Awakin.org

Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Gaining Mental Power

--by Swami Sivananda (Oct 15, 2012)


Uncontrolled thoughts are the roots of all evils. Each thought by itself is extremely weak, because the mind is generally distracted by countless and ever-varying thoughts. 

The more the thoughts are restrained, the more is the mind concentrated, and consequently the more does it gain in strength and power.

It demands patient work to destroy mean and base thoughts; but the entertainment of sublime thoughts is the easiest and most rapid method of destroying base thoughts. Ignorant of the laws of thoughts, the worldly-minded individual falls a prey to all sorts of thoughts - thoughts of hatred, anger, revenge, lust - and grows weak-willed, deficient in the powers of discernment, and slave of the adverse subtle workings of the mind.

The best method of gaining mental power is by entertaining sublime, noble and good thoughts and through their aid controlling the dissipative, distractive, diversifying, worldly and base thoughts.

When all evil thought harasses the mind, the best method of conquering it is by ignoring it. How can we ignore an evil thought? By forgetting it. How can we forget? By not indulging in it again, and also by not brooding over it.

How can we prevent the mind from indulging in it again or brooding over it? By thinking of something very interesting, something sublime and inspiring. Ignore, forget, think of something inspiring; these three constitute the great Sadhana for establishing mastery over evil thoughts.

-- Swami Sivananda in "Thought Power"


Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

14 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jan 1, 2015 Rohit Jangid wrote:

 



On Dec 25, 2012 mohan wrote:
 well said applicable to all whose mind badly disturbed by evil thoughts often..nice toread

On Oct 18, 2012 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:
 Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  I find there is almost no difference between patience and wisdom, or between patience and compassion.  When one is patient one lets all thoughts come and go.  Acting on the basis of thoughts is quite different from thinking the thought.  As Lao Tzu said: "Doing nothing leaves nothing undone."  He also said: "The way that can be said is not the way."  Is patience the way?
To paraphrase Gandhi, there is no way to patience, patience is the way.  Thoughts are often intellectual.  Noticing one's intellectualizing is beyond thought.  Noticing one's noticing, while one is noticing is very helpful.  Patience helps one notice and noticing helps one be patient.  Warm and kind regards to all readers.

On Oct 16, 2012 david doane wrote:

 The piece reminds me of a very basic principle for parents and teachers, namely, when there is an unwanted behavior, stop the unwanted behavior and replace it with what is wanted.  Often that means ignoring/not reinforcing the unwanted behavior, and reinforcing the desired behavior.  The writer is saying to do the same thing with unwanted thoughts, which makes sense.  The problem, of course, is that it is sometimes easier said than done.  Someone said thinking makes a fine servant and a terrible master.  That is very true.  An effective method of keeping thinking a servant, of having my thoughts rather than my thoughts having me, of conquering unwanted thoughts is basically practice of meditation or mindfulness in which I learn to be aware of but not hold onto my thoughts, particularly unwanted thoughts, and let them pass through and pay attention to wanted thoughts if I so choose.  This has had some value for me, and any day now I'll get re  See full.

 The piece reminds me of a very basic principle for parents and teachers, namely, when there is an unwanted behavior, stop the unwanted behavior and replace it with what is wanted.  Often that means ignoring/not reinforcing the unwanted behavior, and reinforcing the desired behavior.  The writer is saying to do the same thing with unwanted thoughts, which makes sense.  The problem, of course, is that it is sometimes easier said than done.  Someone said thinking makes a fine servant and a terrible master.  That is very true.  An effective method of keeping thinking a servant, of having my thoughts rather than my thoughts having me, of conquering unwanted thoughts is basically practice of meditation or mindfulness in which I learn to be aware of but not hold onto my thoughts, particularly unwanted thoughts, and let them pass through and pay attention to wanted thoughts if I so choose.  This has had some value for me, and any day now I'll get real good at it.  I need patience to practice and get better at the practice.  My story is of a failure last night, when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about a troublesome matter and I tried to let it go but it hung on and I hung onto it and I lost a lot of sleep. Maybe I'll do better next time. 

Hide full comment.

On Oct 16, 2012 Subhash Garg wrote:
This was beautiful article shared. It transporetd me to DLS, Rishikesh. Thoughts bound to come. I practice deep breathing and technique known as "Prati Paksha Bhavana". In this I replace a bad thought by a happy one... This has helped me a lot in this journey of life.....Subhash Garg

On Oct 16, 2012 Narendra wrote:

 What has been an effective method of conquering evil thoughts for you? As a part of evolution, the Brain-mind developed in multiple layers, - as an analog computer and with very limited control. Therefore, most of the thoughts are ignorant, not evil. If we learn to identify thought patterns through silent witnessing, we can gain limited control over the THOUGHT PATTERNS. This is ‘witnessing the ego from the Self’. Meditation is to experience the elusive ‘Self’ by clearing ALL thoughts, which is more difficult. The author emphasizes patient work - what is your reflection on the need for patience in the quest to gain mastery of our minds? Any kind of physical work can help slow down the mind. Love of effort brings in creativity and presence of mind. In the absence of love of effort, work can bring dullness. Attention to quality of work brings patience and discipline. Can you share a personal story that illustrates an experience of focusing on the good while  See full.

 What has been an effective method of conquering evil thoughts for you? As a part of evolution, the Brain-mind developed in multiple layers, - as an analog computer and with very limited control. Therefore, most of the thoughts are ignorant, not evil. If we learn to identify thought patterns through silent witnessing, we can gain limited control over the THOUGHT PATTERNS. This is ‘witnessing the ego from the Self’. Meditation is to experience the elusive ‘Self’ by clearing ALL thoughts, which is more difficult. The author emphasizes patient work - what is your reflection on the need for patience in the quest to gain mastery of our minds? Any kind of physical work can help slow down the mind. Love of effort brings in creativity and presence of mind. In the absence of love of effort, work can bring dullness. Attention to quality of work brings patience and discipline. Can you share a personal story that illustrates an experience of focusing on the good while refusing to give attention to evil thoughts? By chanting the Dharma mantra such as ‘discipline, love, courage, truth ... etc’ which is based on universal-moral principles, as a background task, we can develop an ethical, unselfish philosophy of life that permeates all our thoughts and actions. In my life, this minimized both random and negative thought patterns to create peace, happiness and harmony.  

Hide full comment.

On Oct 16, 2012 Laurel wrote:
I first appreciate the blessing given to me that my conciousness was able to notice the thought in the first place.  Then, I begin searching as to why I might have that thought, usually the answer is always "fear".  Then, I try to find something good about having that thought (i.e. I was able to notice it, appreciate it, and realize it for what it was...unfounded)  I do not judge myself for having the thought.  Then I move my attention to something I am enjoying at this very moment...which is usually nature, a scent, a sound, or a sensation.  Its worked miracles for me.  And there are always deep breaths in between these thoughts...to stay present. 

On Oct 16, 2012 Rod Templin wrote:
 Have been a runner for over 50 years. A couple of decades ago began using "running mantras" (after doing TM for about 25 years). These mantras can be created based on personal experience. Using them in rhythm with breathing and footstrikes, one can reprogram the mind to replace unwanted thoughts. One of the first ones to come to me, "Living love erases fear, as flowing water carves out stone, and morning light dispels the darkness." (Inspired by an early morning run along a high mountain stream.) Now working on a book to share this technique and the "controlled thoughts" that have come over the years. Another example, "To let the mind just empty out, that's what this run is all about. Oh what Joy this is, feeling lifeforce bubble and fizz! "  Thanks for offering this forum allowing folks to share in MEANINGFUL dialogue.

On Oct 16, 2012 Noel DeYoung wrote:
 I tune out negativity by surrounding myself with good news (like this site) good people (all are good most of the time)and nature. I cling to hope (which I find there is too little) remember to see the goodness in people and I try to live doing simple ,conscious acts of kindnesses.It's a choice of opposites and our thoughts matter.I tend to forget about the bad stuff and sometimes I'm shocked into remembering by a thoughtless driver,sounds of people arguing,or the bad news of the world we can't get away from.Life is hard,sad,lonesome,these are facts of life ,It's how we choose to handle life's hardness that counts.I choose to soften with love and to have compassion for all suffering (which evil is suffering at the highest level.We all have a choice.

On Oct 16, 2012 Fiona Campbell wrote:
 I use the Compassion Exercise www.TheAvatarCourse.com/compassion for times when I feel right/righteous. It enables me to quickly shift out of judgment and feel connected again.

On Oct 12, 2012 Amy wrote:
 First off, very much enjoyed the article!  Thank you!  
How do I gain mental power?   By clinging to God . . . by clinging to truth, my mind thinks most clearly.  What is an evil thought?  For me, it is something NOT Loving . . . it is something NOT true.  Would God desire one of His own to to hang to evil thoughts  for any length of time?  I think not.
When a mistruth/something unloving pops up in my head, I use DISTRACTION to remove it.  Reversing the lie of my thought with truth.  "Do not be overcome by evil . . . but overcome evil with good"  are the words repeated in an old VBS song I use to teach children.  Love it.  Love YOU!  
 

On Oct 12, 2012 Ricky wrote:

A trilingual student, first language Polish, told me in English, ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect.’  How wise the young ones are.    When I indulge in self-demoralizing cyclical thinking, and share this with my husband, he is quick to remind me that just the awareness of this way of thinking is a huge step.  I realize I am dull and unaware.  The author states ‘the worldly-minded individual falls prey to all sorts of thoughts’, and my experience of this horror that is a dream is that when I am aware of the thoughts, as a witness to the thoughts, there is a sense of ah, there you are again.  Who really is thinking these thoughts?      Thinking, planning, acting, and reacting are human traits I believe.  We have great capacity to embrace and uplift others and sentient beings around the world by facing the parts of our thoughts that cause us and others pain, and replacing these thoughts with  See full.

A trilingual student, first language Polish, told me in English, ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect.’  How wise the young ones are. 
 
When I indulge in self-demoralizing cyclical thinking, and share this with my husband, he is quick to remind me that just the awareness of this way of thinking is a huge step.  I realize I am dull and unaware.  The author states ‘the worldly-minded individual falls prey to all sorts of thoughts’, and my experience of this horror that is a dream is that when I am aware of the thoughts, as a witness to the thoughts, there is a sense of ah, there you are again.  Who really is thinking these thoughts?   
 
Thinking, planning, acting, and reacting are human traits I believe.  We have great capacity to embrace and uplift others and sentient beings around the world by facing the parts of our thoughts that cause us and others pain, and replacing these thoughts with a deeper connection to the cave of the heart.  Here resides the Big Mind, the universal intelligence, and the Love we externally seek.  We are asleep during this lifetime when we do not correlate a connection between fear and uncontrolled thinking.  We may not even know that thinking is vibrational, just as our cell structures, and the air which we breathe.  When this is in place, this understanding of our vibrational essence, a shift can begin to occur.  We approach our thoughts with clarity.
 
I have come to realize that this is why fundamental religion has such a hold on us as a global population.  We are told we need to somehow look outside ourselves for guidance and redemption from our evil ways, or we will not reap the rewards of some other perfect place.  We connect to this earth suit we move around in, and are under the impression this is all there is, right now.  In this way we are asked to postpone the joy of peacefulness and stillness from racing thoughts and citti-vritti until after we die.  The dualistic way of looking at our actions and others actions and our misinterpretation of the inner thought process tends to guide us into thinking we are not adequate within ourselves, that we have no real purpose, that someone else has the breaks we would like, and we suffer in the ‘what ifs’, the ‘why me’s’, and a tormented inner realm of anxiousness, resulting regrets, and utter sadness. 
 
Marianne Williamson’s famous quote reveals the true nature of ourselves. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


While this is always a practice for me, especially after an episode of unreality such as believing I have any control, I must say that the Yoga sutras description of the first two limbs of yoga, yamas and niyamas, come to mind quite regularly.  The golden rule is another one.  And let’s not forget the ten commandments.  I have realized these are all interpretations of wise quieted students who were gifted in understanding the deepest whispers of the Big Mind-the expansive consciousness-and who were guided to share these.
 
Telling someone to just let go of thinking sometimes causes stress and constriction within that ego, and they can again think cyclically that they are not good enough, or start blaming others for their circumstances, and even act out.  However, asking them to quiet themselves, breathe before speaking, walking away gently from a potentially toxic exchange, gathering supportive uplifting people around them, and reading and listening to inspirational words are strategies on how to perhaps ease the suffering caused by this thinking.
 

Hide full comment.

On Oct 12, 2012 John Daubney wrote:
I work with the craziness and illogic of my mind by"noticing" my thoughts without judgment or self-criticism, taking a deep breath, and then let them go as many times as necessary. I also remember the God presence within me as my anchor and go on. I have found that by accepting the part of myself where these thoughts come from, knowing that it will always be with me, but does not have to rule my actions I am able to maintain more serenity than when I would hate and judge myself for having such thoughts. With every dark thought, I am then able to rethink, remembering the love within me. That brings me peace and self-acceptance. I have a friend who says, "we all go into the dark places from time to time but we don't have to "pitch a tent there." Thank you for your thought-provoking topics.