How to Control the Mind

soul education Aug 07, 2019

In Sanskrit the mind is called mana and from this word comes manu which means man. Also the word man is much the same as manu, and from that we gather that man is his mind. Man is not his body, nor is he his soul; for the soul is divine, it has no distinction, and the body is a cover. Man, therefore, is his mind.

Once we begin to look into the minds of men we begin to see such a phenomenon that no wonder in the world can be compared with it. Looking in the eyes when they are afraid, when they doubt, when they are sad and want to hide it, when they are glad; seeing how men from lions turn into rabbits, when they have a guilty conscience. As flowers emit fragrance so minds produce atmosphere. Apart from seeing it in the aura, even in the expression of man, we can see clearly the record of his mind. Nothing can show man’s mind better than his own expression. Mind therefore, is the principal thing. We distinguish men as individualities, and it is the culture of the mind which develops individuality into personality.

The difference between mind and heart is that the mind is the surface of the heart, and the heart the depth of the mind: they are two different aspects of one and the same thing. The mind thinks, the heart feels. What the heart feels the mind wants to interpret in thought; what the mind thinks, the heart assimilates expressing it in feeling. Neither is the mind the brain, nor is the heart a piece of flesh hidden under the breast. Those who do not believe in such a thing as the mind think that thoughts and impressions are in the brain, that a person thinks with his brain. It is not true. The brain only helps to make impressions clear to man’s material vision.

The mind does not belong to the same element as the body; the body belongs to the physical, the mind to the mental element; the latter cannot be measured or weighed or made intelligible by physical instruments. Those in the world of science who are trying and hoping one day to produce machines which make thoughts and impressions clear, if ever they are successful, will only be so in the sense that the impressions of thoughts affecting the physical body will be felt by their instruments, but not the thoughts from the mental sphere; for the mind alone is the instrument that can take reflections from the mind.

The mind can be seen as five different faculties working together: in thinking, remembering, reasoning, identifying and feeling.

Thinking is of two kinds: imagination and thought. When the mind works under the direction of the will there is thought, when the mind works automatically without the power of the will there is imagination. The thoughtful person is he who has a rein over the activity of the mind; an imaginative person is the one who indulges in the automatic action of the mind. Both thought and imagination have their place in life. The automatic working of the mind produces a picture, a plan which is something more beautiful than a plan or idea carefully thought out under the control of the will. Therefore, artists, poets, musicians are very often imaginative, and the beauty they produce in their art is the outcome of their imagination.

The secret that is to be understood about imagination is this: everything that works automatically must be prepared first, then it works; just like a watch must be prepared first, then it works automatically. We must wind it up, then it can go on; we need trouble about it no more. This shows that we need prepare the mind to work automatically to the best advantage in life. If people become imaginative without having prepared their mind, it leads them to at least an unbalanced condition, and maybe to insanity; for when an imaginative person becomes unbalanced, and has no control over his mind, it may lead to insanity.

Now the question arises: how to prepare the mind? The mind is like a film taking all the photographs to make a moving picture, and it produces the same that was once taken in. The one who is critical, who looks at the ugly side of human nature, who has love for evil, love for gossip, who has the desire to see the bad side of things, who wishes to find the bad points of people, prepares a film in his mind. That film projected onto the curtain produces undesirable impressions in the form of imagination.

The great poets who gave us beautiful teachings in moral, in truth, where did they get them from? This life here is the school in which they learned, this life is the stage on which they saw and gathered. They are the worshippers of beauty in nature and in art. In all conditions of life they meditate upon beauty and find good points in all those they see. They gather all that is beautiful, from the good and the wicked both. Just like the bee takes the best from every flower and makes honey from it, so they gather all that is beautiful and express it through their imagination in the form of music, poetry and art, as well as in their thoughts and deeds in everyday life.

I began in my early life a pilgrimage in India – not to holy shrines, but to holy men, going from place to place and seeing holy men of different characters and natures. What I gathered from them all was their great love nature, their outgoing tendency, their deep sympathy and their inclination to find some good. In every person they see they are looking for some good, and therefore, they find it in the wicked person. By doing so they themselves become goodness because they have gathered it: we become what we gather. In their presence there is nothing but love, compassion and understanding – of which so little is found in this world.

The condition today is that people are rich, they have all convenience and comfort – but what is lacking is understanding. Home is full of comfort, but there is no understanding, there is no happiness.

In our domestic life, in our social or political life, in business, in commerce, in national activities – if we had that one tendency, it would make life different for us, more worth living than it is today for so many souls. The condition today is that people are rich, they have all convenience and comfort – but what is lacking is understanding. Home is full of comfort, but there is no understanding, there is no happiness. It is such a little thing, and yet so difficult to obtain. No intellectuality can give understanding. This is where man makes a mistake: he wants to understand through his head. Understanding comes from the heart. The heart must be glowing, living. When the heart becomes feeling then there is understanding, then you are ready to see from the point of view of another as much as you can see from your own point of view.

The other aspect of thinking is thought, which is heavier, more solid, more vital than imagination, because it has a backbone which is will power. Therefore, when we say, ‘This is a thoughtful person,’ we make a distinction between the imaginative and the thoughtful person. The latter has a weight about him, something substantial; one can rely upon him. The imaginative person one day may come saying, ‘I love you so much; you are so good, so high, so true, so great,’ but it is just like a cloud of imagination which has arisen. The next day it is scattered away, and the same imaginative person, who yesterday followed this cloud, would try to find some fault, and nothing is left in his hands. How very often this happens! Those are angelic people perhaps, but they ride on the clouds. For this dense earth they are of no use, one cannot rely upon them. They are as changeable as the weather. The thoughtful person, on the contrary, takes his time to express both his praise and his blame. The mind of the thoughtful is anchored and under control.

The one who learns how to make the best of imagination and how to control his thought shows great balance in life. How is this to be achieved? By concentration. In India there is a sacred Hindu legend relating that two sons of God (sons of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu) were in a country where the younger one saw a horse which was set out free by the government. The one who would catch the horse would become king of that country. This youth was so attracted to the horse, and to the idea that was behind it, that he ran after it. He could not catch it, for the horse would sometime slow down, but ran away as soon as the youth nearly reached it. His mother was worried and asked the elder brother to go find him. Then the older brother came and saw that his brother was pursuing the horse. So he said to him, ‘That is a wrong method. You will never be able to catch the horse that way. The best way of catching it is not to follow, but to meet it.’ Instead of following the horse the youth met the horse, and so caught it. The mother was very pleased and proud that her son had been able to catch the horse, and he became entitled to the throne and crown of his father.

The horse in this story is the mind. When the mind is controlled then mastery is gained and God’s kingdom attained. The younger brother is the pupil, the elder brother the guru, the teacher. The way of controlling the mind is not by following it, but it is by concentrating: by concentrating one meets it.

It is also told that a Sufi had a pupil who said to him, ‘Teacher, I cannot concentrate on one thing. If I try to concentrate on one object, other objects appear; then they become so muddled that I do not know which is which. It is difficult to hold the mind on one object.’ The teacher said, ‘Your difficulty is your anxiety. The moment you begin to concentrate, you are anxious that your mind might wander away. If you were not anxious about it, your mind would have poise; your anxiety makes it more active. If you just take what it gives you, instead of looking behind it in order to see where it goes, if you change this tendency and meet the mind face to face, seeing how it comes to you and with what it comes, you will be able to concentrate better.’

From this story a great lesson is to be learned, for this is always the case! The moment one sits down to concentrate the mind changes its rhythm for the very reason that the person is anxious to keep it under control. The mind does not wish it; it wants its freedom. As you stand for your right, so the mind stands for its right. The best way is to greet the mind as it comes to meet you. Let it bring what it brings when you stand face to face with your mind, and be not annoyed with what it brings. Just take it, then you have the mind under control, for when it comes to you, it will not go further; let it bring what it brings. In this way you make a connection with your mind, and as soon as you begin to look at it, you have your mind in hand. The photographer has his subject in hand when he has focused the camera on his subject. It is the same thing with a person and his mind: as soon as he has focused himself on the mind he has got it under control.

Concentrations can be considered as different stages of evolution. The first concentration is on a certain designed object and is divided into two actions. One action is making the object and then holding it in the mind. It is just like a child who takes little bricks, pillars, and different things making a little house out of them. The first action is this making of the house; the second action is looking at it. This is one kind of concentration, and another kind is that there already is an object which the mind must reflect by focusing itself on that object.

The next stage of concentration is improving on the object. For instance, one imagines a tiger, and then one also imagines the background of the tiger: rocks behind it, a mountain, trees, forest, and a river. That is improvement: holding at the same time the background and changing it according to the activity of the mind. Even if the tiger changes, it does not matter as long as one has that particular kind of concentration.
The third concentration is on an idea. The idea has some form, which is inexpressible – but the mind makes it.

Now coming to the realm of feeling – feeling is such an important thing that our whole lives depend upon it. A person, once disheartened, sometimes loses enthusiasm for his whole life. A person, once disappointed, loses trust for his whole life. A person heart-broken, loses self-confidence for all his life. A person, once afraid, sustains fear in his heart forever. A person, who has once failed, keeps all through life the impression of his failure.

In the East they love bird fights. Two men bring their birds to fight, and as soon as a man sees that the bird of the other man will win in the end, he takes his bird away while it is in the action of fighting – before it has accepted defeat. The man admits defeat while the two birds are fighting, but he does not allow his bird to go so far as to be impressed by defeat. Once impressed by it the bird will never fight again. This is the secret of our mind, and once we learn to take care of our mind – just as the man took care of his bird – going to any sacrifice but not giving the mind a bad impression, we will make the best of our life.

Besides this, we read of the lives of great heroes and great personalities, how they went through all difficulties and sorrows and troubles, and yet always tried to keep their heart from being humbled. This gave them all their strength; they always escaped humiliation. They were prepared for death, wars, suffering and poverty, but not for humiliation.

I will tell you an amusing anecdote. I once was in Nepal, near the Himalayas, and I wanted a servant, so I sent for one. He was of the warrior’s caste, Kshatriyas, of a fighter’s tribe in the mountains. I asked him what work he wanted to do, and he said: ‘Any work you like, anything you like.’ I asked: ‘What about pay?’ ‘Anything you will give,’ he answered. I was amused to find that he wanted to do any work I would give him and to accept any pay. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘then there is no condition to be made?’ He said: ‘One. You will not speak a cross word with me.’ Imagine! He was ready to accept any money, willing to do any work, but no humiliation. I appreciated that spirit of the warrior beyond words; this was what made him a warrior.

Friends, our failure and our success all depend upon the condition of our mind. If the mind fails, failure is sure, if the mind is successful, conditions do not matter: we shall be successful in the end.

Question: Is it possible, when humiliated, to spare our mind the injury of humiliation by seeing that the person who humiliates us is beneath us?

Answer: That is not the way, because as soon as we accept humiliation we are humiliated, whether we think it or not. It does not depend upon the other person, it depends upon ourselves. No sooner do we admit humiliation, there is humiliation. If the whole world does not accept our humiliation, it does not matter as long as our mind feels humiliated, and if our mind does not accept humiliation, it does not matter if the whole world takes it as such. If a thousand persons come and say to a man, ‘You are wicked,’ he will not believe it as long as his heart says, ‘I am not wicked.’ But when his heart says, ‘I am wicked,’ if a thousand persons say, ‘You are good,’ his heart keeps him down just the same. If we ourselves give up, then nobody can sustain us.

Question: Is it possible then to develop a state of mind that lifts us out of humiliation?

Answer: Well, the best thing would be to avoid humiliation, but if a person cannot avoid it, then he must be as a patient who must be treated by a physician, then he needs a person powerful enough to help him, a master-mind, a spiritual person. He then can be doctored, attended to, and get over that condition. When a person is a patient he cannot very well help himself. He can do much, but then there is the necessity of a doctor.

Question: Can that condition be treated by counter-irritation?

Answer: Yes, it can be met with that.

Question: What do you do when the feeling of humiliation has entered the mind?

Answer: To take it as a lesson, to take poison as something that must be. However, poison is poison. What is put in the mind will grow. It must be taken out. Every impression, if it remains, will grow: humiliation, fear, doubt. When it is there it remains; there will come a time when the person will be conscious of it. It will grow, and because it is growing in the subconscious mind it will bear fruits and flowers.

Question: Would the study of mathematics be good for an imaginative person?

Answer: Yes, it can bring about a balance. I have seen this in the case of one of my pupils who was extremely imaginative. He could not stay on the earth. But later on he got into a business where he was obliged to count figures, and after some time he obtained a great deal of balance.

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