Suppression and Control

In sannyas life, it is very important to distinguish between suppression of desires and their control. There is a vast difference between the two, although both involve the non-expression and non-gratification of sensual desires. While control leads to higher life, in suppression, the individual avoids expression of desires and instincts for a different reason- either because of fear, inadequacy or wrong understanding. This leads to mental disturbance, as the suppressed energy begins to express itself in negative and distorted thought patterns and ideas.

How does one differentiate between suppression and control?

Suppression is occurring when there is a kind of opposition to your own personality, because you really do not agree with what you are doing. However, in control, there is mutual agreement between both elements of the mind. When the sannyasin controls himself, he agrees with himself totally, and uses willpower to attain what he knows is in line with his objective. In suppression, one does not want to do something, yet he still does it. The mind is split into two opposing elements and the self is denied. But in control, the mind works harmoniously to attain the desired self mastery - the self is affirmed. This is the fundamental difference.

In suppression, when the more negative aspects are experienced, they are either denied altogether, or only acknowledged minimally and are not looked at squarely. This denial leads to alienation of a part of oneself. The true self is divided and scattered, together with the energies and the hopes for a higher, transcendental life. When suppression occurs, one is not whole, not together, not in union with himself. When a suppressed person experiences a negative emotion he feels guilty because he thinks he should not feel it.

When one is working for control, to attain a higher objective, one realises that negative emotions arise from time to time. These have to be fully experienced if they are not to remain repressed in the deeper levels of consciousness, causing blockages and problems. Control requires that one be able to experience whatever arises, positive or negative, with complete awareness. The sannyasin must be able to acknowledge that he is feeling anger, greed, vanity and lust without feeling guilty, anxious or upset.

Gaining control over the mind

By becoming totally aware of his thoughts and feelings the sannyasin becomes better able to redirect them in a harmonious manner. This is how he develops mental strength and control whereas the ordinary person becomes weakened and suppressed. For both, the initial thought forms are the same, but the sannyasin deals with them in a different way. A sannyasins attitude towards his mind is one of fearlessness. Whatever comes up he is ready to face, like a hero in the midst of a raging battle. He never falters, whereas the ordinary person, fearful of his own mind never takes up the struggle, squirming at the first sign of conflict.

The sannyasin remains absorbed in one-pointedness, remaining balanced and unaffected in both favourable and unfavourable situations, without trying to modify them to suit his individual purposes. He realises that difficult situations are a blessing, sharpening his mind and making him strong. Adversity creates mental strength, equilibrium and stability, while favourable situations weaken the mind. Only the progress made in the face of opposition is everlasting.

Who is a swami

Only one who is master of his mind is a swami. The real sannyasin crosses the great barriers of ego, lust, anger, greed, attachment and desire through mental strength, equilibrium and tolerance. He is unaffected whether people think highly of him or not. He welcomes miserable circumstances, insults and abuse, taunts, blame and shame, that he may become strong enough to stand up to any adversity without losing balance. He maintains equilibrium, stability and inner peace at every step of the way, in the face of any odds. He regards affection, appreciation, recognition and praise as poison and inwardly rejects them. A sannyasin utilises his senses fully, but he always remains master of his mind. He avoids sensual indulgence because it leads to attachment, but uses his senses to develop higher awareness. He is not dead to life but affirms life fully because he understands its purpose. It is not what a person does or does not do which makes him a sannyasin, but the frame of mind he has in carrying out his actions.

A person who has a strong sensual nature should not feel he is unsuited to sannyas. He can make an excellent sannyasin provided he can master the expression of his sensual instincts rather than serving them blindly. No one should deny himself what he needs, but all sannyasins have to discover the difference between self-suppression and self-control. The sannyasin must learn to observe the sense experiences and the reactions of the mind, rather than living for the sake of sense experiences. This is the way to freedom and bliss.