- Discrimination and Inner Mental Culture
- Unwholesome Thoughts and Self-watchfulness
- Self-development by Yogic Thought-culture
- Thought-culture by the Method of Substitution
- Spiritual Methods for Thought-culture
- The Importance of Thought-culture
- The Battle of Thoughts
- Good Thought—The First Perfection
- Culture the Thoughts and Become a Buddha
- Avoid Thoughts of Another Man’s Defects
- Last Thought Determines Next Birth
- The Background of Sattvic Thought
- The Pure Consciousness and Freedom of Thoughts
Discrimination and Inner Mental Culture
Whenever desires crop in your mind, do not try to fulfil them. Reject them through discrimination, right enquiry and dispassion. You will get tranquillity of mind and mental strength by constant practice. The mind is thinned out. The mind is checked directly from wandering. Its outgoing tendencies are curbed.
If the desires are eradicated, the thoughts also will die by themselves. The mind is detached from the manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects and is fixed on Brahman.
In the practice of Sama, the five Jnana-Indriyas or organs of knowledge, viz., ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose are also controlled. Sama is serenity of mind produced by the constant eradication of Vasanas or desires.
Unwholesome Thoughts and Self-watchfulness
Fully realize for yourself the grave and ruinous consequences of evil thoughts. This will set you on your guard when the evil thoughts would come. The moment they come, exert yourself or divert the mind to some other object of divine thoughts, prayer or Japa. A real earnestness to drive away the evil thoughts will keep you on the alert so much so that even if they appear in dream you will at once wake up. Should the enemy appear when you are awake, it will not be very difficult for you to cope with him, if only you are sufficiently watchful.
You must be saved from the malformation and the miscarriage of your mind. Mind is like a playful child. The clement energies of the mind must be bent to become the passive channels for the transmission of truth. The mind must be filled with Sattva (purity). It should be trained to think of Truth or God, constantly.
If you want rapid progress in the spiritual path, watch every thought. A vacant mind is ever distressed. It is the devil’s workshop. Be thoughtful. Keep guard over your mind. Watch every impulse and thought.
Spiritualize or sublimate your instincts. Evil thought is the most dangerous thief. Slay this thief with the sword of wisdom. Generate daily new divine vibrations or thought-waves in your mind. Make your thought pure, strong, sublime and definite. You will gain immense spiritual strength and peace.
Every thought must be constructive and noble. Thoughts are only refractions. Slay all thoughts. Go thou within to the Light of lights. If you wish to attain Self-realization, imagination and speculation must stop. Purify and control the emotions. Beneath your conscious life, there is a very wide region of subconscious life.
All habits originate from the subconscious plane. Subconscious life is more powerful than your ordinary life of objective consciousness. Through the practice of Yoga you can modify, control and influence the subconscious depths. Take one evil trait. Meditate on its opposite virtue every morning. Practice it during the day. The evil quality will vanish soon. Meditate on mercy in the morning and practice it during the day. You will soon develop mercy.
If evil thoughts enter your mind once in a month instead of thrice weekly (remember that evil thinking is the beginning of adultery), if you become angry once in a month instead of once weekly, that is a sign of progress, that is a sign of your increased will-power; that is a sign of growing spiritual strength. Be of good cheer. Keep a diary of spiritual progress.
Self-development by Yogic Thought-culture
The supraphysical phenomena occurring in the practice of Yoga and the practitioner’s experience on subtler planes are viewed with suspicion and regarded as mere oriental magic. Yoga is neither fanciful nor does it contain anything abnormal. It aims at the integral development of all faculties in man. It is the time-tested, rational way to a fuller and more blessed life that will naturally be followed by one and all in the world of tomorrow.
All methods of Yoga have ethical training and moral perfection as their basis. The eradication of vices and the development of certain virtues form the first step in the ladder of Yoga.
The disciplining of your nature and the formation of a steady and pure character through a set of right habits and regular daily observances, is the next step. Upon this firm foundation of a well-established and virtuous moral character is built the further structure of Yoga.
Thought-culture by the Method of Substitution
The substitution method is very easy and effective in the destruction of evil thoughts. Cultivate positive virtuous thoughts of mercy, love, purity, forgiveness, integrity, generosity and humility in the garden of your mind.
The negative vicious thoughts of 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.
Spiritual Methods for Thought-culture
If you think again and again of an impure thing it gains new strength. It gets the force of momentum. You must drive it immediately. If you find it difficult to do so, entertain counter-thoughts of God. Cultivate sublime and elevating thoughts. Evil thoughts will die by themselves. A noble thought is a potent antidote to counteract an evil-thought. This is easier than the former method. By repetition of God’s Name, thousands of times daily, good thoughts gain new strength. By repeating ‘Aham Brahma Asmi’ thousand times daily the idea that you are the spirit (Atman) becomes stronger. The idea that you are the body becomes weaker and weaker.
If evil thoughts enter your mind, don’t use your will-force in driving them. You will lose your energy only. You will tax your will only. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. They will return more quickly also. The thoughts will become more powerful. Be indifferent. Keep quiet. They will pass off soon. Or substitute good counter thoughts (Pratipaksha Bhavana method). Or think of the picture of God and the Mantra again and again forcibly. Or pray.
The Importance of Thought-culture
Thought-culture is a vital subject. Very few people know this art or science. Even the so-called educated people are unaware of this fundamental education.
All are victims of random thinking. All sorts of loose thoughts of diverse kinds come and go in the mental factory. There is neither rhythm nor reasoning. There is neither concord nor discipline. All is in a state of utter chaos and confusion. There is no clarification of ideas.
You cannot think of one subject even for two minutes in an orderly and systematic manner. You have no understanding of the laws of thoughts and the laws of the mental plane.
There is a perfect menagerie inside. All sorts of sensual thoughts fight amongst themselves to enter the mind of a sensualist and gain the upper hand. The eye Indriya struggles to bring its own thoughts. It wants to have sight-seeing. The ear Indriya wants to bring only base thoughts, lustful thoughts, thoughts of hatred, jealousy and fear. Many cannot entertain a single, sublime, divine thought even for a second. Their minds are so framed that the mental energy runs in sensual grooves.
The Battle of Thoughts
In the beginning of thought-culture, there is internal fight between pure and impure thoughts. The impure thought tries to enter the mental factory again and again. It asserts: “O little man, you gave me shelter in the beginning. You welcomed me before. You gave me a cordial reception. I have every right to remain in the lowlands of your mind in your instinctive passionate mind. Why are you cruel towards me? I only gave you a push or stimulus in taking you to restaurants and hotels, cinemas and theatres, ball-rooms and bars. You had a variety of enjoyments through me alone. Why are you ungrateful to me now? I will resist, persist and recur again and again. Do whatever you like. You are weak through old habits. You have no strength to resist.” Eventually pure thoughts only will gain victory. Sattva is a greater power than Rajas and Tamas. Positive overcomes negative.
Good Thought—The First Perfection
Thought is a good servant. It is an instrument. You will have to utilize it tactfully and properly. The prime requisite for happiness is control over the thoughts.
Your thought is imprinted over your face. Thought is a bridge that connects the human with the Divine. Your body, your business, your home—they are only ideas within your mind. Thought is a dynamic force. Good thought is the first perfection. Thought is real wealth.
Culture the Thoughts and Become a Buddha
Drive away from your mind all unnecessary, useless and obnoxious thoughts. Useless thoughts impede your spiritual growth; obnoxious thoughts are stumbling blocks to spiritual advancement. You are away from God when you entertain useless thoughts. Substitute thoughts of God.
Entertain only thoughts that are helpful and useful. Useful thoughts are stepping-stones to spiritual growth and progress. Do not allow the mind to run into the old grooves and to have its own ways and habits. Be on the careful watch.
You must eradicate through introspection all sorts of mean thoughts, useless thoughts, unworthy thoughts, impure thoughts, all sexual thoughts, thoughts of jealousy, hatred and selfishness. You must annihilate all destructive thoughts of disharmony and discord. You must always develop pure, good, loving, sublime and divine thoughts. Every thought must be of a constructive nature. It must be strong, positive and definite.
The mental image must be of a clear-cut and well-defined thought; it must bring peace and solace to others. It should not bring even the least pain and unhappiness to anyone. Then you are a blessed soul on the earth. You are a mighty power on the earth. You can help many, heal thousands, spiritualize and elevate a large number of persons as did Jesus or Buddha.
Just as you grow jasmine, rose, lily, Honolulu flowers in a garden, so also you should cultivate the flowers of peaceful thoughts of love, mercy, kindness, purity in the vast garden of Antahkarana. Through introspection, you will have to water this garden of mind; with meditation and sublime thinking remove the weeds of vain, useless, discordant thoughts.
Avoid Thoughts of Another Man’s Defects
The nature of the mind is such that it becomes that which it intensely thinks of. Thus if you think of the vices and defects of another man, your mind will be charged with these vices and defects at least for the time being.
He who knows this psychological law will never indulge in censuring others or in finding fault in the conduct of others, will see only the good in others, and will always praise others. This practice enables one to grow in concentration, Yoga and spirituality.
Last Thought Determines Next Birth
The last thought of a man governs his future destiny. The last thought of a man determines his future birth. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, “Whosoever at the end abandoneth the body, thinking upon any being, to that being only he goeth, O Kaunteya, because of his constant thought of that being” (Chapter: VIII-6).
Ajamila lost his pious conduct, and led a detestable living. He fell into evil depth of sinful habits and resorted to theft and robbery. He became a slave of a public woman. He became the father of ten children, the last of whom was called Narayana.
When he was about to die, he was absorbed in the thoughts of his last son. Three fearful messengers of Death advanced towards Ajamila. Ajamila cried aloud in great distress the last son’s name ‘Narayana’.
On a mere mention of the name of ‘Narayana’ the attendants of Lord Hari came speedily along and obstructed the messengers of Death. They took him to Vaikuntha or the world of Vishnu.
The soul of Sisupala entered the supreme Lord with an effulgent spark of ineffable glory and magnificence. This vile Sisupala spent his lifetime in reviling Lord Krishna and then he entered the Lord.
The worm on the wall when stung by the wasp changes into the form of the latter. Similarly, the man who focuses his hate on Lord Krishna gets rid of his sins and reaches that Lord by regular devotion as the Gopis did by Kama (passion), Kamsa by fear, Sisupala by hatred and Narada by love.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita, “Whoever constantly thinks of Me intensely and with one-pointed mind, to such steadfast Yogin, I am easily attainable; and having thus reached Me and merged in Me, he is not born again in the fleeting world of woe and misery. O Arjuna! While all the worlds created by Brahma are limited by time and have their moment of dissolution on reaching Me, there is no rebirth, therefore at all times, meditate on Me, the supreme Vaasudeva and with mind and intellect fixed on Me. Doubtless, you will attain Me” (Chapter: VIII-14, 15, 16).
The constant practice of fixing the mind on the Lord, although a man is engaged in worldly pursuits, will enable him to intuitively and automatically think of the Lord, even at the time of his departure. The Lord says: “With the mind thus engaged in the Yoga of constant practice, not deflected by any other obstacles, one attains the supreme Purusha of resplendent glory.”
The Lord further says, “At the time of death, he who thinks of My real Being as the supreme Lord Sri Krishna or Narayana, leaves the body and verily reaches My Being. Doubt this not! In whatever form a man thinks of Me at the time of death, that form he attains, that form again being the result of nourishing that thought in a particular groove and by constant meditation of the same.”
The Lord further says: “He who further establishes his mind on Me, even at the time of forthgoing and who is in that Divine state of renouncing everything and of dwelling in Brahman or Brahmic state, is free from delusion” (B.G. II-72).
He who has a strong habit of using snuff in his life imitates the act of snuffing with his fingers when he is in an unconscious state just before his death. So strong is the habit of snuffing in this man.
The last thought of a licentious man will be the thought of his woman. The last thought of an inveterate drunkard will be that of his peg of liquor. The last thought of a greedy money-lender will be that of his money. The last thought of a fighting soldier will be that of shooting his enemy. The last thought of a mother who is intensely attached to her only son will be that of her son only.
Raja Bharata nursed a deer out of mercy and became attached to it. His last thought was the thought of that deer. Hence he had to take the birth of a deer, but he had memory of his last birth as he was an advanced soul.
The last thought of a person will be the thought of God only, if that person has disciplined his mind all throughout his life and has tried to fix it on the Lord through constant practice. It cannot come by a practice in a day or two, in a week or a month. It is a life-long endeavour and struggle.
The last thought determines the next birth. The last prominent thought of one’s life occupies the mind at the time of death. The predominant idea at the time of death is what in normal life has occupied his attention most. The last thought determines the nature of character of the body to be attained next. As a man thinketh, so shall he become.
The Background of Sattvic Thought
The vast majority of people will always want something concrete to hold on, something around which, as it were, to place their ideas, sometimes which will be the centre of all thought-forms in their minds. That is mind’s very nature. A background of thought is needed for fixing the mind.
Have a Sattvic background of thought of mental image. The mind assumes the shape of any object it intensely thinks upon. If it thinks of an orange, it assumes the shape of an orange. If it thinks of Lord Krishna with flute in hand, it assumes the shape of Lord Krishna. You must train the mind properly and give it proper Sattvic food for assimilation.
You must have Sattvic background of thought to take you to the goal (salvation). If you are a devotee of Lord Krishna, have a background of thought of His picture and the repetition of His famous Mantra ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vaasudevaya’ and His qualities (Form-formless-qualities). A Nirguna Upasaka (Vedanti) should have a background of thought of ‘OM’ and its meaning (Infinite Ocean of Light, Satchidananda, Vyapaka, Paripurna-Atman). Work in the world and, the moment the mind is free, begin to think of the background of thought—either Saguna or Nirguna background according to taste, temperament and capacity for Sadhana. By constant thinking, a habit in the mind will be formed and, without effort, the mind will run towards the background of thought.
It is a pity that the vast majority of persons have no ideal, no programme of life at all and no Sattvic background of thought. They are doomed to failure. The background of thought of a young married lady is usually lustful. The background of thought of an old mother is the affection towards her sons and grandsons. The background of thought of the vast majority of persons is hatred and jealousy. Even the so-called educated persons with many university qualifications and academic knowledge which is only husk when compared with spiritual knowledge, have no ideal, no programme of life and no background of thought. A deputy collector, after getting pension, marries a third wife and goes on as a Dewan of a State.
A worldly minded person is a prey to sexual thoughts and thoughts of hatred, anger and revenge. These two types of thoughts actually take possession of his mind. He is a slave to these two sets of thoughts. He does not know how to divert his mind and fix it on some other good, noble thought. He does not know the laws of thought. He is quite unaware of the nature and suitable workings of the mind. His position is extremely deplorable despite his earthly possessions and bookish knowledge obtained in universities. Viveka has not awakened in him. He has no Sraddha in saints, Sastras and God. He is unable to resist an evil desire, craving or temptation on account of his weak will. The only potent remedy to remove his world-intoxication, world-charm, world-delusion is constant Satsanga or association with Sadhus, Sannyasins and Mahatmas.
After retirement, everybody should have a background of thought and should spend his time in philosophical studies and divine contemplation. Old habits of loose thinking must be replaced by cultivating fresh habits of good thoughts. At first, a tendency to think of good thoughts will be formed. By continued practice, a positive, definite habit of thinking of virtuous, helping thoughts will be developed. You will have to struggle very hard.
The old habits will try to recur again and again. Till you are firmly established in the habit of thinking of good thoughts only, you will have to fill the mind again and again with Sattvic thoughts, divine thoughts, thoughts of the Gita, Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Upanishads, etc. New grooves and avenues will be formed now. Just as a gramophone-needle cuts a small groove in the plate, Sattvic thinking will cut new healthy grooves in the mind and brain. New Samskaras will be formed.
You will have concentration without much effort. He who has subdued his mind beholds in his own Self by the help of his own pure intellect the Immortal, Eternal Brahman which is subtler than the subtlest, which is an embodiment of bliss, peace and wisdom. It is the contact of the sense with the sense-object that gives rise to a mental perception. But if the senses are withdrawn and the mind is stilled there comes a stage where there is no touch with any sense-object.
It is the state of bliss and pure consciousness or Nirvikalpa Samadhi which burns all Samskaras that give rise to birth and death. Attachment is death. You are attached to body, action, wife, children, property, house, place and articles that give you pleasure. Wherever there is attachment there are anger, fear and Vasanas. Attachment leads to bondage. If you want to attain God-realization you must get rid of all sorts of attachment.
The first step in detachment is to be detached from the body with which you feel so much identified. The Sanskrit word for the Self is Atman. Atman is derived from the root ‘At’ which means to go always. Atman thus means that which evolves itself always into names and forms of the universe in order to realize His real, essential nature which is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute.
The Pure Consciousness and Freedom of Thoughts
Through constant and intense practice of Yoga and Jnana Sadhana, you can become waveless, thought-free. The waveless Yogi helps the world more than the man on the platform. Ordinary people can hardly grasp this point. When you are waveless you actually permeate and pervade every atom of the universe, purify and elevate the whole world.
The names of waveless Jnanis such as Jada Bharata and Vamadeva are even now remembered. They never published books. They never made disciples. Yet, what a tremendous influence these waveless Jnanis had produced on the minds of the people!
You can attain Jnana only if you are free from sensuous desires and immoral mental states. Aloofness of body from sensuous objects and aloofness of mind from immoral states of mind are needed for the attainment of Jnana. Then only will Divine Light descend. Just as a bungalow is cleaned of cobwebs and the garden, of all its weeds for the reception of the viceroy, the mental palace should be cleansed of all vices, desires and immoral states for the reception of the Holy Brahman, the Viceroy of viceroys.
When a desire arises in the mind, a worldling welcomes it and tries to fulfil it; but an aspirant renounces it immediately through Viveka. Wise people consider even spark of desire as a very great evil. Therefore they will not entertain any kind of desire. They will be ever delightful in Atman only.
Thinking starts the process of creation. Thinking means externalization or objectification. Thinking means differentiation, quality and multiplicity. Thinking is Samsara. Thinking causes identification with the body. Thinking causes ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness’.
Thinking causes time, space, etc. Stop this thinking through Vairagya and Abhyasa, and merge yourself in the Pure Consciousness. Where there is no thinking or Sankalpa, there is Absolution or Jivanmukti.