Sayings of a Paramahamsa

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

How can self-acceptance and effort towards perfecting oneself coexist? How can we accept and make an effort at the same time to bring passions such as fear, anger and possessiveness under control?

What is the nature of the mind? The mind is influenced by sattwa guna, rajo guna and tamo guna because they are the constituents of the mind. I have always prayed, “I do not want anything from You.” Even today this is my prayer. I never said to God, “Give me peace of mind, give me buddhi, make me strong mentally.” I had no such business relationship with God. I said to myself, “God has given me everything.”

Nobody could influence me because I know that this is the nature of my mind. Many people who try to control their mind become schizophrenic; they have a split personality and divide their mind into two factions. Inside there is dross, outside there is a clean, tidy appearance. Because of this split personality people become sick; they have stomach pain, constipation, pain in the anus, pain in the navel, pain in the lower back. Why is there pain below the waist? Because people are suppressing the mind.

The mind is a great force in this world and you should never misbehave with it. Do not consider the mind to be a sinner. Do not fight with the mind or beat it down. Do not torture, punish or criticize it. The mind should be your friend. Take yourself to be an agent, an instrument. God is the real doer. You do not have to say this to God, but you are scared. You think that if you do a particular action you will be guilty and have to face the consequences. Thus each one of you is set on the task of self-reformation. But when you try to turn and twist your nature, your personality becomes more problematical and more complex.

I talk to many people about this. I also discuss it with my sannyasins. I tell them to do a lot of karma yoga, to serve others selflessly. I tell them to go to the villages, serve the poor, visit door to door and partake of people's sufferings, misery and distress. The rest will follow automatically; everything will change of its own accord. But until you share the sorrow and suffering of others, unless you consider their misery to be your own, you will never acquire control over the mind. It is not easy to conquer the mind.

Dedication to a noble cause

Don't fight with your mind. Ultimately you will be the loser; you are never going to gain or be victorious. The only way to deal with the mind is to give it a proper duty that it likes, to give it a sound job. The one thing the mind likes is to serve humanity, to help the poor, to feed the hungry, to nurse the sick, to take care of the orphans, to go from door to door, find out the problems of others and render whatever help it can. You will see the transformation in the mind. The carbon becomes a diamond. It is the only way.

You may practise raja yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga as much as you like, but they only pacify the mind for the time being. They are all first aid treatment. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, capable or incapable, if you cannot think and aspire passionately to help others, you can never deal with the mind. The mind can only be dealt with by a sattwic programming of dedication and self-sacrifice.

Don't try to control your mind at all. Ultimately you will fail. Dedicate your mind to a noble cause. Do not fight with the mind. You will perish, you will become sick, you will have psychological problems. The only way to conquer your mind is to apply it to a noble cause, to dedicate it to the service of such an ideal that will make it happy. The mind enjoys serving needy people. Go to an institution and render some service. Visit a hospital and do a little nursing, serve the sick, help the doctors, give some first aid. You will like it. You will feel light-hearted after doing it.

Necessity of selfless service

Work which you do free of charge is called nishkama seva. Selfless service is necessary for self-transformation. It is necessary to clean the rajo and tamo guna of the mind. Nishkama seva, selfless work, is like detergent. Nishkama seva doesn't just mean work, you should have a feeling for it in your heart. For millions and millions of people in India the state of affairs is abysmal. They have no shelter, no food, nowhere to cook, no toilet, not even water to drink. There is scarcity, suffering, poverty, darkness and dejection.

What have you done for such people? You are wasting your time if you just grapple and wrestle with your own mind twenty-four hours a day. You box with it, you give it the slip. In your combat with the mind sometimes you fall, sometimes the mind falls, but nobody can attain a decisive victory. Sometimes you win, sometimes the mind wins. In the evening you are fagged out. You begin to moan with a headache and take a tranquillizer or open a bottle. Some opt to go to a temple for respite. Some choose to go to a discotheque to refresh themselves. Some decide on a session of yoga nidra and play a tape.

Nobody thinks of going to the house of a poor person and lighting a lamp. Nobody thinks of visiting the have-nots. If a child is born in a poor family, at least go and give the child a crib. When a child is born in your own family you immediately think of a crib and there are elaborate preparations in anticipation. But when there is a newborn in someone else's family, all you do is give good wishes and greetings. That will not help him. Go to his house and give him a warm sweater, some tonic for the mother and some money. This is a practical sadhana I am giving you. I do it and Swami Satsangi also does it.

Make friends with the mind

Now tell me, if a person can think on these lines, how can he have a mental problem? I have never fought with my mind. My mind is my friend. Sometimes the mind also commits a mistake but I take it in my stride. I am straight and outspoken. The mind does have its weaknesses and foibles. Who is there in this world who has entered a chimney full of soot and yet managed to remain unblemished? If there is anyone among you who can claim to be spotless, then raise your hand. No wise man would expect to come out spotless from a house full of black smoke.

Whoever comes into this world has three cheats sitting within: kama (desire), krodha (anger) and lobha (greed). These three flaws are the smugglers hiding in one's mind. Everyone who is born in this physical body has desire, anger and greed. Sometimes my mind is influenced by all three and I say, “Go ahead.” I never fight with my mind. He is my chum, my friend, my comrade. He lives, thinks and works for me. But we have made an arrangement. He says, “Swamiji, you are my guru, I am your disciple.”

Swami Sivananda and many other saints have told us about the house in which a one hundred watt bulb is burning. It emits a thin shaft of light through chinks in the door and windows. The bulb burning inside is compared to the mind. The mind is a small fragment of the divine self. The mental power is only a very limited frequency of the divine self, of God. The mental power is not demonical, it is only a power with a limited frequency. Therefore, don't misbehave with your mind. Make it your friend, but not by being bossy. This is the age of democracy, the mind also says it has rights.

Your mind speaks to you in a friendly relationship of equality. It does not treat you as its boss. It is like your children telling you off. In this world of misery, suffering and yearning, the mind keeps pining for things. So, in this twenty-four hour carnival of a world, say what you want and let me say what I want before it is too late. Sometimes the mind triumphs over me, sometimes I win over the mind. Sometimes the mind listens to me, sometimes I listen to the mind, but now the mind is my disciple and calls me its guru.

All of you can attain such a relationship with the mind, but you have already created enmity with the mind, like that between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Now it is not possible for you to have an amicable relationship with the mind. For you the mind is a sinner, the source of all misery and vice, the origin of worry and anxiety. It is the storehouse of passion, anger and all human weaknesses. The mind for you is a dirty toilet which you cannot enter. This is your definition of the mind. This is your deep-seated misconception of the mind. You have to change it because the mind is very powerful. You should not aspire only for meditation, communion or moksha.

All the great people of the world have commanded their minds to perform wonderful feats in their respective fields, whether they were gurus, mahatmas, artists, scientists or men of letters such as Buddha, Mahavir, Gandhi, Newton or Einstein. Valmiki and Tulsidas commanded their minds to write the Ramayana and Ramacharitamanas; they didn't just sit in the forest. The mind is a minute fraction of the unfathomable Brahman. Nobody should misbehave with it.

The mind has a vulnerability, a weakness. If you think of the misery and misfortune of others, the mind melts. It sloughs off its hard crust. Suppose you have ten or twenty thousand rupees and the thought comes to your mind, let me help the poor with this money. If you actually do something to help the poor, that day your mind will be very pleased, very peaceful. You will feel so peaceful that you will not be able to express it in words. If you want to befriend your mind, treat the whole world as your family and reach out to as many people as you can.

—Rama Nama Aradhana, Rikhia, December 1996