Overcoming the Lower Nature, Mantra Sadhana, and Realization of Mistakes

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Ganga Darshan Vishwa Yogapeeth, Munger, Sunday 2nd June 2013

Managing the mind

How can one actively defeat one’s own lower nature, and train the mind to be even and balanced? The point is very simple. Always maintain a positive attitude. As long as one maintains a positive attitude, and is happy and clear in one’s mind as far as one’s own aspirations and participation are concerned, one can easily manage the mind.

It goes without saying that the nature of mind is to create problems all the time. Problems are created by the mind because of two things only: firstly, one’s expectations and needs, and secondly, mismanagement of the mental behaviour. A person’s expectations and needs become their personal areas of involvement, and then managing of the reactive mind in normal situations has to be the focus.

An example is a soldier who is fighting in a war. His priority in life is not to be victorious; rather it is to save himself from attacks. The aim and effort of a soldier is to ensure that he lives, and survives the war. In the process of surviving the war, he has to be very alert and aware. He has to recognize every sound and know which sound represents what. A bang in the distance can indicate an explosion, a firing of a bullet, or the firing of a cannon. The sound of a missile, which he can’t see but can hear, will indicate whether that missile is coming towards him or going in another direction. The sound of a twig being broken as someone walks will indicate an enemy presence nearby. The sudden flight of birds from one region of the forest will indicate the presence of enemies in that area. In this manner, the soldier is trained to be aware of his environment in the most minute detail. He has to be aware of and know everything if he is to survive the war, and if he knows all the details of survival he can win the war. However, if he does not know the details of survival, and thinks, “I’m a soldier going to kill” and then walks in front of enemy soldiers, he will be shot. People can look at their own life in the same manner.

On the one hand people say that life is tamasic, restrictive, painful and confusing, yet on the other hand we all expect so much from our own life. There is a contradiction in life. There is no intellectual reasoning, logic or practice that can elevate one from this state, except one’s own understanding and effort to be happy, optimistic, and hopeful at all times, and to never allow any obstacle to become a problem, but only a hurdle to be overcome. Pratipaksha bhavana, the cultivation of the opposite quality, is the answer.

Guru mantra sadhana

There is a process which is known as identification with mantra. When the identification with mantra takes place, then the mantra carries on continuously, consciously or unconsciously. If the identification with mantra has not taken place, then mantra only remains a practice that one does for a limited time, according to one’s discipline and system or routine.

After that identification with mantra took place in me over a period of years, I came to a point where I used to wake up at night and smile to myself, “The mantra is still going on in my head.” Then I would go back to sleep, and then again wake up with a smile and memory of the mantra going on in my mind. It has happened many times, but it is not a conscious effort, it is a natural effort.

When you practise the mantra with your mala, for how many beads of the mala are you aware of the mantra? Are you aware of the mantra for all 108 beads in one mala, or does the mind dissipate and the mantra practice break in between? If the mantra practice breaks in between, in the first instance try to make that awareness constant. Practise one mala properly with one hundred per cent awareness of the mantra and the bead, without wavering of the mind. If you can do one mala without wavering of the mind, you will have that identification with mantra. You will also discover that you will suddenly become aware of the mantra going on in your mind naturally even while you are working, reading or doing something totally different.

The mind can be engaged in doing something completely different while one part of the mind will continue repeating the mantra. This happens spontaneously and naturally. Whenever it happens, follow that path for as long as one can maintain, sustain, and manage. When it breaks, let it break and don’t worry. If one starts worrying, the tensions and mental agitation will set in again, and one will distance oneself from the state of mind which will bring the mantra back to the surface of the mind. Therefore, an important aspect of yoga is to remain free of worry and tension. Whenever one says, “Hari Om Tat Sat”, one should also say “Have no worry, Hari Om Hari.”

Realization of mistakes

What is the next step after one realizes that one has made a mistake? Don’t make it again. Even after realizing, “I have made a mistake”, people continue to make the same mistakes. If one realizes one has made a mistake, also take a sankalpa that “I will not repeat it again, ever in my life”, and stick to it.