Guiding Lights For Self-Conquest
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Conquest of Mind.
Mind cannot by itself illumine the objects. Without the Atman, which is of the nature of intelligence, no cognition is possible. The function of the mind is to go out to the object through the senses and manifest it. Just as the water flowing from the tank to the fields through channels assumes the forms of the respective fields, so also the mind which pervades an object assumes the form of that object. Every object is an idea. It proceeds from the mind, exists in the mind and merges in the mind.
Just as the light of the sun takes the shape of the object it illumines, the mind which enlightens everything assumes the form of the object it reveals.
When the eye sees in orange, the mind projects itself through the eye and takes the form of an orange. When the mind, conceives of an orange, perceives an object, it transforms itself into the object.
The perceiver in spite of the presence of the sense-organs and the objects, can perceive the object only when the mind is attached to it. Therefore, the mind is the instrument.
Just as a lion that is shut up in a cage is restless, so also, the mind-bird that is shut up in the cage of our brain is restless. The mind runs after objects passionately. Fix it on the all-peaceful Atman. It will attain Supreme Peace.
If the mind is pure, even enemies become friends. Tigers and serpents cannot harm you. Poison will become nectar. The flames of fire become cool. All these things will happen, when you know that there is the same Immanent Being in the hearts of all. The lives of Mira and Prahlada confirm this.
Knowledge dawns only in a man who is endowed with a contented mind. A contented mind is ever calm and serene. He who does not wish for things which he has not got, who is not affected by what he possesses, and who is never elated or dejected, is a contented man. The heart of a man of contentment is ever full. He is ever happy. A disciplined and one-pointed mind is the essential requisite to God-realisation.
Conquest of the mind is possible only by lessening the desires. Therefore, abandon all desires through dispassion, discrimination and meditation on Brahman.
The mind of the cat is ever on the milkpot. The mind of the snake is ever on the frog. Even so, the mind of a passionate man is ever on the small, vulgar, sensual pleasures. O ignorant man! aspire for the big eternal bliss. The methods, the weapons, used to combat the enemy mind and watchwords of those who have attained Self-realisation are different in each case.
A potter moulds the clay; goldsmith moulds the gold; and a blacksmith moulds the iron; but an aspirant moulds his mind. Detect the dodgings of the mind and overcome them. The mind will cheat you in a variety of ways when you want to sit for meditation.
Prepare the ground first. Purify the mind first. Only then the Governor of the mind will enthrone Himself in your heart.
Tune the instrument first. Keep everything in order before the Master of music arrives to play on the instrument, viz., mind. Spiritual experience does not remain constant when the mind is not perfectly purified. The Jiva descends again into the egoistic life. The higher consciousness is withdrawn from him.
The more the mind is withdrawn from the outer world, the more it is making headway in the realm of spirit or Atman. A pure well-directed mind will do you tremendous service. It will become your obedient servant, true guide or Guru and an affectionate mother.
To have control over the mind and the senses is real heroism. To refrain from harming other creatures is the highest charity. To abandon desires is the true Tapas. Whatever brings about unity and harmony is Dharma. Only when you have purified the vehicles of Adhara, only when the mind is serene, you can behold the majesty and glory of the Self.
Lead a well-regulated, disciplined life. Control the senses first. Subject them absolutely to the mastery of the mind. Then bring the lower mind under the control of the higher mind. Balance of mind or mental equipoise is an indispensable element in spiritual life. Develop this again and again.
A very big needle is of no use in stitching a fine cloth. Even so, a gross mind is of no use in realising the Supreme Self. A vacant mind cannot be called a serene mind. There is no thinking, no conception, no mental action, in a vacant mind. The most essential prerequisite in the spiritual path is an undivided, one-pointed mind.
When the mind is longing for a particular food or drink, when the thing is right in front of you when you are just putting out your hand to grasp it, do not touch it. Stop and say, “I am not a slave of any particular food or drink or any object. I can leave it any moment. My will is powerful now.”
As a diamond can be cut only by a diamond, so also, the mind can be conquered only by the mind. The lower instinctive mind should be conquered by the higher, pure, Sattvic mind.
When the mind is rendered pure and one-pointed, it gets established in the one Supreme Self which is of the nature of pure-consciousness, that is all-pervading like the ether, homogeneous like a lump of salt. Adversities become sweet when your mind is turned towards God.
Mind is like a monkey. It is never satisfied with the objects which are already under its possession. It jumps to other unattained ones. It always wants variety and gets disgusted with monotony. Tame this mind by making it taste the nectar of the Atman within, by regular meditation.
Your mind swings like a pendulum between a tear and a cheer, between fleeting pleasure and pain. Regular and constant meditation can stop this swinging of the mind, and bestow on you unalloyed felicity. Therefore, meditate. When you try to fix the mind, only then it becomes restless, and the thoughts which you never dreamt of before enter the mind. Your enemy becomes more violent only when you begin to attack him. Even so, are the thoughts. Gradually they will lose their vigour and die. Persist in your Sadhana. Be regular in your meditation. You will attain success in concentration.
Gradually empty the mind. When the attraction for objects dies through dispassion and discrimination, the number of thoughts or ideas gradually decreases. Meditation keeps only the one idea or God or Atman. Gradually the mind is emptied of all worldly thoughts and is filled with Atman or God.
The spiritual practices begin to take firm root when the mind becomes concentrated. The mind that takes refuge in inactivity mistakes inertia for liberation.
Close the senses through Pratyahara or abstraction and Dama or self-restraint. Make the mind steady. Let it cease vibrating. Let it become still. Allow not any desire to disturb its tranquillity. Behold now the majesty and glory of Atman in the silence.
Negate your ego; deny your separateness; efface yourself; suffer pains and sacrifice pleasures. Deny the wants of thyself; it asks for many a cup of poison. It is a moth that falls into the fire thinking it is pleasant. It is a child that walks into the well. Humble thyself, annihilate thyself, if you wish to Live.
Shame upon the man of mere dry intellect without practical wisdom. He cannot avoid crookedness and cunningness. He is self-deceived and a husband of everlasting misery. He is far away from the Real. He has married sin.
Throw away your learning, O basket of vanity! Give away everything that is dear and behold the light within. The ego bursts into Infinity or sinks into nothingness. These are the two paths by which the ego loses itself in toto.
Realisation of the Supreme State can come only if one is sincere and earnest in practical Sadhana. The lesser the connection with the ego and the greater the detachment from objective consciousness, the quicker is the Realisation of the Absolute.
The more the ego-sense is pressed down, the nearer we are to the Eternal. The place of the annihilated ego is taken by the revelation of the Absolute Reality.