How to tame the mind

Righteous thoughts, and progressive ideas drive the mind at both conscious and subconscious levels

Aum yenakarmanyapaso manishino yajyekrinawanti vidathey shudheerah.
Yadapurvam yakshamantah prajanaam tanmey manah shivasankalpamastu.

(O Lord! The erudite and the seers control their minds effectively, engage in yagyas and perform good deeds. This wonderful mind exists in every human being. May my mind be filled with good thoughts and noble resolves.) —Yajur Veda 34.2

The key to perseverance and success is mind control. The erudite people who are knowledgeable and learned by experience understand this fact better than ordinary ones. They engage in yagyas for their own upliftment and for the welfare of the larger community. The seers are enlightened individuals with vision for the future good of humanity. Such visionaries become the instruments of cataclysmic changes in the society. They are the ones who play a pivotal role in the ushering in of a new order and discarding the old one. But how are the above-mentioned learned people and seers different from the ordinary rut of humans? They are able to control their minds well.

There are two requisites for success and happiness; right knowledge and right action. Right action takes effect through mind control. One can see here the great importance of mind control. Without mind control, any amount of knowledge is useless simply because action has to take effect through the medium of the mind. And the mind is erratic, behaving like an unbridled horse. It disobeys you, conflicts with you and drags you into zones of negativity. The mind has to be brought under control because it is the commander of our senses.

Without mind control, consistent right action by humans is not possible. The human is inherently weak. His/her knowledge and understanding are imperfect. He/ she needs to exercise control over his/her mind not only to avoid indulgence in bad karmas but also to accumulate right knowledge and refine his/her understanding.

Next, this mantra talks of yagyas. The seers perform yagyas. Yagyas deliver benefits to the ecosystem, to other living beings including fellow men. Yagyas are participatory and collaborative activities for the welfare and upliftment of all participants.

The individual is expected to perform three different types of yagya on a daily basis. These are Brahma yagya, Deva yagya and Balivaishwadeva yagya. Brahma yagya comprises praise of, prayer to and meditation upon God. Deva yagya is the performance of fire oblations to nourish and purify the five basic elements of nature called panchabhut i.e. earth, water, fire, air and ether. Balivaishwadeva yagya refers to the act of feeding the lower animals and birds. There are two more types of yagya prescribed by the Vedas. These are Pitri yagya (oblations to the ancestors) and Atithi yagya (serving the learned visitors).

The seers regularly perform all these yagyas. In addition, they are involved in preaching and spreading the divine message of the Vedas. This is also a yagya. The seers, being enlightened and saintly individuals, are the role models for the common folks in that they keep their minds under control, perform life-elevating yagyas and do virtuous deeds. They are worthy of emulation by the ordinary members of the society.

Thought in the mind is one action performed that will bring retributive effect. Good, positive and optimistic thoughts, and progressive ideas—all drive the mind at both conscious and subconscious levels. The subconscious mind develops tendencies to take the individual in such directions as are consistent with those thoughts. This is the power of positive thinking. Positive thoughts also emit positive vibrations into ethereal space. These vibrations originating from a person reach the subjects of his/her thoughts and influence those subjects into positive responses that are in the nature of similar vibrations returning to the person concerned.

A chain response phenomenon is thereby created which, over a period of time, leads to realisation of the objective contained in the original train of thoughts. If you think that you are unable to overcome lassitude and lethargy even if you possess a clear goal, you need to chant this mantra on a daily basis. The latent power of the mantra will develop your willpower and help you to get the better of laziness, which is the worst enemy of progress. And do remember, a lazy person is an unhappy person. He gives in to negative thoughts easily because an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

The mantra tells us the power of yagya to make us perseverant and virtuous. The ancient Aryans—natives of India—performed agnihotra yagya every day at dawn and dusk. The yagya works scientifically to refine the human intellect and strengthen human willpower. The way to success and happiness is through the mind. Make a determination to shed lethargy and procrastination. The potency of this mantra will be demonstrated through chanting and the miraculous effect of that.

Currently there is a lot of literature on stress alleviation. You find books by the hundreds on how to lead happier lives and how to gain success in your endeavours. There are numerous authors suggesting various approaches and philosophies in these books. Today, with the internet and the mobile telephone becoming universal tools of daily activities, every bit of information is just a click away. But has such a huge amount of information enabled mankind to become substantially more productive, efficient and happy? There is a yawning gap between theory and application of knowledge. The information itself needs to be in a clear, crisp and intelligible form. The internet provides loose and diffused information. People remain confused and are unable to apply such information for their benefit. The solution to this problem is prudence in the use of information which, in turn, means developing your intellectual strength. A good way of filtering and crystallising useful information is writing down notes and preserving it for frequent reference.

Very often, people find themselves unable to hold together their minds and intellects. The intellect understands things, but the mind disobeys it. Therefore, as aforesaid, use the tremendous divine power of this mantra through chanting to increase your willpower, enabling you to absorb and apply truthful and factual information from the sea of loose strands of information available. Based on this, you will be able to rein in your errant mind and qualitatively improve your karmas. You will be able to truly transform your lives.

Excerpted with permission from Guide to Inner Wellness by Atul Sehgal, published by Rupa Publications