How to practice mind control methods
D.: How are they practised?
M.: An examination of the ephemeral nature of external phenomena leads to vairagya. Hence enquiry (vichara) is the first and foremost step to be taken. When vichara continues automatically, it results in a contempt for wealth, fame, ease, pleasure, etc. The ‘I’ thought becomes clearer for inspection. The source of ‘I’ is the Heart – the final goal. If, however, the aspirant is not temperamentally suited to Vichara Marga (to the introspective analytical method), he must develop bhakti (devotion) to an ideal – may be God, Guru, humanity in general, ethical laws, or even the idea of beauty.
When one of these takes possession of the individual, other attachments grow weaker, i.e., dispassion (vairagya) develops. Attachment for the ideal simultaneously grows and finally holds the field. Thus ekagrata (concentration) grows simultaneously and imperceptibly – with or without visions and direct aids.
In the absence of enquiry and devotion, the natural sedative pranayama (breath regulation) may be tried. This is known as Yoga Marga. If life is imperilled the whole interest centres round the one point, the saving of life. If the breath is held the mind cannot afford to (and does not) jump at its pets – external objects. Thus there is rest for the mind so long as the breath is held. All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost.
Again, passions are attended with irregular breathing, whereas calm and happiness are attended with slow and regular breathing. Paroxysm of joy is in fact as painful as one of pain, and both are accompanied by ruffled breaths. Real peace is happiness. Pleasures do not form happiness. The mind improves by practice and becomes finer just as the razor’s edge is sharpened by stropping. The mind is then better able to tackle internal or external problems.
If an aspirant be unsuited temperamentally for the first two methods and circumstantially (on account of age) for the third method, he must try the Karma Marga (doing good deeds, for example, social service). His nobler instincts become more evident and he derives impersonal pleasure. His smaller self is less assertive and has a chance of expanding its good side. The man becomes duly equipped for one of the three aforesaid paths. His intuition may also develop directly by this single method.
D.: Can a line of thought or a series of questions induce self-hypnotism? Should it not be reduced to a single point analysing the unanalysable, elementary and vaguely perceived and elusive ‘I’?
M.: Yes. It is really like gazing into vacancy or a dazzling crystal or light.
D.: Can the mind be fixed to that point? How?
M.: If the mind is distracted, ask the question promptly, “To whom do these distracting thoughts arise?” That takes you back to the ‘I’ point promptly.
D.: How long can the mind stay or be kept in the Heart?
M.: The period extends by practice.
D.: What happens at the end of the period?
M.: The mind returns to the present normal state. Unity in the Heart is replaced by variety of phenomena perceived. This is called the outgoing mind. The heart-going mind is called the resting mind.
D.: Is all this process merely intellectual or does it exhibit feeling predominantly?
M.: The latter.
D.: How do all thoughts cease when the mind is in the Heart?
M.: By force of will, with strong faith in the truth of the Master’s teaching to that effect.
D.: What is the good of this process?
(a) Conquest of the will – development of concentration.
(b) Conquest of passions – development of dispassion.
(c) Increased practice of virtue – (samatva) equality to all.
D.: Why should one adopt this self-hypnotism by thinking on the unthinkable point? Why not adopt other methods like gazing into light, holding the breath, hearing music, hearing internal sounds, repetition of the sacred syllable (Pranava) or other mantras?
M.: Light-gazing stupefies the mind and produces catalepsy of the will for the time being, yet secures no permanent benefit. Breath control benumbs the will for the time being only. Sound-hearing produces similar results – unless the mantra is sacred and secures the help of a higher power to purify and raise the thoughts.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935