Substitution Method

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Positive always overcomes the negative. This is the law of nature. Negative evil thoughts cannot stand before positive good thoughts. Courage overcomes fear. Patience overcomes anger and irritability. Love overcomes hatred. Purity overcomes lust.

The very fact that you feel uneasy now when an evil thought comes to the surface of the mind during meditation indicates that you are growing in spirituality. In those days you consciously harboured all sorts of negative thoughts. You welcomed and nourished them. Persist in your spiritual practices. Be tenacious and diligent. You are bound to succeed.

Even a dull type of aspirant will notice a marvellous change in himself if he keeps up the practice of japa and meditation for two or three years in a continuous stream. Now he cannot leave the practice. Even if he stops his practice of meditation for a day, he will actually feel that he has lost something on that day. His mind will be quite uneasy.

If you place a big mirror in front of a dog and keep some bread in front, the dog at once barks at its reflection in the mirror. It foolishly imagines that there is another dog. Even so, man sees his own reflection only through his mind-mirror in all the people but foolishly imagines like the dog that they are all different from him and fights on account of hatred and jealousy.

The substitution method is very easy and effective in the destruction of negative thoughts. Cultivate positive virtuous thoughts such as mercy, love, purity, forgiveness, integrity, generosity and humility in the garden of your mind. The negative vicious thoughts such as hatred, lust, anger, greed, pride will die by themselves. It is difficult to destroy the evil thoughts by attacking them directly. You will have to tax your will and waste your energy.

Examine your character. Pick up the defects in it. Find out its opposite. Let us say that you suffer from irritability. The opposite of irritability is patience. Try to develop this virtue by meditating on the abstract virtue of patience. Regularly every morning, sit down at 4 am in padma or siddhasana in a solitary room for half an hour, and begin to think on patience, its value, its practice under provocation, taking one point one day, another on another day, and thinking as steadily as you can, recalling the mind when it wanders. Think of yourself as perfectly patient, a model of patience and end it with a vow: “This patience which is my true Self, I will feel and show from today.”

For a few days probably there will be no change perceptible. You will still feel and show irritability. Go on practising steadily every morning. Presently you see an irritable thing, the thought will flash into your mind: “I should have been patient.” Still go on in practice. Soon the thought of patience will arise with the irritable impulse and the outer manifestation will be checked. Still go on practising. The irritable impulse will grow feebler and feebler until you find that irritability has disappeared and that patience has become your normal attitude towards annoyances.

In this manner you can develop various virtues such as sympathy, self-restraint, purity, humility, benevolence, nobility and generosity.

Published in Easy Steps to Yoga