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States of Mind and Principles of Mental Discipline

by Swami Sivananda


Sleepiness (Laya), distraction (Vikshepa), taintedness (Kashaya) and equipoise (Samata) are the four states of the mind. Turn the mind away from the objects. Bear in mind that all is pain and suffering. Remember the blissful, eternal Brahman, that is the substratum for all objects. Rouse the mind when it gets sleepiness; if it gets distracted, bring it back to its peaceful condition through Pranayama, Trataka, self-restraint and abstraction. Be detached when you taste the bliss of Savikalpa Samadhi (Rasasvada). When the mind gets tainted through Kashaya or Vasana raise the rod of discrimination and the sword of dispassion. When the mind is in a state of poise, disturb it not on any account. Enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi.


Desire keeps up life. Prana functions because of desire. Desire is the cause of Samsara. Desire says: - O sense-organs! do as I tell you. In the evening, the sense-organs say to the desire: - O desire! We are tired; we can't do anything now. The objects have lost their charm for us. Desire goes to mind; mind fulfils desire. By dreaming, without the help of sense-organs some time later, mind says to desire: - O desire! I am tired; my energy is exhausted. Good-bye. Desire now goes deeper for more energy. It approaches the Atman. Atman is veiled by ignorance, because desire does not want to annihilate itself and merge in Atman. Desire goes into ignorance and gets more strength and vitality, returns to the mind and the senses, and rejuvenates them. Man wakes up and commences activity.


Sleep-walkers or somnambulists swim in sleep without being aware of it. One in California swam for two miles down a river. A boy of eleven committed expert burglaries in his sleep. A sleep-walker robs himself also. Sleep-walkers ride horses, drive cars, go mountaineering and walk for miles. An Irishman swam one and a half mile in the sea. He did not remember anything. Sleep-walkers lose their sense of sight and hearing. They retain their sense of touch. Their sense and limbs are controlled by the subconscious mind. Lead the sleep-walker back to bed without waking him.


This is one of the five kinds of Vrittis according to Patanjali Maharshi in Raja Yoga. It does great havoc indeed. Vikalpa Vritti is imagination. Maya havocs through this Vritti. Fear, worry, co-exist with this Vritti. There is a rumour that there is cholera in George Town, Madras, the man in Park Town falsely imagines that he will get cholera. He worries and actually gets cholera out of fear. Your friend did not talk to you, as he was running in haste to catch the train. You imagine that he was offended. There was a rumour that a riot broke out in London. You falsely imagine that your son who was studying in London, might have died. Eradicate these Vrittis through Vichara. Do not Identify yourself these Vrittis through Vichara. Do not identify yourself with any Vritti. Identify yourself with the Vritti-less Brahman and rest peacefully forever.


The ever-restless mind becomes quiescent when all desires vanish. Desire raises Sankalpas (thoughts). Man performs actions for acquiring the desired objects. Thus he is caught in the wheel of Samsara. The wheel stops when the Vasanas perish.

Just as there are doors in a bungalow between the outer and inner rooms so also there are doors between the lower and the higher mind. When the mind is purified by the practice of Karma Yoga Tapas, right conduct or the practice of Yama, Niyama, Japa; meditation, etc., the doors between the lower and the higher mind are opened. Discrimination between the real and the unreal dawns. The eye of intuition is opened. The practitioner gets inspiration, revelation and higher Divine knowledge.

It is extremely difficult to have calm and pure mind. But you must have such a mind, if you want to have progress in meditation, if you desire to do Nishkamya Karma Yoga. Then only you will have a perfect instrument - a well-controlled mind - at your disposal. This is one of the most important qualifications for an aspirant. You will have to struggle hard for a long time with patience and perseverance. Nothing is impossible for a Sadhaka who has an iron will and a strong determination.

Just as soap cleanses the physical body, so also Japa of a Mantra, Dhyana, Kirtan and practice of Yama cleanse the mind of its impurities.

Who is free? The man who has controlled his mind. True freedom is freedom from the thraldom of mind and matter. True freedom is Self-realisation. Victory over the mind makes a man divine. Realise the emptiness of earthly victories. Conquest of mind is better than conquests in the battlefield. Become a man of peace. The body conquers the worldly man, whereas the Yogi conquers the body. When Prana, vital force, is conquered, mind is conquered. Control of mind is self-restraint. Through your higher Sattvic mind, control that part of the mind which runs in the direction of objects. The proper means to control the mind is Jnana or the development of spiritual wisdom. The pure and serene mind alone can know Brahman. When the mind becomes pure through spiritual discipline you will attain Self-relisation. You will realise Brahman as a homogeneous, pure, non-dual Consciousness. When the mind is rendered calm and deprived of its association with the objects it becomes fit for the study of Vedantic literature and meditation on Atman or the Supreme.

Where the mind becomes inaccessible to evil thoughts, and keeps away from the lure of sense-objects, it grasps the eternal truths and becomes the abode of everlasting peace. The purified mind is your best friend and the impure mind is your worst enemy. Do away with the impure mind through the pure mind. Make friendship with the pure mind and make your Atman rest in its original blissful state.

Maintain always a calm and peaceful mind. The mind which is not agitated by lust is always tranquil. It is futile to run to forests if you carry with you a restless and impure mind. When the restless waves of the mind subside, there arises gradually divine bliss. Iron becomes gold when it comes in contact with the philosopher's stone, gutter-water loses its impurity when it mixes with the water of the Ganga. Even so, the dirty mind becomes pure and loses its present form when it is united with the Lord. If the mind which flits from one object to another is slain with the sword of discrimination, then the Self-shining Brahman is realised. The mind gets absorbed in Brahman or absolute consciousness through the extinction of Kalpanas or thoughts. Eternal Bliss arises when the mind merges in Brahman.


The Hatha Yogins hold that the Prana Tattva is superior to mind. They say that Prana functions in sleep even when there is no mind. The Raja-Yogins and Vedantins assert that mind is superior to Prana, because mind wills through Sankalpa and the Prana, does the work. There is no Sankalpa Sakti in the Prana. Prana will have to obey the mind. This is the correct view.

The external ear, eyeballs, are only instruments, but not the real senses or Indriyas. The real centres of senses are in the brain or more correctly in the Sukshma Sarira. If the auditory or vision-centre in the brain is affected, you can neither hear nor see. During dreams, the mind itself does the function of all the senses despite the absence of the external instruments and the senses such as eyeballs, etc. Really it is the mind that sees, hears, tastes, feels, etc. In the mind all the senses are blended. This proves that real senses are within and the eyeballs, tongue, external ears, nose, hands, legs, etc., are mere instruments (Karanas). Some hold that in dream there is the play of subtle senses. This also proves that the real senses are within the astral body and that the eyeballs, etc., are mere instruments.

The mind does the function of Sankalpa, Vikalpa, - whether I can go to Dehra Dun or not. The Buddhi or intellect decides - I must go. Ahamkara self-arrogates. Chitta, which is the storehouse of Samskaras or impressions, makes the preparation and gives orders to the senses. Then the senses act. The legs move. The eyes see. After you reach Dehra Dun the Vritti or wave of thought that was agitating you to see Dehra Dun subsides or gets dissolution (Laya) and you get temporary peace after the gratification of your desire.

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