The Meaning and Importance of Self-Control in Spiritual Practice
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 2: Self-Restraint is Self-Recognition

To exercise self-control is to grow progressively in impersonality because the self is associated with the personality to such an extent that the greater is the affirmation of the self, the greater also is the assertion of personality, and vice versa. In this sense, self-control is commensurate and co-extensive with self-expansion. That aspect of the self which is restrained is the personality self, which refuses to recognise the existence and value of other selves. What we called in our analysis last time the logical limitations of the intellect and the spatiotemporal limitations of nature outside is nothing but the way in which consciousness entangles itself in its own perceptions; therefore, self-restraint would involve a far wider operation of consciousness than sadhakas are likely to realise.

Self-control is not controlling merely our bodily individuality. Our efforts at the control of the self do not yield much success because our concept of self is erroneous. It is essential that we gather enough knowledge of the methodology of approach before we actually employ this method or technique. It is not essential that we should be too eager to plunge into actual practice without gaining sufficient knowledge as to what this practice is. Thought precedes action. Understanding is presupposed by every kind of effort. It is not that we should be engaged in activity without understanding throughout the day. Our purpose is not merely to be active, but to bring about the intended result of this activity. If no result follows, if nothing happens, if we are retarded in our progress or are stagnant in our pursuits, we have to conclude there has been an error in our understanding. The restraint of the self is all yoga, in one sentence. But what is this self that we are restraining? Where is it located?

Most people, novices and initiates included, regard the self to be that conscious operation within the walls of our bodily individuality. This is the crude conception of self, the conception of self which a man in the street or a rustic in the field has in his mind: “When I have to control the self, I control my bodily individuality. I mortify my body, harass my mind, torture my intellect, and put myself to such a hardship that I may pass for a yogi or a seeker of Reality, having achieved a lot of success in the practice.”

If we take a census of all the yogis in the world and assess the progress they have made in their march towards perfection, we will find very poor results. There are many yogis, but not yogis who have achieved results or successes. Success in yoga is not success in social life. We may be a very big yogi in society, but be a poor yogi in the eye of God, which is of no use, so social approbation is not the criteria of success in yoga. The world may regard us as a genius, but we may be a nothing, a hollow personality inside, so the judgment of the world is no judgment because all people in the world are like our own selves. What judgment can they pass? Therefore, we should not make the mistake of taking world judgment for the criterion of progress that we make in the practice of yoga. Advertisements, publications and social recognition are not the criteria of progress in yoga. Yoga is something quite different altogether, and one has to steer clear of all these obstacles in the form of psychological cobwebs which may blur the vision of the inner consciousness.

The control or restraint of the self, or atma-vinigraha, is yoga. The point is, what is this Atman that we are going to restrain? Sometimes it is said that we have to realise the Self. Sometimes it is also said that we have to restrain the self. We are told both things, and the term ‘self’ is used in both these definitions or instructions. The goal of life is atma-sakshatkara, or the realisation of the Self, but the method to be adopted in the realisation of this Self is control of the self. So there seems to be different meanings given to the concept of self.

We need not concern ourselves at present with the characteristic of the condition which is equated with the realisation of the Self. As seekers, we are now more concerned with the practical side, the methodology and the technique, that part of practice which goes by the name of atma-vinigraha. We are involved in world consciousness on account of an entanglement of self, whose meaning has to be very clear to us at the outset. Control of the self would be proportionately realisation of the Self. The restraint of the self is at the same time a parallel advancement along the line of the realisation of the Self.

These concepts of self are brought into the field of instruction in yoga in such scriptures as the Bhagavadgita. For example, we have a pointed reference to it there in the Sixth Chapter: uddhared ātmanātmānaṃ nātmānam avasādayet, ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ (Gita 6.5). In such statements as these, the word ‘Atman’ is used several times, with different connotations. The Self is the friend of the self. The Self is the enemy of the self. How can the friend be also the enemy? The Self can be the friend; the Self can be the enemy. But whose friend and whose enemy? Of the Self itself. The Self is the friend of the self, and the Self is the enemy of the self under different circumstances.

Here we see different definitions given of the self for the sake of convenient practice of yoga. The Sixth Chapter of the Gita particularly is a treatment of yoga proper. The yoga of meditation, or dhyana, is described in great detail; but the method is said to be the restraint of the self by the Self, or the lifting up of the self by the Self: uddhared atmanatmana?. Now, what is this self which is lifted by the Self, and which is the self to be restrained?

As I said, beginners in yoga are likely to make an error in their concept of self, the error being that they identify this self with the body: “My self is to be restrained. I have to control my self.” This is what Gurus, Masters tell us: “Control yourself, restrain yourself, subjugate yourself.” So what we do is, we put a kind of restriction upon our bodily personality. We do not speak much, we do not eat much, we do not sleep on soft cushions or beds, and all things that may be regarded as a convenience or a facility or a luxury for the bodily personality are diminished to such an extent that the bodily personality is put on a starvation diet.

This is wonderful; a great step taken on the part of the yogi, but this is not the whole of the practice because the Self cannot be limited to the body. The operation of the Self is not an activity that is going on within our bodily individuality, so self-restraint is not merely concerned with our body. It is concerned with certain other things also which are not cognisable on the surface. What we regard ourselves to be is not the mere visible bodily personality. So atma-vinigraha, or self-control, is not merely control of the body. It is not also control of the activities taking place within the body. The Self is more than what can be recognised as an activity within the body.

For this, a careful investigation is to be made into our own psychological life. We are psychological entities. We are not merely bodies. Our psychological life is what matters most, and the body is a little part of this wider psychological life that we lead. To give an example of how our self exceeds the bodily limitation, our affections are standing illustrations of the extent to which our self can go beyond the restrictions of the bodily location. Our lives are very much connected with our affections, loves and hatreds, so much so that we cannot imagine the extent of it. But can we say that affections are limited to our bodily individuality merely? Is our love and hatred contained only inside the body? Does it not operate outside?

Well, we know very well it can extend itself to the whole world. Our consciousness, which is the character of our self, can reach up to a person even in the nether regions. We can love or hate a person in Columbia. Our consciousness can reach up to that spot, and that can mean much to our life. Our individual life, which is falsely taken to be limited to the bodily individuality, is influenced to such an extent by factors beyond the bodily individuality that to regard the self as merely what is contained in the body would be a blunder indeed.

Self-control, therefore, is not merely the control of psychological activities even within the body. These psychological activities of ours have their tentacles protruding towards objects outside. We are far beyond what we think ourselves to be. Even in our daily social life, not merely in a metaphysical sense, we are connected with social entities, and we know very well that our connection with social entities is not physical. We do not necessarily come in physical contact with persons and things, but psychologically we are in contact with many things in the world, organic as well as inorganic. Inorganic objects like wealth, money, property may influence our life to a large extent. Organic entities like human beings can equally influence our personality. So when we take to the path of yoga seriously, we have to understand where we actually are. It is restraining our self in all its operations.

We are larger than the body can define truth or self. So in the process of self-control, we have to take into consideration the immediate concerns of the self and go inwardly, step by step, to the subtler concerns of self. This would be a part of the meaning of what the Bhagavadgita tells us, uddhared atmanatmana?. By a higher connotation of self, its lower connotation has to be subdued. It is not one self subduing another self because ultimately we cannot have two selves. If the self is to be defined as a unit or spark of consciousness, and we have no other definition of self, and if consciousness cannot be divided or cut into bits or parts, if we cannot have two consciousnesses, perhaps we cannot have also two selves.

Then what is it that we mean by saying the self has to be subdued by the Self, raised by the Self, and so on? What is meant is, a lower meaning of the self should be raised into a higher meaning of the self. The lower connotation has to be absorbed by sublimation into the higher connotation. The study of self is study of the meaning of life. It is not study of objects or things; it is study of significances and values. We become more and more abstract in our studies as we proceed further and further. In the beginning we are in a kindergarten level. We want object lessons to learn the meaning of life. We want concrete objects to be visible before our actual senses. But later on, as we progress in our education, we become more and more abstract in our studies, and finally only concepts are enough. We do not want objects of any kind. Even maps, diagrams are not necessary. Mere ideas and notions and concepts are enough in advanced forms of education. And what can be a greater education than instruction in Self, which is the primary reality of life?

Therefore, the connotations of Self are very important in our study of spirituality – the various meaning that we give to the notion of self. We do not rise from self to Self. We rise from a lower understanding of Self to a higher understanding of it. This is the subtlety of the process of practice.

The lowest concept of Self is the situation in which we are today at this present moment – its connections, its operations, its fields of activity, its pleasures and pains, and its objects for the time being. We cannot be fully aware as to how many objects are associated with self-consciousness in toto. But at a given moment of time we can take into consideration those factors of objectivity which are vitally connected with our conscious life. Therefore, the spiritual seeker, the sadhaka, has to live in the present. He should not concern himself too much with the past or the future because the past is very lengthy, beyond memory and perception. So is the future. Concern yourself with the present state of your consciousness, and make a study of it. Live from moment to moment. That would be to live perpetually in the present. There is no harm in doing it. That is perhaps the proper way of living life. Make your life a life of the present, rather than of the past or of the future. By this way, you can make your life happy.

So taking into consideration the present situation of our consciousness, we can take into consideration the factors involved in the operation of this consciousness. The factors are the targets or the objects of consciousness in the external world. Here, in this study of the objects of sense with which our consciousness is connected, we have to be a little bit up to date in the process of what we call perception. I am not going to enter into a discussion of this process. I shall only give a hint as to what it means.

The process of perception is very illusive in its operation. We are hoodwinked by its activities. We live in a fool’s paradise, as it were, because of a total ignorance of what happens in the activity of perception. We regard ourselves as beyond censure of every kind, beyond sin and evil and corruption. We take ourselves to be models of ethics and morality and goodness of conduct, and find fault only with other people in the world, on account of a total ignorance of this process of perception and conscious cognition. We are ignoramuses in this field. This is the reason why we detect errors and mistakes outside but we cannot see what is erroneous or wrong in our own selves.

The consciousness, which is the substance of the Self, does not rest within the bodily encasement. This is the primary fact of individual life. Remember, we are now making a study of the process of self-control, so all these aspects have to be understood properly. Before we actually enter into the practice, the technique has to be understood. The theory has to precede the practice.

When consciousness operates within the body, it struggles, writhes to get out of the limitations of the body because consciousness is unlimited, essentially. In its attempt at overcoming the limitations of the body it protrudes itself through the sense organs, five of them being prominent – the eyes, ears and so on, as we know very well. Consciousness, which is the Self essentially, projects itself outside through the senses and operates upon the objects outside.

We, therefore, operate upon the things of the world. How do we operate? By identifying ourselves with the objects of sense outside. These objects are not necessarily inert. They can be anything. They can be human beings. They can even be ideas or notions. We can be attached to or prejudiced about a particular notion or idea, but mostly consciousness operates upon visible things – persons, objects, etc. It goes and casts itself into the mould of objects and begins to recognise, visualise in the objects, those characteristics of limitation which made it project itself outside the body. We begin to see ourselves outside in a mirror, as it were, and in this recognition of ourselves in other persons and things outside, we, for the time being, forget our bodily personality.

For instance, people who are extremely attached to certain persons and things are more conscious of these loved persons and things than of their own selves. Day in and day out they will be brooding over these things because the Self has transferred itself to that object. Now, the body cannot be transferred, as we know. The body is here as it is. But the essence of what we call our individual life, which is consciousness, has transferred itself to other objects. Why has it done so? What is the purpose? It does this with a pious intention, but all pious people are not necessarily intelligent. There can be foolish piety also, and ours is a foolish piety. The intention is very good, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the poet tells us. Mere good intention is no good. There must be understanding behind it. We should not be foolishly good.

Now, this consciousness, which can be regarded as foolish in its operation, goes outside the limitations of the body with the intention of exceeding its limitations. That is why I said the intention is good. It cannot limit itself to the body because its essential nature is unlimitedness, so it goes out to see itself in the place where it has lost itself. It recognises itself outside the body, but in the manner in which it tries to recognise itself outside, it makes a mistake. That is its error. This is the essence of samsara. This is earthly existence. This is the seed of transmigration. This is our bondage.

Consciousness, when it moves outside the body and casts itself in the mould of persons and things outside, limits itself to those persons and things. So from one limitation, it has gone to another limitation. There are some people who go into debt, and they cannot repay the debt, so they borrow some money from some other person to pay the debt; then the other debt is hanging heavy on their head, so they borrow from a third person and pay that debt to the second man. In this way they are rid of the second man, but the third man is again worrying them so they go to the fourth man. Well, the idea is to repay the debt. It is wonderful, but they have not repaid the debt. They have only made further debt.

Likewise, we are playing a peculiar kind of trick with the objects of the world with a very good intention of exceeding the limitations of the body, but unfortunately we land in some other limitation, perhaps worse than the first one. Why is it worse than the earlier one? Because we have falsely imagined ourselves to be another person, which is impossible. That is why we have so much affection for land, property, wife, children, etc. What has happened? Why so much attachment? The reason is that it is like a devil catching some people – getting possessed by certain aberrations. Likewise, consciousness goes and possesses objects and things, introduces itself into them uninvited, and appropriates those persons and things as if they belong as an integral part of one’s own self, which is a total misapprehension. Nobody can belong to us, but we appear to believe that there are many persons and things really belonging to us. This is a greater bondage and a greater stupidity than to regard this body as the self. So we are entangled not merely in this particular body of ours but in many other bodies outside in the world with which we are connected positively or negatively – positively by love, negatively by hatred. Either way, we are connected with these objects.

So it is essential in the practice of self-control to extricate the consciousness from these unwarranted associations with the objects of sense. It is unwarranted because nobody asked us to do it. We cannot go and tell a person, “You belong to me.” This is most unwarranted. It is culpable. But this is what we are doing: “You belong to me. You are my son, you are my daughter, you are my father.” Well, okay. But how can we say this? Nothing can belong to another thing because there is a logical error in this physical association which is imperceptible to the consciousness itself.

The most difficult part of the practice of yoga is the extrication of consciousness from the objects of sense. It is very painful, like peeling one’s own skin. When we try to do this, we will think that it is better to give up this practice and be content in our home. I purposely say that it is like peeling the skin because we have identified with the object to such an extent that to free us from contact with those things is something like peeling the skin, which is taking a part of our own self.

Everyone knows how hard it is to give up affections. There are people who hang themselves, commit suicide because of frustrated affections. They feel it is better to die than be free from these affections. Why?

It is because the self has gone and impinged itself on the object so intensely that it becomes the self; then they feel that this bodily self has no meaning at all, so if it is destroyed, there is no harm. That is why they commit suicide. The bodily self has been forgotten. It has lost its importance. The importance has been transferred to some other body, and if that body is not to be possessed or enjoyed, if that is not to come under one’s control, life has no significance, so they end their life. What a pitiable state of affairs! Therefore, we should not be under the notion that it is easy to bring the consciousness back from objects. It is not easy. It is the hardest of acts of life, the most difficult of adventures. In the process of perception and cognition, this happens.

We are involved psychologically and physically in processes which Patanjali, in his Sutras, calls kleshasklishta kleshas and aklishta kleshas. From these kleshas we have to extricate the consciousness. The klesha, or the pain, is nothing but the involvement of consciousness. That itself is the klesha. The involvement in an object is the worst of things conceivable. To regard yourself as something other than what you are is the worst of things that you can think of.

Therefore, the severance of attachment is the first step in the practice of self-control. Our attachments are widespread. They are not limited merely to the body or even the family or the community. They are spread far, even throughout the world. This is why the Bhagavadgita and such scriptures tell us that the first duty of a sadhaka would be to live in a congenial atmosphere. You should not live in the midst of tempting objects. You should not deliberately place yourself in a predicament which is hard, and then try to get out of it. The first step would be to live in a congenial atmosphere which will not tempt you to the objects of sense. This is only a negative aspect of the practice, but the positive side of it is that you live in the midst of congenial persons in a suitable atmosphere which is spiritually advantageous and beneficial.

You live in an atmosphere of seeking souls, spiritually inclined persons, saints and sages, in an atmosphere of education, understanding and knowledge, and not in a distracting atmosphere of city life or an atmosphere which could be even much worse.

In a verse of the Bhagavadgita, the next step is mentioned. Viviktasevi is also to be laghvasi (Gita 18.52). It is not enough if you live merely in a solitary, sequestered atmosphere. You may live in holy Badrinath, but you may be a glutton eating puris and malpula, kheer, and living a life of abandon even in a holy atmosphere. You can be inside the holy of holies in a temple and yet be indulgent to your senses. While the first step in self-control is life in a congenial outward atmosphere, the next step is to diminish the diet of the senses – not merely the diet of the tongue, but of all the senses, because it is through the avenues of the senses that consciousness tethers itself to objects. If one sense is controlled, the other sense can become doubly active. You know very well by actual practice if one sense is controlled, there is a compensation made by the other senses by becoming more active, more vehement in their operation.

Hence, you should study the activities of the senses by the daily maintenance of a spiritual diary, as it was insisted upon by Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. You must keep a check on your activities, like a CID of your own self. Which particular sense has been active today – eyes, ears, tongue, or any other organ? Why has it become more active this particular day? Have you been very talkative today, or has something else happened that was deleterious to your spiritual practice? These and other methods are to be adopted in restraining the self by means of personal check voluntarily imposed upon oneself. It is not a compulsory check introduced into your life by others by a mandate, but it is a voluntary check that is imposed on yourself for your own progress.

Maintain a private diary of yourself. Make a list of the senses first. How many senses have you got? Do not be under the impression that you have got only one or two senses. There are many senses. First of all, make a list: one, two, three, four, five, ten senses. You have got ten senses. Of them, five are more powerful because they are jnanindriyas, and they set to action the karmendriyas. Make a list of the sense organs, and every day keep a watch on every one of the senses. What has happened through the perception of my eyes today, ears, and so on?

And the intake of diet of the senses should be sattvika: āhāra-śuddhau sattva-śuddhiḥ (Chand. 7.26.2), says the Chhandogya Upanishad. Now, ahara suddhi does not mean only drinking cow’s milk. That is not the meaning of ahara suddhi. It means diet of every sense organ. You may be a very angry, mischievous person taking only cow’s milk daily. You may be the worst anti-social element hated by all people, though you may be taking only almonds and cow’s milk. This is not impossible because you have let go the other organs of senses without control.

So let us not be self-deceptive in our practices. It is not so easy to catch the Self or God. You need not be under any misapprehension about it. All the senses have to receive sattvika ahara. That which is conducive to the blossoming of the spiritual consciousness within is alone to be taken. You must see only pure things, hear pure things, taste pure things, touch pure things, smell pure things. Never see impure things, never hear impure things, and so on, not merely concerning yourself with the physical diet that goes through the gullet. You have to be all-round in your subjugation of senses, as in the operation of an army or control of the enemy who attacks you. You have to be cautious from all sides, as the enemy can attack from any direction. From any of the ten directions you can be attacked. So is self-control. You can be duped even without your knowing what is actually happening to you or where you are standing. You may be thoroughly under a misapprehension and self-deception. You may be fools of the first water thinking that you are a master in yoga.

Hence, it is better to go slowly rather than jump to the sky and break your legs. Take each step with great caution, but let it be a fixed step which you may not retrace. Do not take a hundred steps at a time and then run back in fear. Take only one step at a time, but let it be a firm step which you may not have to retrace. Be very cautious at every step as to what is happening to you, and be satisfied, be contented to reach this state of attainment gradually. Do not move blindfolded.

Thus, the control of the senses has to be done by a gradual process of elimination of undesirable factors associated with the senses, in the beginning by living in a holy atmosphere, and then by intake of sattvika ahara of the senses, side by side reducing the magnitude or quantity of intake also.

There was a Brahmin who practised the taking in of less diet as days went by. He wanted to reduce his diet every day, but how to do it, because the stomach and the tongue will revolt. If you take today four chapattis, and tomorrow you take only three, there will be no satisfaction. You know very well that you have reduced one chapatti, so there will be a dissatisfaction from within. So this Brahmin had a peculiar technique, which I have observed myself. In the olden days you know the rice measure was made of a wooden shave, as they used to call it – not metal, but made of wood, or sometimes a bamboo pole would also be used as a shave, or a measure. What he used to do was, he had a small measure, a pau, as they called it, a measure of wood. He would say, “I will take only one pau of rice. I will not reduce the quantity.” So the mind is satisfied. Every day you take one pau of rice. You should not tell it that you are giving less rice. Then it will not be satisfied. It will argue with you. So what he used to do was, he would put the pau upside down and rub it on a stone a little bit every day before measuring one full pau of rice. Every day he takes one full pau, not less, but the pau is reduced a little bit by rubbing on a stone. It is psychological satisfaction. Of course, the quantity was reduced very much because he rubbed it very hard, but psychologically the mind was told, “You take one pau of rice, my dear friend,” and he went on reducing it, reducing it, until it became a half pau. Yet, the mind was told it is one pau because it is the same measure though he was rubbing it and reducing its content. Well, this is a humorous analogy.

Various methods have to be adopted in controlling the self. Sometimes we have to talk to it pleasantly, as we talk to our only child. Sometimes we have to threaten it. Sometimes we have to be a hard taskmaster with it, but not unwisely. We may be a hard taskmaster like a teacher or a physician. Doctors are hard taskmasters. Nor is a professor or a school teacher a very lenient person. But this strictness is very essential for self-education, and it is what paves the way for our progress.

So in this way, educatively we may be hard upon ourselves, but not foolishly by way of mere physical mortification. Consciousness cannot be trained by any application of physical methods of hardship, or the observance of mere social etiquette, and so on. Consciousness eludes the grasp at every step and every level of practice. It will not yield to the threats of society, and it will not be amenable to the arguments of our understanding or intellect. It has its own arguments. The heart has a reason which reason does not know.

So we have to know the nature of consciousness and the way in which it works. Its habits and prejudices are all to be understood carefully before we tackle it. Unfortunately, we are not somebody outside the consciousness. It is Self-study, which is the highest meaning of svadhyaya. Sva-adhyaya is study of one’s own self, which begins with study of scriptures, of course, concerning the nature of the Self. So study of the Self is study of consciousness; study of consciousness is study of Self for the sake of control of self, for the sake of restraining of consciousness from its external operation in the field of objects of sense.

Now, in all these stages of practice, we should never miss the ideal before us. We may sometimes, by an error, mistake the means for the end. The means and the end are a little different. We are studying consciousness and controlling it or, to be more precise, it is consciousness trying to restrain itself voluntarily by an imposition of tapas of its own accord. This is real tapas. The restraint of consciousness is tapas, austerity. This is self-control.

When we are sufficiently advanced in self-control, we have also sufficiently expanded the purview or the activity of our real Self. ‘Real Self’ is to be underlined, not the false self. The expansion of the real Self is different from the expansion of the false self. The false self is what they usually call in Vedantic scriptures the gaunatman, or the secondary self. The self can expand itself in the whole world in the form of social attachments, to which l made reference just now. By affections and hatreds, the self can be falsely expanded into the whole world, but that is not the real Self. The real Self cannot be expanded externally. The Self can never become an object. So whenever you love an object or hate an object, you are in a false world. The real Self is pure subjectivity. Yenedam sarvaṁ vijānāti, taṁ kena vijānīyāt–(Brihad. Up. 2.4.14): “How can you look at that which is the looker-on?” says Sage Yajnavalkya in the Upanishad.

Therefore, the parallel advancement along the line of the expansion of the true Self, simultaneously with self-restraint, restraint of the lower self, should not be mistaken for the false expansion of consciousness amidst the objects of sense. We have to be very careful here. Satan may come and mislead us. “Here you are, vast as the ocean of Self. You have achieved perfection, O Buddha, O Christ,” said Satan. Nothing of the kind. This is not perfection.

The Self is not an object, and it cannot be recognised through an object, so even if we are world famous, we are not necessarily Self-realised because world fame is nothing but externality of consciousness. The Self is pure subjectivity, universalised. This is very difficult to conceive by the mind. It eludes the grasp of the understanding. So Self-realisation is not world recognition, universal fame, which are far, far removed from true Realisation. The criterion that we have to apply to the Realisation of the Self is indivisibility, perfection and fullness, wherein there is no chance of bereavement, loss of property, etc. We never come to grief of any kind, even in a small measure or a small percentage, after Self-realisation.

Thus, self-restraint is simultaneously Self-recognition. Atma-nigraha is, at the same time, atma-sakshatkara. While it is atma-nigraha in the sense of the lower self, it is atma-sakshatkara in the sense of the higher Self. When we are not poor, we are at the same time rich. We need not first become free from poverty and then try for richness. Freedom from poverty is richness. When we know that we are not poor, we know that we are rich. Similarly, self-restraint is Self-recognition, Self-realisation. The lower self is restrained and, at the same time, simultaneously, we achieve mastery over the higher self. The more is the advance made in the control of the self, which has externalised itself, the more also is the simultaneous advance that we make in the realisation of the universal Self.

This is the secret of spiritual practice. Glorious is this practice, most wonderful is the achievement, most hard is the technique, painful is the process. But it is worth attempting. It is good that we pay this price for the sake of that everlasting perfection, satchitananda, which is the goal of our life.