Sweep out the sphere of your mind,
Make a place for the loved one to sit.
Dust out all thoughts of this world
So that His throne may fit.
A million desires engulf you,
A million ambitions and aims.
How can you make room
for His Presence
Unless they vacate His domain?
The development of positive qualities automatically gets rid of negative qualities. However, it is better to also make a concentrated attempt to remove the negative qualities. It is a double attack on the enemy and the progress is then rapid. Success becomes easy and certain. There is nothing like purushartha (right exertion). Purushartha changed the destiny of Markandeya and he became a chiranjivi, immortal. Therefore, sincere effort must be made to eradicate all the lower passions such as desire, anger, fear, pride, greed, etc. They must be slowly conquered so that the aspirant becomes ready to receive the divine light.
Desire and lust are modes of the emotive mind. They possess the power of externalizing the mind. Desire is the fuel; thought is the fire. The thought-fire is kept up by the desire-fuel. If you withdraw the supply of fuel, the fire will be withdrawn into its womb. If you stop thinking by cutting off desires, the mind will be withdrawn into Brahman. It is only when the mind, being divested of all its desires, is indifferent to pleasures and pains and is not attracted by any object that it will be rendered pure, free from the grip of the great delusion like a bird freed from its cage and roaming freely in the sky.
The mind plays havoc through desires. As soon as a desire arises, you think you will get all happiness by its realization. You exert yourself to achieve the desired object. As soon as you get it, a little satisfaction (false tushti or gratification) is experienced for a short time. Again, the mind becomes restless. It wants new sensations. Disgust and dissatisfaction come in. Again, it wants some new objects for its enjoyment. That is the reason why this world is termed as mere kalpana (imagination) by Vedantins.
Even after you have renounced all the desires, there may remain in the mind some subtle, hidden desires (sukshma, anirbuddha) that cannot be comprehended. These are very dangerous ones. Therefore, you will have to be very, very careful. The lurking undercurrents of desires will throw you down at any moment if you are not very vigilant and cautious, will destroy your vairagya (dispassion) and will bring about your downfall eventually.
Do not yield to desires. Do not become despondent under your trials. Make friendship with the pure, sattwic mind and destroy the impure mind with the help of the pure mind. Whenever a desire arises in the mind, consult always your viveka (power of discrimination). When you are fully aware of the magnitude of human sufferings in this miserable, relative world, you will naturally begin to discriminate between what is real and what is unreal. Viveka will at once tell you that the desire is attended with pain, that it is only a vain temptation set up by the mind and that vairagya (dispassion) and tyaga alone can bring about satisfaction and peace of mind. It will advise you to renounce the desire immediately and take to the study of scriptures, repetition of Om, etc. Think deeply again and again whether the new desire will give you more happiness or more spiritual gain. Viveka will guide you to take up the help of will and drive out the desire immediately. Viveka and will are two potent weapons for an aspirant on the path of jnana yoga to destroy the evil Mara (temptation) and remove all major and minor impediments.
It is usual to regard anger as a corollary or counterpart of desire, since it usually appears when desire becomes frustrated. Psychologically, the two are interrelated. Yet, from the point of view of the spiritual sadhaka whose main task is to purify the mind, anger is a more powerful foe than desire. It is worthwhile analyzing the cause of the defeat too frequently sustained by the sadhaka when he wages war with anger.
Anger, like fever, is a symptom which shows that something has gone wrong in the inner mechanism. The mental machinery gets heated for want of timely lubrication. The most effective of all lubricants is introspection or reflection. Even the most angry person realizes his folly after his anger is spent out. It is then that he begins to reflect upon what he did. If this reflection had come to him before he got angry, he would not have got angry at all. But that would be possible only if he had reflected or introspected over his habit.
Anger makes everybody its slave and victim. It breaks friendships even between intimate friends. It excites all. It holds sway more or less over the whole world. Anger destroys reason and makes one do things that cannot be dreamt of. Under the influence of anger one abuses, insults and even commits murders. If you look into the defects of anger and the benefits of patience, you will never become angry.
If you strive and make sincere effort to subdue your anger, the hatred subsides. Even then, a slight movement of impatience lingers although the angry feeling has gone. You must eschew this slight disturbance also. For a man who is leading a divine life, this is a very serious drawback. Irritability is a weakness of the mind. If you are easily irritable, it is likely that you may do injustice to many. Remove this by the practice of patience, tolerance, karuna (mercy) and love, etc.
Observe mouna for two hours every day. Occasionally, observe mouna for a whole day. This will put a check on the impulse of speech. When a person gets excited, he speaks anything and everything. He has no control over the organ of speech. If you find it really difficult to control your anger, leave the place at once. Take a long walk. Drink cold water. Repeat Om Shanti ten times. Do japa of your ishta mantra or count from 1 to 30. The anger will subside.
Fear is a great human curse. It is a negative thought. It is your worst enemy. It assumes various forms, viz., fear of death, fear of disease, fear of public criticism, fear of losing your property or money, etc. Fear blights many lives, makes people unhappy and unsuccessful.
Some people can bravely face the shells and shots on the battlefield, but are afraid of public criticism and public opinion. Some can face a tiger fearlessly in the forest, but are afraid of the surgeons knife. You should get rid of fear of all kind.
The power of imagination in the mind intensifies fear. Fear is due to delusion or moha, attachment to the gross and physical body on account of avidya (ignorance). Attachment to the body is the cause of all fear. He who can throw off the physical sheath (annamaya kosha) either by yoga or jnana will be free from fear. He who has conquered fear has conquered everything. He has gained mastery over the mind.
A calm mind means courage. You may face without fear the trials and difficulties of the spiritual path. It has its root in the recognition of the unity of the Self. Fearlessness is a daivi sampat (divine quality). Constantly think that you are the atman. You will slowly develop immense courage. The one idea that you are the immortal self can efficiently destroy fear of every description. This is the only potent tonic, the one sure panacea for the dire disease of fear.
If you cannot overcome fear, mentally deny that you have fear, and concentrate on the opposite quality: the ideal of courage. When courage is fully developed, fear vanishes by itself. A positive attitude always overcomes a negative one. This is an infallible law of nature. You can acquire a liking for distasteful tasks and duties by cultivating a desire and taste for them. You can establish new habits, ideas, ideals and tastes in the subconscious mind by changing the old ones. This requires effort and perseverance.
A spiritual aspirant will have to face boldly misrepresentation, calumny and misunderstanding. That has always been the lot of those who tried to raise themselves above their fellows. Moral strength and courage are necessary to meet these and to enable one to maintain ones position and what one thinks as right, irrespective of what others think, say or do. People may despise and persecute you. You will have to stand boldly on your moral footing to live for your convictions. An aspirant who has outgrown the rules of society should act according to the dictates of his pure conscience and pure reason. Then alone can he grow spiritually.