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Mind, World Inner Discipline and Spiritual Progress

by Swami Sivananda

I. MIND AND THE WORLD

The body is the root of the tree of Samsara or the earthly existence.

There was not pot in the beginning and there will not be any at the end. But if you see the pot in the middle, then your attitude towards it should be detached i.e., you should not believe in its permanence.

So also, there was no body in the beginning, and there will be none at the end. But that which exists in the middle and not in the beginning or at the end, should not cause bondage to you, i.e., you should not get attached to it.

Identification with the body is the cause for pleasure and pain. Where there is pleasure, pain is present in the background.

The characteristics of the body, senses, vital force, mind and intellect are superimposed on the pure Atman, which, in reality you are. You labour under the false notion, - I am the doer, I am the enjoyer, I am the sufferer in relation to your body, mind and senses, and thereby come to grief.

The senses are the avenues for sense-knowledge. They are the gateways of perception for the mind.

The mind works always in conjunction with the five senses. It is drawn out by the five senses to the external objects, and thus the world is perceived.

Mind generates endless thoughts in relation to its perception through the senses, and the world comes into being.

Thoughts and names and forms are inseparable. If thought ceases, the world also ceases. Perception gives stimulation to thought.

The nature of the mind being extrovert. It tries to derive pleasure through stimulation of thoughts which are effected by the contact of the senses with the objects.

Not being satisfied with one object, the mind jumps from one to another, because no object can give continued satisfaction, and therefore they have to be changed constantly. Thus the mind is restless.

In a restless mind, no true knowledge, which is extra sensory supra-mundane, can dawn. Therefore, the necessity of the control of thought, and then its annihilation.

Then intuition dawns, which is beyond the means of thought. Acquire mastery over the mind. Make it your servant. Allow it not to become your master.

Practise Yoga. Discipline the senses and control the mind. Open the portals of intuition and let divine knowledge flood over the mind.

Be bold. Be courageous. Be manly. Yield not to temptation. Be not dejected. Stand up. Gird up your loins, achieve victory over the mind.

The external world cannot affect you if you have mastery over the mind.

The impressions of your past actions, tendencies and aptitudes are left in your subconscious in the form of Samskaras.

All your past experiences, though lost to your memory, are deeply rooted in the subconscious. These Samskaras, some of which or the most of which may have been acquired in the past birth or births, are revived in the present life.

Though external environmental factors mould your propensities, the past Samskaras are not lost. They may acquire a different mode of expression but never lose themselves.

The sum total of Samskaras constitutes the mind, together with its various agencies. This mind is a strong wall that stands between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul.

The nature of mind is to create distinctions and differences. It separates, divides, limits.

It is a storehouse of errors, cravings, doubts, delusions and the primordial ignorance.

The lower mind is your real enemy, because it binds you to the Samsara.

The higher mind, which is endowed with the faculty of right perception, is your aid in the spiritual path.

The lower mind is filled with Rajas and Tamas, or passion and inertia or ignorance. The higher mind is filled with Sattva or purity.

The Atman never feels any pleasure or pain. The mind feels the different conditions of life. If it is controlled and well-cultivated and guided in the right groove, then one attains happiness, being not entirely dependent on the external conditions.

Equipoise of mind is the ideal sought by all, consciously or unconsciously.

II. ANALYSIS OF MIND

If the senses of perception are restrained, the mind can be greatly neutralised. For the moment the mind may be restless, not finding the service of the senses, but later on it will quiet down and be amenable to your directives. Intellect should guide and mould the emotions. The higher mind has a large measure of pure intellect which enables right understanding or evolution.

Perverted intellect may cause unhealthy emotions, and is often a great obstacle to Self-realisation.

Unbridled emotions can bring about a good deal of harm even to spiritual aspirations. Emotionalism is certainly not devotion. Intellect is not Self-luminous. It borrows its light from the Atman.

Higher emotions that are well-cultivated and directed in the right grooves, can lead one to God-realisation.

Ahamkara or - I-ness is the core of the mental world. Ahamkara denotes identification. Identification causes the generation of Vrittisor modifications. Identification with the Atman helps one to rise above the mundane world. This is the process of Vedanta.

The lower impulses are subdued and scorched out by the higher emotions through the process of Yoga.

III. INNER DISCIPLINE

The senses are the gates. Close the gates of the senses by the practice of Dama and Pratyahara (abstraction). You will have deep concentration.

Even if the external senses are controlled, the mind will be dwelling on the sensual objects. Therefore the mind also should be fixed in the lotus of the heart or the point between the two eyebrows (Ajna Chakra). Then the thoughts can be controlled. Develop one-pointedness of mind. Fix your mind on the Lord. If the mind wanders bring it back again and again to the object of meditation. Collect all the dissipated rays of the mind. Gather all thoughts through discrimination, dispassion and concentration. You will be free from wavering or oscillation of mind.

You cannot practise meditation without a firm posture. If the body is unsteady, the mind also will become unsteady.

Through regular meditation the mind becomes serene and calm. The little self-arrogating personality then slowly dies. Through regular meditation you grow spiritually. The Divine flame becomes brighter and brighter. You become impersonal and one with the Reality.

Keep the mind quite steady by withdrawing it from the objects of senses. Renounce all thoughts which generate desires. Meditate on the Lord. You will become a Yogi.

The Chitta-Vritti which is of the form of the object meditated upon is called Bhavana or that which binds. The mind which is endowed with strong discriminative faculty and dispassion will be able to control the senses from their inroads to the objects in all directions.

The Yogi is one who has united his mind with the Reality. Muni is one who does Manana (reflection or meditation.) Meditation or Dhyana is a continuous and unbroken flow of thought which is compared to the flow of oil from one vessel to another (Avichhinna Taila Dharavat).

The mind is refined and purified only by meditation and self-discipline. The mind that is rendered pure, will automatically move towards the Self or Atman. Then it has neither attraction nor attachment for the sensual objects.

IV. MIND AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

Mind is the means to spiritual attainment, and yet it is an obstacle too. The higher mind helps one to progress spiritually, and the lower mind anchors one to the worldly mire.

The battle between the positive and the negative forces is decided by the superior strength of the either of the two parts of the mind.

The Supreme Being created this aggregate of the body and entered it in the form of Jiva or the individual soul. The individual soul is united with the mind and the senses and becomes the enjoyer of the objects. Friends and enemies are not outside. They exist in the mind only.

It is the mind that makes a friend an enemy and an enemy a friend, depending on its moods. No meditation on Truth is possible with a fickle mind. A steady, one-pointed mind serves as a powerful searchlight to find out the hidden spiritual treasure of the Atman. No meditation is possible when the senses are out of control and distract attention.

The self-controlled Yogi who has attained mastery over his mind through discrimination, dispassion and meditation attains Self-realisation. He who clings to pleasure and power cannot have steadiness of mind. He cannot concentrate and meditate.

He who is free from desire, greed and expectation can have a steady mind. When all desires for objects die, the mind becomes very peaceful and rests steadily in the Atman. Quiescence and despondence are different conditions.

When the mind becomes quite steady by constant and protracted practice of concentration, the Yogi beholds the reality by the mind which is now rendered pure, and yet which was an obstacle before.

He who does not practise any meditation cannot possess peace of mind.

Without peace man cannot have happiness. When the mind is completely withdrawn from the sensual objects there is a feeling of supreme contentment within the heart. He who cannot fix his mind in meditation is a slave of his senses.

A man of balanced mind is indeed a great soul. When the mind is always in a balanced state one rises above duality.

V. WATCH THE MIND

In the waking state the mind plays with the external objects. When you sit for meditation with closed eyes, the mind plays with past memories. It builds castles in the air. You will imagine that you are having deep meditation. When it gets tired it may become dull (Moodha state) or it may enter into deep sleep. Watch the mind carefully; be always vigilant.


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