Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pure, Quiet and Calm

by Smt. Susmita Devi

The three key words in the title (Peace, Quiet, Calm) are extremely important for a seeker of Truth. The inspiration to write about how to bring into play these three words in life came from Ramen when I asked him what to write about. He was just then looking at a calendar published by Sri Sri Babathakur’s devotees, where the caption below the picture for the month of June was: “A pure, quiet and calm mind knows the Divine Will”. I felt it might be a topic I could manage to express something about, so here it is: 


The questions – when considered from a spiritual viewpoint – have wide consequences in how one leads one’s life. Society at large today is definitely not ‘pure’ – neither physically nor spiritually. By definition ‘pure ’has various synonyms like: clean, uncontaminated, unpolluted, unadulterated, wholesome and untainted.

For spiritually non-aware people, words like ‘cleanliness’ only imply that we have a clean body, wear clean clothing, and perhaps do not use gross words or engage in lying.  The may also associate ‘cleanliness’ with keeping the environment clean... something which is difficult for most to do.  Nevertheless, what I want to emphasize here with regards to cleanliness is the purity of thoughts and expressions emanating from the mind and habits. It is extremely easy to get the mind fouled through one’s ego sense, with its unending desires for worldly acknowledgement and kudos, not to mention worldly possessions.

The difficult part of cleansing the mind lies in controlling the flow of thoughts. That, the various Sadgurus have, over countless millennia, told us can be achieved through the repeating of holy sentences (mantras) or names (japa) whenever undesirable thoughts occur, and through avoidance of extended interactions with people projecting implied negative or belittling expressions.  This is helpful to some extent, but for me, the crux of the matter is to completely eliminate such thoughts or words from one’s mind-work (and vocabulary).  In other words: cleanse the mind deliberately. It has to be a conscious decision and must be practiced every single day for quite some time to yield the desired result of goodwill, candor, truthfulness, benevolence, frankness and benevolence.

To achieve a high (or reasonable) level of spotlessness of mind and thus personality, one has to work long and hard – deliberately - by controlling the mind’s working habit. By nature, mind is indiscriminately absorbing, and it uses both positivity and negativity from the environment it functions in.  Remember though that mind is but a tool in life, and a tool can be made sharp or rendered blunt. 


The implied meaning of ‘quietness of mind’ is twofold:

·         The capacity to fully concentrate on one task at a time to achieve the perfect result - be it meditation, physical or mental work

·         The ability to generate benevolent, compassionate and soothing thoughts in one’s interaction with others and oneself.

The first point is very important in life, for the better one can concentrate on the work at hand, the better will be the result - flawless, perfect, unblemished and last, but not the least, accomplished through the maximum utilization of one’s physical and/or mental capacity. The second point relates to one’s interaction with others. People are actually yearning for compassion, a loving hand on an aching head, tummy, back or wherever needed.  They will eventually need some advice on how to avoid both mental and physical wounds.  A soothing hand, an encouragement, or praise makes a person sense genuine affection from the listener/helper.

One of the first necessary features of a seeker/devotee is to pay full attention during the instruction period(s).  If the mind is not for most parts directed towards the utterances, the statements may subsequently be misinterpreted by the listener based on his/her mindset.  Practically speaking, when one listens to the words of a Guru, that is where the quietness of mind becomes imperative.  If one is so fortunate as to get the opportunity to listen to a Sadguru and to attempt implementing His directives in one’s life, it is the best opportunity.  Mankind has a wider range of intellect than any other creature.

It is beneficial for one’s working capacity and devotion/Knowledge development to be quiet for some time on a daily basis. I used to keep silent every Monday – even if I was working – and still do so whenever the daily events seem to overwhelm the mind. The easiest beginning can be, for example, to practice Pranayam, given the mind is compelled to concentrate on getting the breathing sequences right.  With practice, when the mind is able to be controlled to some extent, one may add a mantra, which will further promote concentration and thus calm the mind till it becomes ‘no-mind’ (Aman). This is the stage of Absolute Peace and Knowledge (notice the words are written in capital, for they describe a state beyond mind and intellect). In my experience, silence also signals to others that too much chatter is no good for one’s inner development.  We have - all said and done - been allowed to pass some time in a human body only to progress spiritually, not to squander it away in futile actions and thoughts that are prompted by the ego. 


To remain calm (and thus mentally composed) is a big challenge in midst of the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are two kinds of challenges:

·            The outer quietness may for example be disturbed by blaring loudspeakers, the high volumes from radios, televisions and motor vehicle horns (not to speak of public loudspeakers during festivals - at least when one lives in a city in India). The level of inner quietness disappears through divergence during discussions and may often take a turn towards the more shrill owing to the constant outer noise-level having impacted the normal level of hearing. The ego-sense also raises hackles and with that, the need to be heard and to hear one’s own voice becomes imperative.

·            The inner calmness is more difficult to maintain now-a-days as competition in so many areas of life have intensified - closeness between buildings, traffic congestion, time constraints, growing need for material things etc. The inner quietness can be found only through meditation, prayer or selfless service. I have noticed that while helping others in some way, the noise level is ignored to some extent because the focus is on the doing.

Another source disturbing one’s calm is a ‘noisy’ mind. By nature, the mind is used to conduct the daily activities: activities; however it can also be used initially to still itself.

By repeating sound combinations like mantras or names of saintly personalities, the ordinary mind can be diverted and thus be constructively used for spiritual purposes. Such diversion of mind happens at first in bits and pieces, but through regular and conscious practice, one can still the mind for quite long periods, even without the help of mantras. During such times the higher levels of the brain opens up to spiritual experiences of an intuitive nature.

The more the practice of some form of mental silence, the more balanced and efficient one’s mind will be in daily life.  So why not start with just a few minutes on busy days, and then take longer time ‘off’ when possible. The result is sure to be felt by your increased effectiveness and by the people around you. I started the practice during bus-rides from my residence to wherever I had to go. It even happened that I got so engrossed, I was unaware of the time elapsed.

The first and last requirement for a fruitful spiritual sadhana can actually be summed up in the three words used as the title of the article – namely, the practice of keeping the mind  pure, quiet and calm.

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