Samskara Raksha–Protection of Spiritual Impressions
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book Meditation Know-How.
For some months you remain in closed rooms and you progress well with good concentration and meditation. All on a sudden, some disturbance or the other comes and upsets your meditation. Your friends are your real enemies in one way. They drag you for some business or the other into the world. You are drawn forcibly through moral sentiments. It is irresistible. It is, of course, inevitable. You should call this as a form of weakness. To sacrifice your ideal for the sake of pleasing some of your intimate friends is really far from commendable. By your mixing with these worldlings, your new spiritual Samskaras will be obliterated, will be effaced; and you will find it extremely difficult to regain your original state despite your redoubled efforts.
Dangers of Mixing
Mixing with worldly-minded persons is highly disastrous for a Sadhaka. The two currents are diametrically opposite. A worldly-minded man and a Sadhaka move in diametrically opposite poles. A worldly man is very fond of talking. He is garrulous. He suffers from lingual diarrhoea. Gossiping, idle talk, long talk, big talk, tall talk, all afford him the greatest pleasure. Whereas, a Sadhaka is a man of few words, to the point, and that also on spiritual matters. Worldly topics do not interest him at all. On the contrary, they give him acute pain. The mode of thinking also differs in the two cases. In the instance of a worldly man, the thinking consists of wife, children and the ways to amass wealth, the means of sensual enjoyment. The thinking is very shallow. A Sadhaka has sublime thinking of Brahman. A worldly man does an action always with a selfish motive. A Sadhaka does it unselfishly with a strong feeling that the whole world is nothing but his own Self. If a worldly man has Rs. 100 with him, he always thinks of saving for the future. A Sadhaka spends the whole amount the same day. A worldly man is a man of complexity and multiplicity. A Sadhaka is a man of simplicity. A worldly man wants company. A Sadhaka wants entire solitude. You must always remain alone. This is a very, very important matter. I have again to reiterate that this is indispensably requisite. I have to emphatically assert again that solitude is a sine qua non. I have to again impress upon your mind that solitude for Sadhana is a great desideratum.
In the world, there are minds in various stages of growth. There are people of diverse mentality. There is a multiplicity of minds. There are two sets of currents, attraction and repulsion, in the mind. When you mix with people of a different mentality, you are naturally attracted towards some and repelled by the others. Secondly, there is the jealousy current also. When you see other persons who are in possession of higher virtues and possessions, you will be naturally affected during your earlier stages of Abhyasa. These hostile currents are unfavourable, as they disturb the peace of mind. So, meditation will suffer. Further, when you mix, you will have to talk much. You will be forced to talk a lot. That means wastage of energy. All energies must be very carefully conserved by a Sadhaka. All the doors must be entirely shut through complete Pratyahara or abstraction. Thirdly, if you do not know to protect yourself–the Prana sheath–your valuable Prana will pass away to other persons. Your magnetic aura, your mental aura, your Pranic aura will flow to other weak persons. This is termed as vampirism. There will be considerable loss of Prana. You must know the process of protecting yourself by developing an auric shell. A young mango nursery has to be fenced properly in the beginning. A small fire started by the collection of a few dried leaves or bits of straw will be doubtlessly extinguished if you suddenly introduce a big log of wood in the fire. You are like the mango nursery, like the small fire, in the Sadhana stage. How can you withstand the hostile currents of the world? What you have gained in five years through hard practice will be irrecoverably lost in a month by promiscuous mixing with worldlings. Several persons have complained to me that they have lost the power of concentration by mixing and they cannot attain the same state they had during the period of seclusion.
You should not enter the world before five or six years of seclusion. You must test how you fare when you enter the world. If you are not a bit affected, if you can keep constant balance of mind, if you can rest on the Atman, you can move in the world. Otherwise, wait for sometime more in seclusion and continue Sadhana.
There is no harm, if for one hour daily you mix with a congenial person who is also devoted to meditation, study and other spiritual pursuits, and in whose company you notice pleasure and elevation of thought. You can discuss various abstruse philosophical points. You will find this useful. You can be in the company of higher spiritual personages who enter into Samadhi. Their company is highly beneficial. Instinct will speak aloud from within that such and such company is elevating and such and such company is depressing. If you find that the company of a certain person gives the least depression, shun him that very moment.
I know of several persons who have had a terrible downfall from their spiritual heights owing to indiscriminate and promiscuous mixing. They had entered the world hastily, without testing. They have been reduced to a level worse than that of a worldly man. Old evil Samskaras are only waiting for an opportunity to crush you down. All the old Vasanas return and attack you with a tremendous force. The cravings become accentuated and intensified during the period of downfall. You will find it difficult to rise again.
Always protect your spiritual Samskaras. Do not allow them to be obliterated. It is difficult to regain what is lost. Exercise Vichara and Viveka always. Utilise your will to resist evil influences. Ever control the Indriyas. Have perfect Vairagya. A dull type of Vairagya is of no use. It must be sharp and sharper too. If you allow the senses to run riot, Viveka and the spiritual Samskaras will be annihilated. Live in seclusion. Do not mix; observe Mauna. You can be quite safe. You will be far away from the danger zone. When you have become a Siddha, enter the world and give a spiritual uplift to humanity.
Everything should be done gradually. It is very difficult for a man who was in the world to shut himself up now completely in the room and observe Mauna also. It will be very painful and troublesome for a beginner. He should slowly train himself. He should gradually train the mind by observing Mauna once a week and remaining in the room for a certain number of hours. He should have a walk in the evening along the Ganga bank or along the seaside or any suitable place. For a Sadhu, fresh air, invigorating cold baths, an evening stroll and moderate exercise are very essential. He cannot afford to have milk and Ghee and he has to depend upon help from nature in a variety of ways. All throughout the Sadhana period, strong common sense should be used. After a period of two or three years you will be able to remain in a closed room all alone throughout the day. Because, you now know the process of reflection and meditation. You can spend six hours in meditation and six hours in study or Svadhyaya. The mind has now properly adjusted to the new life.
There will be no trouble. You will be highly delighted to remain alone always. You do not like to be disturbed even for a day. You do not want to lose the peace and bliss of solitude. You depend on the Atman within now for your help, strength and happiness and not on the world without. You are now fully aware that all knowledge comes from within. You have now a changed being. You have a changed psychology. Worldly-minded persons cannot properly comprehend your metamorphosed nature.