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Offline JR

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SCIENCE OF RELIGION
« on: February 19, 2007, 05:19:13 AM »
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  • —Swami Chinmayananda
    Man of Perfection The Logic of Self-Control

    In every religion the prophets and seers and men of wisdom seem to have an unanimous conformity when they proclaim the need for sense-control in the seeker. In this age of permissiveness our youth revolts against this, very openly and vociferously, and every generation must have felt this curb as an infringement upon their freedom and liberty,

    We are tempted to argue that if nature has given us these urges, why should we curb them ? Why should we not indulge in them ? When was there a time in the world, when there was no indulgence ? The only difference is, that in the past it was all hush-hush, while today our youth has learnt to indulge in the open. Such argu¬ments are raised by the weak and the cowardly who feel that the urges are overpoweringly strong in them and they dare not challenge their uprise.

    True. These urges were always with us. Nature gave them to us. But to conquer and rise above them is to advance to the next stage of our evolution. The fishes were (and are) swimming in water, but the evolver-fish decided to adventure forth and try to come out. It became the amphibian, and in its further evo¬lutionary stages, the bird and the mammal. This is the story of our evolution. In your arguments be true, the adventurous proge¬nitor of us all, that heroic fish, must have been a fool ! No. These arguments must have greater depth, to deserve serious attention.

    Self-control is not practised to kill the individuality in us, but to add to its tempo in performance, to its daring in vision, and to its brilliance in achievement. The energies dissipated through the senses are conserved in the man of self-control and are channelised into creative fields of nobler undertakings. His memory and judge¬ment improves, his powers of willing and deciding are expanded and his dynamism in the field of activity is heightened.

    When Krishna portrays such a man as unaffected by good or evil, he feels that Arjuna might find it difficult to conceive at all such a state of existence. A sceptic, the Pandava Prince, may even ignore the entire discourse as an impractical dream of an idle visionary.

    " How does he sit ? (kim aseeta) was one of the questions of Arjuna, who wants to know how a Man-of-Perfection will behave in the midst of the tempting objects of the world outside, without being ambushed by them. A sensuous man can never understand that there is at all a possibility of living in self-control. There are people who even consider it as an expression of immaturity, or under-development, or even a mental perversion.

    Before we actually take up for study Krishna's own words, let us review the scheme of perception by which we come to cognise and experience the world around us.

    But we also notice that the sense-organs cannot register per¬ceptions of their respective objects unless the mind is acting behind them. For example, when your mind is immersed in study or in work, you may not hear.. . feel heat  or cold.. . nor see someone passing by. Or when you are asleep, there is no perception of objects. So the mind functioning through the sense-organs perceives sense-objects. At present we have no control over the outgoing mind and in this extrovertedness we live to exhaust ourselves in a life of mere sense-grabbing.

    Now Krishna says, (11-58) " When man can, like a tortoise that withdraws all its limbs, totally withdraw his senses from their objects, then he is a man of steady wisdom. " The example is very vivid and expressive. A tortise, on its slow move, brings out its head, its four limbs and tail so long as it feels it is in a safe place. But when it feels even a suspicion of danger, it immediately withdraws them into the shelter of its shell-fortress, with perfect ease and sponta¬neity.

    The man-of-Perfection disciplines himself so well that the six factors with which he perceives object after object-the five sense-organs and the mind-are all entirely under his control. They play in the field of sense-objects and at the slightest apprehension of temptation, he can, at will, easily withdraw the mind and the senses from their objects. This ease is not with us now, so we fall a prey to their enchantments and lengthening tragedies.

    To reach a state of sovereign freedom, to live in the world but not be of it, ever at will, enjoying the grandeur of beauty in it, but not falling a victim to its hallucinations and magical enchant¬ments is the goal of all spiritual life.

    Benefits of Self-Control

    At this juncture, a very pertinent question can arise—" Sir, if at each dangerous temptation we are to withdraw our minds from the world, then in modern times young men are ever in the midst of tempting material objects that constantly glitter and beckon. So all of us will have to constantly remain in a condition of inturned mind. We will have to withdraw from the cities and market-places, university-towns and capitals, and run into lonely caves, silent peaks and solitary islands ! ! This would be running away from life. But men of prophetic vision are all known to have lived amidst men and society, serving individuals and institutions. How is this possi¬ble ? "

    Krishna patiently counters the possibility of such a doubt and indicates a law of the " economics of thought. " (II-59) " Objects retire from the abstinent, leaving the longing behind. But this longing also ends in him who sees the Supreme. " The law of demand and supply is true here also. When we demand sense-objects they march towards us; when there is no demand, the supply also, dries up. When I do not drink, no White Horse, or Black and White; will come to me. When I do not smoke, no one will offer me a Rothman's King-size. Objects of sense-enchantments retire (Visha-yah vinivartante) from one who is not " consuming " (nirahaarasya dehinah) -abstinent. But we often meet people who are now smoking incessantly after having given it up for a number of years. The taste for the indulgence may subtly remain with us, and if ever in future we are caught unawares by conducive objects and circum¬stances, the suppressed Vasanas will burst into an irrepressible plague of expression.

    But Krishna assures us that " even this taste " (rasopyasa) on experiencing the Supreme (Param drishtwa) certainly retires, (nivartate). All Vasanas for sense-objects will then end, as all longings for the dream-objects end on awakening from the dream.

    It is the vengence of Truth that noble virtues like mercy, pity, peace, kindness, goodness, etc. cultivated in us, but without the inner transformation, become as Blake puts it, " miseries increase. " Where self-control is not, there no other virtue is possible and the indulgent fall into all traps that evil ever puts along their path.

    Why, " the turbulant senses, O son of Kunti, violently snatch away the mind of even a wise man who is earnestly striving for self-perfection. " No true education, no cultural growth can even be dreamt of, in a man of 'no self-control.' The passionate mind typhooning after the howling sense-objects can drive away, the edifice of chaste perfections built up by individual efforts. Even a wise man will behave foolishly when his mind is fascinated by the madden¬ing enchantments of sense-objects—Why then talk at all of men of poorer calibre and dimmer intellectual visions, of mediocre men as many of us are ?

    But it is easy to exhort from a grand pulpit to mankind at large, " Oh Man ! Control your senses. " This is what all religions are screaming, all scriptures roaring, all poems whispering, and all parents and elders blabbering. A moral value, an ethical virtue can be appreciated, but how can we bring it into the very fibre of our lives ? If this technique is not given out, moral preaching be¬comes a bluff, a lie, a stupendous falsehood.

    The modern youth will laugh it out—hence the sad failure of all moral preachers. Krishna was no visionary; Arjuna, the man-of-action, had no patience with dreams. Knowing exactly his stu¬dent's needs and demands, Krishna, in the very following verse hints at a method by which the mind can be taught the art of steer¬ing itself clear of a temptuous life of sense-gratifications.

    Krishna says : (II-61) " The steadfast, having controlled them all, sits focussed on Me, as the Supreme. His wisdom is firm, whose senses are under control." You can with your will power for a time withdraw the mind from its particular outgoing tendency. When the mind is charmed by an object we know we can immediately call it back. But the .mind is a dynamic instrument : It is not meant to remain idle; it will again, at the next moment, gush out towards the same object of temptation, you may again control it. But, each time with renewed vigour the mind floods out, until at last you your¬self are carried off on this flood of passion and desire.

    Krishna advises us that " having controlled them all" (tani sarvani samyamya), " remain steadily focussed on Me as the Supreme " (Yukta aseeta matparah). This then is the secret. We must withdraw, with our entire will, the outgoing mind, but there¬after, the mind should be earnestly engaged in the inspiring contem¬plation upon something creative and higher. Turn your mind to your Goal—spiritual or material. Give the mind a fresh field of ennobling ideals to function in and exhaust its energies.

    Constant awareness of the Divine Self within, the Seat of Con¬sciousness, is the secret of holding the mind away from its roamings, and its suicidal dash into the fields of sense-dissipations. The ener¬gies so wasted are now conserved, and such a hyper-dynamic mind is that which achieves stupendous successes. The brilliant and the genius are made in Yoga—they are not accidents in life, unpredict-table chances occuring sometime, somewhere, without any apparent rhyme or reason.
    [Courtesy-Geeta Office,Powai. ]
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