A Plan to Train the Mind

In all religions of the world, we hear a lot about the necessity for the control of the mind. This seems to be the chorus in all the scriptures. Mind is its own thought-flow. Just as “water flowing continuously in a given direction” is a river, so too thought-flow is the mind. Just as the continuous flow of gallons of water gives us the magnitude of the river, thought flowing conti¬nuously from an individual towards the world-of-objects is the mind. Naturally, as the character of the river is the character of its waters, so, too, the mind is also conditioned by its own thoughts. If the water is clean, the river is clean. If the water’s flow is fast, the river is fast. The similarity is so complete that the same can be applied to the mind. The nature and behavior of thought in an individual bosom, at a given moment, must condition and define the type of mind the individual possesses at that time. Thus, if the thoughts are good, the mind is good. If the thoughts are agitated, the mind is agitated.

In short, in the makeup of an individual, we can say that “as the thought, so the mind; and, as the mind, so the man”.

Therefore, in case a seeker is demanding a total trans¬formation of his personality, and strives himself to become a god-man, it is necessary that he must tackle his mind and bring it under his control. To tame a river is to tame the flow of waters in it. Similarly, taming the mind constitutes a scheme with three definite programs. We have to change (a) the quality, (b) the quantity and (c) the direction of the thought-flow in us in order to fulfill the total transformation of our present personality composition and structure. This is the secret of our inner resurrection.

The quality of thought gushing in our mind will depend upon the type of objects that initiate or sustain the nature of thoughts within. Company of good books, noble men, dynamic aspiration, inspiring ideals should necessarily change the color of the thought-pattern entertained by the Sadhak in his bosom. In short, by surrendering himself to the Lord of his heart, by un¬broken remembrance of Him and His absolute virtues, supreme love, divine sense of justice, endless goodness, etc., the “quality of thought” in the devotee by associa¬tion becomes improved. In a word, devotion to the Lord, Bhakti, as the means by which the quality of thoughts gets improved.

A river that is flooded and flowing brimful at terrific velocity is not a phenomenon that can easily be con¬trolled, directed or ordered. In front of the irresistible flood it will sweep down all the human efforts to arrest it. For doing any work, in trimming or taming the river, we will have to wait until the flood subsides, similarly, the human mind will sweep down with its own flooded might all the individual’s insignificant attempts at con¬trolling or modifying it. The mind that is quietened alone is available for remolding.

Ordinarily, in almost all of us, the mind is in a constant state of dangerous floods. Thoughts gurgle down, thundering and roaring in their sweep into the world of objects, feelings and ideas. This state of flood is contri¬buted by three main streams which are the main sources of the river of thoughts. They are (a) shackling memories of the past-(b) benumbing fears of the future and (c) the freezing anxieties with the present changes taking place around. The past, the future and the present are the eternal peaks from which gurgle forth regrets, fears and anxieties which cause the flood in the mind. To control the three sources will be the secret process by which the dimension, velocity, force and the sweep of the flood in the mind are controlled.

Selfless dedicated activities undertaken as an offering at the altar of our ideals, in a spirit of surrender to the Lord of our heart, is the only available method by which we can save our mind from these disastrous floods. When there is an ideal then at its altar, we can surrender all our regrets of the past, all our fears of the future and our anxieties in the present, and when we work in the world, in a spirit of “dedication and surrender to Narayana”, the mind becomes peaceful and serene. And when this has become the habit of a Karma Yogin the personality of the selfless worker becomes tamed enough for remolding.

Thus, if the “quality of thoughts” is changed by follow¬ing the path of Devotion (Bhakti) and the “quantity of thoughts” is controlled by pursuing the Path of Dedi¬cated Action (Karma Yoga), then the “direction of thoughts” is changed by the pursuit of Knowledge (Gyana Yoga). To lift ourselves from our abject identification with our body, mind and intellect, and to end our individuality concept of ourselves, that we are mere perceivers, feelers, and thinkers, we seek to redirect our thoughts in the quest of the Infinite Self that expresses itself through these vehicles. Extrovertedness of the mind brings to it agitations, chaos and the thoughts gather a momentum at once furious and ferocious, in front of which the individual is swept clean and floated down in the direction of devolution, sorrow and animalism. The quest of the Source of all activities, the Presence of the Divinity in the bosom, is the changing of the direction of the thoughts, and in this state of introvertedness of the mind, the thoughts become quiet, peaceful and divinized.

From the above, a true seeker should not jump to the conclusion that these three processes are mutually excluding factors. Each is not separate from the others. To every one of them, the other two are complementary. In fact, quality cannot be changed without consciously or unconsciously changing the quantity and the direction of the thought flow. In fact, one in whom the quantity of thoughts has diminished, both the quality and direction of his thoughts are also changed. And unless the quality and quantity are modified, the direction of thought flow cannot be changed at all.

In short, the paths of Devotion (Bhakti), Action (Karma) and the Knowledge (Gyana) are to be practiced in syn¬thesis, although each student may take in one or the other of them as his main path, according to his subjective mental temperament. However, each intelligent student shall discover from himself that whatever be his main path, the other two cannot be totally eliminated from his program of self-evolution.

Since the triple program of changing the quality, quantity and direction is each so intrinsically inter-related with the other two, that the accomplishment of one is at once the fulfilment of the other two.