Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Control of Mind

Hari OM

'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]

Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. The chanting for the oncoming posts was given last week - use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.

We have been learning that the saadhana chatushtaya are a key component of spiritual pursuit. Every spiritual philosophy in this world requires of its genuine aspirants that they prepare themselves with methods of self-control. Not for purpose of dogma, but irrespective of it. With the sole purpose of 'tilling the inner field' in preparation to receive the fullness of religious experience.  In the process, they are likely to find themselves becoming better human beings.

It has been highlighted that viveka is required as a first step; to begin to perceive all that appears to be 'real' actually has no reality, for everything which can be perceived is impermanent. In spiritual terms, only the permanent can be Real and this can, then, only be the cause of all cause and effect. The first and only causative agent out of which all else has arisen. Having grasped the need to truly 'see' a tool is required to begin cutting away the peripheral 'stuff' and that tool is vairaagya; the dispassion towards all the objective world. Not detachment, but a proper ordering of  function and form in the scheme of things, freeing one to act with greater meaning and clarity.

It is worth mentioning, briefly, here that vairaagya is considered to have three qualities of its own. 
मुण्ड/munda, which is a weak application of dispassion; vairaagya can only be maintained for short duration and does not meet the bigger challenges particularly well. It is, however a start!
मध्यम/madhyama, which is a middling application. There is dispassion to the objective world, but the interest remains for objective practices such as performance of puja (worship) and japa, or acting within community and such like - with a specific view to gaining spiritual 'brownie points'… to increase positive karma and boost chances of an improved 'next life'. This also has merit, for at least improvements are made.
तीव्र/tiivra, which is the intense and very strong application. One with this has no desire for anything of the now, nor thinks of a 'hereafter' (which is also a perishable concept). The sole desire of this vairaagi is to gain the Knowledge of Self. Nothing can distract such a one.

As can be seen, it can take some doing, this gaining of appropriate and balanced vairaagya! What other tool is available to help we poor mundas and madhyamas on our path?  There is the shamaadhi-shatka sampatti, the six-fold wealth.

As with many Sanskrit texts, Tattvabodah has begun with the voice of the Guru (remover of darkness), the aachaarya (teacher), making observations what is going to help the shishya (student). The alert student asks questions of the script and now, being thiivra vairaagi, wishes to know what are the six qualities which support the seeker.

What are they and why are the six inner qualities referred to as 'wealth'? Simply, the answer is a naming of the six. Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samaadhaanam.  This of course prompts individual questioning by the shishya; but as a precis here, understand that the joy of having control over the sense, of being able to remain balanced through the thick and thin, the high and the low, to be able to be in the world but be little affected by it - this is to be considered as true wealth. Appropriately tuned, we can enter the fray of life, but always return to our core purpose of sitting in shravanam, mananam, nididhyaasana each day, being able to shake off the burdens the world tries to impose upon us. Treasure indeed! These qualities themselves take practice and the whole of Vedanta is here to help us in this smaller goal. One step at a time.  Guru-ji, Sw. Tejomayananda, says "Outer wealth decreases on spending and increases our sorrow. Inner wealth increases with use and decreases our grief."

Let us first, then, ask what is shama? The Guru tells us that it is control or mastery of the mind.

Left at this we could interpret it according to our current circumstances and may or may not be successful to a point. There is also, if not read in accordance with the spirit of Vedanta or if read by one with perverted and skewed views, scope to misinterpret it altogether, taking it to mean brain-washing. No such thing! It is imperative to remember that mind is defined as being a continuous flow of thoughts. Constant. Like spoiled children, our minds are always on alert for the new, the need, the trouble, the stimulus. Ever more in this world there are distractions glaring out attempting to lure us. By lure us, of course, is meant lure the mind! The mind can control us so much that we have no idea we are dancing to its tune. Fickly, flimsy, fun-seeking mind.

When we refuse to follow the mind's every whim, when we can brush away the distracting thoughts and refuse to participate in flights of fancy; when we can keep the mind from flying out to the world of objects and retain focus on the task in hand; then we can say that we are in full control of the mind. To do this we must be ever vigilant, just as a parent is of a child. Make no mistake. Mind will make every attempt to escape and the more it feels the control coming, the greater will be its outward surges.

Be gentle with it though. As will all children, it needs to know that there is a reward for positive behaviour. This is where the wonderful stories of the scriptures play their part. Reminding mind that there is purpose beyond instant gratification. In meditation, too, it will begin to find much benefit from 'towing the line'.

Image result for seven logics for peaceful livingAt first the benefits may not necessarily show in the spiritual field - indeed, it ought to be seen that in many areas of life, a well-controlled mind can flourish. It knows how to control all the urges which come up as reaction to circumstances.  Recall all the lists of negative and positive emotions given earlier? (Check the 'basics' label). Anger, greed, gluttony - so many things are there to which we give an inflated and damaging importance. All is mind. 

How to begin this though? Substitution and sublimation. Not suppression. We know we have only succeeded in suppressing when we find that the emotions keep re-emerging. We know that we have successfully sublimated when we can sense there is cause for an emotion - let us use anger, because that is high on the list - but we are able to withhold from basic, animalistic, explosive expression (or for those who tend to it, the 'flipside' of dropping into depression). Instead, we can find positive responses to the negative stimulus. The alert, controlled mind is able to take the precious time to formulate appropriate response to defuse a situation, or, if necessary, is able to walk away. The personality can say "Mind - what are you doing, every time you want to do this thing, to lash out or run away and not deal with things. Have you not learned this only brings continued worry? Come here now and don't bother over that matter. Do you have something worthwhile to add?" Continue to speak to your mind until it begins to believe you!  This is called sublimation - logical convincing of the mind to bring calm.

The mind which has been used to free reign is likely to fight back! There will be times when we cannot reason with ourselves.  This is where substitution comes in. "Okay, anger is there and even if it is justified, it is still not appropriate to react with same. So just let the other know the anger is there and that you are not going to respond right now." This way we satisfy the mind's need to express, but do so with minimal risk of escalation. Later, when we have walked away and the mind has settled a bit, we can follow up with the self-talk to strengthen sublimation.

This last has happened at the level of the organs of action. Shama you see, is all about the organs of knowledge, the jnaanendriiyas, purely internal. When we have to allow at least some action, albeit moderated and controlled - and speech is one of the karmendriiyas - where we have controlled those actions, this is the use of next of the 'wealth', known as dama.

This we will discuss next week.

Begin to closely observe your thoughts. Note how often you leave them to their own devices...

Image result for seven logics for peaceful living

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Hari OM
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