How can a man, in the present circumstances, achieve realisation of the Spirit?
The answer will be dependent upon the nature of the man himself.
Men in this world may be broadly divided as possessing three kinds of tempers, three kinds of minds.
There are some whose minds are of the nature of unstable equilibrium; there are others whose concentration or peace of mind may be of the nature of stable equilibrium; there are others who are always, in neutral equilibrium.
What is unstable, equilibrium? Place a pencil vertically upon the palm of the hand, it never stays (here the Swami put the pencil on his palm in a vertical position), for a second or so it may be at rest every whiff of mind will throw it down. This is called unstable equilibrium. Hold the pencil by one end. (Here the Swami held the pencil between his fingers and kept it hanging like a pendulum.) It is at rest, but being a pendulum, it will go on oscillating sometime, but after a while it will stop again. The equilibrium may be disturbed but it may be regained soon. In the first position of the pencil, the equilibrium may not be regained.
But there is a third kind of equilibrium, Place the pencil horizontally (here he laid down the pencil on the table) it is at rest. Place it like that; it is at rest. In this position wherever you place the pencil, it is at rest. It is in equilibrium all the time. Just so there are some people whose minds are all the time disturbed, all the time distracted, they cannot be in equilibrium, they cannot be at rest. External circumstances bring them rest, but they are distracted again.
There are other people whose minds are usually calm, collected and quite, but being once disturbed they go on oscillating for a long, long time, and the majority of men in this world are of that nature. You are walking through the streets; somebody comes and shakes hands with you, and makes some remark which is not complimentary, but critical, cynical. He goes away, but the act is done, he made the remark, and went away.
The effect of that disturbance continues for hours and hours, sometimes for days and days, for weeks and weeks, for months and months, sometimes even for years. The effect of that remark remains and the mind keeps on oscillating; be it once disturbed it goes on oscillating; goes on moving up and down; and this state of mind, this oscillating state of mind ruins your life; it takes away all your time.
Now, just mark, the acts or the facts did not take much time. The act was the first motion which was given, but the .after effects, or say, the oscillations of your mind take away your life. If you could prevent those peculiar oscillations, if you could overcome that inner disturbance, if you resist or bring under control that hesitation or that continuous vibration of the mind, and palpitation. If you could overcome it, your life would be the life of millions of men. Even your thirty years of life may be equivalent to hundreds and hundreds of years. Mark the disease of your mind, the psychological disease from which you are suffering.
Know that disease and cure it. The disease of your mind is the oscillating tendency. When the thing is done the mind keeps on oscillating between a fear and a smile.
These are only pendulum-men.
Now, the third kind of men are the heroes, the liberated souls. These are men whose minds cannot be disturbed by any circumstances; let anything come to pass, they are undisturbed, they are at rest. Place them in the surging waves of the rolling ocean, the same; place them in war, the same. You are friends, you will talk to them to-day, you make all sorts of remarks, the remarks are unanswered. The very moment you go away the mind is as fresh and as pure as ever.
Remain with a free man for a thousand years, go away, and you have left no disturbance there. The mirror shows your face back to you. You know the mirror does not exactly portray your face. If you have an earring in the left ear, you will find the ear-ring in the right ear of the mirror, and so the right becomes the left, and the left becomes the right. You remain before the mirror for a hundred years, and for a hundred years the mirror goes on answering you.
Leave the mirror, the mirror is just the same; so is the case with a liberated soul, or a man of wisdom. He is one upon whom the outside stain can leave no tainting spot, whom nothing can pollute, and who remains as free as ever. You may come and praise him all the time; go away and his mind will not afterwards be chewing the cud of your praise. You come and pass critical cynical remarks, you go away and he will not be ruminating over your criticisms. Free, free. He believes in his Divinity.
Now, Rama says that if you really study Vedanta and keep the Vedantic teachings continually before you, and by self-suggestions from OM, or from some other remarks, by self-suggestions in the right direction, you remember your God head and keep the reality before you, your mind if originally of unstable equilibrium, will become of stable equilibrium, and if it is of stable equilibrium, it will acquire neutral equilibrium by degrees. This Vedanta, this truth you have to keep before you all the time.
Rama will now tell you something that helps you to keep continually in that state. Try it and you will see that even though this is not preached by people, yet it is a wonderful advice. You will mark it. When people come and have a talk with Rama, sometimes remarks—cynical, critical remarks—are made, and then they go away. Do you know how Rama keeps himself safe from their suggestions? Different ways there are.
One way is this. You see that small book before you, this is a marvellous book, it was written by a man whose equal is not to be found. This man is not famous, he is not -worshipped in India. This book is not a famous book like the Bhagavad Gita; it was not written by Krishna; it was written by a man who was unknown to name and fame.
But here is a man who gives you all the Christ’s, Krishna’s, Buddhas, all of that. Rama takes up this book. It is in Sanskrit you know, and when Rama reads one verse out of this book, that is enough to wipe out and wash away all pollution of lives and lives; it throws Rama at once into a state of ecstasy; one verse of this small book appeals to the heart and uplifts, reasserts the God-head in Rama. It destroys the low nature and rends asunder the veil of Maya at once. So Rama tells you, you may keep a book of that kind.
You may have some psalms which lift you up, inspire you. You may have some songs which inspire you immediately. You may have some poems which appeal to you. You may have, say, the Bible; you may have the Sermon on the Mount. You may mark the passages of your favourite authors, the passages which inspire you, or anything whatever that uplifts you. You may have a small note-book in which you keep collected all those sayings which inspire you or which uplift you, which fill you with prayer. You may have this book. You may have the poem written at the end of this book. “Oh, brimful is my cup of Joy”, that poem, and you may have anything which stirs you up.
Keep that always right at hand and after you have mixed with your friends or left any uncongenial company, instead of allowing your mind to keep on oscillating, instead of allowing your mind to remain in a disturbed state, oscillating all the while, at once take up this Inspiring passage and make the mind steady.
Now, you see Rama has told you the cause, the mental disease.
Rama has laid before you the general malady of the human soul.
The general malady is this oscillating tendency, and Rama has told you how you can keep the mind steady.
From a lecture by Swami Rama Tirtha delivered on February 15th, 1903 in San Fransisco.