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Inspirational Article


How to Achieve Peace of Mind

by Swami Kriyananda

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It would be relatively easy to control the mind, were our conscious thought processes all we had to deal with. Unfortunately for this wished-for ease, the conscious mind is only the tip of a vast iceberg of consciousness. Buried in the subconscious, too deep even for conscious recognition, is a vast realm of unfulfilled desires and unresolved tendencies, which often militate against anything we try consciously to undertake.

A friend of mine was in Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani war. Because Indian planes were strafing the highways, the bus in which he was traveling took a detour. At a certain point, the vehicle got stuck in a river bed.

The driver asked his passengers to get down and push the bus.

Fifteen minutes later, it hadn't budged an inch. Puzzled, the driver stepped back to assess the situation.

To his surprise, he found half the passengers pushing from the rear of the bus, as he'd wanted them to. The other half, however, were pushing just as strenuously from the front! How often we display a similar tendency! Even though working earnestly, on one level of our consciousness, toward some desired end, on another level we manage to resist our own efforts.

While working hard, we may wish we didn't have to work at all. Perhaps, at the office, we indulge in "clock-watching." Or we may find ourselves day-dreaming. We may tell ourselves that our work is all useless anyway. Or we may waste energy by thinking of all the other things we'd rather be doing instead; or by thinking ahead to the hoped-for results of what we're doing, and not focusing on the task at hand.

We can accomplish a great deal in life, if we can discipline ourselves to do one thing at a time, to do it wholeheartedly, and not to worry distractedly about all the things we'd like to accomplish, or wish we had accomplished in the past.

An important aspect of crystal clarity, then, is not to work against ourselves, mentally. This, because of that large sub-continent in the mind, often proves to be easier said than done. In basic ways, every human being is like a house divided against itself. One part of our nature affirms life. Another part, disagreeing, rejects it. Doubt, fear, and worry intervene to block even our best intentions.

There is in everyone, to however subtle a degree, a "no-saying" principle: a death wish; a wish to avoid issues rather than confront them; a wish to see one's problems simply disappear rather than have them continue to face him mockingly, demanding that he resolve them.

Some people seek escape in unconsciousness, through alcohol or drugs or excessive sleep. There is an actual pull on human consciousness to slip back into unawareness. Psychologists, especially in the first part of this century, made much of the conflict between what people think they ought to do and what they'd like to do. Because this conflict often produces inner complexes, born of suppression, psychologists—more often decades ago than today—counseled people to give in to their lower nature. It represented, they said, their true nature.

Nowadays, it is more generally understood that man's higher qualities are not merely his lower instincts disguised to look good. Love is not merely a sublimated sex-drive. It would be truer, indeed, to say that the sex-drive is an as-yet-unrealized, eternally spiritual hunger for perfect love.

It is an error to claim that the call to become a better human being is an imposition on us from without, by others—that it is a more by which society tries to make us into something that, if we were completely honest with ourselves, we would recognize that we are not.

The call to raise our state of consciousness; to become more aware; to have more control over our lives; to be kind rather than unkind, or calm and forgiving rather than angry; proceeds from a recognition of our own inner potential. The duty to uplift ourselves is self-imposed, from within.

We needn't face each and every mental foe of our conscious resolutions. What we need to do is address the subconscious with that kind of magnetic determination which will enlist its support.

In many cases, it is a mistake to get people to rummage about too much among their past traumas and suppressed inclinations, The general who pays too much heed to the dissidents in this army may find that, by excessive concern for their attitude, he only strengthens them their negativity. He can't afford to ignore them, but he can so strengthen the morale of the troops generally that the negative voices no longer have an audience.

Meditation is one of the best ways of bringing the subconscious into alignment with one's conscious resolutions. The peace of meditation filters down into deeper-than-conscious layers of consciousness. The practice of meditation, moreover, brings on an awareness of the mind as a totality: subconscious, conscious, and also superconscious-that region where our highest inspiration dwell.