GETTING SPIRITUALLY BETTER
Continuing our feature Getting
Spiritually Better, we offer below the ninth instalment.
We hope you like it, and would share it with others who are
interested in enquiry and self-improvement. Do write and tell
us what you think, how you find it, whether it is useful,
and in what ways this feature can be improved.
Thank you and Jai Sai Ram.
9 CONCERNING MIND AND SENSE CONTROL
Swami says that new-born babies are Pure. That is why He
often cites Jesus Christ who always wanted us to be Pure like
children. Swami adds, “Be like a child for at least
five minutes a day!” If babies are Pure at birth, then
what happens to them when they grow up? How does impurity
get in and spoil the person? Why is it that some are more
susceptible and vulnerable to contamination while others are
able to resist? All these questions have an answer.
new-born baby does not know anything about the external world.
It barely knows even its mother. It is in its natural state,
which is a state of Bliss. We have all seen tiny babies smiling
beautifully sometimes. Why does the baby smile? Has it won
a huge fortune? It knows nothing about the world, and yet
it smiles; how come? Swami gives the answer. He says the baby
is in communion with God and that is why it is smiling –
Happiness is Union with God, that is all. However, very soon
the situation changes drastically. Day by day, the baby becomes
increasingly aware of the external world, and pretty soon
it develops attachments – to people, to objects, and
so on. It learns to be possessive – that is why children
fight intensely over toys, for example. Incidentally, it is
increasing contact with the external world that makes past
tendencies to surface and further shape the attitude as well
as the behaviour of the child. What are these past tendencies?
They are the ones that have been acquired in earlier births.
As Swami has told us many times, when a person dies, it is
the body that perishes; the mind does not. It is the so-called
subtle body and it survives death. This subtle body then enters
a womb, and brings with it all past tendencies.
These past tendencies are called Vasanas.
There could be good Vasanas as
well as undesirable ones. In life, we must get rid of the
bad ones. Swami says that getting rid of bad tendencies is
what spirituality is really all about!
How do these bad tendencies or spiritual impurities arise?
Impurities arise basically from attachments of one type or
the other. Attachments are born of desires and desires are
promoted by the senses. If the desires are fulfilled, then
it leads to one kind of problem. If the feeling of desire
is there and it is not fulfilled, then it leads to another
kind of problem; there is frustration, leading to jealousy
One might ask: “So, what? What problems do these impurities
cause, if any?” Well, to start with, impurities can
push one deeply into the world of duality, which means that
one would face a never-ending cycle of pleasure and pain,
perhaps more of pain and sorrow than pleasure. That is the
first problem with impurities. Second is that one can never
get back to God and merge with Him. Swami says that from God
we all have come and to Him we MUST return. If we focus on
the world, we would get stuck in the world, indeed for eternity!
If we want to go back to God, then perforce we have to focus
on Him. And impurities prevent this focus in many ways.
Let us now get back to desires, worldly desires
that is, because they form the starting point of all trouble.
How come people develop desires? How does a baby that is innocent
at birth, soon becomes afflicted with desires of one kind
or the other? This is a deep and fundamental question, and
Bhagavan Baba has given the answer. He says that basically
all individuals want to be happy. Actually, they want Bliss
because Bliss is their natural state – remember God
is Bliss, and we all are sparks of the Divine. The tiny baby
is blissful because it knows where to find it – instinctively,
it seeks Bliss inside; it does so because it knows nothing
about the external world yet. But soon it becomes increasingly
preoccupied with the external world. It sees many attractive
things in the world. Until now, the baby knew only Bliss;
but now, it falls for the worldly attractions, wrongly imagining
that they would lead to Bliss. They of course do not, and
this is how the baby gets conned. It gets joy no doubt but
there is also the pain that follows pleasure. The baby does
not understand that pleasure and pain form an inseparable
pair. In fact, even after the baby grows into an adult, the
lesson is still not learnt. The adult hangs on to the same
belief, i.e., one can find unalloyed and eternal pleasure
in the world. Swami asks, “How can you, when the world
itself is temporary? CAN THAT WHICH IS TRANSIENT EVER
CONFER PERMANENT HAPPINESS?” But this obvious
logic is not grasped by 99.999999% of humanity. People imagine
that the anti-dote to pain is more pleasure, without realising
that this opens the way for more pain!
Some are more gullible to the false attractions
of the world while others are not. Why? This depends very
much on the history of the previous births of the person concerned.
Those who have practiced austerities in earlier births and
evolved spiritually would be less susceptible to the ephemeral
attractions of the world. Those who are still spiritually
‘raw’ would yield easily to worldly temptations.
However, whatever the past, everyone can,
if he or she so determines, change the course.
A person may be born poor but can become rich through careful
strategy and hard work – many have actually done so
and the rags-to-riches story is not entirely unfamiliar. In
the same way, everyone can alter his or her
destiny, instead of being a prisoner of the past, provided
the yearning is there. Incidentally, the appearance of the
Avatar promotes this urge in
many who would otherwise have remained indifferent to the
OK, we want to change, we want to improve,
and we want to avoid succumbing to the false attractions of
the world. What is the secret formula? Mind and sense control
is the formula! In this context, Swami makes an important
observation. He says that first there is the Atma
or soul. The Mind is born of the Atma,
and the body along with the sense organs comes later –
it is gross, and therefore lowest on the totem pole. This
therefore is the hierarchy: Atma,
mind, senses. Seen in this light, the Mind is the boss of
the senses, and the Atma is the
boss of the Mind.
In practical terms it means that the mind must dictate the
senses and control it, instead of the other way around. In
turn, the mind must obey the Atma.
This is a very important point whose nuances
need to be stressed. These days, the media in collusion with
the market, is out to influence every person to go for everything
that satisfies greed, lust etc. The newspapers and TV are
all the time urging everyone to do this or that or buy this
and that. They all do this because they want our cash; they
couldn’t care less if in the process we degenerate.
The senses are promptly tempted and the message is passed
on to the mind, “Hey, listen, there is this great thing,
don’t miss it. It is full of fun and pleasure,”
or something like that. In a weak person the Mind yields –
sometimes with a token struggle, sometimes with no struggle
at all. The Mind, which ought to have an independent opinion
and judgement, is now reduced to being a servant of the senses
and goes by what they recommend. This is NOT
correct. Swami says that the Mind should be the MASTER
OF THE SENSES. It will be so if it follows the Atma.
If the Mind follows the Atma
and keeps the senses under tight control, then man can ascend
to God. If, however, the Mind yields to the senses and comes
under their control then man is sure to descend to the level
of animals or even that of the devil.
In a nutshell, we become impure when we fall
a prey to the worldly attractions. We fall a prey when we
do not exercise control over the senses. To keep the senses
under check, the Mind must follow the Atma
on the one hand, and dominate over the senses on the other.
Ignorant people may ask the question: “Is
this not a kill-joy prescription? If God did not want us to
enjoy, why then did He create all the attractions in the first
place?” Swami has given a clear answer to this question.
Let us take the senses first. Yes, God gave senses to the
animals for survival. The senses alert about external dangers,
and also make the being conscious of the things that the external
world can offer, like food, water, etc. Man, who has evolved
from the lower form of species, also has been gifted with
the senses; however, that does not mean that they ought to
be used the same way that lower species use them; in fact,
in some aspects, man behaves much worse than animals. The
animals have not made the pursuit of sensual pleasures a full-time
vocation; whatever they do is, to use Swami’s phrase,
in accordance with ‘reason and season’. But for
man, the pursuit of sensual pleasure has become an addiction,
with no reason and season. Indeed, the ‘pleasure industry’
– taking all aspects of it – is a multi-trillion
dollar industry. Day by day, the power of this industry
is increasing, sucking more and more people into the turbulent
God did not intend man to misuse the senses
in this manner. Take for example the eyes. Swami asks: “Why
has God given you eyes? Is it look at filth and obscenity
or to enjoy the Darshan of the
Lord? Why has God given you the power of hearing? Is it to
hear filthy gossip or the stories of the Lord and His Glory?”
To get back to the point about the so-called
‘kill-joy prescription’, God does not say, you
should not derive happiness by eating; eat by all means, but
not any and every foul thing; eat what is wholesome, and has
been consecrated by first offering to the Lord. God does not
say close your eyes and move about the world like a blind
person. Rather, He wants us to see what is good and turn away
from what is not good. In short, the senses must be used in
a regulated manner; otherwise, they would behave like a runaway
horse; and that could cause all kinds of problems, besides
retarding spiritual progress. Finally, the prescription
may sound like kill-joy but it only kills worldly joy;
in its place, it leads to Bliss, which is nothing but permanent
happiness – it is permanent because it is connected
with the Divine.
OK, Mind and sense control is necessary;
but is this not difficult? Yes, but not all that difficult,
if one makes the effort. One must try and try again; if one
is dogged and determined, one WILL succeed.
Take eating meat, for example. Many have felt that they just
could not live without meat but have successfully given it
up. How did they manage to do it? They simply said: “I
love Swami. Let me do this for Him.” The power of their
Love was so strong that it gave them enough strength to overcome
the craving for meat. Yes, thousands HAVE given up meat, drinking,
smoking, watching TV endlessly, reading useless books, etc.,
as a ‘gift’ to Swami. In other words, if one uses
Love as the anchor, the impossible does not seem impossible
anymore. Yes it would take some effort but it can be done.
Perhaps it may not happen instantly but can happen reasonably
fast, if there is the will.
Doubts may exist: “OK, I have achieved Mind and Sense
Control (MSC); but what good does it do to me?” Well,
MSC helps in many ways. First and foremost, it promotes equanimity.
Equanimity means that one does not get ruffled, carried away,
or excited by what happens. It means that one is able to take
everything in one’s stride. Krishna declares in the
Gita that Equanimity is a Prince
among the Yogas.
Equanimity is very valuable in practice. It is a virtue that
enables one to be objective in one’s judgement and cool
during a crisis. Actually, these qualities are much desired
in Corporate Managers and Political Leaders. In that sense,
equanimity is a virtue with many practical applications; but
to achieve it, one must go inwards and quell the enemies that
threaten balance. Let us say there is a certain unpleasant
situation. The situation actually happens in the external
world. If one allows external forces to dictate the Mind,
then the reaction to the situation could be disastrous. One
could end up losing one’s courage, or losing one’s
balance by getting angry, or losing one’s capacity for
correct decision making. If, however, the Mind is controlled
from within, then the external situation can be faced calmly.
Equanimity is of great importance in spirituality too. It
cannot be achieved unless internal enemies are conquered;
and conquest of ‘internal enemies’ is always high
on the agenda of all spiritual aspirants.
We normally think that enemies exist outside. This is incorrect.
We have greater enemies inside than the worst external enemy
one can think of. Krishna teaches that one can never wage
a successful war against external enemies unless one has first
vanquished or at least brought under control the internal
enemies. It has already been mentioned that by internal enemies,
we mean things like lust, anger, jealousy, etc. There is only
one weapon for annihilating these monsters – Mind and
In this context, it is pertinent to recall
the circumstances under which Krishna preached the Bhagavad
Gita to Arjuna. The Pandavas wanted to wage war with
the Kaurava clan, because the latter were consistently resorting
to Adharma and causing suffering
to them [the Pandavas]. Arjuna, in particular, was very keen
to fight. But when he enters the battlefield, he is overwhelmed.
He wants to withdraw, and gives various reasons why there
should be no war. Superficially, the reasons advanced by Arjuna
seem convincing. However, the principle defect in his line
of reasoning is that he was not objective in his analysis;
rather, he has allowed himself to be swayed by various personal
considerations. This is what Krishna objects to, adding that
Arjuna’s faulty reasoning was entirely the result of
his body attachment. Krishna then prepares Arjuna for battle
by ‘educating’ him in such a manner that attachment
is removed. Attachment cannot be removed while the deadly
internal enemies are still hanging around; they have to be
eliminated first, and that is why MSC is important. Life is
a battle; and if we are to face it, then we must perforce
get rid first of all our internal enemies.
OK. MSC is achieved, and all internal enemies
are kept in check. Then what? Well, one is now ready to go
though life performing one’s duty as the Good Lord intends
us to. How? Let us again refer to the Gita.
Arjuna refused to fight. Krishna says, “Nothing doing;
get up and fight.” Now Krishna could have contented
Himself with just giving a military-style pep talk like generals
do on the eve of battle. However, Krishna went far beyond
such a routine pep talk. He explained the whole purpose of
action, duty, etc., and how exactly they must be performed,
in the context of God, Creation and man.
This is a very important point. Action is the essence of
the Universe – there is always action, action of various
kinds and in various places. Nothing can ever remain still;
things are always happening. Now action can be divided into
two broad categories – meaningful action and meaningless
action. Unfortunately, most of the actions performed these
days by man belong to the latter category. What then is a
meaningful action? This is what Krishna explains clearly and
in great depth.
Meaningful action is that which is in consonance
with the spirit of the Atma.
This might sound like a mysterious statement. However, the
mystery would be removed soon with adequate explanation. Action
in consonance with the spirit of the Atma
is often referred to as Atma Dharma. The
Bhagavad Gita, is, if one might say so, a manual for
the practice of Atma Dharma.
Now what is this Atma Dharma?
It simply means righteous action performed in consonance with
the nature of the Atma. Does
that mean that there are other kinds of Dharma?
Yes of course there are. One might perform what one honestly
believes is righteous action that is in accord with the perceptions
of the body and the mind. Here, the Mind and body-consciousness
are the motivating factors for the action. Therefore, this
does not come under the category of
Atma Dharma. Action of this type is described as Para
Dharma. Does that mean that all the people who follow
Para Dharma are on the wrong
track? Not exactly; just that they are on a track that is
inadequate. In what way? Well, following Para
Dharma might be safe most of the time, but, because
of its limited perspective, it can land persons in tough moral
dilemmas; on such occasions, one is left high and dry, and
totally clueless. This precisely is where Atma
Dharma comes to the rescue; all this would be duly
amplified in a later issue.
Meanwhile, the following can be said. Arjuna
was making a faulty judgement because he was being guided
by considerations of body attachment. In other words, he was
facing a dilemma because he was trying to follow Para
Dharma. Krishna says, “You must follow Atma
Dharma. In that case, the course of your action becomes
crystal clear; there would be no dilemmas.” From there
on, Krishna explains what is meant by the Atma,
what Atma Dharma implies, etc.
Incidentally, Mind and sense control are absolutely essential
for following Atma Dharma. This
Atma Dharma must be followed
not merely for avoiding moral dilemmas and so on. The prime
purpose is that it would lead one rapidly towards God. Atma
Dharma is what enables one to spiritualise every activity
in life. And it is only when life is spiritualised, that one
can eventually merge with God.
In the following chapter, some of the nuances
of Atma Dharma are spelt out
in some detail. Before concluding this chapter, two points
may be made. Firstly, Swami attaches a lot of importance to
Atma Dharma. Secondly, He sometimes
links the last word of the last chapter of the Gita
with the first word of the first chapter. When so combined,
the word that results is Mama Dharma.
It means ‘my Dharma’.
Swami says that ‘my Dharma’
is nothing but Atma Dharma. Once
again, Mind and sense control is a vital prerequisite for
the practice of Atma Dharma.
And following Atma Dharma is
a must for getting back to God.
ADDITIONAL NOTES RELATING TO THE ABOVE
Senses are physical organs that allow the body to contact
the outside world, obtain information about it and also
communicate with it. In the language of computers, they
are like I/O [Input/Output] devices.
There are two aspects to the senses:
The information gathering part and the cognitive part.
To give an example, the eye is like a TV camera; it receives
a picture and transmits it to the brain, where the information
is processed and then recognised. Swami sometimes uses
the Sanskrit words related to these two apsects. They
are: Karmendriyas or organs
of sensing and Jnanedriyas
or organs of perception.
In spirituality, the term Mind and sense control is
often used. Lest the word ‘control’ is misunderstood,
it is to be stressed that control really means regulation.
Control implies an external force whereas regulation implies
an internal stipulation.
Everyone would agree that soldiers must observe discipline,
especially in regard to physical fitness. In the same
way, the seeker or the spiritual soldier must observe
sense and mental regulation; and this discipline must
really come from within - there can be no two opinions
Thus, sense and Mind control really refers to regulation
rather than control. The use of the word control is unfortunate,
especially as it arouses all kinds of suspicions. Regulation
is always desirable. A simple example. A boy may like
chocolates very much. If he eats too much, then he will
have plenty of problems with his teeth, not to mention
other kinds of problems also. Regulation means a strict
watch on the amount of chocolates consumed. Though regulation
may start off as the result of external advice or even
compulsion, it can be sustained only through one’s
own sense of determination.
Regulation is a kind of self-discipline. Such discipline
is observed [though in a limited sense] even by people
with worldly objectives. For example, a tennis star aspiring
to win the Wimbledon title subjects himself to a strict
timetable and life style. Such discipline is even more
essential for the spiritual seeker.
Swami compares all this with the use of brakes in a
car. He says that it is stupid to drive a car with one
foot on the brakes. At the same time, one must not only
make sure that brakes are in perfect condition but must
also know how to use them properly when the need arises.
In life, one must make sure there is a brake for every
activity connected with the senses.
The senses which are outward looking would see something
“attractive” and tell the Mind, “Hey,
this is great, allow me to try it!” The Mind must
be strict and sternly reply, “Nothing doing!”
Of course this is not what usually happens.
So the question arises: “Why do the senses and the
Mind often go astray?” Basically this is due to
the traits inherited from earlier births. As has been
pointed out, human birth comes after many earlier births
in lower forms. In all these forms, the outlook is purely
external. Some of the traits acquired in earlier births
may still survive, and it is these past tendencies or
Vasanas as they are called,
that often lead the senses and the Mind astray.
Agreed that Vasanas
can lay traps; so what is one to do? That precisely is
where Mind and sense regulation comes into the picture.
Like the aspiring tennis star, one must, for the sake
of spiritual progress, make a conscious effort at regulation.
OK, but how does one do this? Here, the following analogy
would help. Suppose we want to keep the body fit. Then
one important requirement is that we stay away from “junk”
food. In the same way, the senses and the Mind must be
fed only healthy “food”, and kept away from
Baba strongly emphasises this point about giving proper
“food” to the senses and the Mind. He says
that these organs consume subtle food, as opposed to the
physical food that we feed to the body. Just as the physical
food must be pure and healthy, so also the subtle food.
But what exactly does that mean? Swami has explained.
Basically it means: See no evil, see what is good. Hear
no evil, hear what is good. Do no evil, do what is good.
Think no evil, think what is good.
Any simple way to achieve all this? Yes, and Baba has
explained all that. He says, “Avoid bad company
and seek good company. Then you are off to a great start!”
Add to these the simple teachings that Baba gives like,
TALK LESS, HAVE LESS LUGGAGE, etc. All these relate to
In this context, mention must also be
made of the six great enemies of man who are constantly
on the lookout to penetrate within. They are: Kama,
Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, and Matsarya,
meaning, lust and desire, anger, greed and miserliness,
attachment, pride, and jealousy. Verily they are like
cancer and must be kept out. Only strict regulation as
discussed above can do that. As Baba says, these enemies
will try to get a toe-hold, pretending to be friends.
But once they get lodged inside, they will not stop short
of total destruction.
Now why is regulation important in life? What if one
indulges in self-gratification, but takes care of the
body suitably? This is an important question. To appreciate
the answer, one must first of all understand why God endowed
beings with senses – remember, animals like the
tiger, for example, also have eyes, ears, nose etc. God
endowed beings with senses in order to survive in the
external world and in order to protect themselves from
danger. For example, thanks to the senses, the tiger is
able to go in search of water, and the deer is able to
run for its life when it sees a tiger.
Senses can and must perform similar functions in the
case of man also. But man must be very careful about the
use of the senses. In the case of animals, there is no
question of misuse of the senses. They live according
to a built-in program, and they have no mind that can
distract, offer choice, etc. To use Baba’s words,
they function in accordance with “season and reason”.
It is only man who acts as if there is “no reason
or any season”.
Man is liable to temptation, and the senses, in collusion
with the Mind, play a great part in leading man down the
path of sin to disaster. That is why regulation is required.
These days, people ask: “So what
if man commits what you call sin? You may not like it
but I do. What’s there to prevent me from acting
the way I want?” The answer is simple: “There
is nothing to prevent, but there is always a price to
pay. In some cases Society will extract the payment and
in the other cases, Destiny will, through the Law of Karma.
There is no free lunch.”
There is a more important point that
goes beyond mere punishment or retribution. The purpose
of life is to go back to God. In other words, life must
be a journey to God. And this journey is not possible
without appropriate sense and Mind regulation.
Without sense and Mind control, one would go in the opposite
direction, only to be trapped in the cycle of birth and
death. Incidentally, Baba often says in His Discourses:
JANTUNAAM NARAJANMA DURLABHAM.
It means that birth in human form is a rare and precious
gift from God; we had therefore better make good use of
the opportunity given to us.
In brief, regulation of the senses and
the Mind is a must for a seeker; there
is no escape from it. If a person claims to be a seeker,
then that person must be prepared to voluntarily impose
on himself/herself such regulation, and practice self-control.
One must appreciate that in a human being, the Mind
plays a double role, a lower role, if one may say so,
and also a higher role. The lower role is common to animals
while the higher role is unique to humans. Naturally,
one expects the higher role to be more dominant in humans.
Swami sometimes says, man is an M, B,
A, meaning that he is a composite of the MIND, THE BODY,
and the ATMA. Man’s
life must exhibit a harmonious blend of these three aspects.
is the vital link between the higher Mind and Conscience.
If Buddhi is weak, then man
will be dominated by the senses acting in collusion with
the lower Mind. If Buddhi
is strong, there will be balance.
The external forces are very strong
[especially these days], and will always
try to drag the Mind outside. The senses will say, “Hey!
You got to try this thing; it is really great!”
When the Mind yields, it makes a lower choice. If the
Mind says, “Get lost!” then it is making the
higher and of course the correct choice!
Man’s personality reflects internal
hierarchy. In an evolved person, the Atma
dictates the Mind, the Mind dictates the senses, and the
body acts in accordance with a sacred discipline. In an
inferior person, the senses and the Mind dwell in the
external world, shutting out the influence of the Atma.
The life of such a person is thus nothing to write home
Today, sensuality is being extensively encouraged by
demonic forces organised as the pleasure industry, and
acting in unholy collusion with money-greedy media. There
is a reckless promotion of individuality, all in the name
of “freedom”. As Baba says, the one who talks
of such freedom is actually a slave, slave to the senses.
Promotion of and aggressive marketing of sensuality
is severely disrupting modern Society. Civilisation grew
by people coming together for common good. That is why
Baba emphasises that man must seek spiritual elevation
by seeking good company and doing good in Society [see,
for example, the Divine Discourse delivered on 4th November,
2002, on the occasion of the Deepavali festival].
Sensuality has trapped man into the dungeon of “I”,
“Me” and “Mine”. Indeed, even
the concept of the family, held sacred for thousands of
years by people of all faiths and all civilisations, is
now being sacrificed in order to promote evil trades,
desires, etc. Can one have a solid without atoms? Similarly,
can one think of human Society without having the family
as the basic building block? Yet, that is the impossible
experiment that modern civilisation is currently trying.
Notwithstanding all this, people grumble:
“Listen, there is no point in talking about all
this. Let us face facts. When people are being constantly
bombarded by the media to succumb to desires of all kinds,
when one is literally forced to buy beyond one’s
means in order to keep up with the Joneses, how can one
practice Mind and Sense Control? Even Rishis
would find it almost impossible! Such is today’s
One must concede that this is a powerful
argument. Ordinary mortals cannot easily resist such sustained
and massive pressure. But there is one
agent that can make the impossible possible. That
is Love. Suppose one simply says: “I don’t
care whether this is possible or not. I will not get involved
in all those arguments. Swami does so much
for me. He gives me so much Love. I must
do something for Him in return. So I will do this for
Him, as an expression of Love”. Such a resolve is
not all that naïve. People have given their lives
for their country. Here, one is not asking life to be
sacrificed, but only unwanted desires, and that too for
God! Incidentally, Baba is most considerate and does not
say, “No you should not have a car’, and things
like that. If a car is required for various genuine reasons,
then one can have a car. Only, one must
get attached to it, or regard it as a status symbol, keep
changing cars just to be one up, etc.
It is pertinent to mention here briefly,
the kind of discipline that was prescribed in ancient
India, since Baba makes references to it often. Swami
points out the goals of life prescribed by the ancients
that are enshrined in the Purusharthaas.
Essentially they prescribe priorities in life, three important
features of which are: 1) All actions must be based on
Dharma, 2) Worldly desires
must be kept in check, and 3) Liberation and merger with
God must be the goal. It is worth looking and studying
in detail what Baba has to say on this matter.
In ancient India, there was also a code
that spelt out how a man must put into practice the dictats
mentioned above. From the age of five to the age of say
eighteen, the boy is supposed to live as a Brahmachari.
A Brahmachari, as the term
itself indicates, is supposed to focus on Brahman, i.e.,
God, which automatically implies not only being immersed
in the study of the scriptures, but also turning away
from worldly desires of ALL kinds. In fact, he must live
like a renunciate or Sannyasi,
and beg for food. A Sannyasi
and a Brahmachari were expected
to regard the entire world as their family; thus, seeking
alms was not considered as begging or demeaning but as
an expression of the feeling of Universality. After eighteen,
the young man got married, entering what was called the
Grahastha stage. In this
phase, the man and his wife became partners in sustaining
Dharma in Society. That is why the wife was called Saha-dharmini,
meaning one who had equal share in sustaining Dharma
in Society. How was this done? The man and wife took care
of elders at home, gave charity as possible, welcomed
guests as God extending due hospitality to them, worshipped
God duly besides encouraging their children to do so,
and in general helped the community in all possible ways.
When the children grew up, the parents withdrew into themselves
to focus more on God and observe all possible austerities
as prescribed. This stage called Vanaprashta
literally meant withdrawing into the forest; but operationally
what it implied was simple and totally detached living.
At a still later age, the man became a Sannyasi,
snapping all bonds, including with his family.
What is to be noted here is that people
belonging to every strata of Society had to follow Dharma,
and at every stage in life. Dharma
cannot be observed unless there is self-discipline, and
that is why there was peace and prosperity in those days.
One cannot glibly say that Dharma
will not work in today’s tech Society or irrelevant.
Such myths are regularly being manufactured by vested
interests. Morality cannot simply be dismissed for the
entire Universe rests on a Moral Law. As Gandhi put it,
there is a Moral Law governing the Universe.
There is also another important point
regarding morals and morality. It just cannot be fragmented,
as people, often driven by self-interest try to do. In
eastern societies, people often think, mistakenly of course,
that they can have a personal relationship with God involving
rituals, prayers, etc., but can flout Dharma
in Society in all ways that suits them. Thus it is one
finds many unscrupulous businessmen, who think they can
wipe out any possible sins they have committed by paying
“conscience money”. In Western Society, on
the other hand, people are often very fussy about community
ethics but care two hoots about personal morality. Both
are unacceptable, and both harm society in their own ways.
Once again, Morality is one whole and cannot be trimmed
as one likes.
One must go through life focussed
on the real goal, i.e., God.
For this journey, internal purity is a must.
This internal purity cannot come without Mind
and sense regulation.
Such regulation does not mean that one has to
live like a hermit. Baba is most emphatic about that.
He merely says that one must not crave for things of the
world and thus become a slave to desires.
Self-regulation means using the “brakes”
when required, and not driving with the foot on the brake.
Mind and sense regulation is needed for several
reasons. 1) Self-advancement, 2) playing a proper role
in Society, and 3) for making the world a better place
to live in.
Mind and self-regulation would make an individual
into a proper and concerned citizen. And when such concerned
citizens work, say, in a company, that organisation would
function as a corporate citizen.
Regulation cannot be fragmented. Regulation must
be with respect to one’s individual realtionship
with God and also with respect to one’s relationship
with the community and Society.
In other words, one cannot say only private morality
but no social morals or vice versa. Morality is one whole
and cannot be split to suit individual convenience.
Particular attention must be given to channelising
the enormous and highly creative energies of youth along
proper directions. Just to give an example, a very high
percentage of the computer hackers, and virus producers
are young people. They do such things for “kicks”
and so-called excitement. Should one derive pleasure by
causing problems for others?
POINTS TO PONDER OVER
These days when there is a tremendous bombardment by
the media to enslave our Minds, we must give serious attention
to Swami’s advice that “we learn to see not
through the eyes of others but with our own eyes; not
hear through the ears of others but with our own ears,”
and so on.
Baba also often draws attention to the
presence of the five elements within us. He says that
the five elements outside, meaning the environment, cannot
remain unpolluted if the five elements within are polluted.
In other words, external pollution begins first with internal
pollution. This is a very important point that does not
receive as much serious attention, as
it ought to, despite many Bal Vikas programs that are
routinely staged. How many of these children are helped,
for example to minimise TV viewing?
Look up the proceedings of the Summer
Course held in Ooty in 1976. It is entitled, Summer
Roses in the Blue Mountains. There, Swami begins
many a Discourse with words like: “Why have you
been given eyes? Is it for seeing anything and everything?”
and so on.
Another thing that Swami sometimes says
in His Discourse is: “You have come here. Before
you return, offer at least one bad habit to Me! I do not
want your gifts; it is enough if you give up and surrender
at least one bad habit. I would be most satisfied with
that!” Which Guru on
earth would talk like that!
In some Sai centres, they sometimes have a sacred fire,
and devotees are asked to write on a piece of paper one
undesirable habit [e.g., smoking] that they would like
to get rid of. They are then invited to drop that piece
of paper into the fire. No one knows what has been sacrificed,
but the devotee has made a solemn promise to the fire
God and thereafter, it is up to the devotee to remain
true to his/her promise. Community functions like this
can lead to a lot of “cleaning up”.
Suppose a Teacher or a Parent were to
come to me and ask: “How to motivate young children
to be good? How to guide them?” What answer should
I give? What guidance can I offer? How to deflect the
minds of the young from the meaningless external attractions?
[Trekking? Observing Nature? Creative Craft? Music?]
Swami is often so very child-like. How can I also be
like that? [Swami often says, “Be like a child for
at least five minutes a day!” This does not mean
that one should be CHILDISH! Rather, it means that one
must be INNOCENT AND PURE LIKE A CHILD!]
What bad Vasanas
do I still have? How specifically should I get rid of