Develop Evenminded Calmness

13. 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)


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(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