Towards Inner Harmony: Principles Governing Control Over The Mind

Published: 12.05.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

A friend came to me. He was greatly agitated; care sat on his face. Frustration and sadness were reflected in his eyes. It seemed as if his very life was ebbing out of him. He seemed distracted because of some deep anxiety.

I said, "What is the matter? Is your trouble financial?"

He replied, "No, not the least. I am quite well off. Very comfortable; no worry on that score! As a matter of fact, I earn more than I need."

I then said, "Are you weighed down by some family problems?"

He said, "No, I have the rare good fortune of possessing a good family. All the members of my family are most respectful to me, and they are keen to carry out all my wishes and commands. I call for one, and five of them come running to me! I am fully satisfied with my family. Not only that even my servants and dependents are very humble and hard-working."

I said, "What is the cause of your worry then?"

He heaved a sigh and said, "Outwardly I have no trouble. But inwardly, I feel very uneasy. My mind is in a state of disintegration. It is so restless that I am never at peace. I have no control over it. In the morning I think of one thing; by noon I forget it and think of something else, and in the evening I find myself thinking of still another thing, utterly unrelated to what has gone before. I cannot concentrate on any one thing, and I cannot understand what I am about. I know all violence is evil. I want to be non-violent. And yet, when the occasion arises, I cannot help being violent and the principle of non-violence goes by the board.

"I say to myself I will not indulge in abuse. To call anybody names is not good. Also it sets a bad example for the children; they unconsciously start using swear-words. So I must beware of calling names. And yet in a moment of indignation, I find myself indulging in abuse."

"There is no reason for it. Though it happens twenty times a day: I resolve not to do certain things, and yet I find myself doing those very things."

"I just can't comprehend this split in myself - a thinking self and an acting self, both unrelated and contradictory to each other. I am greatly concerned that I can never accomplish whatever I determine upon. The result is ever contrary to intention. I am lost in confusion."

I said, "Do not take it to heart so much. It is not your problem alone, it is the problem of the whole human race. It is the problem of everyman. There is not a single individual in the world who is not confronted with this Janus-faced mind."

"The question arises, as to whether there are two minds or there is only one. If the mind were one, there would be no contradiction between thought and action. And yet there is such a contradiction in every man. Does that prove that there are two minds, and not one? And if there are two minds, which of these two must I fight and conquer? Do I fight and subjugate the thinking mind?"

I said, "Are there two minds or is this division entirely artificial? Man thinks of fighting and controlling the mind. And yet many a time it so happens that the thing over which he wishes to exercise control, eludes him, and that which should never be controlled, is badly mauled. The culprit goes scot-free, and the innocent person is put behind the bars."

"Our mind is quite innocent," I continued. "It is not to blame. In fact, the mind is a power. The mind is one power, the word is another, and the body is still another. These are three powers, the means to action. It is man's great good fortune to be endowed with such potentialities. The mind, the word, and the body are three great powers. Are we to fight these powers? Must we think of subjugating them? Actually, there is no need to fight or to control.

"What a web of worldly illusion! What a mystery! One does not even know what is actually happening? The real culprit cannot be found. And whoever happens to be in the forefront, before, is punished. Some crimes are never solved. Others come to the fore and are known.

"The mind commits no crime. It is holy. It is a powerful part of the human machine. We can utilize the mind in any manner we please. It is only through ignorance that we think of subjugating it. Why must the innocent be punished? The fault lies elsewhere; the culprit has gone underground. We can only understand the gross world - the gross body, the gross word and the gross mind. But we have never tried to fathom the subtle world behind these. And our best efforts in this direction have home little fruit. If we could grasp the vast subtle world within ourselves, the talk of fighting or controlling the mind would just not arise. The entire disorder originates from the subtle world within. All the evil is caused by inner feeling. There is the vast subtle world inside the gross body. The current of feeling proceeding therefrom sets the mind to work. The mind is a mere servant; it only does what it is told to do. However strong and powerful a servant may be, he must always act in accordance with his master's wishes. Sometimes the mind is obliged to perform even unpleasant tasks. The evil proceeds from the feeling. We cannot comprehend the feeling and think only of fighting the mind. To what consequence? For thousands of years, since the beginning of time, man has been struggling with his mind, but to no purpose. Man has never been able to conquer his mind. Those who have seen through the utter futility of struggling with the mind, have been able to bring about a transformation on the level of the feeling within.

Human nature is very strange. A man has enmity with his neighbour, and if the neighbour is powerful, the man can do nothing against him. But he seeks vicarious gratification in beating the neighbour's cattle with a stick. He thinks, 'These are the neighbour's cattle; by beating them, I, in a way, beat my neighbour".

"Are we not behaving in the same way? The feeling that actuates the mind is beyond our reach, and we begin to find fault with the mind.

A sadhak should beware of falling into such a trap. He must come to realise the truth that quarrelling with the mind is utterly futile. There is in fact no need to quarrel. Let the mind alone! One might contend, if one must, with that which actuates the mind. That might prove much more fruitful. But one need not fight or struggle at all. There is another way of resolving the problem.

"Feelings, impulses and instincts come and go, leaving their imprint upon the mind. The mind is a blank sheet of paper, nothing more. What is the purpose of struggling with it? Why fight something which in itself remains untouched? On which nothing leaves a mark? We have to confront the source from which these images originate. Memories, imaginations, feelings, ideas of good and bad - all these come from within. However, these cannot upset the man who is engaged in meditation, because such a man lives in a different dimension beyond the frontiers of the gross world.

"People want to know if they, too, have a subtle world of their own, if they possess a unique individuality, if there is a world beyond this apparent one, if there is anything that survives death.

"Why talk of death? Why go far? There is a world inside of you. The question of the hereafter and its solution lie within you. Look at the world within and all questions stand dissolved. Whether there is a soul, whether there is God, what happens before and after death, are problems posed by people engrossed by the merely corporeal; those who have gone beyond the corporeal are no longer baffled by such questions. The way to the knowledge of the soul or God is not through the gross body and the brain; it lies beyond the intellect and the merely corporeal He who has crossed these limits, knows all; he who is still bound by the mundane, will never know it. 'It is essential that we come to know intimately our inclinations and background; that we reach out the ultimate springs of action.
For there are deep urges within - mighty springs forever flowing. They go on for ever, incessantly, never drying up.
There is the great stream of illusion, the fountainhead of all minor springs.
Another great and truly formidable source is the stream of attachment which gives rise to ever-new desires and keeps the mind well-supplied with the waters of ambition.
There is also the fountain of forgetfulness, of inattention, on account of which man continues in sleep and shall not wake up.
This extraordinary slumber will not be disturbed. The poor physical body sleeps for 7-8 hours a day, but the stupor of inattention continues for ever, day in and day out.
One never wakes up.
The reservoir of passion is also a gigantic one and it flows in all directions. Pride, guile, greed, hatred, envy, like and dislike are smaller springs from the same source.

"These various springs are flowing within. Their waters pass through the mind. All kinds of impurities flow in with these waters. People mostly cannot perceive these inner springs; they only see the rubbish coming out of the drain of the mind and they find fault with the mind.
But the mind is only a conduit, a pipe, a passage.
Is the town drain to be blamed for the filth that passes through it? Where does the filth come from? Does the drain create it? Or is it that all the rubbish comes from the houses, the factories and other industrial establishments. And yet the epithet, 'dirty' is appended to the drain! How does one make it out? How can the drain be dirty? The drain is clean; we only do not know what to do with the sources of refuse. We want to keep the drain clean. But it is never clean. The deluge of filth is continually descending from the reservoir above. Unless the reservoir is cleaned out, unless the mighty flow is somehow withheld, we shall not be able to get rid of the filth in the drain. We are forever thinking in terms of keeping the drain clear, and are bewildered by the intractable problem.
But that is not the way to resolve it. We may go on cleaning the drain, but if the flow of filth from the originating source continues unabated, our campaign for cleanliness will be utterly futile. The drain would never be clean. If we really want cleanliness, we shall have to attack first and foremost the very source of filth.

"The question arises as to what we should do. How are we to go about it? The simplest way is to stop accumulation of filth at the very source. The flow from the springs of filth will have to be regulated. Here we can take the help of the mind. We can also thus achieve its purification."

"The first thing to be done is to dry up the sources of filth."

"And the second is to stop the duct of the mind so that it is not vitiated by anything that comes from within; the very connection is cut off. All our botheration would then come to an end and the problem of contradiction between thought and action will also stand resolved.
The individual would then never complain 'I think of one thing in the morning, of another at noon, and of still another in the evening, and do something entirely contradictory."

"How to bring about cleanliness? We must start with severing all connection with the sources of filth within - a complete break from the centres of corruption inside so that the outer ducts are not clogged and never receive the putrefying flow."

"The way to clean and purify the mind lies through strong determination and concentration. Sullied by the ever-accumulating filth, the drain of the mind becomes so clogged, so worn out, that its strength is greatly diminished. The only way to increase the power of the mind is to make one's determination strong. The mind is highly imaginative. It creates ever-new images. However, no image is durable; nothing stays for long. The mind is thus greatly enfeebled. Man is influenced by what goes on outside as well as by what goes on inside. Our world is a world of powerful influences; here rises a tempest, there a typhoon or a dust-storm. This is not strictly confined to the earth alone. Modern scientists, ancient astronomers and learned observers of space-objects have all acknowledged the truth that certain phenomena occurring on other planets cause terrible storms and hurricanes on earth. The rays from other planets come and influence the earth. Some years ago, Rajasthan (a traditionally dry area) experienced very heavy rain. People thought it was because of the nuclear explosion that had recently been brought off. It was not so. Actually, certain explosions had occurred on the sun that year and the special atmospheric conditions created by these explosions were responsible for the excessive rains. Our earth is connected with magnetic elements in space; our mind, too, is connected with magnetic elements in space and on earth. We have no idea of how many magnets are pulling us this way or that; how many influences we are subject to at any given time.

"Dr. Naivadya conducted research into the effects of the moon on man's mind. According to astrologers, the condition of the mind is determined by the phases of the moon. That probably accounts for the origin of the proverb: "Mind your lunar aspect!" The second moon and the full moon are known to influence the mind. Dr. Naivadya discovered a number of other facts, which throw light on many a custom. For example, the custom of observing fasts on the 8th, the 14th and the 15th day of the lunar fortnight, and the last day of the dark fortnight? The explanations are not available with us but Dr. Naivadya established the fact that the moon on these days causes storms at sea, and also in the human mind, and fasting and religious vigils on these days helped undo the storms and keep the mind tranquil."

"It has been established that our mind is influenced by events in the outer world. It is influenced, not only by the moon, but by innumerable events and individuals. The mind is very impressionable. Every outside occurrence leaves its imprint upon it. It is immediately affected by blame or praise. This much for outside influences. But the mind is also affected by inner events. It is chock-full of impressions."

"The father said, 'Son, go to the bazar and get some chaff for the cattle.' The son replied, 'Father! There is no need to go to the bazar. My school-teacher said to me the other day, "Your brain is filled with chaff " So why don't you use the stuff which is available? Why bother about getting it from the bazar?"

"Every individual is filled to the brim inside. There is no end to what lies within. The number of inner springs of action influencing the mind is legion. But keeping the mind free from the inner and outer influences, to keep it healthy, is a tremendous problem. It is not easy to be free of these influences. A sadhak must confront this two-fold problem. Otherwise all talk of mind-purification is meaningless."

"There are two ways of achieving purification of the mind: strength of will and concentration. Man fails because his will is not strong. He lives in a world of fantasy. There is no end to the fiction he creates. The first task is to change imagination into will, to make the will so strong that it becomes man's armour, strong as flint. If the will is strong, it becomes immune to outer and inner influences. Both kinds of impressions come, but they are instantly repulsed. The will remains unaffected. With the creation of this armour, disruptive forces both within and without, are rendered powerless.

"Now, how is the will to be strengthened? The will is strengthened through practice of concentration. As the power of concentration gradually develops, the will-power becomes stronger."

"Svasa-preksha (perception of breath) is an effort in that direction. He, who has started perceiving his own breath, is already on the path of mind-purification."

"We do not know how to fight; our way is different. There is no man in the world whose mind is never assailed by uncertainties, evil thoughts, restlessness and imperfections. When wicked thoughts or uncertainties enter the mind, the sadhak begins to despair; he starts doubting the utility of his efforts. 'How is that?' he says to himself, 'is this the culmination of my long practice? I have been practising dhyana for 8-10 days, 2-4 months or 2 years, yet there seems to be no end to the fickleness of the mind; I am still caught in the web of uncertainties. Is not dhyana a hoax? Is it not utterly meaningless? No more dhyana for me!"

"This pessimistic approach is not conducive to spiritual progress or for getting rid of uncertainties. Until the accumulated impressions are totally exhausted, how can there be any freedom from these? To empty the mind completely of it's vast treasure-house of past impressions, may take years. Of course if the accumulation is smaller, it should not take much time to be emptied."

"Dhyana is the one infallible means of getting rid of evil thoughts or uncertainties. He who practices meditation, does at least stop being embroiled in new complications. Thoughts come. He perceives them. They depart. If bad thoughts come, let them be. Do not try to stop them. Let attention concentrate on breath. Perceive the breath. Here is an evil thought, but perception of breathing continues at the same time. In the beginning, the evil thought might prove stronger, the perception of breathing weaker. However, with constant practice, capacity for perception will develop more and more, till one achieves a state in which thought comes to a stop. All thoughts are like devils. If you engage in fighting these, you only waste your power. Leave these devils alone. Do not oppose them. You carry on your work without any deviation. A time will come when bad thoughts and uncertainties would lose their vitality and feel deprived of their power. In this process perception of breathing will gradually become sharper and stronger. In due course, the devils will die and breath-perception will emerge endowed with eternal life.

"We must observe breath-perception in the right way. The wrong way leads to despair. However, if breath-perception, perception of the psychic centres and perception of the body is done right, the power of concentration gets gradually stronger, and the force of disruptive tendencies, restlessness, evil thoughts and wicked feelings, gradually weakens, resulting in a tremendous release of creative energy, with a corresponding decrease in evil or destructive emotions. Every man possesses a mind. And yet one man turns out to be good, the other bad. Why? Why do we have kind thoughts for an hour and unkind thoughts the next hour? Why this difference, this deviation from the right? These variations in respect of times and men tell us plainly that the mind is not to blame. The fault lies with us who have not made our mind fear-proof, who have done nothing to strengthen or develop its will-power and its power of concentration, and it's various potentialities. Spiritual training involves three powers - the power of the mind, the power of speech, and the power of the body. As the power of the mind gradually increases, other inner powers also develop, and the outside influences grow weaker. With the development of will-power and resoluteness:

Old habits disappear; new habits are created.
Old faiths pass away; new faiths are born.
Old impressions cease; new impressions take root.

"With the growth of will-power, the power of concentration also develops and vice-versa. As will-power develops, the power of the mind also increases. The mind then feels completely secure. Its armour becomes impregnable; it remains untouched by inner or outer influences. It seems to say to the inner springs of perversion, 'Take your waters elsewhere, I am no longer inclined to receive them'. Similarly it rejects the outside influences. It then lives in total freedom and does its proper work unhindered. All discord comes to an end and there is perfect inner harmony. In this vast ocean of harmony the sadhak is never tired of submerging himself, renewing himself for ever."


Published by: Kuldeep Jain for "HEALTH & HARMONY" An imprint of: Jain Pubilishers (P) Ltd, New Delhi

Reprint 2006

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Brain
  3. Concentration
  4. Dhyana
  5. Fasting
  6. Greed
  7. Meditation
  8. Non-violence
  9. Perception of Breathing
  10. Pride
  11. Psychic Centres
  12. Rajasthan
  13. Sadhak
  14. Soul
  15. Space
  16. Violence
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