You say: “I cannot control my mind. I drift away from Yoga.” It is a legitimate question and a sincere one.
There is a verse of Sheikh Saadi: “In the early hours I make up my mind to meditate on God but then the thought comes ‘What will my children eat in the morning?'” This is one way of distraction. We all say at times: “I sit in meditation but my mind runs away.”
The mind will run away but, wherever the mind runs, whatever it runs to, know it to be nothing but Brahman. Just as a hound pursuing a hare gets fatigued and lies on the ground, so the mind will get fatigued. It will be revived by contemplation, by seeing Brahman everywhere and, when revived, it is wiser, calmer and in a spiritual mood.
But the question remains: “I cannot control my mind.” Let us have all sympathy with those who speak in this way of their mind. The mind goes on causing trouble up to a long time. “O Arjuna, this aggregate of the senses is powerful and it disturbs even one who has risen high in Yoga” (Gita 2.60.) – what to say of us! Those who speak thus are better than the person who says: “I cannot meditate. I am not fit for it. The Yoga is not for me.” He is like a sick man who refuses a sure medicine because it is bitter.
In “Yoga Vasishtha” the question is discussed. Holy Vasishtha says: “Ask! Who has created the conditions which lead to the difficulty of controlling the mind?” Are they created by nature, just as a storm is created by physical causes? No. Are they created by the environment or by the economic system? No, they are not. Who has created these conditions? I, I, I. The answer is: “I have created these conditions and therefore only I can dissipate them. There is no higher power that can do it.” How have I created these conditions?
By devotion to the body, to pleasures, by keeping company with the puppies of passions and trying to kiss them, and for want of Sat Sang, discrimination, study, etc. The cause is in me and these are the things which have brought about the conditions. Shri Vasishtha says the solution is to undo those conditions. Then, start undoing them at once.
To Swami Sacchidananda a boy once said: “I try to control my mind and I fail every day. I feel so miserable. ” The Swami said: “My son, if your mind is troublesome, it shows it is an excellent mind. I congratulate you! That you try and fail shows that you have no ordinary mind and one which will be able to do immense good. It is potentially a fine horse and not a donkey. It is not hard to train a donkey but it is very hard to train an Arab steed, and very worthwhile.”
Then, dear ones, create in you yogic conditions. Change the atmosphere of the mind. We speak too much of the outer atmosphere and too little of the inner atmosphere. If the mental atmosphere is right, there are very few germs that can invade us. Let us change the inner atmosphere. It means tranquillity of the mind and ability to direct the mind to wherever we want. Not rationalization (to find excuses for every guilt, every bad habit) but sublimation. By meditation on peace, on OM I cannot control my mind. I drift away from Yogain the heart and dwelling on it, by saying to the mind “No more! That will do! “, you create a new atmosphere and that is a much greater achievement than having a mighty empire. Under this atmosphere, vairagya and jnana will be possible and self-conquest will become easy.
Shri Vasishtha said: “He who is not settled amidst the charming scenery of spiritual meditation let his frantic mind roam after every object that presents itself before him. By daily practice of the yogic virtues and vairagya, the mind is soon conquered. ” Like a juicy luscious mango, the mind slowly, slowly, becomes a helpful companion. A mango does not ripen overnight. When it does ripen, it is something to be proud of.
The mango takes a long time to ripen; the mind slowly matures into peace. The mind is the companion of the jiva. It is no use having a quarrelsome companion; you lose your peace of mind and the balance of your nerves is upset. This is the way to turn the mind into a helpful companion.
“Self-control and abstract meditation, daily practised, give the mind the same purity. Like the mango fruit, it obtains the great virtues one by one. “
The greatest wealth of man are the virtues of tranquillity, charity, dharma, detachment, devotion, study and self-surrender. They come when self-control and abstract meditation on “Aham Brahmasmi” (“Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” 1.4.10.) and all the Mahavakyas are done. Let the mind dwell on this, as a sensitive woman, who takes offence over a trifling remark made by another for spite, broods and dwells over each word. She goes on gnawing at it like a rat in her mind; she is meditating on the remark of the woman and is never tired of telling others of it. In the same way let us meditate on “Chidananda rupah, Shivoham, Shivoham.”
When Shri Dada used to sit in the garden in Chandausi, he often invited the poor mothers to bring their children. He asked the children to run and he gave prizes to those who had done their best and not to those who came first. We are those children; we are running the yogic race. He will give his prize not to the one who achieves most but to the one who does his best, who has found no excuses for his ineptitude, for his want of practice, but who is found, like the Roman sentinel in the ruins of Pompeii, still at his post centuries later. He who stays at his post as a devoted disciple of his Guru, master of himself, unafraid of nature, settled in faith in the unity of Brahman, he will know Brahman.
The gloss-maker, commenting on this verse, says: “The mango needs two things to ripen: attachment to the main branch and submitting itself to the influence of the sun.” If the mango detaches itself from the branch, it ceases to receive the invigorating sap and it will die. If there is no sun, it will not ripen; it will decay. The mind must remain ever attached to Brahman by a subtle vein of contemplation on OM, “Aham Brahmasmi”, “Shivoham”, and then be exposed to the sun’s action in order to achieve perfection in virtue and to bring perfection to others. The jiva has two great needs: constant meditation on “I am Shiva, Shivoham” and renunciation of self by exposing it to the sun of jnanam.
The meditation should be constant. One man whispered to another in the Sat-Sang of Swami Mangalnath “I practise meditation for one hour a day.” Mangalnathji heard. He had a sense of humour. He said: “That one hour is to steep the mind in the meditation, to prepare the mind so to say. The other 23 hours the reflection on the meditation should go on. You must keep a vigilant watch on the mind all day. ” This is what is meant by being exposed to jnanam.
The mind must remain attached to its source, Self. When it is detached, it ceases to receive the nutritive saps that flow into the heart of the mind and keep it alive. So, the mind should remain attached to Guru and Govinda in ceaseless contemplation of “Soham, Hamso” and be exposed to good actions and to the society of the good. Shri Shankara says: “The yogi who detests the company of those who are attached to passions and lust, like the company of a poisonous snake, such a man exposes his self to the sun of jnana. By this inner practice and by outer practice, he acquires maturity.”
Shri Vasishtha says: “As a cultivated soil helps the growth of a plant to fruitfulness, so the mind, nurtured in detachment and devotion and dedicated to God, service and meditation, acquires the mature fruit of Brahma-jnana.” No effort other than that directed to the conquest of the lower self is really useful in the field of ajnana. OM.
I conclude with the following verse: “Behold the unsullied form of the one God in your conscious self. Forsake all that it is conscious of. Relish the sweet essence of the one reality and in this way go beyond the sea of repeated births in the mortal world.” (“Yoga Vasishtha” : See “Holy Shravana” 4.11.1951 for commentary.) OM.
May all realize supreme happiness!
May all be freed from the prison of ignorance!
May all know God!
May none be a victim of grief!