trying to understand what is external and internal control,
it will be helpful to know what Swami Turiyanandaji once said.
Swami Turiyananda was a direct disciple of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna
and a living embodiment of Vedanta. At the request of Swamiji
he went to the United States, and built up the Shanti Ashram
in California. Swamiji told the American devotees, 'You saw
me delivering lectures; now I am going to bring to you a Swami
from India who is a living embodiment of Vedanta. All that
I taught you, talked to you, you will find exemplified in
that Swami, my brother monk.' That was Swami Turiyanandaji.
When Swami Turiyanandaji was requested by Swami Vivekananda
to go to the United States to help him, at first he declined.
'No, I would not like to go to the United States. I would
like to remain in India.' But Swamiji's love won over Turiyanandaji
when he said, 'Well, Hari Bhai, I have given rny life for
the cause of Sri Guru Maharaj (Ramakrishna); will you not
come and stand by and help me?' Then Swami Turiyanandaji replied.
'I am not going to give lectures like you. I am not an orator.'
Swamiji told him, 'No, they have had enough of lectures in
the West. They want to see the life of a true Vedantin. Show
by your life what I have taught as the Vedanta.' 'Yes, I can
then go,' was the answer given by Swami Turiyanandaji. He
did live an exemplary sannyasin's life. Now, while he was
in the United States one American student referred to the
problems of controlling the subconscious mind. And Swami Turiyanandaji
said, 'Ordinarily, we know only the surface waves of our mind,
but by Yoga practice, we learn to go deeper. By watching and
studying our own mind, we dive below our surface consciousness
and observe what is going on below. Many Samskaras, latent
desires, are stored up there, waiting for an opportunity to
express themselves. Through introspection we can discover
them before they rise to the surface. This is very important;
for once a thought has come to the surface, it is extremely
difficult to control it. But at an early stage, it is easy.
A seed is easily destroyed. But when it has germinated and
grown into a big strong tree, it requires great strength and
effort to cut it down. So we must check our desires in their
early undeveloped stages. Here is the clue to the control
of the mind.' Turiyanandaji pointed out that we only know
the surface of our mind. Through japa Sadhana and meditation
we can dive below the surface of consciousness and know the
desires which are likely to come to the surface of the mind.
So it will be highly practical and beneficial to make sure
that these desires do not germinate and grow into big trees.
As Swami Turiyanandaji said, we should strive our best to
cut down before desires grow into big trees. Once a thought
has come to the surface and taken hold of the mind, it is
extremely difficult to control it. By japa Sadhana every one
of us can be conscious of the subconscious layer of the mind.
In the subconscious layer of the mind, impressions of different
Karmas of this life and the past innumerable lives are stored
up. Now, before they come up and attack us, we have to cut
them down at their rudimentary stage. If we can do that, then
we can have mastery over the mind.
when we sit for meditation, many kinds of impure thoughts
bubble up. Is there any way out? Now we have different layers
of the mind. The conscious layer, the subconscious layer,
the unconscious layer and so on. It has been the experience
of most of us, that undesirable thoughts arise from the subconscious
layer of the mind. If such undesirable thoughts do assail
us during the course of meditation, it is a sure indication
that the process of purification has not been perfected and
completed and we have to continue with diligent efforts towards
the progress of purification. How can that be done? We have
to focus our attention on the very depths of our soul. Even
if we do that, in spite of our repeated attempts, we may perhaps
find that we cannot make any further headway. Perhaps, we
are in front of a world which prevents us from going further.
This has been the experience with almost all saints and genuine
seekers after Truth.
there any method by which we can be successful in removing
this wall of impediments? Is there any method by which an
aspirant can surmount all the difficulties on the path towards
the Goal Supreme? The answer is 'Yes', there is a proved technique.
By means of this proved technique almost all the insurmountable
obstacles can be overcome. Now, what is that proved technique?
That technique is 'japa Sadhana'. In this connection, one
would like to quote what the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi said
to one of her intimate disciples. His name is Swami Shantanandaji.
The present writer had the good fortune of being in his holy
company. He was held in high esteem by one and all for his
saintly life. He told us that once when he met the Holy Mother
and asked, 'Mother, how can I realise God? How can I have
unfoldment?' The Holy Mother suggested a simple method. She
said, 'Japat Siddhi! Japat Siddhi! Japat Siddhi! Through performing
Japa alone, one can attain realisation.' Now what is this
japa Sadhana? It is just the methodical repetition of a sacred
formula, a Name - a siddha Japa Mantra that we get from our
Guru or spiritual master. We should remember that when we
receive a Mantra, we receive it from a competent spiritual
master. A Mantra has got an inherent power in it. If we read
any book on Tantra Sadhana, we shall find reference to a number
of Mantras. However, if we just take any Mantra, and start
doing Japam, it will not produce any effect. These are all
in the books. What is necessary is that it should come through
a Guru Parampara - a successive generation of teachers and
disciples. We have to learn it from a Guru. Power is transmitted
from a master through the Mantra to his disciple. This disciple
again, when he becomes Siddha, transmits the Mantra along
with the power to his disciples. So we must have faith in
what is called transmission of spiritual power from Guru to
disciple. Only when we receive a Mantra with such faith through
a competent master, are we able to reach the goal, provided
we follow the path prescribed by him.
proceed towards the Goal Supreme, we must have our own Chosen
Deity or Ishta Deva. Now how can we meditate on one's beloved
Ishtam? We must learn the path from a competent spiritual
master. The Guru, out of his infinite kindness, gives the
Mantra to a disciple. The disciple should not take it as just
a syllable or word. The Mantra has got a mystic power. If
we have real faith in the words of our Guru and if we go on
doing japa Sadhana, we will be able to realise our Ishtam.
So what happens if we have a Chosen Deity, and along with
it we get a real Siddha Bija Mantra? We then have a definite
centre of spiritual consciousness to hold on to. Again and
again we should come back to our Ishtam. This is something
absolutely essential. Japa becomes efficacious when, along
with the repetition of a great Name, we dwell on its meaning
as instructed by the teacher. It is said in Patanjali's Yoga
Sutra, 'Tat japah Tat artha Bhavanam', which means that we
are to be constantly conscious of the spiritual significance
of the Mantra. It does not matter if, in the beginning, the
repetition of the Mantra is mechanical. It may be that we
don't find any taste in the holy Name, but still we should
go on doing it. Ultimately, we shall find out how delicious
is the Name of the Lord. So it does not matter if, in the
beginning, we start with blind faith.
Sadhana lays emphasis on taking the help of sound symbols,
because sound and thought are interrelated. A typist knows
that, when he strikes on a letter on the keyboard he is propelling
the key of that particular letter and immediately the impression
is printed on the sheet of paper. In the same way, as soon
as we touch on the sound symbols, such as the name of 'Rama',
'Krishna' or 'Hari', immediately the thought related to it
comes before our mind, and it does help in our journey towards
the goal supreme.
we have faith in the mantra, then even if we go on repeating
mechanically, ultimately it will have its effect, because
there is great power in the divine name. It helps us in counteracting
different kinds of thoughts. To attain spiritual realisation
or to manifest the divinity within us, japa Sadhana is one
of the best means according to all our spiritual masters.
need inner purification. We need real transformation of our
psycho-physical organism. No unfoldment is possible unless
we take pains to practise purity in thought, word and deed.
But how to attain absolute purity? Swami Brahmanandaji, the
first President of our Order, once said, 'From my own experience,
I can tell you that none can ever be absolutely pure, unless
one does japa Sadhana.' The present writer was advised by
one of the most respected Swamis of our Order, Swami Visuddhanandaji,
that for attaining purity of mind one should do a fixed number
of Japas every day. The number he recommended was the small
figure of 10,000.
the same vein the importance of taking the Lord's name was
impressed on the present writer by another senior and respected
elder of our Order, Swami Siddheswaranandaji. He wrote to
me: 'Take your spiritual life seriously. In this Kali Yuga,
according to Sri Ramakrishna, repetition of the holy Name
is the highest Sadhana. I am a f-a-n-a-t-i-c of japa Sadhana.'
we want to realise God somehow doing japam mechanically, one
hundred and eight times a day, and for that also we don't
get time! The question is whether this is due to want of time
or due to want of sincerity. Let us not be traitors to our
thought. Let us be frank. We find time for everything, but
we do not find time for practising japam and meditation! We
should ask ourselves: 'Why is it so?'
must have faith in the words of these great ones. Even if
the mind is restless, outgoing, and so many evil thoughts
come in, the remedy is to go on doing japa Sadhana with diligence
and perseverance. This is very important, because through
japa Sadhana or by the repetition of the holy name, our body
and mind become pure. As a result of constant repetition of
a holy name, we get what may be called some kind of spiritual
vibration. The world in which we live is full of impure vibrations,
non-spiritual and worldly vibrations. To counteract the impure
vibrations of the unfavourable environment in which we live,
we shall have to create pure vibrations. How can we do that?
Through japa Sadhana. Through japa Sadhana we create around
us a fencing of spiritual vibrations, so much so that even
if we happen to be in the midst of an environment full of
impure vibrations, they will not be able to penetrate and
assail us, because already, by means of the japa Sadhana,
we have been able to create a holy fortress of spiritual vibrations.
All kinds of impure vibrations will be neutralised by constant
practice of the holy name, and the Jivatma will thereby be
able establish his closeness with the Paramatma.
Sadhana has two kinds of values. One is esoteric and the other
exoteric. By the mere vibration of a given sound, a sense
of spiritual awakening takes place, a new field of awareness
is opened to us. This is what is called in mystical language,
the esoteric value of japa Sadhana; it generates a Sakti (power)
which unifies all the diverse kinds of energies in us into
a single bundle of energy. Our energies are always scattered
in different directions. Japa Sadhana makes all these diverse
energies one-pointed and makes them unified. By this an aspirant
will be able to awaken the Kundalini power which lies dormant
in us. In fact, there is a song in Bengali where the devotee
prays to the Divine Mother: 'Oh Mother Kundalini, please wake
up from the Muladhara.' We have in the spinal column the Sushumna,
and on its left and right, we have 'Ida' and Pingala nerves.
By constant repetition of the holy name, an aspirant can awaken
the Kundalini Shakti lying dormant like a coiled snake in
the Muladhara, which thereafter rises along the channel of
the Sushumna nerve, and passing through different chakras,
gets united with the Supreme Self.
regard to the awakening of the Kundalini, when a question
was put to Swami Brahmanandaji, he replied, 'There are some
special exercises to awaken it, but I believe it can be best
done through japam and meditation. The practice of japam is
specially suited to the present age.' Therefore, we should
be careful lest in our overzeal to awaken the Kundalini we
should take recourse to some occult methods and come to grief.
The safest course is to constantly repeat the divine name.
Therein lies the real clue to awakening of the Kundalini.
important point to remember is what Swami Vivekananda always
used to stress. He was against any kind of cheap ecstasy.
In fact at the Cossipore Garden House he warned his brother
disciples against too much group dances and songs; for, such
things can raise the mind to a high level, but then from that
high level, the mind suddenly descends into lower centres
when the stimulation stops.
to find the truth, it is essential to plunge into the very
depths of our being. By japa Sadhana alone superior consciousness
can easily be awakened.
is it practicable to pray ceaselessly? Apparently, it seems
that it is rather not practicable to spend the whole time
in prayer alone. A break in the continuity is inevitable.
But if one is to attain spiritual illumination, one has to
pray ceaselessly. One has to pray at all times, at all places.
No doubt other thoughts will invade our mind and not allow
us to pray ceaselessly. The remedy then is to exercise our
will power, and reject all other thoughts. This we can do
if we only will. If we compel ourselves to repeat the mantra
always and if we persevere, we are sure to succeed, and then
we shall find that our heart will also open up and continue
to repeat the mantra by itself without any effort on our part.
It means that repetition will become automatic. That is called
ceaseless prayer. We have to attend to things such as the
ordinary demands of the body, say, sleep, hunger and other
things. We have to meet people, talk to different persons.
We are to engage ourselves in so many duties and activities.
Is it possible in the midst of all this to pray to God constantly?
this connection, there is the story of a Russian pilgrim who
grew so used to his prayer that when he stopped it for a single
moment, he felt as though he had lost something, and that
very moment he would start the prayer again. This went on
easily and joyously. He was so used to this ceaseless prayer
that when he was asleep he would sometimes dream that he was
saying the prayer which he had learnt from his experienced
teacher. So when one is used to it, then one can constantly
repeat one's prayer and one feels there is nothing more precious
and sweet in this world than ceaseless prayer emanating from
Russian pilgrim said that there were occasions when he would
walk as many as 40 or 60 miles a day. While walking he would
constantly go on repeating the name of the Lord within and
would not feel the strain of walking. He was aware of only
one fact - namely, that he was saying the prayer internally.
Sri Ramakrishna gave a number of illustrations to drive home
the truth that one can pray ceaselessly. Thus he would give
the example of village girls carrying so many pots of water
on their heads while returning from the common village well.
They would chat and gossip with the other women, but all the
time their attention would be on the jars, lest they should
fall off their heads. Similarly, in the midst off our day-to-day
activities or in meeting people and attending to different
kinds of business, we can take the name of the Lord internally,
provided we take pains to do it. Swami Vivekananda once said
that the daily necessary thoughts can all be through God.
To quote Swamiji, 'Eat to Him, drink to Him, sleep to Him,
see Him in all.' Swamiji continues to say: 'When the whole
soul pours out in a continues current to God and there is
no time to seek money or name or fame, nothing mundane of
this world, no time to think of anything but God, then comes
into our heart that infinite wonderful love of God.'
us also refer to Brother Lawrence. In the midst of his hard
work in the kitchen, when so many people would ask for so
many things and when it was terribly noisy, Brother Lawrence
would maintain absolute calmness - the calmness or silence
one would get in a church while kneeling down praying to the
Lord. Brother Lawrence would get the same calmness while attending
to his various duties in the busy kitchen. How was it possible?
It was possible because Brother Lawrence did not do anything
for himself. All the work that he was supposed to do, he did
for the sake of the Lord. He used to say that if one is to
be established in the constant practice of the presence of
God, then 'one must have a hearty renunciation of everything
which we see with our senses as obstruction in our way to
prayer does not mean that we have to repeat the name of the
Lord continuously, but what is meant is that we are to live
in His presence. We should also take care to see that we do
not do anything or say anything or think of anything which
may displease God. The most important point to note while
learning the art of ceaseless prayer is, that we can be successful
in this, provided we love God; but the fact is that we do
not love Him. We pray, say for an hour or so in the morning
or in the evening. As a revered personage of our Order, Swami
Yatiswaranandaji, used to say, we are religious people for
half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening,
but this does not build up spiritual life. Spiritual life
means constant awareness of the presence of God within and
without. If we can do that, then ceaseless prayer becomes
a practicable proposition. So constant remembrance of God
does not mean that we are to recite the prayer or Mantra we
get from our Guru at a fixed hour only, but what is meant
is a continuous yearning for God. The whole of one's life
must be permeated by prayer. The secret of this is deep love
for the Lord. As a bride loving the bridegroom is not separated
from him because of constant remembrance of him, so the soul
united with God in deep love always remains in Him and converses
with Him. This is the secret. We are to be constantly aware
of the presence of the Lord. God is everywhere, and we are
to see that our thoughts are always with God. But this we
cannot do if we are attached to some person or to some object.
We have to sever our heart from all that brings us down. We
are to guard our hearts with constant remembrance of the Lord.
And we also should remember that there are certain fundamental
enemies who do not allow us to practise prayer without cessation.
Who are the enemies? Carelessness, negligence, forgetfulness
of God, thinking only of our own pleasures. If we are careless,
negligent, if we forget God, if we seek only mundane pleasures,
then the whole of the spiritual realm is closed to us. If
we do not want to fall into this abyss, we have to be aware
of the foremost enemy - forgetfulness. So we have to work
always towards praying to God. God is omnipresent. If one
asks, 'Is God present?' - the reply is 'Yes.' He is not only
present within us, he is in this hall, outside the hall, in
the temple, in your house, everywhere. As a bird which flies
everywhere encounters only space or air everywhere, similarly
wherever we may go, we are in God, because God is omnipresent.
This being so, what is required of us is to be always alert
and do everything in the living presence of God.
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