Mind Management

What is the difference between control and suppression of behaviour and thought?

A person may think whatever he likes, but when it comes to behaviour one has to observe propriety. You don’t need to know any science to understand this. If your thoughts are negative you will suffer, but if your behaviour is inappropriate others will have to suffer you. Therefore, one has to observe propriety in behaviour, and sometimes that requires suppression. Here, suppression assumes a form of propriety. Inappropriate behaviour is like a river that has broken away from its proper course causing a flood. Whenever something does not keep to its proper path, it results in destruction. When the rain does not follow its proper system, there is excess rainfall and villages upon villages drown. So, if propriety is the issue, suppression is all right.

How can we resolve conflict between people?

Two thousand and five hundred years ago, two great people were born: Buddha and Mahavira. These historical personalities said: forgive, forget, practise non-violence. They gave the message of tolerance. Two thousand years ago, another great personality was born in Israel. His name was Jesus Christ. He also gave the same message. After him, those such as St Francis reiterated the same thought. The different sannyasa sects of India whether Vaishnava, Vairagya, Udasin have also said the same thing. If someone hits you, let him do so. Do not react. Be peaceful, do not fight. Do not fight over small things. People kill over a small piece of land. They kill over a woman. Is this a good thing? No. One should not walk the path of violence. One should not harbour thoughts of revenge. Revenge, retaliation and violence do not provide any solution.

Swami Sivananda used to say, bear insult, bear injury, forgive, serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realize. I can tell you from my own experience that anyone who follows these dictums will never suffer from any block, weakness or trouble in life. I am not trying to preach a big philosophy. I am talking of a philosophy which will be of use within a room, a home and society. I am not talking of the problems in Bosnia, Chechnya or Kashmir. I am pointing at the problems that take place within a room, between two people, between husband and wife.

A couple enter married life with the vow that they will live together their whole life, but a small thing leads them to the brink of divorce. A molehill turns into a mountain. Even if they don’t actually separate, what kind of a life do they live? They do not trust or support each other or appreciate each other’s feelings. If people are able to support and comfort each other, then life will turn into heaven for everyone.

Try to live amicably, bear insult and injury, and do this at your home. When sharp arrows of words are being shot between a couple, brothers, neighbours, father and child, that is when you need to apply this philosophy. Learn to bear criticism. Who criticizes you? Your spouse, brother or father. Either they criticize you or you criticize them. Small conflicts go on in a household. Don’t retaliate in anger. If your wife raises her voice, remain quiet. It is unnecessary to retort with harsh words which you will later regret. Think that right now she is merely behaving like a monkey bitten by the scorpion of anger. Let her speak her mind.

Every individual, whether wife, husband, son, brother, neighbour, relative or shopkeeper, must remember one thing – they should not hurt another human being through their behaviour. By doing this, one day or the other they will win over the whole world. Mahatma Gandhi won over all of India on the basis of this. If India was able to gain independence, it was only due to one person. The philosophy of Gandhiji’s life was such that he was able to achieve what others could not.

Non-violence is the best philosophy. All the Vedas, the scriptures and religions say this. The preceptors such as Mahavira, Jesus Christ and Swami Sivananda who gave this message to us were not foolish. Keep this in mind whenever you face a conflict.

How can we control the mind?

This is an old question. Arjuna also asked the same question of Krishna. It has been replied to innumerable times, yet the hardest thing in the world remains mind control. To control the mind is like trying to control the wind or attaining a vision of God. Nonetheless, that is the very purpose of human life.

Nature has not ruled that a dog, cat, elephant, horse or insect should control the mind; these creatures live directly under the laws of nature. It is human life that has a higher purpose. We have received the human body to fulfil a higher purpose. The way people live is not up to the dharma of the human body; its dharma is not just eating and sleeping. The first aim of human life is chitta vritti nirodha, controlling the dissipated patterns of the mind. One who is not able to control his mind is like an animal.

You cannot see the mind. It is an invisible element, but you can know it. The mind is troubled by the senses, and to control the mind one must control the senses. The sense organs are visible, whether the eyes, ears or the limbs, so you can catch them. Every sense organ has a corresponding sense object. The sense object of the eyes is form, of the ears is sound and so on. They are tangible and by controlling them one can control the intangible mind. Ramacharitamanas clearly speaks of how to kill Ravana. Ravana is your own mind. Who is the one with ten heads and twenty hands? The ten heads are the five karmendriyas and five jnanendriyas, and combining their positive and negative sides makes it twenty. Ravana’s nature is like that of the mind. Tamo guna, quality of ignorance, predominates in both. Our mind is full of tamas, ignorance, and rajas, restlessness. If it was sato guni, luminous and pure, then the question of controlling it would not have risen. If there is any trace of sato guna in our mind, it is like a pinch of sugar in a tonne of salt.

In the path of sadhana, one should try to free one’s mind from the influence of the senses. Fasting, mouna, observance of silence, sattwic food, no sleep during the day – all these rules have been prescribed for this purpose. All yoga sutras and spiritual teachings have said that by observing these rules the mind can be controlled.

I will tell you something else now. In every age, there is a different system for mind control. In the Satya Yuga, there was a particular system, in the Dwapara and Treta yugas there were different systems, and in the present age of Kali Yuga there is a different system. The methods prescribed for Kali Yuga are three: japa, kirtan and nishkama karma. When I speak of japa, I am speaking of mental japa. Kirtan, practised aloud, has been accorded a special place in Kali Yuga.

The third method is nishkama karma. The work that you usually do is to earn for your family, children and yourself. It is not nishkama; it is sakama. Nishkama karma is the work performed without the desire for fruit; it is selfless service. Work done for oneself or one’s dear ones is called swartha, and that which is done for others is called paramartha. I am not talking of social service; I would like to correct this notion. I am talking of controlling the mind. How will you capture the mind? Do something for which the fruits are received by others, which benefits and gives joy to others. This is also called paropkara. Give food to the hungry or nurse a sick person. Every person needs some help, so do whatever you can. Such an action influences the mind. If you do good to others, the mind is purified. This is called chitta shuddhi.

So, read what Vasishtha said to Rama in the Yoga Vasishtha, read Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita and practise all that Patanjali has said in the Yoga Sutras. Along with this, do japa, perform seva and practise kirtan at home.

When faced with difficulties, the mind does not work. What should we do in such a situation?

Any difficulty or obstacle, whether or not it can be removed, has its place in your life. There is only one way to face it. The realized, the wise as well as psychologists have the same opinion on this: in the face of turmoil, in whichever way possible, maintain your calm. Learn to quieten the mind. If the mind is calm, you will not press the panic button and that will enable you to find a way out of your problem.

When Sita was kidnapped, Rama became immersed in intense grief. Lakshmana tried to console him in various ways. Shabari also tried to explain things to him, so did Kabandha, and then Narada himself came to comfort him. Even Sugriva whose own wife had been kidnapped tried to console Rama. He said to Rama that if he calmed his mind then the whole matter would be dealt with. So whenever you face a difficulty in life, first find a method to calm the mind. Whether you do this yourself, go to a guru or doctor is up to you.

How can a disciple whose mind is most dissipated get rid of the ego?

Why do you ask these unnecessary things? Your whole life will be spent trying to get rid of the ego, but the ego will not go away. What is more important is that you try to achieve something in your life. Achieve success, achieve learning; find an attainment. Why do you want to destroy your personality? It is possible that the very thing you want to destroy, what you think of as ego, becomes the basis of your progress in life. After all, the basis of man’s achievement is his personality, his ego.

Source of solutions: go in

You keep asking for solutions to your problems, but the answer lies within you. Every individual should solve his problems on his own whether it is a physical, mental, emotional, financial or social problem because the solutions exist in him. They are encrypted inside him. Every person has his own key and to procure that key, one needs to go within. The answers do not lie outside. Whether you have immense wealth, are a big leader, actor or ruler, whether you are beautiful, strong, resourceful or educated, the answer to your problems cannot be found through these attributes. The solution to problems lies within whether it concerns disease, poverty or something else.

There is a solution to poverty as well as disease. There is a solution to everything in this world, but you will not find it outside. ‘Outside’ means the world of illusion. Earning a lot of money or gaining a high position does not beget happiness. Happiness lies within and answers lie within.

To go within you must detach yourself from the senses for a while and ask the guru for the path. Don’t ask for too much. Don’t say, “Guruji, I have an itch here, what should I do?” Everyone suffers from itches. How many people will the guru look after if they come to him for every small thing? Every day of your life you have to face at least one problem. Will you continue to ask your mother to help you brush your teeth and give you a bath? So ask the guru for only one path – the one that goes inside. Ask him for the key to go within, to that state where there is neither night nor day, neither sleep nor wakefulness – the twilight zone. Receiving such a direction from the guru is called initiation.

There are many paths to reach the same destination. After all, is there only one way to reach Mumbai? The guru who lives in Chennai will send you to Mumbai from Chennai and the one who lives in Rishikesh will send you off from Rishikesh. Depending on the floor of life you are in, the state of evolution you are in, you will be sent forward from there. Some indicate the path of form and sound, some say leave everything to God and some say visit a temple and make an offering. Whatever the path, it will be shown to you by the guru. Don’t try to pick one based on your whims. As you practise walking the path shown to you, the answers to your questions will appear from within. That is for certain.

Swami Vivekananda and Adi Shankaracharya received the answer and you will also receive it. You will find the answer to your spiritual questions as well as every other question. Gandhiji found the path to free the country by going within. He received two answers. The first was ahimsa, non-violence. He realized that nothing will be achieved by weapons. The second was the spinning wheel representing cloth, one of the most intimate things associated with man’s consciousness. With this he was able to capture the mind of an entire nation. This was his spiritual experiment.

Usually when we try to solve a problem, we glance at it superficially. We do not go in and look at it. Whether it is at the political, national or family level, we should not look at a problem in its gross or external form. We need to grasp its subtle form. Gandhiji understood the significance of cloth, gave it the form of the spinning wheel and his revolution spread from village to village. How did Gandhiji find the path to go within? He would fast and meditate. He has written that he would hear the sound of Krishna’s flute. This means that he was able to go within.

You will realize that you have reached inside yourself when you have extra-sensory perceptions. When you hear music when no music is playing outside, when you see moonlight without a moon, a lotus without a lotus pond, it means that you have gone within. You may even hear the sound of a drum, a cricket or flute, or you may see the image of Shiva, Devi or guru. When you have arrived at this state, you receive the answer to your questions. In this state of inwardness, you will get the answer to a disease also, to joy and sorrow as well as life and death. For all the questions in the world, the answers exist within the individual.

Buddha gave a mantra to his disciples: atma deepobhava. “Become your own light.” Vedic thought also emphasizes that the light is within you. You are not the body, you are effulgent spirit. Some call this spirit God, some atman, some paramatma. It is indestructible. When the house called body falls apart, the spirit that resides in it goes elsewhere. The spirit is not the house, it lives in the house. It looks after the house for it lives in it, but it is not the house. You are separate from your body. So, reach into your spirit and you will find all answers.