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Spiritual Aspiration and Practice
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter 6: Sadhana Chatushtaya

Forces of the world are going to be friendly with us. God is waiting for our arrival there. But we also have to bestow some thought on another important aspect of this matter. How are we to make ourselves a fitting instrument and a proper conducting medium for the influx of universal forces into ourselves? The medium of contact is as important as that which will flow through that medium into the expected location. This is the very specific practical side of something that we are expected to do about our own selves. An unfit instrument cannot be a good conductor of powerful forces. These ways and means of making ourselves fit for the reception of divine grace, and for the entry of universal forces into our own selves, are traditionally known as sadhana chatushtaya, a fourfold discipline of one's own self. Discipline implies a restraint of the usual impulses of the psychophysical personality. The usual impulses are well known to you because you have been hearing about them for some days, the impulses being those which operate in terms of the conditioning factors imposed upon us by space, time and externality.

To withdraw ourselves from excessive involvement in this conditioning factor which is externalising us and making us sensorily, physically, socially, externally motivated—to withdraw ourselves from these usual well-known normal impulses, which actually are not normal—this whole process is called discipline, the bringing about of a total integration of our own selves. We have to be ourselves before God becomes what He is to us.

Sadhana chatushtaya is the fourfold way of self-control, cleansing oneself, purifying oneself, making oneself fit for the entry of that which is supremely divine. These four ways or methods of practice are known as viveka, vairagya, shad-sampat and mumukshutva.

When we are after something, we must know what it is that we are after. This clarity by which we know what it is that we want, as distinguished from that which is different from what we want—a discrimination that we exercise in knowing what it is that we are after, what it is that we are expecting, other than what is secondary and redundant—this faculty of inner discrimination is called viveka, correct understanding. What is correct understanding? It is the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. What is the truth here, and what is the falsehood? The falsehood is the appearance before us in terms of the variety of objects of sense, this vast creation of space and time which acts as a screen before us, preventing us from visualising what is behind the screen; and what is behind the screen is Truth. The distinction between these two aspects of experience has to be drawn.

To some extent, we are emotionally conscious of what it is that we are expecting in our aspirations. Young children, boys and girls brought up in a religious atmosphere, are after a religious life. “I chant the name of God. I pray to God. I live a life of religion.” These ideas are not uncommon among children, perhaps known to them through their parents, but they may not be clear in their minds as to what they actually mean when they speak like that.

When we want to become religious, what do we really mean? The meaning is, we have immediately differentiated between the kind of life that we wish to live, and the kind of life that we have been accustomed to. All that is necessary to enable us to perceive Truth behind the curtain is the discipline spoken of, as anything that will give us a temporary satisfaction through the sense organs and the body is that which has to be abandoned for the time being.

When we are after something, we have to pursue it. A research scientist in a laboratory, pursuing a course of tremendously important investigation into the structural pattern of certain subtle things, will not remember whether it is lunchtime or breakfast time, or whether it is daytime or night time, or whether anybody else is there at all. An automatic discrimination takes place in the laboratory because of the concentration of the mind on what is there before one's aim, and all other things become redundant.

Now, this capacity in us to distinguish between what is redundant in this world and that which is essential for making ourselves fit to tread the path of Truth is discrimination, called viveka. When we know what is necessary and what is unnecessary, what is proper and what is improper through this exercise of viveka, we also know what is to be rejected and what is to be caught hold of. That process of rejection of what is unnecessary, redundant, meaningless, an interference, is called vairagya. It is the understanding of the meaninglessness of certain things we are pursuing that will enable us to abandon them from our considerations in daily life.

There is a sutra in Sankhya which says that always thinking of something which is not connected with our spiritual progress becomes our bondage, as it was in the case of Jada Bharata, whose story is told in the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana, because whatever your heart is contemplating, that alone will you get. Your heart cannot contemplate a thing in the world and then be able to direct the aspiration towards something which is beyond the world. A careful distinction between the necessary and the unnecessary, the meaningful and the meaningless, the beneficial and the harmful, is the principle of renunciation. It is not that we are abandoning a part of the world for the sake of catching some other part of the world, and it is not even that we are thinking of another world and totally rejecting its connection with the present world. That also is not so. We are thinking of the present relevance of certain factors in the context of our existing condition of spiritual endeavour.

It is not true that everything is irrelevant at all times, and it is also not true that all things are useful always. Here is a difficulty in understanding how we are to conduct ourselves in the spirit of renunciation. What are we to abandon? At every stage, the factor that is to be abandoned changes. So there is a perpetual vigilance required on our part to understand what it is that we have to take hold of, and what it is that we have to abandon.

As we advance further and further on the path, as light dawns more and more clearly before us, the idea of what is essential and what is not essential will also vary according to the context and the position in which we are placed at that time. Therefore, there is nothing which we can totally avoid always, but there is also nothing which we can cling to always. All things are what they are. We cannot love a thing permanently, and we cannot hate a thing permanently. It is not true that we always want the same thing, and it is also not true that we never want it. The world is relative. It is an internal adjustment of parts into the pattern of the whole, which also changes its characteristics as the wholeness goes on advancing from its lower condition to its higher condition.

Here, I would like to mention what this wholeness is. A newborn baby is a whole individual. When it grows, it is a whole individual. When it becomes an adolescent, it is a whole individual. When it is an adult, it is a whole individual. An old man is also a whole individual. Even the little embryo of the child in the womb is also a whole conspectus which will develop into larger and larger wholes. The world is not working on the principle of fractions connected with fractions. It is always a movement from whole to whole. This is what is sometimes called holistic evolution in modern philosophical language.

Yet, there is a difference between these wholes. One paise is a whole money by itself; it is complete in itself. A rupee is a complete money by itself. A penny is a whole money, and a pound is a whole money. They are not to be considered as fractions. They are entirely complete in themselves. Even an insect is a whole by itself. It is not a part or a fraction of existence. An ant is a complete individual, as complete as an elephant. The hunger and the appetite and the likes and dislikes of an ant are similar to those of an elephant. The pinch of hunger which an ant feels is as intense as that which an elephant feels. The size of the body is not of any significance here. It is wholeness that characterises the whole situation.

Our mental structure is also a whole. We do not think in parts or bits. The mind operates as a whole, and never as a bit or a part. Though we are apparently thinking only of some particular thing, that apparently particular thought that we are thinking at a given moment of time is inwardly connected to other parts which are not consciously connected with this particular part that we are thinking of, but which subconsciously influence it.

There are strata of the mind. Many categories are there, of which three are important: the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. You are now on the conscious level, but you also have an unconscious existence which is deeply hidden within you and is covered over by the impress exerted upon it by the conscious mind in the waking state. You are not thinking for the whole day the very thing that you are thinking just now. There is a force exerted upon you to think in only one way because of the particular nature of this session. When you get up from this place and go into the kitchen, your mind will think in a different manner; and in days to come, when you advance in age, the hidden store of your subconscious will manifest itself little by little into the conscious mind. What is inside you will condition and determine what you think outwardly in your waking experience. And there are greater secrets in yourself. There is the vast soul of the unconscious, which is nothing but a cloud of unknowing, as it is called, a large mass of dark layers piled up one over the other of forces of thoughts, feelings and actions accumulated during all the lives through which you have passed, right from creation. They are your creditors. They are waiting to see when they can contact you. They contact you only during the waking state. At other times you are not conscious of their existence, as you are not always conscious of everything. So a little of something from inside comes up at a given moment of time, as people come out of ambush only when it is time for them to come. Now these forces are all lying inside in ambush, and you think everything is heaven. It is nothing of the kind. The entire world of every kind of intricacy is hidden inside you.

Due to this fact of the tremendous stratified nature of your own individuality, the understanding of what is to be abandoned and renounced is a graduated process of a further advancement of your own consciousness and experience, and at every moment you will have to change your idea of what is to be renounced and what is to be grasped. Here, again, is the necessity for a guide. It is like walking on a tightrope in a circus or rowing a boat on a flooded river. This is viveka and vairagya.

Dṛṣṭa ānuśravika viṣaya vitṛṣṇasya (Y.S. 1.15): To one who is totally free from the desire to contact that which is seen as well as heard, true vairagya dawns. There are some things which you see and some things which you hear. That which you see is, of course, very clear to you, and you would like to have these things which you see. Certain glories are only heard about, such as glorious things in another country, so you would like to make a trip to that place. Glorious things are in the heavens, and the heavens are described in the scriptures in very attractive terms, so you would like to go there and have a little experience of it. Those people who do not entertain a desire for anything that is seen with the eyes or even heard about—vaśīkārasaṁjñā vairāgyam—to such persons comes a kind of renunciate spirit which is called vasikara, a power of control exercised, or capable of being exercised, on anything.

Only he who has renounced a thing can control a thing. A master of things is a person who wants nothing from anything. He who wants a thing has no control over it, and cannot get it. You cannot get that which you want. Only that which you do not want will come to you, because in your wanting it you commit a mistake of keeping that object outside you by thinking, “You are there.” And it will reply, “If I am there, why should I come to you?” No desire can be completely fulfilled because of this basic psychological error in even exercising the desire. You are wanting and not wanting a thing at the same time by saying that you want it. You may be glibly saying that you want a thing, but in that process of wanting you have kept the object outside you, without doing which you cannot even want it. If it is not outside you, there is no wanting. So what are you wanting, finally? You can imagine the illusion and the delusion behind wanting itself. Can you understand this difficulty before you? Every desire is a self-contradiction because to desire a thing, it should be other than you, and if it is other than you, you cannot get it. Then what is the purpose of desiring anything? It is a fool's paradise. Thus, inwardly exercise this spirit of control over your own self, by which you will have control over everything. So much about viveka and vairagya, discrimination and the spirit of renunciation.

There is a third thing which is very important, and it is connected with your feelings and emotions. Viveka and vairagya are more of an intellectual and rationalistic nature, where you have to exercise your understanding and logical thinking much more than anything else. But there is something else, which is called your feelings. “Whatever be the thing you say, I want this.” This is what the heart of hearts will tell you. This heart has also to be disciplined in the same way as the intellect has to be disciplined through viveka and vairagya. Your heart is yourself. Your brain and intellect are not so connected with your existence as your feelings and heart. “My heart is what I am.” Now, this third requisite is called shad-sampat, the acquisition of six virtues. They are called sampat because they are actually treasures, very valuable things. The six virtues are sama, dama, uparati, titiksha, sraddha and samadhana.

Sama is a determination on your part to be always calm and quiet under any kind of condition, even aggressive conditions. It is very important. Hate does not cease by hate. Hate ceases by love. Reaction is not the way in which you have to conduct yourself towards an action. Two persons are necessary to quarrel, and you need not be a party in that. Restrain your mind with the help of the understanding that you have already exercised through viveka and vairagya.

Sama is the restraint of the internal organ, which is the mind, and dama is the restraint of the sense organs, the discipline of the organs outside. There is a distinction between the internal organ and the external organs. The internal organ, or the psyche proper, is called the antahkarana chatushtaya. Mano buddhi ahankara chitta: the mind that thinks, the buddhi or intellect that decides and determines, the ahankara that identifies everything with itself, and the chitta or memory that remembers past things; these are, broadly speaking, the functional aspects of the psyche. Because they are four, they are called chatushtaya; and because it is an internal faculty, it is called antahkarana, not external. That is the mind. In Western psychology, the word ‘mind' is used for all these four aspects. Sometimes they divide the mind into understanding, feeling and willing. This is the limitation of psychology in Western thought. But there is much more about the mind than only this threefold classification. So much about the internal organ, about which we said sama is to be exercised.

Dama is the restraint of the five organs—the eyes, the ears and sensations of every kind. There are five senses of knowledge and five organs of action. The eyes have a passion to see certain things, and there is a passion for every sense organ. Passion is an uncontrollable desire. A desire that has overcome you and flooded you is called passion. Desire is the beginning stage of an overwhelming, consuming longing. Desires insinuate themselves into you gradually, like diseases that crop up inside without your knowing that they are there and manifest themselves only afterwards through the body.

The assistance that you can have in the practice of this kind of control over the sense organs is to live in a place where there is not so much attraction. It does not mean that merely the absence of the physical existence of objects of attraction will make you free from the attraction. Even then, it is one method—the quarantine method, as it is called. You should not completely sever the connection of the senses from their objects. Then they will revolt. You must give up the sense objects little by little, like people who want to give up cigarette smoking. If someone smokes fifty times today and you tell him to give it up tomorrow, that is not very intelligent advice. If today it is fifty, tomorrow it is forty-nine. He will not feel the pinch of it so badly because only one has been reduced. Like that it becomes forty-eight, forty-seven, etc., and gradually the number diminishes until he becomes accustomed to smoking less. Simultaneously with the reduction of the number of cigarettes, there is also a suggestion to divert the mind into a more positive occupation. Instead of smoking, have a cup of tea, because you want some kind of titillation. A cup of tea is not as harmful as a cigarette, so have something like that, some occupation so that there is a reduction of the quantum of longing on the one hand and an alternative substitute for this desire on the other hand.

Homoeopathic doctors give a medicine called tobaccum to those people who are addicted to tobacco. It has the effect of producing the sensation of actual tobacco, but homoeopathic methods do not work like allopathic drugs; their methods of working are different. They appear to create a sensation of the same thing that you want to avoid, but they actually work differently, contrarily, and reduce that longing. This is how you can handle your mind and sense organs. I am not going to tell you much about all the sense organs; you can use your own discretion to know what the sense organs are. Even when you handle a rogue or a thief, you must use your discretion. You must be cautious, and not go headlong. Be very careful, very careful.

I usually relate an old Chinese anecdote in connection with self-control. The mind is like a wild bull. You cannot go near it. From a distance the bull will snort and try to gore you. Your intention is to sit on it and ride it, but at present you cannot go near it. From one furlong it will look at you with ferocity. What is the method to tame it? The first step is to put a fence around the place where the bull is. It may be one furlong. Now you know that the bull cannot go outside that barrier. You have gone one step forward in the art of controlling this wild bull. Though not much has been achieved, something has been achieved; you need not be afraid that it will come and attack you. It cannot reach you because you have put a fence around it. This is the
first step.

What is the second step? Bring green grass and throw it inside the fence. The bull will come near. It is not fond of you, and it will gaze at you with ferocity even now, but it will come to eat the grass. It will go on looking at you, gazing at you, and then it will eat the grass. Do this practice every day so that every day it sees you and gets accustomed to your presence there.

Then what do you do? The third step is to hold the grass in your hand and thrust it through the wire fencing, but do not throw it down. The bull will come near you and eat that grass with a lesser ferocity in its mind. You have taken three steps: first the bull is very far, then it is nearby, and now it is almost touching you. You can even pat it on its head. It will do nothing because it has become accustomed to your presence there with green grass. Then go on patting its head every day until it ceases making a threatening sound towards you. Hold its horn, but stand outside the fence. It will do nothing to you; it will be gazing, even trying to lick your hand. Then slowly open a little passage in the fence and touch the bull. The fear has gone. It does not fear you, and you no longer not fear it. Keep touching it and patting it on the back. Then you can hug it. It will become your friend. You can sit on it and ride it. You have mastered it.

The mind is like a wild bull. In the beginning, it is atrocious and impossible to handle. It will not yield even one inch to your requirement. With the help of your Guru, try to find out how you can apply the logic of this anecdote in your daily practice. Do not hate what you would like to avoid. Understand how to handle that which you would like to avoid. Even if there is a person who is something like an enemy, do not say, “Hey, you are my enemy.” This is not the way of handling it. No public relations officer will speak like that in an atmosphere of coordination, which is necessary. The art of handling things is actually the art of life, and these things include your own self. This art of handling things, including yourself, is the art of harmoniously, cooperatively, organically, holistically associating yourself with whatever it is. Sama and dama, therefore, mean internal control of the mind and external restraint of the sense organs.

Uparati is cessation of all worldly longings. “I have eaten well for sixty years. What is the use of going on eating well?” The same thing you are eating every day, but the desire to eat is not leaving you. You have put on nice clothing, have you not? Why do you go on wanting more and more nice dhotis, saris, and a good diet? You have lived in a good house. How many times will you go on asking for a new house? You have land. You have enjoyed the harvest. Why do you go on repeating it again and again? You have had enough of it. Desire is like a gulf which will swallow any amount of water, and however much you may try to feed it, it will not be satisfied. Na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānām upabhogena śhānyati, haviṣhā kṛiṣhṇa-vartmeva bhūya evābhivardhate (S.B. 9.9.14): Desire cannot be quenched by the fulfilment of desire. Desire increases by its fulfilment, as when clarified butter is poured over fire it increases the ferocity of the flame; it does not make it cease. No desire can be fulfilled by its fulfilment. Knowing this, the Yoga Vasishtha says that all the wheat and the rice and the delicacies and the wealth of the whole Earth cannot satisfy even one person completely. Such is the vastness of human desire. Knowing this, be calm. This is uparati.

Titiksha means a kind of endurance and tolerance that you have to exercise. You cannot expect everything to take place the way you want it to. Things are not always at your beck and call. Where it is possible to change a thing, you can change it. Where you cannot change a thing, you have to bear it. There is an old saying, “Give me the power to change what I can, the will to bear what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The difficulty is, you cannot know the difference between what you can change and what you cannot change. This mixture of two aspects causes tension in the mind. So bear what you cannot change, and change it if you can. If you can change the world, change it. Who is objecting? But if you cannot change it, tolerate it; otherwise, you will be in emotional tension. Be not in that condition. Uparati is cessation of desire; titiksha is tolerance in regard to conditions prevailing outside, natural as well
as social.

Sraddha is faith in that which you are asking for. You should not go to God doubting whether He is there or not. “O God, if You are there, please come.” He is certainly there. “God is certainly there. It is certain that I am going to attain Him. It is certain that the method I am adopting is correct. It is certain that I am progressing every day. I have signs and experiences which tell me that I am progressing every day.” Have faith in yourself, faith in the art of the progressive practice of sadhana, faith in God Himself, faith in the scriptures which are your guides, and faith in the Guru. Sraddha is faith in your own self first, faith in the method of practice which you are adopting, faith in your Guru who has initiated you, and faith in the existence of God.

Samadhana is concentration of mind. Always be attentive on that which you are seeking. Your eye is always on that, like the consciousness of a bowman who strikes the target with an arrow. Concentration is the consciousness inside, fixing itself with its attention on that which it wants. When you want a thing, why should you not be concentrating on it? People say, “I want a thing, but my mind cannot go there.” The reason is that you do not really want it. You have got a divided psyche; much of the mind goes somewhere else, and a fraction of it goes to what you are thinking you want. If you really want a thing, the mind must go there; and when the mind is not going there, you are not really wanting it. Thus knowing, concentrate your mind.

Sama, dama, uparati, titiksha, sraddha, samadhana are the six virtues, the six treasures that you have to psychologically, emotionally, feelingfully entertain in yourself. You will be happy inside. Through viveka and vairagya you become clarified in your understanding; through the sixfold virtues you become calm in heart and mind.

Then comes the last stroke—the last, but not the least: mumukshutva, intense longing for it. Actually, it is said that there is no qualification necessary on your part except wanting it. If you want it, it has to come. This applies to anything. Even a mountain will move if you want it to. “O ye of little faith, if you have a modicum of faith the size of a mustard seed, tell the mountain to move and it shall move.” This is a passage from the New Testament. But a mustard seed of faith is not there, so why will it move? If you are already certain that it cannot move, what is the use of telling it to move? Mumukshutva is wanting it. You have to remember this. If you want a thing from the bottom of your heart, it shall be given to you. It may be given to you today itself. It depends upon the intensity of your longing. A very intense longing means today it shall come. With a mild longing, it may come after some days; a very lukewarm wanting means that thing will be provided to you in the next birth, or after ten births. But what you want must be given. You must know what it is that you want. Do not want the wrong things.

By the clarified understanding through viveka and vairagya, and by the discipline of the shad-sampat method, know what it is that you are longing for, and ask from the bottom of your heart; it shall be poured upon you. Like the cloud of virtue pouring a rain of nectar through a samadhi called dharma megha, to put it in the language of Patanjali Maharshi, God's grace will be showered upon you as a monsoon flood pouring from all sides and making you feel a thrill of completion which passes understanding. These are the sadhana chatushtayaviveka, vairagya, shad-sampat, mumukshutva. These are the ways by which you can make yourself a suitable conducting medium for the ingress of forces which are universal in their nature, natural as well
as divine.

During these days I have talked to you sufficiently on almost every aspect of spiritual life, leaving nothing unsaid. All kinds of things, inward as well as outward, visible and invisible, near and remote, subtle and obvious, everything has been placed before you on a golden plate in this holy atmosphere. Receive this gift from Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Be blessed. God bless you.