Towards Inner Harmony: I Want To Achieve Mental Equilibrium

Published: 01.06.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

We have three means of doing work - the body, the tongue and the mind. It is with these three we conduct ourselves through the pilgrimage of life.

The body comes foremost. Without the body nothing can be done. It always commands the first consideration. Language is important because, without it, no social contact is possible. Language is the medium of social intercourse. It is language which binds one man to another. Those who have no tongue, no language, can form no society. They may get together in small herds, but are utterly incapable of establishing a modern social organisation with its vast potentialities. One important factor in this organisation is language. An even more important medium than the body and the language is our mind, which is particularly distinctive of man. The body is common to all living creatures. Language is not common to all; nevertheless it is found in the animal kingdom. Some languages have only two words, others four or six. The languages of animals and birds are subjects of special study these days. From the point of view of social contact, language is more important than the body. However, the mind is even more important that the body and the language, because it is not to be found in all living beings. Without language there can be no mind. But even where there is language, the mind is not necessarily fully developed.

Only man can boast of a fully developed mind. Besides, he is gifted with the power of speech and a capacity for thinking.

A man went to the bazaar to buy himself a parrot. The shop-keeper presented him with a number of cages containing different birds. The man selected one and asked for the price. The shop-keeper quoted one hundred rupees. The man said, "It is too dear!" The dealer said, "May be. But this parrot knows how to speak." "Is it so?”, said the man and returned to his house. Next day, he took a parrot to the dealer's shop. He wanted to sell it, he said. The shopkeeper said, "What is the price?" The man said, "Five hundred rupees." "It is too dear," said the dealer, "I can give you a parrot for one hundred rupees." The man said, “It is not dear at all. Your parrot only knows how to speak. But my parrot knows how to keep silent. It is a great philosopher - my parrot - it knows how to think. It is wrapped in thought."

If the speaking parrot is worth one hundred rupees, it is no wonder that the thinking parrot costs five hundred. To think, to deliberate is a farther link than speech in the chain of evolution. Naturally, it commands a greater premium.

We have three powerful means of accomplishing work the power of the body, the power of the tongue, the power of the mind. From a problem-oriented point of view, the body itself constitutes a problem; so does the tongue; so does the mind, and the problem of the mind is the most complex. The body is a problem because it is the storehouse of all kinds of diseases. Old age is a problem; disease is a problem; experiencing of pain is a problem and since the medium of these is the body, the body constitutes a problem. The tongue also constitutes a problem. Many things can be accomplished with the help of the tongue. But sometimes the tongue poses more problems than it solves. The whole history of mankind is a witness to this. If we read accounts of far-off events and observe our daily conduct, we shall find what great problems the tongue creates for us, and how it complicates them.

A little indiscretion of the tongue can give rise to terrible confusion. A mere word escaping from the lips can create a most warlike situation. So, the tongue can become a great problem. But even greater and more complex than that is the problem of the mind. He who conquers his mind, simultaneously conquers his body and the tongue; if the mind is healthy and balanced, the bodily diseases will be greatly reduced.

The present is an age of psychosomatic diseases. Purely physical diseases are few; most of our ills have psychological origins. Mental sickness affects the body also. A man in pain takes one medicine after another, almost unthinkingly. And many modern doctors prescribe such strong drugs, such powerful antibiotics that ultimately produce a chain reaction. One finds oneself caught in a vicious circle. The more the drugs, the more the reactions, the greater is the need for still more potent drugs. There does not seem to be any end to the disease or the drugs.

The man, who has disciplined his mind, feels less need of medicine. We have found that people coming to participate in a shiver bring along with them boxes of patent medicines. When they depart, they take back those boxes of medicines untouched. They find they need no medicine at all during the whole of their stay. The food that makes them sick and take to drugs, is just not available to them during the shivir-period. So they do not need any medicine at all. While they go through the process of mental discipline, and the mind is healthy and balanced, what need has the body for drugs? No need, whatsoever. When the mind is properly developed, the physical problems are greatly reduced; likewise the problems of the tongue. When the mind is agitated, language becomes crude and the tongue is abused. On the contrary, when the mind is calm and balanced, the problem of the tongue dissolves of itself No extra effort is required. The language of a balanced man would be poised; with no grain whatsoever of intolerance or of impatience. So impatient is man that he would not even allow his interlocutor to have his full say; he interrupts him before the other has finished. 0, why cannot you listen to what another is saying? But who has the leisure and patience to listen? One cannot help giving unrestrained vent to one's rage. It is quite possible that the other man is speaking the truth. But the infuriated man never comes to know it. And all this happens because of mental imbalance. If we observe our individual problems, social problems, the difficulties encountered with the neighbour- if we study them thoroughly, we shall find that our mental unbalance is serving as fuel to the fire of our discontent, and it is this fuel that keeps the fire burning - a fire which is never extinguished; it is an eternal flame. Some lights keep burning for a time and then go out. How often does the supply of electricity fail in our towns! There is no saying when it might go off or be restored. But our mental imbalance continues for ever; it never goes off. It manifests itself in different ways at all times. This problem of mental inequilibrium is the biggest problem facing mankind. Let us get to the root of it. Why is there mental inequilibrium at all?

Provocation is one of the causes. We have no control over our impulsive and emotional life. We get excited too often. Dhyana is very significant in that through the practice of dhyana we come to acquire control over ourselves. Right now I would not go so far as to assert that dhyana would dissolve all passion - this is something which might occur in later stages -but this too is no mean achievement that we may shut the door on passion whenever we like and put a lock thereon at will. This is a great achievement indeed. The door, the lock and the key owe their evolution to the need for ensuring man's safety. Thus dhyana becomes a very great medium of man's security.

It is possible to develop a consciousness which shuts the door on strong emotion as soon as it arises, so that we can keep calm and tranquil. As I said before it is no mean achievement. Indeed, it is a very significant accomplishment and only man is capable of it. An animal is incapable of such a development. If an animal is offered provocation, it will instantly go into a state of high excitement. It may be a he- or she-buffalo, it may be swine, or a bear, whatever the animal, it will be stimulated beyond measure, and start snarling in a rage. But man has the capacity to keep cool despite provocation. He can control his passions. Because man has been able to develop such a consciousness, he can lead a balanced life.

Even a little urchin is easily excited. It looks surprising to find a 2-4 year child smitten by anger. One friend came to me and said, "Here is our small child who readily flares up." The mother also accompanied her husband and child. I said to her, "Is it you who flare up more or is it the child's father?" She said it was the child's father who was more often beside himself with rage. And strange enough, it was the child's father who was complaining about his sons' excessive anger! I said, "This is an inheritance from the father. You yourself get enraged so often, why should you mind if your child follows in your footsteps?" He should not really take it ill. It is really surprising: the father spouts abuse, indulges in anger, does all kinds of mischief, and he thinks it is all in order, but he takes it to heart if his son does the same. What a mental aberration! If I do something without compunction, A by should I grumble if another does it. If the other person's doing it appears reprehensible, my doing it is no less so. But the elderly people say, "We are now grown up: we cannot change.

"Everybody is concerned with reforming others without bringing about a revolution in himself.
The man who undertakes dhyana never talks of reforming another. To talk of reforming another is political humbug; but to talk of reforming oneself belongs to the sphere of self-discipline; it pertains to the domain of dhyana. The true practitioner of dhyana will persevere in his enquiry and make an effort to reform himself. If another seeks guidance, he will tell him, "Here's the way. Whether you like to make an experiment is entirely up to you." That is all!

This shivir is meant for teachers; before that some police personnel practised dhyana, and still earlier other groups participated. We have had a series of shivers and it is continuing. The whole system is based on what each individual does. Is a man practising dhyana or is he not? We are aware of what is going on. There is no compulsion, whatsoever, for any man to do anything in a particular way. If there is any compulsion dhyana becomes an imposition. But wherever there is an imposition, dhyana is not. A bare suggestion is made - "This is how you may do it!" Whether you act upon that suggestion or not, is entirely up to you. If the freedom of dhyana is violated, it remains dhyana no longer; it degenerates into a kind of punishment, it becomes a prison. Dhyana never imprisons; rather it sets one free. Consciousness is absolutely free, so that each individual may act freely without any constraint whatsoever. You may ask why this organisation then? Why this discipline? The organisation and the discipline are there because many people gather at one place. There is no essential link between dhyana and organisation or discipline. The question of organisation and discipline does not pertain to dhyana, it pertains to the assemblage. Organisation and outward control is necessary wherever men aggregate. There is complete freedom as far as dhyana is concerned. I may strongly advocate that you must practise dhyana. And you might even accept my suggestion to please me. You close your eyes, and sit in the prescribed posture. But is it dhyana? Can it be called dhyana? Is dhyana a matter of mere posture? There can be no dhyana, unless you spontaneously want it. If you do not want it of your own accord, even the fear of capital punishment will not turn you into a dhyanee.

Action born of a completely free consciousness cannot be imposed. It is an action of freedom pure and simple and outside control has nothing to do with it. However it is surprising that a person continues acting in a particular way, but the same conduct in one's own kin, appears to him to be unpalatable. What an irony and how strange!

A glass tumbler fell down in the kitchen. As it broke, it produced a clinking sound which was soon over. Father and son were sitting outside. The son said, "It seems that a glass-tumbler has fallen down from mother's hand and is broken. On hearing this, the father felt very inquisitive; he sent a servant inside to find out what had happened. The servant presently returned and said, "A glass tumbler slipped through the elder mistress's hand and is broken." The father said to his son, "You have been sitting outside with me. How is that you knew who had broken the glass tumbler? Have you gained some transcendental knowledge? Has a third eye opened unto your forehead? How did you know that it was your mother who broke the glass tumbler?" The son replied that he knew it immediately. The father insisted, "How?" The son said, "It is quite simple. The glass fell down from my mother's hand for the accompanying tinkle died down within a minute. If it had been my wife, the tinkling would have gone on much longer, reinforced by mother's jingling."

Strange indeed are the ways of human beings! A man behaves in a certain fashion without reproaching himself. But similar conduct in his own kith and kin is readily condemned. A drunkard wants his son not to take to drinking! Likewise, a smoker wants his son never to smoke!

A big speculator once came to me with the request that his son should be bound on oath never to indulge in speculation! I was greatly surprised and said, "Brother, you yourself indulge in speculation and yet you want your son to refrain from it!" He said, "Yes, I know how unhappy a speculator is. I want that my son at least should not be caught in this trap." I said, "How strange! You yourself indulge in speculation. You are not prepared to give it up. How is it then possible for your son not to follow suit? To expect otherwise would be quite illogical."

Look at the irony for it! A man would not change his own evil habit, but he wants his son or his wife to be free from it. But that too has a cause: unrelated tension or excitement. There is a frenzy caused by the wind, which the Ayurved masters, Charak and Sushrut, have called "being possessed by a demon." Many disorders are caused by the wind and these are considered to be spectre-oriented - a case of being haunted by an evil spirit. There is still another disorder - that of delusion. Man is so caught in delusion that he cannot see though his eyes be open; he has ears, but he cannot hear! He knows not what is happening to him! This state of delusion can only be ended through dhyana. Dhyana alone can rectify this state of delusion and unless it is rectified, there can be no mental equilibrium.

One big cause of mental imbalance is provocation; the second is rigidity. Man is obstinate. He clings to something and would not yield. He suffers and yet carries on as before. He loses his balance. He feels that something is evil, and yet he finds it difficult to abandon it. "I'm not such a weakling as to falter; if I have said something, I stand by it at all costs. Other people waver and vacillate, but I stick to my opinion. I never yield; never compromise."

This obstinacy creates a great deal of imbalance. One finds oneself in a dilemma. A debtor came to pay his debt. He placed a sum of Rs. 60/- before his creditor. The creditor said, "Brother, I gave you Rs. 70/-, in sums of Rs. 35/- each on two occasions. How is it that you bring back only Rs. 60/-." The debtor said, „Oh, no, thirty-five and thirty-five make sixty." The creditor said, "What are you talking about? Anybody will tell you thirty-five and thirty-five make seventy." The debtor said, "You may go on repeating it ad nauseaum, but I shan't agree. I still insist that thirty-five and thirty-five make sixty." Now, what is one to do with a man like that? One finds oneself in a great fix.

Obstinacy gives rise to much imbalance. If you go into it deeply, you will find that in all family relationships, it is stubbornness which creates a lot of trouble. One holds to a particular opinion at all costs. The whole atmosphere in the family is vitiated. You people have greater experience of it, since you go through it all. We here have little occasion for it. However, we are told that because of obstinacy, a house often stands divided against itself. Many walls are drawn up; one hearth gives way to a number of hearths. The erection of parting walls and the multiplication of hearths is not all. Sometimes, because of enmity, father and son do not meet each other for decades together. To strangers and guests in the house, the father would present a smiling countenance and as soon as he catches sight of his son, he would avert his face, and if he does suddenly confront his son his eyes become red with rage. A strange situation and obstinacy has much to do with it.

The third factor in the creation of mental imbalance is favouritism. Favouritism or partiality is no mean cause. It destroys one's own sanity and sanity of the person discriminated against. We have heard a number of sons complaining, "I have great regards for my father, but he was so partial as to give his favourite son all his money, and me he has cut off with a shilling." Favouritism creates bad blood between brother and brother, between mother and son, between master and operatives. It is responsible for creating a great deal of mental inequilibrium.

The fourth cause of mental imbalance is unbalanced food. Erratic food habits also serve to create mental tension. Not much attention is paid to this subject in our homes, though modern scientific research has thrown a great deal of light upon it. Madness is not the result of mental conflict alone; unbalanced diet can also make a man go crazy. The subject of nutrition is therefore important, and it is incumbent upon a dhyanee to be well informed about it. If one takes 10 chappaties, if one takes corn alone (i.e. wheat proteins alone) or only carbohydrates or only starch, it will fill the stomach no doubt, but it would disturb the equilibrium of the brain. The body needs proteins, fats, oils and salt - all of them together. When the diet is balanced, the brain functions properly and the mental equilibrium is not disturbed. However, if a man be ill-tempered and querulous, causing endless torment to his family, he must also seriously consider whether an unbalanced diet may not be one of the factors behind it.

Lord Mahavir once visited an aboriginal colony Santhal in Pargana district. It is said that the people over there always took dry, rough food, without any fat. These people were therefore extremely irascible. The ascetics who fast too much and whose diet is rough and dry are also likely to be choleric. The ire of devout ascetics is celebrated. Witness Durvasa whose inflammable nature made him put people under a curse on the slightest pretext. The more devoutly austere one is, the greater the anger. But if ascetism is accompanied by dhyana, the latter would absorb all the energy, leaving no energy for anger. With austere penance, unaccompanied by dhyana, there is greater probability of increase in anger. A rough diet devoid of fats also tends to augment irascibility; ill-balanced diet is mostly at the root of all perversity and querulousness. We do not seem to pay due attention to it. Respecting food we have queer notions. We look upon the stomach as a pit to be filled as soon as it gets empty. But what are we going to fill it with, we never consider. One feels hungry and fills up the pit. That is all. Well, the pit is filled up, but what is this loaded pit meant to do? Do we ever consider what the result of this thoughtless replenishment might be? For a person practising dhyana it is a very important question - discretion in the matter of food. One might object how it is possible to think of a balanced diet in these days of growing poverty. The prices of foodstuffs have gone sky-high. How is it possible then for an average man, a man of average income, and even for a teacher who is not a prosperous merchant, to ensure a balanced diet for himself and his family? Of course there is no prosperity and an average person is faced with many difficulties in earning a livelihood. One gets barely Rs. 500/- or Rs. 700/- or a thousand rupees per month, which does not amount to much in the context of rising prices. In these days of terrible inflation, how can one think of a balanced diet? - one eats what one can get. It is a burning question of the day. But there is no problem which has not within itself its own resolution. There are many schedules of balanced diet which could be made to tally with an average income. One of the activities of Tulsi Adhyatama Nidam is to provide guidance in the matter of food, and to bring home to the campers and other persons who visit the Nidam for practising dhyana that even with an average income, it is possible to ensure a balanced diet. Excellent proteins can be got from milk, Cumin seed (zeera) which can be a useful part of an average diet, contains iron. And there are many other common articles which contain different elements required for a balanced diet. Only our knowledge of these is very poor and we have never really worked out what a balanced diet should be.

There are various organs functioning in the body - the spleen, the kidney, the heart, the brain, the nerves. All these need various kinds of chemicals and substances; their needs are different. Some people take too much salt; they are never tired of sprinkling more and more salt on whatever they eat. It is a wonder how they take it! It is no doubt pleasant to their palate, but do they ever consult their kidneys about it? What a problem it creates for the kidneys. It would be a surprise if the kidneys of the excessive-salt-eater are not adversely affected. Because the body does not require that much salt and the burden of clearing up the excess falls upon the poor kidneys. Each little kidney has 90 lakh perforations, all of which are put to use, and yet the kidney is highly overworked in getting out the excessive, unassimilated stuff. The number of strainers in a kidney is legion; no grinding mill has as many. But man abuses each and every organ of his to the point of total derangement. He goes on gulping down all he can, stuffs his stomach to superfluity, never considering what an impossible task he is setting for the kidneys and the liver. After all there is a limit to the secretions of the liver. People generally never care to enquire as- to how superfluous food is to be assimilated, and what havoc is wrought by unassimilated matter. Some men eat too much sugar. It feels good to eat as much as one can. But one never consults the intestines and the stomach, with disastrous results. Acidity increases, causing much discomfort and pain. Sugar tastes sweet to the palate, but ultimately produces acidity. The compulsive sugar-eater is always belching. He suffers from indigestion. On the other hand, the fruit of emblic myrobalan (anwla) tastes bitter but is highly beneficial in its effects. One's diet must always be balanced. Most people do not give it adequate attention and the problem becomes acute. The wrong kind of food is bound to produce harmful chemicals in the body, which makes for ill temper, querulousness and irascibility, or creates tension or provokes lust. All these perversions proceed from wrong diet. An unbalanced diet, indeed, is a most powerful cause of mental inequilibrium.

The fifth cause is the feebleness of the nervous system. The nervous system has two main sections: (1) the brain and (2) the whole of the spinal cord. These constitute two significant parts of the nervous system. A defect in the spinal cord adversely affects the functioning of the entire organism. You people feel uncomfortable in sitting upright; it even looks odd to you. You are repeatedly told to keep the backbone straight. In this there is a world of profit for you. Just by keeping the backbone straight, you can avoid a number of physical and mental problems. Generally, people sit with their body bent, or in some other crooked position. The ayurvedic master Charak says, "While drinking water, keep your body even - keep it straight." Never drink water in a crooked posture. Never talk to someone with the body all curved. Never eat in an oblique posture. Even while inhaling breath ensure that you are not all skewed up. Keep straight so that you maintain your balance. Any kind of distortion would make your action go awry.

The feebleness of the nervous system, the feebleness of the backbone, and the feebleness of the brain - all cause mental imbalance.

A new system of healing has recently come into vogue - osteopathy. Nothing much is done in this treatment except that a little pressure is applied to the spinal cord. We are concerned with the treatment of all kinds of diseases. Here in the spinal cord lies the root of all diseases. It is from the spinal cord that all nerves originate and stretch into the body. The whole network of fibres, sinews and arteries extending all over the body, passes through it, the root and source from which all these branch out into the organism. There lies our central nervous system on both sides of which are located respectively the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. It is from these centres that every activity is conducted. If the nervous system is weakened, the question of maintaining equilibrium just does not arise. You may try to practise meditation, but you will never be able to maintain your balance. As a matter of fact, you will not be able to meditate at all. Meditation, dhyana, is possible only when the nervous system is strong. A corpulent man appears to be strong and sturdy. On the other hand, a person with little flesh appears to be a frail, exhausted creature. However, it would not be right to assume that a corpulent man is necessarily strong, or a thin man is essentially weak.

"Only he who has splendour is powerful." Appearances are often deceptive. Too much flesh signifies nothing. The essential thing is the condition of the nervous system. Life means the wholesome activity of the nervous system. Both the nervous system and the endocrine system are far more significant. They are the source of all light. They are the origin of all action. Mere flesh has no significance, whatever. Even other metals possess little strength as compared to the strength of the nervous and the endocrine systems.

A man is conscious of his finger moving. It touches something and he is conscious of the movement. What is the basis of this consciousness? All sensations occur on the level of the nervous system. There are two kinds of nerves - motor nerves and the sensory nerves. It is through the medium of the sensory nerves that we become conscious of anything, and the action itself takes place through the medium of the motor nerves. We touch something with our finger, and the sensory nerves immediately tell us that it is cold. If need is felt to move the thing way, the motor nerves get into action and the finger accomplishes the task. Thus, it is the nerves that set going the process of knowing and that of action.

With the weakening of the nervous system, the equilibrium of the body is set at naught.

I should like to repeat here that the feebleness of the nervous system has a cause - unbalanced diet, and a still greater cause - lack of control over emotions.

The nervous system of the man, who exercises no control over his emotions, is gradually weakened. Each fit of anger administers a big shock to the nervous system. If such shocks continue for any length of time, it is not difficult to foresee its ultimate fate. The nervous system can stand a great deal; it is much more tolerant than your son. Even your wife would not tolerate such abuse; she would throw you over. But the poor nervous system absorbs in silence all the shocks that you so thoughtlessly administer to it. But if you persist, there comes a saturation point when the nervous system can hold no more and begins to disintegrate. Then the man becomes unbalanced, then does he himself begin to disintegrate, and gradually approximates to a condition of madness, partial or total.

We have enumerated five causes of mental imbalance. We want to maintain our equilibrium so that the mind keeps healthy and calm. The most important means towards that end is body perception, to perceive the body as it is. Through body perception, the nervous system gets stronger and it also makes up for the deficiency of certain body-juices. There are a number of vitamins which the body itself produces. Not everything is taken from outside. Something is evolved within. The fight of the sun passes into the body and vitamin-D is produced of itself. The best source of vitamin-D is sunlight. There are many other chemicals and proteins which our body produces. But it will produce these only when we are in a state of tranquillity. The practise of dhyana does not merely serve to establish mental equilibrium or achieve salvation, it is also meant to ensure happy living here and now.

A religion or a discipline which does not offer a solution to our present-day problems, is neither beneficial nor productive. What we need is continuing reappraisal of spirituality and religion, so that we can resolve through them our problems of everyday living.

Sources

Published by: Kuldeep Jain for "HEALTH & HARMONY" An imprint of: Jain Pubilishers (P) Ltd, New Delhi
http://www.bjainbooks.com

Reprint 2006

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  1. Anger
  2. Ayurvedic
  3. Body
  4. Brain
  5. Consciousness
  6. Dhyana
  7. Discipline
  8. Endocrine System
  9. Fear
  10. Lakh
  11. Mahavir
  12. Meditation
  13. Shivir
  14. Third Eye
  15. Tulsi
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