Q: Do our thoughts, prayers and wishes influence reality or is it objective?
Satchidananda: Your thoughts are the prayers and the other wishes too. You are what you think. You can make yourself by thinking the right thoughts, or you can break yourself by thinking wrong thoughts. Make a habit of developing good thoughts. Think thrice before you think a thought. Then, speak it out. Then, do it. Thoughts, words, and deeds. Perseverance and regularity. Think well. Think well. Think well. Influence reality. Then your thoughts become everything. You are what you think; even the entire outside world reacts to your thoughts. If you think good, everything is good. If you think wrong, everything is wrong because your projection is the outside world. Whatever you want to be or you want to see outside, you have to become that yourself. The mind is so great a power. Always develop right thought. Even if you finish thinking or saying something, sit back and analyze what you said or did.
Satchidananda: You cannot be without desires so desire to do something for others. Desire to live to serve, by knowing that you have been created to serve others, in the name of God. God created you for what? To fulfill God’s mission, not your mission. That’s why He has given you a body, mind,
intellect, food, water, and the most essential need: the breath. It’s all given to you to keep you going. Why? What is the purpose of giving all this to keep you alive? To perform His duty, not for your sake. If you know that, then all your desires become selfless. You should know that we are not living for ourselves. We are made to live to serve others.
It’s almost like you are keeping a car. You are taking good care of the car. Fill up the gas; change the oil; change the water; take care of the battery. Why are you interested in doing all that? You want to keep the car in good shape. For what? You want to use it. The car is not demanding. The same way, you are also a vehicle. God is putting all that in your system to be used for God’s purpose. You are here because God wanted you to be here, to do His job. God is working through you. “Nothing belongs to me.” You didn’t bring anything with you; you are not going to take anything with you. You’re totally free. Your mind has no chance of getting agitated or losing its peace. You become a better instrument also.
WHAT AM I DOING IT FOR?
Our goal is unending joy. Sometimes people think that to be a spiritual seeker or a good, religious person means being always very serious. They think that such a person can’t have fun, can’t laugh. That is no kind of life. Life means being always joyful, always happy—jubilant. Every minute should be a celebration. Every minute should be a festivity. That is possible only if you keep your mind in good shape and don’t allow it to get into mischief.
Be conscious of all your actions. Before you do anything, question yourself: “What am I doing it for? To be happy, to have fun. Okay, will it be fun always or will it only be fun for a little while and then start creating problems? Will anyone be hurt by it? How long can I be happy? Will there be an end? What is the price I have to pay?” After all this analysis, if your answer is, “Yes. I will always be happy. It will never bind or bother me,” then go ahead. Remember, our intention is to enjoy life, to be happy always—nothing less than that.
Q: Regarding the point of Yoga…
Satchidananda: Thirumanthiram says, “I thought the body is no good. It is just a thing built up by bone and flesh. But later on, I realized that it is in that body God lives.” You, as the image of God, are living in that body. The body is very important, no doubt, but don’t be attached too much. Don’t
put too much emphasis on it. Keep the body clean, take care of it, use it, but simply don’t pamper it too much. Hatha Yoga helps you to keep the body in healthy condition, that’s all. Mere asanas can help you to keep the body healthy and relaxed, but that’s not Yoga itself. If that itself is Yoga, then why Ashtanga Yoga? Then why all these eight limbs? Out of the eight limbs, only one limb is the asana. If you are always keen in yoga asanas only, you are only one eighth of a Yogi. Yoga mainly works with the mind. “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah. Keeping the mind undisturbed is Yoga.” The body is a tool. Utilize it. Spend enough time to take care of that tool. Some people, even in the name of Yoga, want to do many kinds of unbelievable postures. What does that show? Then you can go and join a circus company. Is it very necessary to keep the body in healthy condition by doing
all that? No. Do it within the limit.
The pioneer in Yoga positions in India, near Poona, Kaivalyadham, was Doctor Gune. He gave up the doctorship and started practicing and teaching Yoga. He himself says we only need about fourteen or fifteen poses. One backward, one forward, one this stretch, one that stretch, one upward,
one downward. Stretching in opposite directions.
In my Hatha book, I have given the preliminary important poses. Then some people have a little curiosity beyond these. They want to break their bones and do something. But that’s not important—that’s for show. Instead, break up your mind: make that mind listen to you. Controlling the mind, mastery over the mind, is important. Even through the body, you are trying to get mastery over the mind, mastery over the senses. It’s all mastery. Yama, Niyama: asana through the body, mastery over the mind; sense control through the senses, mastery over the mind. The final aim is to get mastery over the mind. That is very important. You may be an expert in doing hundreds of poses, but if you have no control over the mind what good is it? So keep that in mind. Control of the mind is very important.
AIM OF YOGA
The essence of Yoga and all faiths and traditions is to be easeful in body, peaceful in mind, and useful in life. The aim of Yoga is to make the body healthy and the mind tranquil and pure. With a pure mind and a healthy body, you become a useful instrument for God.
AIM OF HATHA YOGA
The aim behind all the Hatha Yoga postures is to be able to sit in one steady, comfortable position for meditation. When the body is healthy and supple, you can sit easily with the mind still and peaceful. As you begin to control the body and its movements, that control will carry over to the mind.
Wash off the baser thoughts with the help of higher thoughts and when the washing is effected, cling to neither of them. The present state of your experience is due to the thinking, feeling and acting of incalculable past lives. It cannot be easily gotten rid of without prolonged process of thinking
of and practice. Thought is ancestor of action. If you want to improve your actions, purify your thoughts.
Become a staunch believer in self-reliance and self-effort. You can determine your fate by force of thoughts. As clouds are the main source of rain, so the control of one’s own thoughts is the source of durable prosperity. You are yourself your own friend or enemy. If you will not save yourself by cherishing good thoughts, there is no other remedy.
Mind is the only creator. Everything is created through the mind. It is absolutely free in creating a world for itself. Whenever the mind is referred to
as the creator of external objects, it must be considered as the cosmic mind and a part of Isvara Srishti. Whenever the mind is referred to in relation to psychological functions such as love and hatred, etc., it must be considered as the individual mind and as a part of Jiva Srishti. O man! The real God lives in your heart and the only way to worship the real God residing within the temple of your body is by your own sublime thoughts. Stop the psychological functions of your mind and see value only in sublime thoughts.
The nature of things around you is as you think it to be. Your life is what you make it by your thoughts. Thoughts are the bricks by which you have built the building of your personality. Thought determines destiny. The world around you is the reflex of your thoughts. You experience as you think. Your own imagination plays havoc with you. You have made yourself timid by entertaining the thoughts of fear. Do not become liberal in imagination. You are affected by things only in accordance with your idea about them. The mind sees value only in that in which it has intense faith. Though all of you see the same object, everyone of you attach to it different values. According to your mental propensities you think.
Thought is a creative instrument, and man becomes what he thinks upon. Character is thought-formed. You are born with what you have thought upon, and your present character is an index of your previous thoughts. You create your future by your thoughts now; if you think nobly, you will be noble in conduct. If you think basely, no environment will make you different. Thus, thoughts and actions are interdependent. Be vigilant and allow only good thoughts in your mental field.
Every one of you has a different conception of duty, value, enjoyment and liberation in accordance with your different convictions. You strive after your own ideal. You work in accordance with your long-standing and intensified thought and belief. You accomplish and achieve the object of your own desire. Do not let your mind become denser and denser by allowing it to be engrossed in gross forms. Follow the abstractive process by cherishing the thoughts of virtue.
Your present life has three aspects, physical, mental and spiritual. You are tenaciously attached to the physical aspect. Be above physical sensations and other appetites by cherishing the thoughts that you are not body alone, that you are residing in the temple of a body for a short period only.
Be above mental titillations. Subjective action functions in the world of thought. Send out a steady stream of thought and goodwill to all creation. The energizing motive behind every thought should be service and friendliness.
Stand united with your higher thoughts. You will achieve that goal which is bought by many failures. Become a non-seeker of personal ends and glory. Death will not easily come near you, if you will not wear on your heart the necklace of vicious thoughts. The bliss that accrues from the culture of mind surpasses even the prosperity of the three worlds, or possession of all kinds of jewels, or acquisition of high office.
Your mind is omnipotent. It is capable of accomplishing everything. As you imagine within your mind, so things happen forthwith. Whatever is intensely thought by your mind, that comes to be materialized and effected. Creative power is the privilege of every mind. Your own efforts guided by your aspiration are the warp and woof of your destiny. Do not possess a dissipated mind by cherishing weak thoughts. Superficial mind cannot acquire depth of insight.
Control the roving mind by entertaining one flow of thought. All that is intensely thought by you, will come to you early or late, in accordance with the effort you have put in to acquire it. It is by thought alone that you get into delusion, undergo the experience of birth and death, are bound in the world and become released from it. Pierce through the steel-armor of biased thoughts, and try to see the divinity in every object.
(By Sri Swami Satchidananda, from the February, 2006 IYTA Newsletter)