Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Conquest of Tamas Guna PART II ~ Swami Chidananda

Conquest of Tamas Guna PART II  ~ Swami Chidananda

CommentaryAs long as the tamas guna prevails in our mind, no real spiritual progress (in our way towards freedom and unity) is possible in spite of our good intentions. 

Tamas is the dark side of the mind and is what causes the greatest obstacles*. It resists and reacts by various ways to impede us achieve a radical transformation in our psychology.

The elimination of the tamas guna from our mind, by tapas, discipline and rigorous sadhana, is the first and most important goal in our spiritual journey. We cannot have a rich inner life and progress in meditation without this requisite -no question about self-realization or liberation.

The elimination of tamas and the gradual increase of sattva is the most important and difficult task in the beginning of our spiritual journey, but it is the necessary foundation of our spiritual transformation and Self-realization. 
obstacles*: If we don't eliminate the tamas guna from the mind and increase the sattva guna, it is impossible any real progress in spirituality. When tamas is predominant in the mind there is laziness, incoherence, stupor, resistance to change and to practice, lack of discernment, strong identification with the body, mind and sense objects, irresponsibility, doubts, imaginations, our perception is clouded and we may see things upside-down (how much clouded, depends on the quantity of the tamas). We may think that we are advanced, that we have made great progress, that we possess capacities or that we have dissolved some egoic tendencies while we haven't. Intense criticism to the preceptor and other aspirants, gossiping and quarreling are also caused by the tamas guna and are great obstacles for our transformation and the realization of our true nature. That's why the first goal of sadhana is the elimination of tamas and the increase of sattva. ~ Atman Nityananda

 Nishkama Karma Yoga as a Purificatory Process

It is now clear that this great aspect of Tamas, inertia, has to be overcome by Sattvic activities. Sattvic activity is the only thing to counter Tamasic laziness, lethargy and indulgence. Therefore, do Nishkama Karma Yoga, serve your Guru, serve the saints, serve the elders, serve your parents, serve the sick people. Then there will set in the biggest purification. Sattvic activity will kill all idleness, inertia.

Thus, in order to counter the inertia aspect of the Tamo-Guna, side by side with the practice of Yama and Niyama, one has to engage oneself in vigorous, dynamic, selfless Seva. And that is the only hope. That is the redeeming feature of Rajas—Rajas, when it is properly directed, when it is governed by Sattva, not bound by selfishness. But if the whole activity is governed by Tamas and Rajas, governed by sensuality and selfish desire, bound by the desire to accumulate, the desire to enjoy, that does not relieve us from Tamas. It only makes us go further and further away from God and our goal, whereas, in Nishkama Karma Yoga Seva, though the activity is of a Rajasic nature, it is activity of the spiritualised kind, where we think that by serving man we worship God indwelling man. Therefore our activity is directed towards God, through the human being whom we serve, and therefore, that activity, that Rajas, becomes completely infilled with Sattva. So, it is Sattva-based Rajas that is the power, that is the driving force behind the Nishkama Karma Yoga, where it completely overcomes the Tamas. The Karma Yogi has no desire for sensual indulgence. Karma Yoga establishes self-restraint and self-control in the individual. And thus established in self-control, establishing in the higher Self, established in love for the Supreme, established in selflessness, the Karma Yogi has no desire for accumulation, no desire for personal gain, no desire for any sensual enjoyment. Then, such selfless dynamism, such Sattva-grounded Rajas, becomes the force to liberate the person from the inertia aspect, the lethargy or laziness aspect, of Tamo-Guna. Thus, Yama and Niyama and Nishkama Karma Yoga of an idealistic type or noble type help to destroy Tamas. 

Then, when we go on to the Rajasic aspect, it must be noted that Rajas works in man by way of a desire to be always active, to be always occupied, to be always doing something. Why? In the normal man this urge actually becomes turned in a selfish direction, in the direction of sense-indulgence. Whereas, the Sadhaka tries to restrain these urges. So, the Rajas in the Sadhak gets bottled up as he controls his senses and tries to have self-restraint and live a very strict, disciplined life. And this bottled-up Rajas creates a great deal of agitation. And the Sadhak is always prompted to engage in some sort of activity, miscellaneous wandering may be—wanting to go to Kurukshetra or Rameswaram or Badrinath or Kedarnath. Otherwise he wastes his time going here and there, gossiping and chit-chatting. Something he has to do. When the Sadhak is trying to go above and beyond Tamas in all its aspects, these urges can become serious obstacles. It is in this context that Nishkama Karma Yoga becomes all-important. In Nishkama Karma Yoga, the bottled-up Rajas finds a positive and purposeful outlet. In Nishkama Karma Yoga, Rajas is coloured by Sattva. Nishkama Karma Yoga purifies. The proportion between Nishkama Karma Yoga and Antaranga Sadhana will go on varying, go on shifting, as one progresses in his Sadhana. At one point in your journey on the spiritual path, your Nishkama Karma Yoga may be 75% and your Sadhana may be 25%. Then it may become 70% and 30%, then it may become 65% and 35%, and further on, the emphasis may gradually shift to more spiritual practice and lesser Karma Yoga; but all this shift and change will be over a period of time. You cannot hurry, and gradually, when you advance highly in Sadhana, Karma Yoga might come down to 50% and other Sadhana may be 50%. Still later, Antaranga Sadhana may go up to 60% and Karma Yoga come down to 40%. This process goes on until the Sadhak becomes well advanced in his Antaranga Sadhana and Karma Yoga gets reduced to a minor role in his total Sadhana. So, it is an evolutionary type of progress, and not a drastic evolution at that. 

And Rajas—well, it has to be with you all the time as you go on in the spiritual life. Yet, a time comes when you have to face Rajas as an adversary and try to have the Sadhana to overcome it. In the body, Rajas is in the form of restlessness, a desire to be moving always; and in the mind, it is in the form of Vikshepa, of Chanchalata. Why? Because, there is this Rajo-Guna in the Prana, in the Pranamaya Kosha. And because of this ceaseless agitation of Rajo-Guna in the Prana, the Prana is not in a state of harmony, but is in a state of uncontrolled activity. And mental activity and Pranic activity, the Chitta and the Prana, are interlinked and inseparably interconnected. So, when Prana moves, it puts the Chitta or the mind-stuff into movement too. Therefore, Vikshepa can never be overcome, the oscillation of the mind can never be overcome, unless you have first brought about a degree of discipline in your Prana, a degree of regularity in your Prana. Therefore, the great sage Maharshi Patanjali, the great Yogacharya, has given us the last two phases of Bahiranga Yoga as Asana and Pranayama. Out of these two, he has given us Asana to bring about a state of steadiness in the body so that the body becomes absolutely motionless, thus overcoming all the urge to restlessness and miscellaneous movement. At this point, it may be necessary for us to reiterate the fact that the science of Hatha Yoga as expounded in the Siva Samhita and the Gheranda Samhita does not constitute the Asana of Patanjali Maharshi, the Asana of the Raja Yoga type. The Asanas of Siva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita belong to a different category altogether. Their objective is different, their entire purpose is different. They constitute an elaborate science having a different aim and objective which has a direct connection with the upward movement of the hidden Shakti, the subtle body of the Sattva, the Shakti which we call Kundalini, the individualised aspect of the Cosmic Power which resides at the base of the spinal column. So, the Hatha Yoga Asanas, Pranayamas, Kriyas, Mudras and Bandhas have something to do directly with the Kundalini Shakti in man. These Hatha Yogic Asanas and Kriyas are so designed as to bring about the ultimate uniting of the Prana and the Apana and the rousing of the inactive sleeping Kundalini into a state of awakening and activity. So, that is a different science altogether, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Asana which is the third Anga of the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali; and neither do the various Pranayamas of Hatha Yoga have anything directly to do with the Pranayama which is the fourth Anga of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshana, the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali. This you must grasp.

How the Five Vows (Yamas)* Free Man from Tamasic Bondage

The five Yamas*: Ahimsa (non-injury), Satya (truthfulness),  Asteya (non-stealing),  Brahmacharya  (celibacy in thought, word and deed.and Aparigraha (non-covetousness)

So, start in the bottom-most part, the basic part, where your involvement in Prakriti is an involvement in the grossest aspect of Prakriti, namely, the brute aspect. It is for this purpose that Patanjali has laid down the five vows, the five Mahavratas, the five Pratijnas. And the taking of the five vows constitutes the first Anga of Yoga, called Yama, where your first liberation is worked out, which is a liberation from the grossest aspect of Prakriti. You liberate yourself from the propensity to cruelty, injury and destruction by sticking to the vow of Ahimsa. You liberate yourself from the gross carnal instinct, the brute passion, lust, by adhering to the vow of Brahmacharya. You liberate yourself from the human tendency to conceal things by untruth and dishonesty, by sticking to Satyam or truth. Even if one of these things is practised, the other virtues will automatically gather around you. If you know that a certain line of conduct is wrong and if you have found yourself indulging in a wrong line of conduct and realise that you have to pay the consequences, that some punishment or some chastisement may come upon you, then you want to conceal your wrong doing. You tell yourself that should someone question you and you have to say something in answer, you will tell a lie to hide your wrong action. But, if you bind yourself to truth, to the vow that whatever happens a false word will not issue forth from your tongue, if you resolve and determine that no matter what may come, you will stick to truth and say only that which is the truth, then, automatically you will be compelled or obliged to give up all lines of conduct which you know are not right, because should you indulge in such wrong conduct and should someone question you, you cannot conceal it, you will have to confess and reveal it, because of your having taken the vow of truthfulness. “If I do something which is very bad and wrong, ignoble and unworthy, I have to say it. I dare not say it. Therefore I cannot afford to engage in any act which I do not wish to confess or admit.” That will be your line of argument. Therefore, sticking to truth automatically helps you to free yourself from all kinds of unworthy actions or activities. That is one power of truth.

So, Gurudev Sivananda used to say that if you adopt even one out of the three Yamas of Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya, the other virtues will automatically follow. Because, if you stick to one, you cannot break the others. Automatically you have to stick to the others also. If you stick to truth, Brahmacharya and Ahimsa will automatically follow. If you stick to Brahmacharya, Ahimsa and truth will automatically follow. If you stick to Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya will automatically become part of you. So, any one of them includes the other two. That is how Gurudev used to say. 

And so, the first Anga of Yoga is aimed at liberating you, who are the Purusha, but at the moment involved in Prakriti, from the grossest aspect of Prakriti, as expressed and manifest through the Tamo-Guna. This is achieved through the adopting of the five great universal vows, universal because these vows are global in their applicability and common to all human culture, and these vows are therefore to be adhered to by all human beings. They are not meant for any particular section of humanity only. And these vows are absolute. That is to say, they are not dependent upon any particular circumstance or place or time or condition. You are supposed to adhere to them—they apply to your conduct—no matter where you may be, at what time and place, and in what condition or circumstance. There is no justification for being excused from these vows under the plea of some exceptional situation or exceptional condition or exceptional juncture of time or place. These vows are supposed to be adhered to and fulfilled at all times, in all places, under all conditions, in all circumstances. This is made clear by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that there is no exception to these vows. There are no special circumstances where you could afford to go slow on them or by easy. They are absolute. They must be adhered to under all circumstances. 
Now, inasmuch as these vows have the effect of preventing you from a certain pattern of unworthy conduct, objectionable conduct, conduct which will work against the welfare of your fellow-beings, bring about harm to others, destroy the welfare of others, and in that process, also bring untold harm to yourself spiritually and ethically, this Anga of Yoga seems to be largely negative in its objective as well as effect. It only has the effect of holding you back, or preventing you, from indulging in a pattern of conduct that is harmful to you as well as to others. It only prevents you from going down to a very gross, low level of living and acting, but it does not add something on to you. 

Therefore, in the next Anga of Yoga, Maharshi Patanjali wants you to actually progress in a specific self-chosen direction, namely, in the direction of attaining to a consciousness of your all-perfect Purushahood. It is not enough to stop from going in the downward direction. You have now to get busy and start positively moving in the upward direction, in the opposite direction. To this end, the great sage formulated the second Anga and expounded it as the five great Niyamas or obligatory observances. And just as Patanjali chose Ahimsa as the first of the five Yamas for a very, very rational and logical reason, namely, to counter the Tamo-Guna manifest in human nature as the animal propensity to harm others, he chose Saucha or purity as the first of the Niyamas for a very, very important reason. And that reason is to counter the Rajo-Guna manifest in human nature.

Saucha—A Step in the Positive, Upward Direction

The Rajo-Guna is in the entire human nature from the level of the mind, Prana and the senses. The salient feature of Rajas is desire, passionate desire, Kamana. And desires always are hitched up to one or the other senses. So, desires are sensual so far as they are still involved in the physical body and the body nature. You are a sense-bound creature and the normal tendency of the senses, the propensity of the senses, is towards indulgence, because the senses are unrestrained. They call this propensity towards indulgence Vishaya-Bhoga, the Pravritti towards Bhoga. Each sense wants to indulge in its respective sense-object. The tongue always runs after tasty things, the nose always runs after nice smells, the ear always wants to listen to things which are pleasing to it. The eye always wants to satisfy itself by looking at sights which satisfy the inner desires, and the sense of feeling always craves for sensuous feeling, sensuous touch. This is a great problem of the human being, no matter how educated and no matter how refined. Man is bound by the senses which constantly move towards sense-indulgence in the respective sense-objects and it is very difficult to restrain this movement of the senses unless you take up with a vengeance the practice of the specific Abhyasa of cleanliness, both inner and outer. You must boldly say, “I will never allow anything that is unclean to be part of me, within and without”. By the development of the habit of cleanliness, you not only begin to abhor anything that is unclean outwardly, but you also gradually begin to develop repugnance towards anything unclean that may be in your mind or may try to gain entry into your mind. And, together with the development of this habit of not wanting anything that is unclean, at the physical body level as well as at the level of the mind, you begin to develop certain distinct standards of what is clean and what is unclean. That comes about as the result of your Satsanga with your Guru, as the result of sitting and listening to discourses regarding what is good and what is bad, what is clean and what is unclean. It also comes about as the result of a study of the scriptures. Thus you develop certain distinct ideas as to what is clean and what is unclean through a process of spiritual education.

Happily, once upon a time in India, this spiritual education was imparted to the individual right at the very foundational stage of one’s life. In those times, when the boy was about eight or ten years old, he was taken to the ideal atmosphere of a Gurukula and left there with the teacher and the teacher’s family, away from all the impure atmosphere of towns and cities, of drinking and gambling and profligacy and all the multifarious things of sensual life. The young boys were taken away from the corrupt city atmosphere, and in the serene atmosphere of solitude, of sylvan jungle surroundings, completely dedicated to one pattern of living—the boys never saw any contradictory pattern of living there—and nurtured in the ideal surroundings, they began to formulate their own norms of conduct and behaviour, they began to form their own ideas and standards of what was pure and what was impure, what was clean and what was unclean, what was worthy and what was unworthy, what was noble and what was ignoble, what was to be accepted and what was to be turned down with contempt. Thus the boys of the Gurukula grew up. And based upon the norms and standards developed thus, the Gurukula boys began to practise Saucha, inner and external cleanliness. You can very well imagine what it would have done to the psyche of the growing young individual when brought up thus in the atmosphere and background of an idealistic outlook impinging all the time on his own thoughts, feelings, behaviour, conduct and character. So, the boy grew up into a person of Sadachar. He became a person grounded in lofty virtues, grounded in a sublime standard of thinking and feeling and expressing oneself. This was the basis of Yoga. Yoga thus directed the normal life-style of the individual, the behaviour of the individual, towards an ideal; Yoga gave an ascending trend, an upward trend to the daily behaviour and conduct of the individual. This was the first step. In his conduct, the student became a Sadachari. He became a person of lofty moral and ethical conduct, noble character, shining with virtue. He was so much filled with this factor of an urge towards idealism that there came into the face of this young student a glow and a lustre. And, referring to those students, the scriptures coined a unique term—Agni-Manavaka. ‘Agni-Manavaka’ means fiery youngsters. ‘Manavaka’ means a student, a young student, ‘Agni’ means a thing that has a glow, a thing that has a lustre and a halo. So much of lustre was created in the student by his lofty standard of conduct and high thinking, noble thinking, that the student shone. This was an indication or hint to the state he was ultimately to attain, when having reached his Purushahood, he would shine with Brahmic aura, Brahma-Tejas. Later on in his Yogic career, the young man became Tejasvi and Ojasvi, but even in the beginning itself, the student’s ideal conduct and character brought about in his appearance a certain lustre, a certain radiance. This was the result of Saucha or purity. 

So, Saucha is both external and internal. The ultimate aim is to shine with divinity by attaining once again one’s independent Purushahood. That is the philosophical ultimate. The psychological preparation for this ultimate achievement, the psychological groundwork for this ultimate achievement, is Saucha. In Saucha the young Yogi roots himself so that ultimately it leads him to that supreme experience where he realises himself to be the Nitya-Suddha, Nirmala Atma-Tattva.

The Specific Roles of Yama and Niyama—Stopping the Downward Plunge and Helping the Upward Ascent

When your consciousness is established in its own pure pristine state, you know yourself as you truly are, and not feel yourself to be something you think yourself to be. Patanjali has given us the science of Yoga to enable us to go beyond our present state of limited consciousness. Our present state of consciousness is bound up with the temporary, changing, perishable, physical body, bound up with the ever-changing, restless mind, characterised by many impurities. These impurities stem from the bad aspect of our being which is the result of the Tamo-Guna factor in our Prakriti. As we saw in the original primary thesis of Yoga philosophy, our present state is due to our involvement in Prakriti. Prakriti comprises the three Gunas and the grossest among them is Tamas. This Tamas has its own characteristics, and arising out of these characteristics, we have the grossest aspect of our present personality by which we are identified; and that grossest aspect of our present personality contains many things that are not at all a compliment to our human nature. For, the Tamasic aspect of our personality is brutal, bestial, animal, gross and ugly. It carries with it the propensity to cruelty, the propensity to violence, hatred, anger. It carries with it the desire to hurt, to harm and destroy. It is all “Pasu”, it is all animal, it does not really belong to the human. It does not belong to culture, it does not belong to education, it does not belong to refinement, it does not belong to civilisation. It is something that is uncivilised, uncultured, uneducated, very gross, not refined. But yet, it is there even amongst the so-called civilised and educated people—this brutality, this ill-treatment to torment others, to be brutal to others. It may be in a physical way, it may be in a more subtle mental way. It happens within the four walls of a home in which a family is living. The father can be cruel to the children; the wife can be cruel to her husband; the husband can be brutal and cruel to his wife. The children may be absolutely callous, indifferent. For every loving family that there is, there may be two where the home life is a perpetual sorrow, a perpetual agony, pain. Why? Because of the unregenerate nature of the individual in human society. This nature is the direct outcome of the Tamo-Guna in Prakriti. And this is contrary to normal human nature. And it is this which is declared to be the impurity in the human individual. Vedanta calls it Mala.

The elimination and eradication of this Mala is one of the first objectives of the science of Yoga, and therefore, to stem this or to stop this headlong plunge in the direction of these impure patterns of thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving, the five Yamas or vows have been prescribed by Patanjali. These vows have to be strictly adhered to and there is no question of any excuse for non-adherence due to time, place and circumstance. No. These vows are universal. They have to be adhered to at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. They are to be absolutely adhered to. No exception is to be made. Then alone can man’s impure type of conduct which contradicts human nature and which has been there over years and generations and births be overcome. Only then can man’s age-old impure habits and instincts be overcome. They are so deep-rooted. Impurity, sensuality, gross carnal lustfulness, the propensity to grab and get and keep with unlimited avidity, cupidity, avarice, greed and covetousness—all this Himsatmak Prakriti is deep-rooted. Patanjali said, “No. As long as these propensities are there, evolution is a far cry. You cannot go up. You have to make a determined stand against them and try to remove them, eradicate them”. And therefore he gave the very stern practice of taking the five foremost vows and sticking to them, adhering to them at any cost. And this sticking to the vows has the effect of arresting the headlong downward movement in your life and reversing it in the opposite direction. Yoga wants to make you divine. Yoga wants to make you godly, because the philosophy of Yoga says that you are the all-perfect Divine Being completely independent of Prakriti, liberated from all afflictions, and in a state of bliss and joy and perfection. The philosophy of Yoga says that you are the Purusha; and to restore to you your Purushahood is the objective of Yoga. And so, to commence with, it asks you to stop going in the downward direction, before thinking of going in the desired direction. And if properly practised, Yama succeeds in arresting the progress of the Jiva or the individual soul in an ungodly, undivine, unspiritual direction. In the absence of these vows of Yama, day by day, man gets grosser and grosser, becoming more and more enslaved and bound up and imprisoned in the devilish lifestyle, in the hellish pattern of living, which is the root cause of all problems in human society, of all suffering, all conflict, clash, disharmony, discord, violence, sorrow, pain and cruelty. This must stop. So, to arrest this trend, a totally strict adherence to Yama is prescribed.

But, Yama alone is not enough. It is no doubt necessary and indispensable to stop your downward plunge, but at the same time, you must also make an effort to move in a positive direction. For example, if you are a very extravagant spendthrift, a waster of money, asking you to stop spending in all the wrong directions is no doubt important. But, at the same time, side by side, you must also be gradually educated to conserve something, to save and put by something for a rainy day. Merely stopping your extravagance and waste will not be sufficient. Because, even if you do not waste, even if you stop being extravagant and stop getting into debt, you may still spend all that you earn. Then, you will be always living a hand-to-mouth existence. You will not know what you will eat tomorrow. You will live like a cooly, earning something today and spending the whole amount today. Tomorrow, once again, you will have to do back-breaking work for eight hours, because there is nothing put by. So, while it is good and desirable that you stop being extravagant and getting into debt, you must also be educated to conserve something so that you can always fall back upon your savings. Otherwise, if you fall ill and you are not in a position to do any work for some days, you will starve. So, extravagant waste, criminal waste, has to be stopped; and at the same time, something earned must be put by. Both the aspects are important. The negative tendency must be ended, and side by side, a positive tendency must be nurtured and developed.

And that is precisely why the wise sage Patanjali lifts us up into a second dimension of Yoga which goes beyond the negative process of stopping your headlong plunge into animality and brutality, impurity and bestiality, and puts you up into a human plane. He says that now it is also necessary to make positive progress. He says that now your life should take a positive, upward, ascending pattern, take a positive direction that will gradually start making you move towards godliness, divinity and spirituality. So, this positive process is the next step and it works upon various levels in various ways. The practices prescribed by Patanjali are positive in the psychological sense and positive also in the metaphysical sense. They aim at achieving for you actual spiritual gain.

Transforming Human Nature into Divine Nature—The Role of Saucha or Purity

In the last chapter it was stated that is was necessary to grow in the likeness of whatever Tattva or principle in which you wished to become established. “Devo Bhutva Devamaradhayet” is a time-honoured adage. If you want to become divine, if you want to worship God, you must become godly. If you want to worship Divinity, meditate upon Divinity—meditation is the highest worship—and grow in divinity. That is the one and only way. There are no other ways. You cannot make an arithmetical addition by adding 30 British Pounds sterling, 53 American Dollars and 77 Indian Rupees and striking a total. You cannot do it that way. To make a total of the three different currencies, you must convert all into Pounds Sterling or you must convert all into Dollars or you must convert all into Rupees. Then you must add them up. In the same way, if you want to become godly, you must convert your human nature into something spiritual, into something that is in the likeness of that. So, the commencement of that process of conversion is initiated and carried out in the first of the five Niyamas which is Saucha. Saucha includes both outer cleanliness and inner purity. It is Bahyantara Saucha. The way in which you feel, the way in which you think, your imaginations, your thoughts, your feelings, your motivations—all these should be Suddha, Nirmala. The outward action in the form of speech, action, behaviour—Charitra and Varta—must be Pavitra, Nirmala. And there is always an inescapable give and take between man and his environment—always. We are creatures who are all the time being affected by what is around us and we always keep affecting what is around us by what we are. This is an interchange, a two-way interchange, between a being and everything surrounding the being. Therefore Patanjali asks you to launch upon a course of keeping everything around you clean. Keep your body clean, keep your clothes clean, keep your environment clean. What you are affects your environment and what environment there is around you affects you too. Therefore, the taking up deliberately of the practice of purity in food, purity in dress and keeping everything around you clean—that is one of the Angas of this Yoga.

In terms of cleanliness, food means Sattvic food. Read what the Gita has to say about food. Food must be fresh, not stale and rotten, not that which is very extremely pungent and sour. Things which are not Sattvic in nature should not be eaten, because the finest part of food affects the mind.

You should not move indiscriminately with each and everyone, all and sundry, but you should keep the company of only those people who are pure, who have got good tendencies, who are moral in their character, who are ethical in their character. You should not mix with people given to lustfulness and carnality, sensuality and indulgence and immorality, because if you keep company with them, you are bound to be affected by their proximity and their thoughts. Company is a powerful factor. Keeping company with people who always talk about vulgar things, who always talk about sexual matters, about drinking and gambling, will pollute your mind. Such people may sometimes be very good friends, very sociable, very popular and very talented in other ways, but basically their character is gross and sensual. They are Vishayavilasa Bhogis. To a spiritual aspirant they will do no good, though to one who is not a spiritual aspirant, their company may prove beneficial socially and in other ways. But, that is a different dimension altogether. No matter how much beneficial their company might be—socially, economically and in other ways—you will lose spiritually. So much so, one Saint says in one of his Bhajans. “In whose heart there is no devotion to the Lord, shun the company of that person as though he were not one enemy, not a hundred enemies, not a thousand enemies, but as though he were more than a million enemies”. Think of him to be more than a million enemies to you, even though he is your best chum, best friend, living in your neighbourhood or your hostel, or even in your own room as your room-mate. “Jake Priya Na Ram Vaidehi, Tyajiye Tako Sangh Koti Vairi Sam Jadyepi Param Sanehi.” For whom the Lord is not dear, shun his company as though he were akin to ten million enemies, even if he is your own relative, your own brother-in-law, your own next-door neighbour, your own friend, class mate or school-fellow. Such strong words have been used by this saint. So, this indicates to what extent you must keep yourself uncontaminated, unpolluted, by any factor that is likely to make you anything other than the Being whom you are trying to attain; and that Being whom you are trying to attain is the Nitya-Suddha Atma, the Parama-Pavitra, Nirmala, Amala, Vimala, Nitya-Suddha, Niranjana Atma-Tattva.

Extract from his book, The Philosophy, Psychology and Practice of Yoga.pdf