Developing a Tranquil Mind

By Desmond Yeoh SC

symmetrical photography of clouds covered blue sky

Sadhguru said that our minds are restless because we identify with the wrong things. That is why he encourages his disciples to repeat this affirmation at night until they fall asleep, “I am not my mind; I am not my body”.

We think we are our egos but we are far larger than that. Our egos are, in essence, our memories. If we watch our minds, we will observe that we are often reliving one memory or another. Even our imagination of the future is constructed from our past memories. We do not day dream about speaking in French simply because the language is not part of our memories. Our preference for food is also based on past memories. Indians prefer Indian food and Chinese prefer Chinese food and so on. This is because of past conditioning or simply put, our past memories.

This understanding helps us to progressively step away from our egos when we meditate. It enables us to move away from our minds for a moment and truly relax. When we do so, it would be like putting down a heavy object and relaxing our muscles; except that we are relaxing our minds. Only then, can we truly relax and enjoy the tranquillity of a silent mind. Spontaneous thoughts will still arise but because we are not trapped within our minds, we are able to watch our minds without attachment, and these spontaneous thoughts will become less frequent and emotionally charged. Meditation then becomes effortless and enjoyable. We will no longer ask the question, “How long should I meditate?”. Asking this question shows that we have yet to learn to truly rest while meditating.

Beliefs are also memories because they were put into our minds by others. We often cling on to these memories very tightly because our egos are partly made up of these memories. It is part of the mind or ego just like our hands are parts of our bodies. Letting go of these beliefs is almost like cutting off our own hands. So, when people with differing beliefs get together and try to convince the other of their beliefs, the discussion often ends up becoming heated. This is so because they are trying to cut away part of each other’s ego. It is a useless endeavour.

We really need to understand this when we become excited about sharing our beliefs with our friends with different belief systems. Sri Yukteswar sent his beloved disciple Paramhansa Yogananda to America to spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga. The Americans were mostly Christians and it would be near impossible to ask them to turn away from Christianity. Yogananda had the wisdom to teach Kriya Yoga in a manner which was still consistent with the Christian beliefs. He used the terms God, Father and Christ. He did not force his American disciples to accept or use the terms Brahma or Shiva. When talking to others with different beliefs, we should follow the example set by Yogananda and try to explain our beliefs in a manner that is still consistent with the other person’s beliefs. For example, the Buddhist principle of ‘impermanence’ can be rephrased to a Christian as ‘all things do not last’ or ‘everything changes’.

Even our decisions are founded on our memories. We cannot even envision ourselves killing others because we know it is against the conventional and spiritual laws. Killing another is seen as something which only an extremely evil person could do. Even thinking about it brings about feelings of guilt. However, had we been born in the time of Genghis Khan’s rule where the warriors are honoured and the healers frowned upon, perhaps many of us would have seen killing as a prized ability that increases One’s standing in society. So, to think that we are the masters of our decisions is truly an illusion. The decisions we made has also been planted into us by others.

The more we look and understand our egos, the more we will understand why the Masters say that our illusory self is really our prison. Our minds are both the prisoner and the prison cell. I know this sounds silly but it really looks that way the more we look at it.

So if we are not our minds and bodies, then what are we? There is only one answer to this; the Divine and us are One. The ego, which in essence, our memories and past experiences, exist within the Divine. The Divine is constantly with us; observing, listening, guiding and helping. However, the ego sees itself as separate from the Divine and thus begs the Divine for favours. As One’s mind is part of the Divine, so is the mind of others. The Divine knows what is best for every one of us. Understanding this leads to the conclusion that everything that happens to us is meant to help us see that we are part of the Divine.

Some of us may expect help from the Divine to come in miraculous ways like a disease suddenly disappearing or striking a lottery to solve our money problems, but oftentimes, the help comes in simple ways like a friend introducing us to a book that addresses our problem or bumping into another friend who then shares a relevant experience that could help us. We must be open to the Divine helping us in simple ways or we will end up letting the help pass us by for example, we may ignore to read the book or miss the message that is meant to help us. Therefore, the saying that God helps those who help themselves is simple but very profound.

If the Divine merely takes away our problems without any effort on our part, then there would not be any real change to our habitual thinking patterns. We remain the same and our karmic tendencies are still there, directing us towards making the same mistakes again. It will only be a matter of time before the same problems sneak up on us again. The best help is the type that triggers us into putting in effort to change ourselves. This will then cut away our karmic or habitual tendencies that caused the problems in the first place and bring us one step closer to recognising our Divinity.

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