Personal Magnetism, Willpower and Self-Control
[This is taken from Swami Mukerji’s The Doctrine and Practice of Yoga.]
Personal Magnetism is the individual expression of a subtle irresistible and dynamic Force in man, which enables him to exert an unusual influence upon others. You all have come into contact with men of this type. They are endowed with marvelous, almost miraculous powers of influencing, persuading, attracting, fascinating, ruling and bending to their own Will-Force men of widely varying mental peculiarities and temperaments. Men actually go out of their way to please them. They attract others without any visible effort and others feel drawn to them in spite of themselves. Various are the examples of such power as afforded by history.
Now what is this power due to? How to develop it within yourself? Is it possible for everyone to acquire it? Has it or can it be put to any higher and nobler use than merely to enslave others’ minds in order to make them subservient to your selfish purposes on the relative plane of existence? If so, what is that higher use? I know of a Christian gentleman, Mr. K. by name, who had been smitten with the young governess of a Magistrate in Benares. This grown-up man sought out a young College student who was a born leader of men and who was adored, admired and universally respected by all students, teachers and professors.
“I wish you would teach me Mesmerism so that I may fascinate that girl”—this was the application of Mr. K. Well, the upshot of it all was that Mr. K. got a severe and stern rebuke from the young mesmerist, who in all truth was a born Yogi and cared not for the petty ways and small thoughts and attainments of men of this world. I find that nearly all modern Western writers on and teachers of this subject are much, in fact solely, taken up with the idea of sensationalism through Occultism, so much so that when a really thoughtful man investigates their writings he feels utterly disgusted, repelled and horrified at the very name of Occultism.
“It is sin to manifest power,” said Vivekananda. The man who studies Yoga and Occultism simply with a view to develop, display and demonstrate Psychic and Super-normal Powers and Siddhies always ends in Lust and is caught up in a psychic machinery of law and destructive thought forces that effectually grind him to pieces. His spiritual progress is thrown back over ages and he is made to retrace his steps slowly and painfully. I cannot too strongly condemn the modern tendency to “impress” others, to “strike terror” into others, to “psychologize” others towards the accomplishment of our personal motives. If you are one such, do, for heaven’s sake, open your eyes to your gross ignorance and low propensities or be not surprised if one day you find yourself face to face with some powerful scoundrel who would not scruple to crush you in all possible ways.
“Harm watch, harm catch.” I am going to give you in practical form what constitute the real cause at the back of a “Magnetic” personality—that which when developed makes a god-like man of any human weakling.
This power is by no means the especial and peculiar possession of some divinely gifted individuals. Everyone can cultivate it. It is in you and needs vigorous stirring up as a condition of its awakening. There are some men who are born great; others are made so by certain unforeseen circumstances; a third class becomes great through conscious and intelligent effort.
Now, what are the causes behind Personal Influence?
(1) Some say that the right control of the Sex-Force or Celibacy is the cause.
(2) Others say that vegetarianism leads to it.
(3) Still others assert that it is physical energy and nerve force.
(4) A fourth class has it that there emanates a current of magnetism from the human body and influences everyone coming within its “Magnetic field”.
Taking the last view point first, I should say, with certain other leading mental Scientists, that the human dynamic force is different from “magnetism” as the latter bears direct reference to the loadstone.
Again, my own personal observations as well as those of others prove conclusively that although “magnetic” personalities have remarkably well-disciplined and highly trained physical energies, it is rarely or never a huge gigantic physique with large, unsightly muscles that exerts this force. No, it is decidedly something other than mere physical energy and brute strength. A light, active, vigorous physique is desirable and any one can have it. Again, the principle value of a non-flesh diet lies in the fact that fruits, nuts, corn and vegetables are possessed of rhythmic qualities and go to build up a fine, sensitive physique capable of greater powers of endurance and sustained mental effort than the ‘carcass’ of any animal ever can.
Matter does affect mind in the lower stages of organic evolution but the process is largely reversed as soon as CONSCIOUS evolution commences. Therefore vegetarianism, although highly commendable, from a strictly scientific point of view for the development of an active and energetic, refined organism, is by no means a rigid and indispensable necessity in this respect. In fact, some most “magnetic” individuate make ‘graveyards of their stomachs’ as a Mental Scientist puts it.
Lastly, Bramhacharya or Celibacy, as practiced by Sannyasis in India, has a strictly spiritual significance although it certainly has much as everything to do with Personal Magnetism. To the average man I would say:
“Strive for CONTINENCE, chastity and control in this direction.” Do not emasculate, as that would be a waste of force. The stronger this force, the better. All Sannyasis learn consciously or unconsciously to transmute this energy into mental and spiritual force and generally their minds dwell on a plane of mental and spiritual effort where there cannot be even a breath of sensuality or grossness. They have gone beyond such things utterly; the same statement applies to all advanced thinkers, philosophers and workers, whether married or unmarried. To me the very name of philosophy carries with it an atmosphere of Chastity, Solemnity, and Divinity.
But although there is some measure of truth in all the above four statements, they all miss the real thing. The question resolves itself into this: “What makes one man superior to another?” The study of nature shows us that the higher form of intelligence controls the lower. All leaders of mankind, such as Napoleon, Alexander, etc., were clearly ahead of the times. But they strove for low things and their SUCCESS from our point of view is doubtful. Let us take higher ground. Buddha, Christ, Zoroaster, etc., etc., of ancient times and Vivekananda and a few others in modern times exhibited tremendous powers of influencing men. You study their lives and writings and try to find out just those things that constituted the basic cause of their heroic fiber.
If I were asked to sum up the secrets of their Power I would say:
1. “Their Intelligence and Thought-Power. 2. Awakened Will-Power and Self-Control.”
1. It was by their intelligence that they could take fearless possession of the world, handle men and women easily, read human nature at a glance and “be all things to all men,” i.e.., put their fingers direct on the spiritual, mental, and physical necessities of widely varying temperaments and help each right where he stood in the ladder of evolution.
2. It was by their developed thought-force that they drew the whole world to themselves. The positive thinker generates a force that draws all such as are negative to him. Nearly the whole world was negative to these Masters and hence felt attracted to them. These were the human touchstones.
3. It was by their strong, manly, marvelous Will-Power that they drove their suggestions into other minds and gained an immediate ascendancy over whatever environments they were placed in. The whole man is summed up in his Will. Every other power in man is subservient to the Will. And say what you will, it is this power more than any other that we respect in others. It is the central staff in our character. Intelligence is the directive energy. Will-Power is the propulsive energy. And the latter when wielded under the guidance of the former makes of man a veritable God.
4. It was by their unusual power of Self-control that they could stand square upon their feet and could remain unshaken by the waves of conflicting opinions and the hostile attacks that continually dashed up against them. Master yourself, i.e., your personal, relative and lower self, and beyond the shadow of a doubt, the mastery of others is already yours. But the world will teach you bitter lessons and rend you to pieces if you try consciously to control it while you are still a slave to your lower self. Be great. Strive for Perfection. So will you be recognized by others.
And according to the transcendent energy of the highest law of our Being it is the consciousness of heights scaled, accomplishments achieved and consequent dawning of a Loftier Ideal upon our intellectual horizon that fills us with Strength and Peace rather than the recognition of our worth by others. It is a serious mistake to care for fame, praise and admiration. You get them only when you do not care for them in the least, when your soul has outgrown all such clinging to the relative in the light of eternal thought, when you have risen to the Absolute and learnt to read the meaning of the “LARGER WORLD” of life. Do not pass by this lightly. In it is the key to Peace, Power and Poise. All that is Real and Permanent, is on the plane of the Absolute.
Now we are drawing to the practical side of our Lesson. The four principal points, you will please remember, are: (1) Intelligence. (2) Thought-Force. (3) Will-Power. (4) Self-Control. You might feel surprised at my retailing this “ancient history” instead of teaching you how to approach a man, make him your slave and command him to fall down at your feet and do your bidding. Perhaps you expected me to tell you how to sail through the air, pass through solid walls, materialize and dematerialize at will and like Apollonius of Tyana vanish in the flash of an eye from the court of Ionysius and appear elsewhere at a distance of 19,000 miles at the same moment. No, no. I will take it for granted that you are made of different stuff and an earnest seeker after the truth.
If you strive to build yourself on the basis of the simple principles as laid down in this series of lessons you will in time grow into the Higher Self and at last become one with it. Moreover, your daily life will be the Occasion for the practical application of these principles, thus enabling you to pursue your way through life calmly, earnestly, independently and with the quiet dignity of a man “who knows what he is about”. I cannot and would not speak of “get-rich-quick” methods of self-development because they are the veriest rot imaginable.
Now then: (1) Intelligence and (2) Thought-Force are the natural results of an organized brain.
Concentration is the key to such development. Concentration has been fully explained in Lesson No. 1. By the constant exercise of concentration, objectively and subjectively, in your daily life you will in a short time become conscious of growing Strength. The exercises I give you in this lesson on Self-Control, Will-Culture and Memory-Culture if gone through with perseverance will further develop Concentrative ability. In fact, this entire series of lessons will call for Effort and Concentration. “Rome was not built in a day”—nor can you achieve real greatness in a few months. No. All I can do is to indicate the line and the nature of the effort required of you and if clearly followed, Progress and Growth will commence from the first day. In connection with this, a little digression would be necessary.
The Occultist says: Nature, unaided, fails. The purposiveness of Deity, manifesting in nature an evolution, is present in all individual centers but it has the way to full expression opened out to itself only when the more evolved centers of life consciously cooperate with it. Evolution is started and carried only by the creation of centers within the GREAT CONSCIOUSNESS and by preserving and enlarging or expanding these centers. So long as the race had not reached “SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS” (see Yoga Lessons) the sub-conscious forces of nature had entire control over evolutionary processes, but this stage was reached by the race according to the LAW OF AVERAGES in the seventeenth century and you are now expected to take your progress in your hands and consciously direct your inner forces along such lines as best correspond to the stage of your growth. So independent study and steady thinking form the secrets of a keen and broad intelligence.
You will always find that the man who is more powerful than yourself and moves you at his will has an intelligence and understanding far superior to yours and he can read your whole nature as he would an open book, although you find him quite beyond your depth. Learn to regard earnestly the workings of different mentalities around you. Become a student of human nature. To you, each man ought to be only a partial expression of his mind. Examine closely into the motives acting behind each personality. Learn to respond more quickly to the Thoughts and Feelings of a man than to his outer speech and action. The latter are objective expressions of the subjective self. The study of Phrenology and Physiognomy are good things to start with in your efforts to acquire knowledge of human nature.
Mind is One and at the same time, Many. Subjectively, it is ONE. Objectively; many. So by looking impartially into “yourself” in the calm light of the intellect and through silent introspection, you will always find a clue to the working bases of other minds. Each man is a puzzle and most of all are YOU a puzzle unto yourself. Solve either and you have solved both.
“MAN, KNOW THYSELF.”
THE MYSTERY OF THE WILL-FORCE.
Will-Force is the power of Re-action. It can render all the other mental functions active or passive. It is the DETERMINATIVE faculty and is affected most of all by the JUDGMENT. On the lower plane of mind, Will-Power manifests as Desire and is reciprocally influenced by outside attractions as well as repulsions. On this plane the Will is not free. But when it draws the volition for externalizing itself from Within in the light of the Higher Reason, then indeed is it Will-Power. On the material the human will is a slave; on the spiritual plane it is the sovereign. It may then be called the “awakened” will. It is my conviction that the eternal crossing of swords between the Determinists and the Libertarians can be set at rest only by a right understanding of the spiritual makeup of man, otherwise the arguments of both sets of thinkers are equally strong.
Each side has got hold of half the truth, but requires the reconciling light of transcendental Psychology in order to enable us to see the whole truth as it is. However, the point I am driving at is that your will is free only when it is self-determined i.e., when it has risen above the impulses of the Lower Personal Self and acts under the direction of the Higher Impersonal Self. In order to fix this most important truth in your mind, let us give you a brief idea of the “I AM” consciousness. Do not pass this by as so much dry rot. No one will ever or can ever manifest genuine Will-Force of a distinctly spiritual type who does not understand the “I AM” consciousness. So please listen attentively and think over the following.
THE “I AM” CONSCIOUSNESS.
If you just turn in and examine the report of your consciousness regarding the self-dwelling within, you will become conscious of the “I”. But if you press your examination a little closer you will find that this “I” may be split up into two distinct aspects which, while working in unison and conjunction, may nevertheless be set apart in thought. There is an “I” function and there is a “me” function and these mental twins develop distinct phenomena. The first is the “MASCULINE” principle; the second is the “FEMININE” principle. Other terms used in current writings on New Psychology are Conscious Mind, Active Mind, Voluntary Mind, Objective Mind and so forth. These all refer to the “I” principle. And the “me” form of mind corresponds to the Sub-Conscious Mind, Passive Mind, Involuntary Mind, Subjective Mind and so on.
Ninety-nine percent of humanity mean this “me” when they say “I”. Now let us examine what this “me” implies. It consists largely of our consciousness, of our body and physical sensations as associated with touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. The consciousness of some of us is largely bound up in the physical and carnal side of life. We “live there.” There are some men who consider their “clothes” too as being a part of themselves. But as consciousness rises in the scale of evolution, man begins to “dissociate” his idea of “me” from the body and he begins to regard his body as a beloved companion and as “belonging to” him.
He then identifies himself with his mental states, emotions, feelings, likes and dislikes, habits, qualities and characteristics. But, by and by, he begins to realize how even these moods also are subject to change, born and die and are subject to the Principles of Rhythm and Polarity. He realizes faintly that he can change them by an effort of will and “transmute” them into mental states of an exactly opposite nature. Then he again begins to “dissociate” himself from his emotions and feelings and at last through mental analysis, introspection and concentration, he sets them apart into the “not I” collection. He begins then to realize that he is something above his body and emotions. So also with the intellectual functions. The intellectual man is very apt to think that although his physical and emotional selves are something different from him and under his control, still his intellect is himself.
This is the stage of “Self-Consciousness”. “I control my body and emotions.” But as consciousness unfolds intellectual man finds that he can practically stand aside and see (mentally, of course) his mind going through various processes of intellection. Study of Psychology and Logic will enable you to see how all your intellectual processes may be held at arm’s length, examined, analyzed, labeled and discussed quite with the same ease as the professor talks of a solid, liquid and acriform substances in his laboratory. So at last he finds that even the wonderful powers of the Intellect must go into the “not I” collection. This is almost as far as the average man can realize. You can realize and say “I am not the body, not the emotions, not the intellect.”
Therefore you see, that side of consciousness which is the sum-total of your physical, emotional and intellectual functions comprises the “me” or Feminine or Passive mental principle. That which can separate itself in thought from all the above is the “I” or the Masculine Function. But another step must be taken. That which you have been taught to regard as the Spiritual Consciousness (see “Spiritual Consciousness”) will also eventually go into the “Not-I” or “me” collection. In brief, the spiritual mind may be said to comprise all that is GOOD, NOBLE and GREAT in the field of consciousness. It is the “Super-Conscious” mind, just now.
But, mark this, when through further evolution, the “I” has mastered this field of consciousness also and is able to regard it as being the last of the “me” collections, then it will lose its sense of relativity and separation and the real individuality, the “I AM” consciousness, will have been realized. What do I mean? This “I AM” is not the petulant self-assertion of the relative ego. “I” but really means GOD CONSCIOUSNESS as perfect Existence, perfect Knowledge or perfect Bliss. It means the realization of an Infinite and Eternal Self or Individuality. “He that has lost the self has gained the SELF”.
Here is the explanation: this little self or “I” so long as it is attached to the PERSONALITY which is the product of the “me” consciousness is bound down to the relative plane. It can think only through only one brain, enjoy through one body and such happiness as it gets is transitory, short-lived and impermanent because this world of relative existence is itself essentially changeable. It is permanent only in its impermanence. So long as the “I” thinks and while only for the benefits of its personal self, both thinking and willing are limited and not free. But when it has succeeded in joining itself to the Spiritual mind and works for, aspires after the Larger Self—the “I AM”—it has to renounce or “disattach” itself from the personal self and work under the guidance of the impersonal Higher Self. “I refuse to be contained within my hat and boots,” said Walt Whitman.
When the Vedantist says “Aham Brahmasmi”—“I am the absolute”—he does not mean this lower “I”. No, no. He is not built that way. For him the moorings of self-consciousness are out. He has lost all sense of his particular relative “I” and has one-d himself with the absolute “I AM”—the impersonal, intangible, immortal, omnipotent Self of and over all. This “I am” is Spirit or Atman. There can be but one Individuality—that of the Absolute. It becomes objectively expressed in man as Cosmic Consciousness. Subjectively it is God. Now then you have an idea of the “I am” Consciousness. Hold fast to it. It is your real, Larger Self. In the understanding and the exercise of the Will-Power the “I” or the Positive Mental Principle is the chief factor.
To use the one you must understand the other. Will is a Soul-Power. This “I”—as I have explained it above—is negative to the “I AM” or God—both meaning the same thing. It is positive in relation to the Higher Self. This “I” is the future promise of the “I AM”. It is true it shall lose itself in finding its Self, but so does the child when it grows into full manhood. Christ was one with his Father-in-Heaven (i.e., on the spiritual plane) and therefore he could still the waves and raise the dead. Yet just you examine the nature of Lord Christ’s Will-Force. Think of his constant retirement into the Silence in order to obtain inspiration for his work in the objective universe.
Again, note his utter indifference to and absolute control over his personal self. Did he care whether his body would live or die? Did he live for the enjoyments of the flesh? Did he “play to the gallery” and act and speak for any worldly gain or low considerations? No! He had forgotten the interests of the flesh in his earnest enthusiasm in the cause of the Eternal Spirit. He was not moved by any dammed sense of prudence and caution. He drew the “Motives” that energized his Will-Power in the life of Action from Within. Nothing from outside, nothing from the world of lower attractions could in the least swerve his inner determination or unbalance his brain. Do you or can you prepare yourself to follow in his steps? Then my first point and the most infallible method of awakening your Will-Power is this:
(a) Teach Thy Will to “Resist and Renounce.” Strengthen your Will-Power by Renunciation. By Resistance is not meant outer resistance or aggressiveness. I find that all the modern teachers of Hypnotism advise their students to develop Will-Power by exercising it upon others. This is placing the cart before the horse. We Hindus know better. No; by Resistance to and Repression of your lower Desire-Nature is meant letting the more difficult choice exercise its compelling and restraining power over the easier one. Says Sister Nivedita: “The Indian ideal is that man whose lower mind is so perfectly under control that he can at any moment plunge into the thought-ocean and remain there at will without the least possibility of a sudden break and unexpected return to the life of the senses.”
Yes, your interests should be within and not without. You must rise above all personal impulse. Even in this world you find that men of distinction, fame and honor have achieved recognition by practicing a little self-denial, which is a “milder” form of absolute Renunciation as practiced by true Sanyasis. The man who can work at his aim with perseverance and denies himself the mess of pottage of present indulgence in view of some future gain develops Will-Power. So in training your Will to ‘resist’, you must, as a first step, sternly refuse to indulge impulses, desires and tendencies not in consonance with the dictates of your Higher Self. You must actually go out of your way and “deny” yourself the little or great “comforts” to which you are or have been accustomed.
The strongest-willed man is he who has the greatest control over his inclinations, and who can ‘force’ himself to do such things as he is naturally most inclined to do. This is a characteristic which cannot be developed in a day. There are some children and even grown-up men and women who mistake their ‘obstinacy’ for Will-Power. They want a thing and when they do not get it they tear their hair, gnash their teeth, stamp their feet and fly into a terrible passion. Since people think that these uncontrolled creatures are strong-willed while all that you could say about them is that they are utter slaves to their desires.
You must practice self-denial in fifty different ways and force yourself to do certain things, ‘little and big,’ every day purely for developing this power of Resistance. No short-cut to this. Some children develop it unconsciously by ‘forcing’ themselves to study when they might play, and by applying themselves to such studies as are dry and uninteresting to them they thus practice voluntary Concentration. Practice self-denial in every possible way. Cut off such luxuries as you think “you must have.” “Take a cold bath when you would prefer a warm one. Arise promptly in the morning. Make yourself call upon people you have avoided. Stand up in a street car when you would prefer sitting; walk when it is convenient to ride. Make engagements with yourself and keep them.
Promise yourself that when you see something to be done you will spring at once to it however strong may be the inclination to put it off awhile” and back of it all let there be the auto-suggestion: “I am doing all these hard things in order to build up my Will-Power and each time ‘I’ succeed in forcing ‘my mind’ to do a thing or not to do it I make the next victory easier and my Will-Power stronger.” Of course the above is only a hint as to your line of practice.
(b) You must not give yourself such hard tasks of Self-Development as might be too heavy and beyond the present strength of your Will. In denying yourself you develop self-control. In forcing yourself to do certain things you develop powers of Self-Expression. In one the Will moves along negative lines. In the other along positive lines. Both are necessary. The man who cannot control and command himself can never develop and express Himself. But be sure to begin with easy things and then as you gain in confidence you may attempt more difficult feats.
(c) The faculties of Courage and Confidence are essentially important.
Nothing weakens the will so much as Fear and lack of Self-Confidence. Self-Confidence is not blustering self-conceit. That within you which says “I CAN” when calmly and doggedly backed by your “I Will” when deliberately translated into action develops Will-Force and commands startling results.
(d) Always hold these words before your passive Mind:
1. Earnestness. 2. Determination. 3. Courage. 4. Confidence.
5. Stick-to-it-ive-ness. 6. Patience. 7. I can and I will.
(e) The tendency of the Masculine function of your mind to “I” is towards giving, expressing or projecting energy; that of the Feminine is towards generating and creating mental progeny such as thoughts, mental energy, new habits, etc. It is why the Feminine Principle has been called the “mental womb” by ancient philosophers. It comprises also the faculty of Imagination. The Masculine function does the work of the ‘Will’ in its varied phases.
The Feminine function receives impressions and generates mental offspring in the form of new thoughts, ideas, concepts, thought-habits and so forth. Its powers of creative energy are strikingly marvelous and have been proved and attested to in Psychological experiments conducted by the best known mental scientists of the day. But “positive” mental energy must be projected by the ‘I’ into the Passive Mind through concentration, suggestion and willing before the latter can be started to work along any line of creative effort. This suggestion may be given by you to your sub-conscious mind or it may come as an outer impression.
Unless you control your Passive Mind, it is sure to be controlled by others. Then you are a slave. Now in cultivating the above seven qualities, you should take up one word at a time and let the outer form sink into your mind. Place yourself in a relaxed and passive condition. Close your eyes and picture the form of the word to yourself, for instance, D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. Employ the Imagination and visualize mentally. This done, i.e., when the word-picture is well photographed upon your mind and fastened in place, your next step will be to picture yourself the Ideas, qualities, physical and mental characteristics, etc., associated with the word.
Your third step is to calmly, concentratedly and confidently command your Passive Mind to generate that quality. Remember, your mind will at first rebel, but a very little persistence will lead to complete success. Repeat the auto-suggestions daily at the same time. See that it manifests in Action. Act it out as often as possible. Of course your efforts will be imperfect to begin with, but, never mind, go ahead, keeping firm hold on your “I can and I will” in spite of all things and success is quite certain. Once you have developed these seven qualities, you can do anything.
(f) Do not let your friends or anyone—no matter who!–deflect you from your resolutions. “Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand does.” Talk never. Let results show. The Lord has hidden himself best and His work is wonderful beyond compare! Your very friends and relatives will spit upon you for lacking any of these qualities. Do not ever impose your will upon others, but never let others to impose upon you against the sanction of your own judgment. In fact, none can unless you are a weakling and fickle-minded.
(g) Frequent the company of chaste, strong-willed men and you cannot but grow strong.
(h) Read Literature on this subject and obtain all possible aid through Knowledge.
(i) If your faculty of imagination and idealism are undeveloped, cultivate them, because it is these two that make a god of a man. Philosophers, scholars, poets and musicians have them well-developed. But where imagination is uncontrolled by higher reason and where idealism is not backed by a strong will, there you have the idle ‘dreamer of dreams’ and such a state of mind is reprehensible and pitiable indeed!
(j) Will-Power grows by faith in one’s ability by exercise; by devotion to the UNCONDITIONED SPIRIT.
(k) In your efforts to develop Will-Power, be not afraid that your health will break down. In fact, Perfect Health is the result of a perfect Will. Deny the power of disease and weakness over yourself. “I can never be ill. My body is my slave. It shall always manifest perfect health.” Convince your passive mind—which has charge of your body—of this by repeated commands, demands and assertions.
Always think of your body as being as strong as adamant. Never talk of either health or disease or weakness. You must be above caring for these. They are your Natural rights. Only when you lower yourself they have power to trouble you. Go beyond the lower self. Your business is to care for the Higher-Self—that in which “You” live, move, and have your being. Also teach and train your Will to move along negative lines of self-repression as well as along positive lines of Self-Expression. Balance both. The former precedes the latter. Now I will pass on to the subject of SELF-CONTROL, with the distinct understanding that Self-Control and Will-Power are inextricably bound up in each other. You Get the real “practical work” in the endeavor for Self-Control.
Rightly has it been remarked that is easy to talk of and write upon this subject but most difficult to possess it. Perfect Self-Control means infinite power. Only the Buddhas and the Christs of this World manifested Perfect Self-Control. “Anything short of the absolute control of thought, word and deed is only sowing wild oats,” said Vivekananda. It is with no little diffidence that I approach this subject as whoever handles this subject is rightly culpable as being a “Do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do” class of writers.
Still you can make appreciable progress in this direction by mastering these instructions, going through the exercises and last but most important by “carrying the principles in your mind” and applying them as far as you can in your daily life. Nothing is more conducive to rapid growth and development as the making of the “little and big” affairs in your work-a-day life, the occasion for the practical expression and conscious translation of your ideals. We all are guilty of a serious mistake in setting apart our higher ideals for regular ‘practice’ hours and leading a life of low and quite different ideals in our ordinary life. The natural process, as you can see, is to LIVE OUT your highest ideals every minute of your life.
Nothing is more important than the daily occupation of a man and if he fails to bring his ideals right into these little things, then Success will ever elude him. A mental scientist has summed up the entire secret of Character-Building in this valuable advice on Objective Concentration: the simple task of mental concentration on whatever task, business or profession a man is engaged in is the beginning of the mastery which is the perfection of Objective Concentration. Whatever you are doing be master of your work.
If you are a cobbler mend shoes in a perfect manner; if a barber keep your razors and scissors in a state that will excite the admiration of your customers; if a tailor make the coat fit like a glove; if a clerk keep your accounts in apple-pie order; if a builder scorn your jerry-brother; if a singer enchant the listener with a concord of sweet sounds; if an actor enter into the spirit of the character and make the playgoer feel that
“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and their entrance
And one man in his time plays many parts.”
If a leader in any department of thought or action, remember that if to you much is given, from you also much is required, for the responsibility of the lives and happiness of your fellows rests heavy on your shoulders, whether you know it or not and thousands may secretly curse your incapacity and bungling. It is infinitely better to be a good cobbler than a bad ruler.
I believe the above advice if followed conscientiously by you would go to make you really fit for initiation into the more advanced stages of mastery. Take it to heart by all means. Be convinced, the man who looks for quick results and a royal road to the mastery of Mental Science breaks down in frequent despair at apparent failures and neglects his daily work will never go far. In fact, his very impatience will lead to failure. No individual life is fully rounded out unless some useful work forms part of it. The Yogi who has renounced the world has already done his work and is ahead of the times. The real hermit and the saint are the Pillars of Strength on which this world stands. I cannot repeat this too often. The mere fact of their breathing the same atmosphere as you is a benediction and an inestimable boon unto the race.
“The first requisite,” says Mr. Atkinson, “of concentrating is the ability to shut out outside thoughts, sights and sounds; to conquer inattention; to obtain perfect control over the body and mind. The body must be brought under the control of the mind; the mind under the direct control of the Will. The Will is strong enough, but the mind needs strengthening by being brought under the direct influence of the will. The mind, strengthened by the impulse of the will, becomes a much more powerful projector of thought vibrations than otherwise and the vibrations have much greater force and effect.”
The first four exercises are meant to train the mind to readily obey the commands of the mind. Take them in the privacy of your own room and never talk of them to others. Also do not let their apparent simplicity lead you to neglect them. If you are one of those empty-brained men who go about talking of their exercises hoping in this way to win praise, you will never succeed. Be serious, earnest and sincere in your work. Give up, once for ever, all fickle-mindedness and learn to accumulate Power in silence and through work. Prayer gives you strength to “work”—the answer comes from your Larger Self—which is the Spirit of God “brooding” over all and pouring strength into all. But do not fly in the face of DEITY by expecting it to “do the work” for you while you go about loafing after offering your prayer. Nonsense. That man prays who works constantly, silently, patiently, unceasingly and intelligently.
Sit still; relax your body all over and then neck, chest, and head held in a straight line; legs crossed one under the other and weight of the body resting easily upon the ribs; right hand on right leg, left hand on left leg. There should not be a single movement of the muscles in any part of the body. Mind, you must avoid all rigidness and tension of the body. There should not be the least strain on muscles. You should be able to “relax” completely. Start with 5 minutes. Continue till you can accomplish the 5 minutes sitting without any conscious effort, increase to 15 minutes which is about all you need.
The aim is to give you absolute dominion over all involuntary muscular movements. It is also an ideal “rest-cure” after fatiguing physical and mental exercise or exertion. The principal thing is “STILLNESS” and you can, if you like, practice it even sitting on a chair or anywhere else; the idea is one of “relaxation” and physical and mental quietude. Let not the apparent simplicity of this exercise deceive you. It is not so very easy after all. You will find that by concentrating the mind upon a particular train of thoughts or ideas or by joining the mind to the Larger Self, you can easily lose all idea of the body and thus maintain this stillness for a considerable length of time.
Genius, inspiration and intuition are more or less the scientific and psychological results of self-forgetfulness. “When he sits down to meditate,” it was said of Vivekananda, “in 10 minutes he becomes quite unconscious of the body although it may be black with mosquitoes.” Do you understand now? Absolute physical self-forgetfulness is essential to deep concentration. Dr. Fahnestock called it the “STATUVOLIC” condition or that state in which the Will-Power is really active and the ‘outer-self’ is totally in abeyance and forgotten.
Cultivate a self-poised attitude and demeanor in your everyday life. Avoid a tense, strained, nervous, fidgety manner and an over-anxious appearance. Be easy, self-possessed and dignified in your bearing. Be courteous, thoughtful and quiet. Mental exercise and Will-Culture will enable you to acquire the proper carriage and demeanor. Stop swinging your feet and moving your hands or rocking your self backwards in your chair while talking or sitting. Stop biting your nails, chewing your moustaches, rolling your tongue in your mouth or any other unnecessary movement such as may have become “second nature” with you while studying, reading or writing. Never twitch or jerk your body. Never wink your eyes or look blank. Train yourself to stand sudden and loud noises with equanimity and composure. Such things betray lack of control.
Do not let anything outside (or even within you) disturb your composure. When engaged in conversation let your speech be calm and measured and your voice well-controlled and even. A certain degree of reserve should always be observed. In short, keep yourself well under control on all occasions. You can acquire this poise by always carrying the thoughts of “Firmness,” “Self-Control”, and “Self-Respect” in your mind and letting these express themselves in your outward bearing. Avoid bluster, self-assertion, gossip, levity or light talk, too much laughter, excitement and so forth. Too much laughter weakens the will. Be a quiet, earnest-thinking being. Be serious. Regard “solitude” as the greatest medium of self-development.
Fill a wine glass full of water and taking the glass between the fingers, extend arm directly in front of you. Fix your eyes upon the glass and endeavor to hold your arm so steady that no quiver will be noticeable. Commence with one minute exercise and increase until the 5 minutes limit is reached. Alternate right and left arms. Increase to 15 minutes.
Sit erect in your chair, with your head up, chin out and shoulders back. Raise your right arm until it is level with your shoulders, pointing to the right. Turn your head and fix your gaze on your hand and hold the arm perfectly steady for one minute. Repeat with left arm. Increase the time gradually to 5 minutes. The palms of the hands should be turned downwards.
The following exercises are meant to aid you in getting under control, such mental faculties will produce voluntary movements.
Sit in front of a table, placing your hands upon the table, the fists clinched and lying with the back of the hand upon the table, the thumb being doubled over the fingers. Fix your gaze upon the fist for awhile and then slowly extend the thumb, keeping your whole attention fixed upon the act, just as if it was of the greatest importance. Then slowly extend your first finger, then your second and so on, until they are all open and extended. Then reverse the process, closing first the little finger and continuing the closing until the fist is again in its original position, with the thumb closed over the fingers. Repeat with left hand. Continue this exercise 5 times at a sitting, then increase to 10 times. Don’t forget to keep your attention closely fixed upon the finger movements. That is the main point.
Place the fingers of one hand between the fingers of the other, leaving the thumbs free. Then slowly twirl the thumbs one over the other, with a circular motion. Be sure to keep the attention firmly fixed upon the end of the thumbs.
N.B. Exercises Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 have been culled (with slight modifications by me) from the works of Yogi Ramacharaka.
Forty-eight hours after the full moon in each month, go by yourself into a darkened chamber and quietly concentrate your mind upon one thing. Do this as long as possible without allowing other thoughts to enter your mind. At first you will find that your thoughts will fly from one thing to another and it will be hard for you to accomplish this, but by continued practice you will be able to think of one thing for a long time. This should be continued for 5 nights in succession and one hour each night.
Go out into the open air each evening when the sky is clear and see how many stars you can count without allowing any other thoughts to enter your mind. The more stars you can count without thinking of anything the greater the degree of development produced. Quite an interesting exercise.
Take 12 ordinary pebbles. Place them in your left hand. Then with your right hand pick up one pebble, hold it at arm’s length and concentrate your mind thereupon without allowing other thoughts for full 60 seconds. So with all the pebbles. Then start picking up with left hand. Do this for one hour daily.
Concentrate your mind determinedly upon some one at a distance without allowing other thoughts. Will that he do get strong, healthy and spiritual. Get up a mental picture of your subject as if sitting before you. Then give earnest, positive, forceful suggestions to his sub-conscious mind. Will that he get into sympathy with you, write you on the subject and earnestly co-operate with you in his spiritual regeneration. Do it calmly and earnestly.
Get some moistened sand spread over the surface about a yard square. Make it perfectly smooth. Then with your index finger draw any characters or pictures in the sand. For instance, a square, a triangle or any other figure. Fasten your gaze upon this figure. Concentrate your mind calmly thereupon and will that the thought-form so created by your concentration be transmitted to someone (whom you know to be sensitive to your will). Do this for 15 minutes daily at the same time till your subject gets the impression. Ask him to sit relaxed at the same time in the silence in a receptive mental attitude. Face the direction, North, South, East or West in which you send your thought. Imagine a psychic wire connecting you with your subject and aim straight. Remember, the Will-Power is represented in symbology by a straight line because it goes straight to its mark.
Every night before retiring, concentrate upon your passive mind:
“When I get up in morning, my Will-power and Thought-Force will have increased. I expect you to bring about a thorough change in my Will-Force. It will gain in vigor, resolution, firmness and confidence.
It must grow strong, strong, strong.” Project these positive suggestions into your subjective self earnestly, confidently and concentratedly. You will progress quickly by leaps and bounds. Every morning shall find you stronger and full of vim, sap and energy. Persevere, persevere. In following up such ideals to a successful conclusion you must have an (i) overpowering desire; (ii) a strong belief in your ability to accomplish anything; (iii) an invincible determination not a backboneless ‘I will try to’; (iv) earnest expectation. This is an important and an infallible method in Will-development.
Go by yourself into a room where you will not be disturbed. At the beginning ‘relax’ all over. Then count from one to ten without allowing any other thoughts. As soon as you accomplish this, your mind is in a receptive state. Concentrate as before and order your sub-conscious self to evolve a strong, infallible memory. Form your own auto-suggestions.
Pick out half a dozen unfamiliar faces. Vividly impress them upon your subjective mind. Then recall them at least once each day for full one year, each day impressing at least one more new face. Should you find you are forgetting any of your older faces, do not add new ones but firmly fix the other old faces in your mind through concentration. This is a very interesting exercise. Memory belongs to the sub-conscious mind, remember.
Concentrate the mind on a paragraph in some holy book and commit to memory. Learn by heart one paragraph daily taking care not to forget the old ones. In time, you will improve wonderfully.
People with weak memories always lack concentrative ability. Concentration is the key to all mind-power. You will find the above exercises quite ‘tedious’ and monotonous. But you can train your ‘attention’ only by giving it trivial and ‘dry’ exercises. The strong will can cope with the most ‘monotonous’ and uninteresting tasks without experiencing fatigue. You must set yourself such tasks as might seem like ‘work’ to your attention. Remember, the effort required to concentrate attention voluntarily on uninteresting, dry and monotonous works strengthens and develops Will-Power and gives you ‘mental muscle.’ You will thereby acquire firm control over mind and body and be ‘Master’ over your lower impulses.
Power over self will express outwardly as power over others. If you can control yourself, you will find no difficulty in impressing your will on others. But, mark you, this sacred power should be used only to elevate, stimulate and strengthen others. Try your Will upon your personality in all possible ways and be satisfied with nothing short of perfect control. The absolute mastery of ‘self’ ought to be your aim. I have given you the real secrets. You must exercise your own ingenuity and intelligence in utilizing them towards your Self-development. I leave you to finish the fight for yourself. Get up and start in to work at your task from to-day and not to-morrow. Back of all efforts, always have this positive incentive and auto-suggestion:
“THIS IS TO DEVELOP MY WILL-POWER AND NO TEMPORARY PAIN CAN EQUAL THE POWER AND HAPPINESS ARISING OUT OF SELF-CONTROL.”
Get firm control over your emotions. Use this natural force but be not used by it. Control over speech will lead to Emotion-control. Always talk to the point. Cultivate silence. Repress volubility. Be brief in speech and writing. Keep a cool head. Be level-headed and concentrative.
GLEANINGS FROM PROFESSOR JAMES ON THE LAW OF HABIT.
An acquired habit, from the physiological point of view, is nothing but a new pathway of discharge formed in the brain, by which certain incoming currents ever often tend to escape.
The great thing is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.—Guard against ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague.
The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision and for whom (every act) the time of rising and going to bed, the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects for express volitional deliberation.
Maxim I. In the acquisition of a new thought or the leaving off of an old one we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided initiative as possible.
Maxim II. Never suffer an exception to occur until the new habit is securely rooted in your life.
Each lapse is like letting fall a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip means more than a great many turns will wind again.
Continuity of training is the great means of making the nervous system act infallibly right. It is necessary above all things never to lose a battle. Every gain on the wrong side undoes the effect of many conquests on the right.
The essential precaution is to so regulate the opposing powers that the one may have a series of uninterrupted success, until repetition has fortified it to such a degree as to enable it to cope with the opposition under any circumstances.
The need of securing success at the outset is imperative. To be habitually successful is the thing.
Be careful not to give the will such a task as to insure its defeat at the outset, but provided one can stand it, a sharp period of suffering, and then a free time is the best to aim at, whether in giving up the opium habit or in simply changing one’s hours of rising or of work.
It is surprising how soon a desire will die of inanition if it be never fed.
Without unbroken advance there is no such thing as accumulation of the ethical forces possible, and to make this possible and to exercise and habituate us in it is the sovereign blessing of regular work. Maxim III. Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of habits you aspire to gain.
It is not the moment of their forming but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.
The actual presence of the practical opportunity alone furnishes the fulcrum upon which the lever can rest, by means of which the moral will may multiply its strength and raise itself aloft. He who had no solid ground to press against will never get beyond the stage of empty gesture making.
When a resolve or a fine glow of feeling is allowed to evaporate without bearing practical fruit, it is a waste and a chance lost; it works so as positively to hinder future resolutions and emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.
If we let our emotions evaporate, they get in a way of evaporating.
WORSHIP OF THE TERRIBLE.
The attitude of the soul which is not to be baffled by the lower nature or the “Personal Self” should be to seek Death and not life, to hurl oneself upon the sword’s point and become one with the terrible. Those who are commissioned by the Lord to bear aloft the torch of spirit are fated to see every joy of the senses turn to ashes and crushing blows upon their eyes to the unsubstantially of the relative life of Maya.
The lion when stricken to the heart gives out his loudest roar, When smitten on the head the cobra lifts its hood And the majesty of the Soul comes out only when a man is wounded to his depths.
The Western ideal is to be doing: the Eastern to be suffering. The perfect life would be a harmony between (selfless or non-attached) doing and suffering. Worship the terrible. Worship Death, for its own sake; despair for its own sake; pain for its own sake. Yet this is not the coward’s or the suicide’s or the weakling’s morbid love of Death, but it is the cry of the philosopher who has sounded everything to its depths and knows intensely the vanity of the desire for happiness on the relative plane of limitations.
Remember the triumphant cry of St. Francis of Assisi: “WELCOME, SISTER DEATH!” “Be witness”—of all that goes on but be not entangled. Reserve to yourself the power to remain unattached at all times. Accept nothing however pleasant, if it conceals a fetter into thy Soul. At a word stand ready to sever any connection that gives a hint of soul-bondage. Keep thy mind clear. Keep thy will pure. Attain the Impersonal Standpoint, O you man! there alone canst thou quench thy thirst for happiness never on the plane of personal. Who and what dies and is reborn?–Your lower self, your personality.
“Sometimes naked, sometimes mad,
Now as a scholar, again as a fool
Here a rebel, there a saint,
Thus they appear on the earth
the Perfect Ones.
— Paramhamsas”—Viveka Chudamani.
If you accept the report of the senses as final, you will say “soul for nature”—but if you can gain the spiritual point of view, you will say “no-nature for soul.” Evolution, devolution and involution are all in nature and will go on cyclically and eternally. All this is merely due to the wish of the soul to manifest itself. But such expression can come only when the soul lives on its plane. Say “Money is my slave, not I.” Say “Nature is my slave, not I”. Give up life, give up body, give up all desire for enjoyment on the relative plane. So shall you transcend all limitation. Your real nature is Infinite and Absolute. Only when you lower your nature by limiting it to the “particular self,” do you become bound and unhappy. On the relative plane, you are a slave to the pair of opposites—life and death, pleasure and pain, and so on. Here is limitation. Here you are a slave to competition, and “Survival of the Fittest” is the law.
Be not blinded by the flashing light of the glare of modern civilization. Every morsel you eat is ground out of your brother’s blood. Slave to a breath of air, slave to food, slave to life, slave to Death, slave to a word of praise, slave to a word of blame—“Slave—Slave—Slave”—that is your condition. The Soul cannot stoop to any compromise. It refuses to conquer nature by obedience. It will conquer nature by renouncing the body and by knowing itself. Find thyself bodiless. Power felt within is soul; without, nature. “We must crush Law (nature) and become outlaws.”
“Deliver thou thyself, by thyself
Ah, do not let thyself sink
For thou art thyself thy greatest friend
And thyself (the relative ‘I’) thy greatest enemy.”
This, student, is not the ravings of a lunatic. It is the secret of SAT-CHIT-ANANDA—eternal existence, knowledge and bliss. Attainment of perfection means absolute Freedom. Do you or would you know the meaning of Life? It is the search after Sat-chit-ananda. But man is trying to realize this Perfect Existence in the transitory things of the earth-plane. Only when he knows that not attachment to the things of the “world, the flesh and the devil” but renunciation of same and the bringing of the Impersonal Ideal into his everyday life would lead him to it, then Maya will have fulfilled its purpose—which is to show man his divinity. “Kill out the desire for life. Kill out Ambition. Kill out desire for comfort; yet work as those who love life. Respect life as those who are ambitious. Be happy as those are who live for happiness.”
So says Mabel Collins in the Light on the Path. Yes, you must work constantly, train your intellect, develop your personality but do not do all this for your own personal self but for the Higher Self, The BRAHMAN, Eternal—to manifest through. As soon as you lose this view-point your personal strivings end in Pain and Disappointment. Work as hard as the ambitious man and the lover of pleasures but remember your actions are inspired by different motives. Here Spirit is the director.
“To the work thou hast the right, O Partha, but not to the fruits thereof”–Gita. All clinging to results leads to degeneration. The soul should cling to nothing. All work and all effort must be dedicated unto the Higher Self. When you care for the results you are only worshipping the lower self. Hence the value of selfless labor, thus the Maya-fascinated mind is purified and de-hypnotized and we attain to the emergence of the personal into the Impersonal. Either say “I am thou, O Lord!” and thus out at the root of the lower “I” and destroy it for ever or say “I am nothing, O Eternal One! thou art everything” and thereby lose the lower into the Higher. The first is for the Gnani—the second for the Bhakti Yogi. Both mean the same thing.
Love everyone but do not depend upon the love of any one. Give everything. Take nothing. Serve every one. Do not care for service and gratitude in return. You are the Heir to the Infinite. All Power is behind you. But so long as you are a beggar, a beggar shall you remain. Renounce the lower self, Live for the Higher. What you call Universal Love is the expression on the lower plane of the subjective reception of ABSOLUTE UNITY on the Buddhist plane and in SAMADHI (Final Illumination).