Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book “Yoga Samhita”.
Self-control is an indispensable requisite for the living of a truly spiritual life. You may possess sublime sentiments and noble intentions. But when you have no self-control you will be a slave to baser passion. You will succumb to every temptation and commit endless wrong actions. You want to lead a spiritual life but due to weak will, lack of self-control you fail.
Self-control leads to the highest merit. Self-control is the eternal duty of man. Self-control surpasses in merit, charity, sacrifice and study of the Vedas.
Self-control increases your energy. Self-control is highly sacred. Through self-control you will be purified of all your sins, and thereafter you will acquire the highest blessedness. Through self-control you can enjoy the highest happiness both in this world and in the next.
The self-controlled man sleeps happily and awakes happily and moves through the world happily. He is always cheerful. The man who is without self-control always suffers misery. He brings upon himself many calamities, all begotten by his own faults.
Forgiveness, patience, abstention from injury, impartiality, truth, sincerity, control of the senses, cleverness, mildness, modesty, firmness, liberality, freedom from anger, contentment, sweetness of words, benevolence, freedom from malice–all these combined make up self-control.
It also consists of respect for the preceptor and mercy for all. The man of self-control avoids both adulation and slander. Depravity, infamy, falsehood, lust, covetousness, pride, arrogance, self-edification, fear, envy and disrespect are all shunned by the man of self-control.
That eternal region of Brahman, the goal of Vedic penances can only be acquired by self-control.
The self-controlled man is never fettered by attachments originating from earthly connections and sentiments.
There is only one fault in self-control. No second fault is seen in it. A man who has self-control is considered by man as weak. But, by forgiveness the man of self-control easily acquires the Sovereignty of the three worlds.
That is a forest where the man of self-control lives. That is ever a very sacred place. Of what use is the forest to a man of self-control? Of what use is the forest to him who has no self-control?
Every sort of excitement is quietly controlled by self-control. The self-controlled man sees his numberless enemies such as lust, desire, anger, etc., as if these dwell in a separate body.
A self-controlled man should equip himself with nobility, calmness of nature, contentment, faith, forgiveness, simplicity, absence of talkativeness, humility, reverence for elders, benevolence, mercy for all creatures, frankness, abstention from talk upon Kings and men in authority, from all false, useless topics and applause and censure of others.
He is devoted to universal benevolence. He never feels animosity for any one. He is tranquil like a calm ocean. He is wise and ever cheerful. He is endowed with intelligence. He never fears any creature and is feared by no creature in return.
Overcoming lust and anger, practising the vow of Brahmacharya and becoming a complete master of his senses, the Brahmana practising patiently the austerest penances and observing the most rigid restraint, should live in this world calmly waiting for his time like one seeming to have a body though fully knowing that he is not subject to destruction.
Control anger by practice of Kshama, love, Dhairya, patience and Nirabhimanata (absence of egoism). When anger is controlled, it will be transmuted into an energy by which you can move the whole world. Anger is a modification of passion. If you can control lust you have already controlled anger.
Drink a little water when you become angry. It will cool the brain and calm the excited, irritated nerves. Repeat OM SANTI ten times. Count twenty. By the time you finish counting twenty, anger will have subsided.
Try to nip anger when it tries to emerge out from the subconscious mind to the surface of the conscious mind. Watch the small impulse or wave of irritability carefully. Then it will be more easy. Take all precautions. Do not allow it to burst out and assume a wild form.
If you find it extremely difficult to control it, leave the place at once and take a brisk walk for half-an-hour.
Pray to God. Do Japa. Meditate on God. You will gain immense strength.
Be careful in the selection of your company. Have congenial company. Move with Sannyasins, Bhaktas and Mahatmas. Read Gita and Yoga Vasishta. Observe Brahmacharya. Take Sattwic food, milk, fruit, etc. Give up hot curries and chutnies, meat, alcohol and smoking. Tobacco makes your heart irritable (tobacco heart). It produces nicotine poison.
Talk little. Much energy is wasted by idle gossiping and tall talk. All energies must be conserved and transmuted into Ojas Shakti or spiritual energy. This will help meditation.
Observe the vow of silence for three hours on Sundays. Silence develops the Will Force, checks the force of Sankalpa and gives peace of mind. You will get the power of endurance. You will not tell lies. You will have control over speech. Your energy will remain conserved. It will curb the impulse to speak. The real Mowna comes only when there is absence of duality and separation when all mental Vrittis or modifications cease. This is the Maha Mowna (Greatest Silence). Maha Mowna is Parabrahman. Maha Mowna is Existence.
When you talk only on spiritual topics, when you talk encouraging words to cheer up the depressed, it is also considered as Mowna.
The self-controlled man becomes desirous of liberation. He quietly bears present joys and griefs and he is never overjoyed or depressed by prospective ones. He is well balanced. He has good manners. He is a perfect master of his passions.
He gains honours in the world. He makes all creatures gain what they cannot acquire without his help; rejoices and becomes happy.