own defects. Otherwise, the benefit of introspection and self-analysis will be lost.


If as a result of your introspection, you find in your mind certain traits which are not desirable, you should find out the means of removing those defects. Self-justification, self-approbation, are not what is meant by introspection. Once you find out your defects, be practical. Have some effective device to remove the defects.

You should find out how to make the best capital out of what you have discovered in your moments of self-introspection and Sadhana. This is the practical aspect of Kriya Yoga. Thorough purification can only come, if there is detailed, impartial introspection, followed by practical measures to remove the defects. This introspection should be done daily. Daily you should throw out some rubbish from within the mind. This is the process of purification.


There are two more important steps that one has to take in living the divine life. Each Sadhaka should bear in mind that divine life is to be lived in small details. If you are divine in small details, you can be divine in big things. You cannot afford to be undivine in small actions and expect to be divine fundamentally. If your Yoga becomes practical in little things, then great achievements will come as a matter of course.

Some Sadhakas think that details do not matter much. They think that it does not matter if they use harsh words occasionally. The Sadhaka thinks, "There is no harm in uttering a harsh word. I am quite calm inwardly. God wants only the heart." But a calm heart cannot come unless every word of yours is full of love and compassion. The heart is made up of only the sum-total of all little actions and words. It is not possible to have a wonderful heart inside, and indulge in every type of actions and words.

Every action goes to form one's character even as every drop goes to form the ocean. Day-to-day movements of man constitute the very essence of divine living, the very essence of Yoga and Vedanta. One should not commit the mistake of being content with the idea that by merely having a great idealism, it will manifest itself as perfect goodness in one's actions, words and thoughts. Unless you are careful in your day-to-day life and mould your life in accordance with your idealism, it cannot bear fruit. If you are careful that the broad principles of divine living are observed, the edifice will come by itself.


What are those broad principles? Truthfulness, compassion, purity-these have to cover your entire life down to the minutest details. Your whole life, at least in the beginning, should be characterised by restraint. You should restrain your tongue. Do not think that you can eat anything and say anything and meditate well. If you think so, you are deceiving yourself. Yoga is not a toy, which you can easily take and play with. It is like an iron-fort, lodging well-equipped soldiers.

Every action should be done with proper examination. The quality of food that you take, its quantity, and the time you take food, all are important. A little immoderate food, or improper time of taking food may affect your system and render meditation difficult. So, too, with the thoughts you entertain and actions you are engaged in. The whole body and mind should be restrained. You should live a life of moderation.

When I sing the song of "Eat a little, drink a little," you have to understand it in its proper sense. There are two parts of this song. "Eat a little, drink a little; talk a little, sleep a little." When I say these things I mean moderation. These things should not be indulged in. The instinctive life of eating, drinking, talking, etc., should be kept to the minimum requirement. The other portion of the song, wherein it is said, "Do Japa a little, do Asana a little, do Kirtan a little" also indicates that everyone of these items is essential, that all these items should find a place in your daily programme.


All gross things that merely pertain to the body should be kept to the minimum and all the higher aspects of Sadhana should be given proper place in your daily programme. This is the broad, general outline of divine life. Control the mind. Do not fulfil desires when they arise. Nip the Vritti in the bud. Daily have self-introspection and self-analysis, and in doing that be unsparing to yourself. Do not justify what you discover in the mind and give a reason for it, but rather, try to devise suitable methods for overcoming what you find undesirable. Lead a life of self-restraint, and back up the whole process by positive Sadhana like meditation, Japa, Asana, Pranayama.

The underlying secret of overcoming the Vikshepa of the mind is Vairagya. Raga is at the root of Vikshepa. Raga comes through Avichara. You imagine that the objects of the world will give you happiness. This is Avichara. You should do Vichara, discrimination, you should find out the defects of worldly pleasures and develop Vairagya for all kinds of earthly pleasures. So there should be Vichara and Vairagya, and, combined with these, if you practise the things already mentioned, you will be able to progress on the path of Yoga and Vedanta, on the path of divine living.

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