Nothing but Thoughts

From Thought Power, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Thoughts and character

Man is not a creature of circumstances. His thoughts are the architects of his circumstances. A man of character builds a life out of circumstances. He steadily perseveres and plods. He does not look back. He marches forward bravely. He is not afraid of obstacles. He never frets and fumes. He never gets discouraged and disappointed. He is full of vigour, energy, vim and vitality. He is ever zealous and enthusiastic.

Thoughts are the bricks with which character is built. Character is not born. It is formed. Determination to build definite character in life is needed. This must be followed up with persistent striving.

Build your character; you can shape your life. Character is power. It is influence; it makes friends. It draws patronage and support. It creates friends and funds. It opens a sure and easy way to wealth, honour, success and happiness. Character is the determining factor in victory and defeat, success and failure, and in all the issues of life. A man of good character enjoys life herein and hereafter.

Small kind acts, small courtesies, small consideration, small benevolence, habitually practised in your social interactions give a greater charm to your character than great platform lectures, discourses, oration and exhibition of talents.

Strong character is formed by strong and noble thinking. A good character is the fruition of personal exertion. It is the result of one’s own endeavours.

It is not wealth or power nor is it mere intellect that governs the world. It is moral character associated with moral excellence that really rules the entire universe.

Nothing in this world - wealth, name, fame, victory - is worth a fig or a straw, without character. Character must stand behind and back up everything, and character is built by your thoughts.

Thoughts, peace and strength

Fewer the desires, lesser the thoughts. Become absolutely desireless. The wheel of mind will stop entirely. If you reduce your wants, if you do not try to fulfil your desires, if you try to eradicate your desires one by one, your thoughts will diminish in frequency and length. The number of thoughts also per minute will diminish.

Fewer the thoughts, greater the peace. Remember this always. A wealthy man who is engaged in speculation in a big city and who has a large number of thoughts has a restless mind in spite of his comforts, whereas a sadhu who lives in a cave of the Himalayas and who is practising thought-control is very happy in spite of his poverty.

Fewer the thoughts, greater the mental strength and concentration. Suppose that the average number of thoughts that pass through your brain within one hour is one hundred. If you succeed in reducing it, by constant practice of concentration and meditation, to ninety, you have gained ten per cent of the power of concentration of mind.

Every thought that is reduced adds strength and peace to the mind. Reduction of even one thought will give mental strength and peace of mind. You may not be able to feel this in the beginning as you do not possess a subtle intellect, but there is a spiritual thermometer inside to register the reduction of even a single thought. If you reduce one thought, the mental strength that you have gained by this reduction will help you to reduce the second thought easily.

Some thought-seeds

True knowledge is spiritual consciousness. It is awareness of one’s real nature. Knowledge means right discernment or correct evaluation, wisdom and a perfect understanding of oneself and of others. Right thought results in right action and right life.

Beauty is essentially spiritual. Real beauty lies in one’s heart. It is in one’s character. Beauty dwells in purity. Beauty shines in virtues. Love is a refined, innate sense of oneness with the entire creation. Love is self-denial, selflessness.

Love is sacredness of heart. Love is unrestrained goodwill, mercy, compassion and tolerance. Love is absence of sensuality. The body is not everything. There is something which is vitally important, which dwells in the body. It is the spirit of man. Though identical with the cosmic spirit, it is individualized by the karmas of the individual soul. The body passes away; the spirit lives. The individuality of the spirit is there as long as the body lasts; then it ought to return back to and dissolve itself in its original source, unless of course, it is drawn back by its associated karmas into another embodiment in order to reap them.

Everything passes away. Nothing ever is to accompany man except his karmas, when the body is cast off. Hence as long as man lives, he should live amicably, with love and goodwill towards all, hurting no one in any manner, coveting no worldly riches, with more of kindness and mental charity, forgiveness and tolerance, with detachment to mundane objects, and dissociation of the ego from one’s actions, while taking care to acquire no new karmas as one works out the already accomplished ones.

With a little of contentment, discrimination, devotion to God and self-surrender to His will, with a little of detachment and non-expectation of anything from anyone, with an attitude of prayerfulness and abiding by the dictates of one’s conscience with unshakable faith in one’s spiritual principles and code of conduct, and evaluation, life becomes easier, worthier and happier.

If you have difficulties, you should look to the cause first. The real trouble lies in ignoring the cause. If the cause is remedied, difficulties become less, or rather accidental. The world is a great school where people are given ample opportunities to mend and mould themselves into better individuals.

No one is born perfect. There are possibilities for everyone to improve oneself. Trials and difficulties ought to make one a better individual rather than create complexes and constrict the mind and heart. Take shelter in great and noble thoughts, and obtain perfection.

Guru’s grace is always with the disciple, unreserved and unconditioned. It depends, however, on the self-discipline, faith and purity of the disciple whether to make use of this grace or not. Guru resides in the hearts of his disciples. Some are aware of this and some are not. The living presence of the Guru within is the best asset of the disciple.