Control Your Mind to Attain Self-Mastery
11. Control Your Mind to Attain Self-Mastery
The hardest obstacle to overcome is yourself. When you sit to meditate at night, your nervousness and restlessness are still with you. Learn to control your mind and body. Be king of yourself. Carry within you a portable heaven, and in life or in death, in heaven or in hades, that inner heaven will be with you. (me)
The blessed Lord said:
(35) O Mahabaho ("mighty-armed" Arjuna), undoubtedly the mind is fickle and unruly; but by yoga practice and by dispassion, O Son of Kunti (Arjuna), the mind may nevertheless be controlled.
(36) This is My word: Yoga is difficult of attainment by the ungoverned man; but he who is self-controlled will, by striving through proper methods, be able to achieve it.
— The Bhagavad Gita VI:35-36
The yogi should revive by daily deep yoga practice the memory of soul tranquility, and should simultaneously keep the mind away from external and internal temptations. He cannot permanently feel the joy of his soul in meditation if he does not sever his desireful ties with the sensory environment.
The yogi must learn to win the tug-of-war between soul perception and sense perception. In the initial state of yoga practice the devotee is aware of the gripping influence of sense pleasures even though they are short-lasting, but he is little aware of the permanent, unending bliss secreted in his soul. The discriminating yogi will therefore find it natural that the habits of sense pleasures gathered from incarnations will be of stronger influence than his fleeting glimpses of soul bliss perceived during meditation. But he will also realize that even though habits of sense pleasures are very strong, they are not stronger than is the eternal perception of divine bliss present in the soul—the inextinguishable inheritance from Spirit.
The yogi should not stimulate his material habits by remaining, through choice, in unspiritual environments and by merely dreaming of the heavenly joys of sainthood. By staying away from worldly-pleasure-reminding environments and by relinquishing sense attractions, the yogi is better able to concentrate on the divine bliss of the soul. ...
The "practice of yoga" (abhyasa) is defined as repeated inner and outer efforts to remain in the eternal tranquility of the soul. "Dispassion" (vairagya) is the act of disengaging the mind from all forms of sensory pleasures as found in this world or to be found in heaven (the astral realms). (bg p.640)
Conquer Three Biggest Challenges First
Krishna warns the devotee Arjuna that the threefold gate to hell is lust, anger, and greed; therefore, these must be abandoned. (XVI:21)
Only when man has conquered these does he acquire knowledge of his true soul nature.
1. Kama (Lust);
Lust applies to the abuse of any or all of the senses in the pursuit of pleasure or gratification.
2. Krodha (Anger);
Anger demonstrates its peace-destroying, reason-blinding, health-impairing behavior in many forms: impatience, violence, irritation, inner seething, jealousy, resentment; malicious anger, passionate anger, childish and superficial anger;
3. Lobha (Greed);
In its most covetous and avaricious display, greed leads to stealing, dishonesty, cheating, self-surfeit at the expense of the well-being of others. If man allows himself to be conquered by greed, his life and spirit will be ruined and shattered by suffering. (bg)
Divine Dispassion (vairagya) of Detachment from Worldly Objects and Desires
(50) O Son of Kunti (Arjuna), hear from Me, in brief, how he who gains such perfection finds Brahman, the supreme culmination of wisdom.
(51) Absorbed in a completely purified intellect, subjugating the body and the senses by resolute patience, forsaking (as much as possible) sound and all other sense entanglements, relinquishing attachment and repulsion;
(52) Remaining in a sequestered place, eating lightly, controlling body, speech, and mind; ever absorbed in divine meditation and in soul-uniting yoga; possessing dispassion;
(53) Peaceful, renouncing egotism, power, vanity, lust, anger, possessions, and the "me and mine" consciousness—he is qualified to become one with Brahman.
— The Bhagavad Gita XVIII:50-53
That devotee is qualified to attain Brahman, Spirit, whose discriminative intelligence (buddhi) is wholly free from the adulteration of sense entanglements, cognizant only of the purity of soul bliss; who with resolute patience (dhriti) keeps his perception centered on the Self, remaining established in soul consciousness without ever being identified with the physical ego and its bodily instrumentalities; who abandons all luxuries of the five senses (beginning with enticing conversation with others—the desire to hear and be heard); and who, free of likes and dislikes, is satisfied by only the bare necessities for sustaining life.
Such a yogi, possessing the divine dispassion (vairagya) of detachment from worldly objects and desires, observes the sattvic discipline of austerity of body, speech, and mind. In the conduct of his holy life, he not only remains in an outwardly quiet place conducive to meditation and spiritual calm, but also, perceiving in yoga meditation the soul, mind, and life force in their innermost subtle spinal tunnel of escape from the body (brahmanadi), remains there, experiencing the real sense-tumult-free seclusion leading into the omnipresence of Spirit. (bg.1070-1072)
Develop Evenminded Calmness
O Flower among Men (Arjuna)! he who cannot be ruffled by these (contacts of the senses with their objects), who is calm and evenminded during pain and pleasure, he alone is fit to attain everlastingness!
— The Bhagavad Gita II:15
The basic principle of creation is duality. If one knows pleasure he must know pain. One who cognizes heat must cognize cold also. If creation had manifested only heat or only cold, only sorrow or only pleasure, human beings would not be the irritated victims of the pranks of duality. But then, what would life be like in a monotone existence? Some contrast is necessary; it is man's response to dualities that causes his trouble. So long as one is slavishly influenced by the dualities, he lives under the domination of the changeful phenomenal world.
Man's egoistic feelings, expressing as likes and dislikes, are entirely responsible for the bondage of the soul to the body and earthly environment. His cognizing intelligence is a mere registrar of experiences, in a disinterested, academic way; it records the events of a dear one's death or the birth of one's child alike in the same honest, prosaic manner. Whereas intelligence simply informs human consciousness about its loss of a dear friend, feeling marks and classifies this experience as distinctly painful. Likewise, the birth of a baby, cognized by an interested human consciousness, is classified by feeling as a distinctly pleasurable experience.
These psychological twins, man's feelings of pleasure and sorrow, have a common father: they spring from desire. Fulfilled desire is pleasure and contradicted desire is pain or sorrow. They are inseparable: Just as night inevitably follows day as the earth revolves on its axis, so pleasure and pain revolve on the axis of desire—the one ever alternating with the other.
Desire is produced by indiscriminate contact with the objects of the senses. Expressing as the likes and dislikes of the ego, desire creeps into the consciousness of one who is not watchful enough in governing the reaction of his feelings to his various experiences in the world. It is a condition the ego imposes on itself, and is therefore detrimental to man's evenmindedness. Whatever has its origin in desire is a disturbing element, for desires are like stones pelted into the calm lake of consciousness. Attachment to pleasure or aversion to pain both destroy the equilibrium of the inner nature. ...
This is why the Gita teaches that the excitation of pleasures should be avoided as avidly as one seeks to avoid the unpleasantness of pain.
Only when feeling is neutralized toward both opposites does one rise above all suffering. It is very difficult, indeed, to hurt an ever-smiling wise man. (bg)
Practice evenminded calmness all the time.
Become a king, an absolute monarch, of your own mental realm of calmness. In calmness, the mind is wholly free of emotional agitations. Unless the mind is calm, God will be obscured. So let nothing disturb your peaceable kingdom of calmness. Night and day carry with you the joy of "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."* (Philippians 4:7) (jt)
He who is free from hatred toward all creatures, is friendly and kind to all, is devoid of the consciousness of "I-ness" and possessiveness; is evenminded in suffering and joy, forgiving, ever contented; a regular yoga practitioner, constantly trying by yoga to know the Self and to unite with Spirit, possessed affirm determination, with mind and discrimination surrendered to Me—he is My devotee, dear to Me.
—The Bhagavad Gita XII:13-14
These manifold qualities epitomized in a yogi endear him to God. To please the Lord and attain Him, the yogi is steadfast in regular and intensive practice of the science of God-union (Knya Yoga). By the self-restraint (interiorization) of yoga, he dissolves his restless physical ego, with its sense of "I, me, and mine," in the perception of his true Self. When in ecstasy he determinedly keeps his mind and discrimination surrendered to the pure intuitive perception of Spirit in the vibrationless sphere, he is able even in the human state to feel the omnipresence of the Lord.
The yogi who perceives the same Spirit pervading all creation cannot entertain hatred for any creature. Instead, he is friendly and compassionate to all. He recognizes God even in the guise of an enemy.
Possessing the evenminded blessedness of Spirit,
a yogi is unruffled by material sufferings and pleasures.
Finding the joy of the Divine, he is ever contented under all conditions of physical existence. He attends to his meager bodily necessities, but is wholly detached from any sense of my body or my possessions; he considers himself to be serving God in his own body and in the bodies of all who cross his path. (bg)
Whether a yogi meets gain or loss in the course of performing dutiful actions, he remains evenminded. Both success and failure are bound to come at various times in response to the inherent duality in the structure of the body, mind, and world; the devotee who constantly reminds himself of his soul has little temptation to identify himself with the physical and mental phantasmagoria. (bg)
Essential Qualities for Liberation
Man’s qualities to free his soul to become one with God:
Power to Stay Away From Evil (Dama, the active power of resistance, tenacity, by which restless outer sense organs can be controlled).
Power to Obey Good Rules (Santa, the positive or absorbing power, attention, by which mental tendencies can be controlled).
It is the pivotal or turning point of the devotee’s life from gross materialism to finer spiritual qualities. [It] gives the meditating yogi the necessary mental and bodily strength to pursue the course of deep meditation leading to Self-realization. Without this fire and self-control, no spiritual progress is possible.
[4.] Power of Vitality
Soul-controlled life force (prana); and the vibratory creative air (or prana) element in the dorsal center, or anahata chakra. The power of this center aids the devotee in the practice of the right techniques of pranayama to calm the breath and control the mind and sensory onslaughts.
[5.] Divine Calmness
For calmness is the principal factor necessary for any expression of right discernment. Anything that ripples the consciousness, sensual or emotional, distorts whatever is perceived. But calmness is clarity of perception, intuition itself.
Discriminative faculty is the immutable calmness that discerns all things without distortion. It is the power of being able to plan the overthrow of an enemy passion. It is the power of attention, continued attention on the right object.
Patanjali & The Bhagavad Gita
Patanjali explains in sutras 1:20-21: "[The attainment of this goal of yoga] is preceded by
virya (vital celibacy),
samadhi (the experience of God-union during meditation),
prajna (discriminative intelligence).
Its attainment is nearest to those possessing tivra-samvega, divine ardor (fervent devotion and striving for God, and extreme dispassion toward the world of the senses)."
From these sutras we have the first six metaphysical soldiers, which stand in readiness to aid the yogi's battle for Self-realization:
1. Divine Devotion (Shraddha)
It represents the attracting principle of love whose "duty" it is to draw creation back to God. Felt by the devotee as shraddha, or devotion for God, it is an inherent pull of the heart in longing to know Him. It stirs the devotee to spiritual action and supports his sadhana (spiritual practices). Shraddha is frequently translated as faith; but it is more accurately defined as the natural inclination, or devotion, of the heart quality to turn toward its Source, and faith is an integral part of surrendering to this pull.
2. Vital Celibacy (Virya)
The vital essence, the sense mind, the breath, and prana (the life force or vitality) are closely interrelated. Mastery of even one gives control over the other three also. The devotee who employs scientific yoga techniques to control simultaneously all four forces quickly reaches a higher state of consciousness.
3. Spiritual Memory (Smriti)
"He remembers, realizes, true knowledge whose perception is clear, concentrated." Patanjali's smriti means memory, divine and human. It is that faculty by which the yogi recalls his true nature as made in the image of God.
4. Virata—Ecstasy (Samadhi)
Virata represents Patanjali's samadhi, the temporary states of divine union in meditation from which the yogi draws spiritual strength.
5. Discriminative Intelligence (Prajna)
Prajna is not the mere intellect of the scholar, bound by logic, reason, and memory, but an ex-pression of the divine faculty of the Supreme Knower.
6. Extreme Dispassion (Tivra-Samvega)
This dispassionate detachment from worldly objects and concerns is referred to elsewhere in the Gita as vairagya* Patanjali says, as cited earlier, that the goal of yoga is nearest (that is, is reached most quickly by) those who possess tivra-samvega. This intense dispassion is not a negative disinterest or deprived state of renunciation. The meaning of the word rather encompasses such an ardent devotion for attaining the spiritual goal—a feeling that stirs the devotee into positive action and mental intensity—that longing for the world is transmuted naturally into a fulfilling desire for God.
These yogangas, or limbs of The Eight Essential yoga, have come to be known as Patanjali's Steps Of Raja Yoga Eightfold Path of Yoga. They are enumerated in his Yoga Sutras, 11:29:
Yama (moral conduct, the avoidance of immoral actions);
niyama (religious observances);
asana (right posture for bodily and mental control);
pranayama (control of prana or life force);
pratyahara (interiorization of the mind);
dhyana (meditation); and
samadhi (divine union).
7. Power Of Mental Resistance (Yama)
This first step of the Eightfold Path is fulfilled by observing the "thou shalt nots"—abstaining from injury to others, falsehood, stealing, incontinence, and covetousness.
8. Power Of Mental Adherence (Niyama)
It represents the devotee's power to adhere to the spiritual prescriptions of niyama, the "thou shalts": purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God.
Yama-niyama are the foundation on which the yogi begins to build his spiritual life. They harmonize body and mind with the divine laws of nature, or creation, producing an inner and outer well-being, happiness, and strength that attract the devotee to deeper spiritual practices and make him receptive to the blessings of his guru-given sadhana (spiritual path).
9. Right Posture (Asana)
The body must be still and unmoving, without strain or tension. When mastered, the correct posture or asana becomes as expressed by Patanjali, "steady and pleasant." [Yoga Sutras II:46.] It bestows bodily control and mental and physical calmness, enabling the yogi to meditate for hours, if so desired, without fatigue or restlessness.
10. Life-Force Control (Pranayama)
With the aid of a scientific technique of pranayama, the yogi is at last victorious in reversing the outward-flowing life energy that externalized his consciousness in the action of breath, heart, and sense-ensnared life currents. He enters the natural inner calm realm of the soul and Spirit.
11. Interiorization (Pratyahara)
The withdrawal of consciousness from the senses, the result of successful practice of pranayama or control of the life force (the astral powers) that enlivens the senses and bears their messages to the brain. When the devotee has attained pratyahara, the life is switched off from the senses, and the mind and consciousness are still and interiorized.
12. Self-Mastery (Samyama)
It is referred to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, III:1-4, as samyama, a collective term under which the last three steps of the Eightfold Path are grouped together.
The first five steps are the preliminaries of yoga. Samyama, from sam, "together," andyama, "holding," consists of the occult trio,
dhyana (meditation), and
samadhi (divine union), and is yoga proper.
When the mind has been withdrawn from sensory disturbances (pratyahara), then dharana and dhyana in conjunction produce the varying stages of samadhi: ecstatic realization and, finally, divine union. Dhyana, or meditation, is the focusing of the freed attention on Spirit. It involves the meditator, the process or technique of meditation, and the object of meditation. Dharana is concentration or fixity on that inner conception or object of meditation. Thus arises from this contemplation the perception of the Divine Presence, first within oneself, and then evolving into cosmic conception—conceiving of the vastness of Spirit, omnipresent within and beyond all creation. The culmination of samyama self-mastery is when the meditator, the process of meditating, and the object of meditation become one—the full realization of oneness with Spirit.
13. Five Spinal Centers Awakened By Kundalini
Draupadi is the daughter of Drupada (Extreme Dispassion). She represents the spiritual power or feeling of kundalini, which is roused, or born of, the Drupada divine ardor and dispassion. When kundalini is lifted upward, it is "wedded" to the five Pandavas (the creative vibratory elements and consciousness in the five spinal centers), and thereby gives birth to five sons. (bg)
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines