- Thought-control by Practice of Concentration
- Thought-control by a Positive Attitude
- Thought-control by Non-cooperation
- Art of Thinning Out Thoughts
- Thought-control by Napoleon’s Method
- Arrest the Recurrence of Evil Thoughts
- Give the Wrong Thought No Concession
- Nip the Bad Thought in Its Bud
- Spiritual Practice for Elimination of Evil Thoughts
- Best Remedies for Evil Thoughts
- Daily Discipline of Thoughts
- Thoughts and the Snake-analogy
- World-conquest by Thought-conquest
- Form a Divine Channel for Thought-force
- Role of Vigilance in Thought-control
- Watch and Spiritualize Your Thoughts
Thought-control by Practice of Concentration
Silence the bubbling thoughts. Calm the surging emotions. Concentrate on a concrete form in the beginning. Concentrate on a flower, on the form of Lord Buddha, on any dream picture, on the effulgent light of the heart, on the picture of any saint, or your Ishta Devata.
Have three or four sittings; early morning, 8 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Devotees concentrate on the heart, Raja Yogins on Trikuti (the seat of the mind), Vedantins on the Absolute. Trikuti is the space between the eyebrows.
You can also concentrate on the tip of the nose, the naval, or the Muladhara (below the last vertebra of the spinal column).
When irrelevant thoughts enter the mind, be indifferent. They will pass away. Do not drive them forcibly. They will persist and resist. It will tax your will. They will enter with redoubled force. But substitute divine thoughts. Irrelevant thoughts will gradually fade out. Be slow and steady in the practice of concentration.
Concentration is practiced for stopping the modification of the mind. Concentration is holding the mind to one form or object for a long time. To remove the tossing of the mind and various other obstacles which stand in the way of one-pointedness, the practice of concentration on one thing alone should be made.
Concentration is opposed to sensuous thoughts and desires, bliss to flurry and worry, sustained thinking to perplexity, applied thinking to sloth and torpor, rapture to ill-will.
It is easy to concentrate the mind on external objects. The mind has a natural tendency to go outwards. Keep the picture of Sri Krishna, Rama, Narayana, Devi or Lord Jesus or any picture, in front of you. Look at it steadily without winking. Gaze at the head, then at the body, then at the legs. Repeat the same process again and again. When your mind calms down look at a particular spot only, then close the eyes and mentally visualize the picture.
You should be able to visualize the picture very clearly even in its absence. You will have to call up the mental picture at a moment’s notice. Keep it there steadily for sometime. This is concentration. You will have to practice this daily.
If you want to increase your power of concentration, you will have to reduce your worldly desires and activities. You will have to observe silence everyday for some hours. Then only can the mind concentrate very easily and without difficulty.
In concentration you will have only one thought or wave in the mind-lake. The mind assumes the form of only one object. All other operations of the mind are suspended.
Thought-control by a Positive Attitude
Try to acquire the power of closing yourself against detrimental or undesirable thoughts and influences by making yourself positive by a particular attitude of the mind. By so doing, you may be receptive to all higher impulses of the soul within and to all higher forces and influences from without. Make a suggestion to yourself, “I close myself; I make myself positive to all things below and open and receptive to all higher influences, to all things above.” By taking this attitude of the mind, consciously, now and then, it soon becomes a habit.
All the lower and undesirable influences from both the seen and the unseen sides of life are closed out while all higher influences are invited and, in the degree that they are invited, they will enter.
In the mind there is doubt; there is reality also. A doubt arises whether there is a God or not. This is termed Samsaya-Bhavana. Another doubt crops up whether I can realize Brahman or not. Then another voice tells: “God or Brahman is real. He is a solid, concrete Reality as an Amalaka fruit in my hand. He is a mass of knowledge and Ananda (Prajnanaghana, Chidghana, Anandaghana). I can realize!”
We have clearly understood something and these ideas are well-grounded and ingrained. Some ideas are hazy and not firm. They come and go. We will have to cultivate ideas and ground them till they are firmly fixed and implanted. Clarification of ideas will remove perplexity and confusion in the mind. When a doubt arises, “Whether there is God or not, whether I will succeed in Self-realization or not,” it must be dispelled by well-directed suggestions and affirmations such as: “It is true; I will succeed. There is no doubt of this.” “In my dictionary, in my vocabulary, there are no such words, as ‘can’t’, ‘impossible’, ‘difficult’, etc. Every thing is possible under the sun.” Nothing is difficult when you strongly make up your mind. Strong determination and firm resolution will bring sanguine success in every affair or undertaking, and particularly so in the conquest of mind.
Thought-control by Non-cooperation
Non-cooperate with the mind in its evil wanderings. Gradually the mind will come under your control. Here is the practical method to non-cooperate with the mind. If the mind says: “I must eat today sweetmeats,” say unto the mind: “I will not cooperate with you today. I will not eat sweetmeats. I will eat only bread and Dal.” If the mind says: “I must go to cinema,” say unto the mind: “I will attend the Satsanga of Swami Ramananda and hear his discourses on the Upanishads.” If the mind says: “I must wear a silk shirt,” say unto the mind: “I will not wear in future any silk clothing; I will wear only Khaddar.” This is the method to non-cooperate with the mind. Non-cooperation with the mind is swimming against the sensual currents. The mind will be thinned out and gradually it will become your obedient servant. You will gain mastery over the mind.
The self-controlled man, moving among the objects with senses under restraint and free from attraction and repulsion, attains to peace. The mind and the senses are naturally endowed with the two currents of attraction and repulsion. Therefore, the mind and the senses like certain objects and dislike certain other objects. But the disciplined man moves among the sense-objects with a mind and senses free from attraction and repulsion, mastered by Self, and attains the peace of the Eternal.
The disciplined self has a very strong will. Therefore, the senses and mind obey his will. The disciplined self takes only those objects which are quite necessary for the maintenance of the body without any love or hatred. He never takes those objects which are forbidden by the Sastras.
Art of Thinning Out Thoughts
In the rubber plantations, planters take recourse to the method of thinning out the rubber trees by cutting the small surplus trees which stand in the vicinity of big trees. By so doing they can tap more milk (rubber juice) from the big trees. Even so, you must thin out the thoughts by destroying them one by one in order to drink the ambrosial milk or nectar of immortality.
Just as you retain only the good fruits from the basket and discard the bad ones, so also, keep good thoughts in your mind and reject evil ones.
Just as the warrior chops off the heads of enemies, one by one, when they come out of a fortress through a trap door, so also, chop off the thoughts, one by one, when they emerge out through the trap door to the surface of the mind.
When the tail of a lizard is cut, the cut end will flutter about for sometime as there is still a little residual Prana in the tail. After one or two minutes all motion will cease. Even so, even after thinning and reducing the thoughts, some thoughts will move about like the tail of the lizard. But they are powerless. They cannot do any serious harm. There is no vitality in them.
Just as the drowning man tries to catch anything to save himself, so also, these lifeless thoughts try their level best to come back to their previous state of life and vigour. If you go on regularly with your daily practice of concentration and meditation, they will die by themselves like a gheeless lamp.
Passion, egoism, jealousy, pride and hatred are very deep-rooted. If you cut the branches of a tree, they grow again after sometime. Even so, these thoughts that are suppressed or thinned out for sometime, manifest again after sometime. They should be completely rooted out by strenuous efforts, Vichara, meditation, etc.
Thought-control by Napoleon’s Method
When you think on one subject, do not allow other thoughts to enter. When you think of a rose, think of the different kinds of roses only. Do not allow other thoughts to enter.
When you think of mercy, think of mercy and mercy only. Do not think of forgiveness and tolerance. When you study the Gita, do not think of tea or a cricket match. Be wholly occupied with the subject on hand.
Napoleon controlled his thoughts in this manner: “When I want to think of things more pleasant, I close the cupboards of my mind revealing the more unpleasant things of life, and open up the cupboards containing the more pleasant thoughts. If I want to sleep, I close up all the cupboards of mind!”
Arrest the Recurrence of Evil Thoughts
Suppose the evil thoughts stay in your mind for twelve hours and recur every third day. If you can make them stay for ten hours and recur once in a week by daily practice of concentration and meditation, that is a decided improvement. If you continue your practice, the period of stay and recurrences will be gradually lessened.
Eventually they will disappear altogether. Compare your present state of mind with that of last year or year before last. You will be able to find out your progress.
The progress will be very slow in the beginning. It will be difficult for you to gauge your growth and progress.
Give the Wrong Thought No Concession
At first a wrong thought enters the mind. Then you entertain a strong imagination. You take delight in dwelling on that wrong thought.
You give consent to its stay in the mind, and gradually the wrong thought, when it is not resisted, takes a strong hold in your mind.
Then it becomes very difficult to drive it off. The proverb goes: “Give a rogue an inch and he will take an ell.” This is true of wrong thoughts also.
Nip the Bad Thought in Its Bud
Just as you close your door or gate when a dog or an ass tries to come in, so also, close your mind before any evil thought can enter and produce an impression on your physical brain. You will become wise soon and attain eternal, infinite peace and bliss.
Wipe out lust, greed and egoism. Entertain only pure holy thoughts. This is an uphill task, a difficult task. You will have to practice it. You will succeed in your attempt after sometime.
Destruction of one bad thought will give you strength to annihilate other thoughts and will develop your soul-force or will-power.
Never despair though you may fail in crushing a bad thought. No pains, no gains. Inner spiritual strength will gradually manifest in you. You can feel this.
Spiritual Practice for Elimination of Evil Thoughts
Your mind will sometimes shudder when evil thoughts enter your mind. This is a sign of your spiritual progress. You are growing spiritually. You will be much tormented when you think of your evil actions committed in the past.
This is also a sign of your spiritual upheaval. You will not repeat now the same actions. Your mind will tremble. Your body will quiver whenever a wrong thought of some evil action urges you to do the same act through force of habit. Continue your meditation with full vigour and earnestness. All memories of evil actions, all evil thoughts, all evil promptings of Satan, will die by themselves. You will be established in perfect purity and peace.
In the beginning all sorts of evil thoughts will arise in your mind as soon as you sit for meditation. Why does this happen during meditation, when you attempt to entertain pure thoughts?
Aspirants leave their spiritual practice of meditation on account of this. If you try to drive a monkey, it attempts to pounce upon you in vengeance. Even so, the old evil thoughts try to attack you revengefully and with redoubled force at the time when you try to raise good, divine thoughts. Your enemy endeavours to resist you vehemently when you try to eject him out of your house.
There is a law of resistance in nature. The old evil thoughts assert and say, “O man! Do not be cruel. You have allowed us to stay in your mental factory from time immemorial. We have every right to abide here. We have helped you upto this time in all your evil actions. Why do you want to oust us from our dwelling place? We will not vacate our abode.” Do not be discouraged. Go on with your practice of meditation regularly. These evil thoughts will be thinned out.
Eventually they will all perish. Positive always overcomes negative. This is the law of nature. Negative evil thoughts cannot stand before positive good thoughts. Courage overcomes fear. Patience overcomes anger and irritability. Love overcomes hatred. Purity overcomes lust.
The very fact that you feel uneasy now when an evil thought comes to the surface of the mind during meditation indicates that you are growing in spirituality.
In the past you consciously harboured all sorts of evil thoughts. You welcomed and nourished them. Persist in your spiritual practices. Be tenacious and diligent. You are bound to succeed. Even a dull type of aspirant will notice a marvellous change in him if he keeps up the practice of Japa and meditation for 2 or 3 years in a continuous stream. Now he cannot leave the practice. Even if he stops his practice of meditation for a day, he will actually feel that he has lost something on that day. His mind will be quite uneasy.
Best Remedies for Evil Thoughts
When the mind is vacant, evil thoughts try to enter. Evil thinking is the beginning or starting point of adultery. Through a lustful look only, you have already committed adultery in the heart. Mental actions are the real actions. Remember this! God judges a man by his motives; worldly people judge a man by his external physical actions. You will have to look to the motive of the man. Then you will not be mistaken.
Keep the mind fully occupied. Then evil thoughts will not enter. An idle brain is the devil’s workshop. Watch the mind every minute.
Always engage yourself in some work—stitching, cleaning vessels, sweeping, drawing water, reading, meditating, counting the beads, singing divine songs, praying, serving the elders or nursing the sick. Avoid loose talk and gossip. Fill the mind with sublime thoughts, such as those contained in the Gita, the Upanishads, the Yogavasishtha, etc.
Daily Discipline of Thoughts
The mind is a mischievous imp. It is like a jumping monkey. It must be disciplined daily. Only then will it gradually come under your control.
It is only by the practical training of your mind that you can prevent bad thoughts and actions from arising and can ward off bad thoughts and actions that have arisen from recurrence.
It is only by practical training of your mind that you can encourage good thoughts and actions to arise, and can sustain good thoughts and actions when they have arisen.
Here is a beautiful daily exercise for mental relaxation. It will pour into you great inspiration and strength. Close the eyes. Think of anything that is pleasant. This will relax the mind in a wonderful manner. Think of the mighty Himalayas, the sacred Ganga, the striking scenery in Kashmir, the Taj Mahal, the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, a lovely sunset, the vast expanse of ocean or the infinite blue sky.
Imagine that the whole world and your body are floating like a straw in this vast ocean of Spirit. Feel that you are in touch with the Supreme Being. Feel that the life of the whole world is pulsating, vibrating and throbbing through you. Feel that Lord Hiranyagarbha, the ocean of Life, is gently rocking you on His vast bosom. Then open your eyes. You will experience immense mental peace, vigour and strength. Practice this and feel.
Thoughts and the Snake-analogy
Just as fruit is born of the seed, so also deeds are born of thoughts. Good thoughts generate good actions. Evil thoughts produce evil actions.
Harbour good thoughts. Repel evil thoughts. If you cultivate good thoughts by Satsanga, study of religious books, prayer, etc., evil thoughts will die by themselves.
Just as you remove at once the pebble in your shoe that troubles you, so also, you must be able to remove at once any tormenting thought from your mind. Only then have you gained sufficient strength in the control of thought. Only then have you attained some real progress in the spiritual path.
When you give a blow on the head of a snake with a stick and crush its head, it remains absolutely motionless for sometime. You think it is dead. All of a sudden it raises its head and runs away. Even so, the thoughts that were once crushed and suppressed by you regain strength and raise their heads. They must be destroyed totally beyond resurrection.
World-conquest by Thought-conquest
Control the thoughts or Sankalpas. Avoid imagination or day-dreaming. The mind will be annihilated. Extinction of Sankalpas alone is Moksha or release. The mind is destroyed when there is no imagination.
The experience of the world illusion is due to your imagination. It vanishes away when imagination is completely stopped.
Victory over thoughts is really a victory over all limitations, weakness, ignorance and death. The inner war with the mind is more terrible than the outer war with the machine-guns. Conquest of thoughts is more difficult than the conquest of the world by the force of arms. Conquer your thoughts and you would conquer the world.
Form a Divine Channel for Thought-force
Thoughts generally flow with ease towards external objects. The mind can very easily think of worldly objects. It is its Svabhava.
Mental force can easily flow in the old grooves and avenues of mundane thoughts. It finds it extremely difficult to think of God. It is an uphill work for a Samsaric mind of Vyavahara.
The difficulty in weaning the mind from worldly thoughts, from external objects, and fixing it on God is the same as in making the Ganga flow towards Gangotri instead of its natural flow towards Ganga-Sagar. It is like rowing against the current of the Yamuna.
Still, through strenuous efforts and Tyaga it must be trained to flow towards God, much against its will, if you want to free yourself from birth and death. There is no other go if you want to escape from worldly miseries and tribulations.
Role of Vigilance in Thought-control
It is very difficult to fix the mind on one thought in the beginning. Diminish the number of thoughts. Try to think of only one subject.
If you think of rose you can have all sorts of thoughts connected with rose only. You can think of different kinds of roses that are grown in different parts of the world. You can think of the various preparations that are made out of roses and their uses. You can allow even thoughts of other kinds of flowers to enter; but do not entertain thoughts of fruits and vegetables.
Check the aimless wandering state of the mind. Do not have thoughts at random when you think of rose. Gradually you can fix the mind on one thought only. You will have to discipline the mind daily. Eternal vigilance is needed in thought-control.
Watch and Spiritualize Your Thoughts
Watch the thoughts. Control the thoughts. Be a witness of your thoughts. Rise above thoughts and dwell in that pure consciousness where there is no thought.
The subtle impressions, tendencies, desires and passions lying in the depths of the subconscious have a tremendous effect on your conscious life.
They should be purified and sublimated. They must be given a spiritual turn. Hear what is auspicious. Behold what is auspicious. Think what is auspicious. Talk what is auspicious. Meditate what is auspicious. Understand what is auspicious. Know what is auspicious.
Fear, strong dislike, buried hatred, prejudice, intolerance, anger, lust, disturb the action of the subconscious mind. Cultivate virtues. Purify and strengthen the subconscious mind. Desire, greed, etc., enslave and obscure the mind which must be freed and restored to its pristine purity, to reflect Truth and practice meditation. The lower impulses belong to the physical body and the mental plane.
When the mind does not function owing to the absence of Vasanas (mental impressions and subtle desires), then arises the state of Manonasa or annihilation of the mind.