Knowledge gives power. Power controls. Man stands for inner perfection. Our character is the sum-total of our inner unfoldment. What is unfoldment? I told you in my paper on Spiritual Unfoldment of the different bodies of Man and how the right control and culture of each body would enable the light of the Spirit to stream forth to the objective plane of existence in all its pure radiance. Here is a beautiful illustration. Take a small but strong, electric light bulb wrapped around which are many pieces of cloth. Suppose further that the electric light in the glass bulb is the Spirit shot into the Spiritual Consciousness in and through which the Spirit can shine out without the least obstruction and with a minimum of resistance. Remember the Light is the spirit and the glass bulb is the thin veil of brilliant mind—substance known as the spiritual mind. The piece of cloth immediately next to the glass bulb is very fine and the light pierces it through. The piece of cloth next to this one is a little less fine and receives a little less of the light. Thus each piece of cloth as you go lower and lower is less fine than the one immediately next above it till at last you come to the
last piece. This cloth-piece is at once the thickest and the least illumined of all others. You will see that whatever bit of light this last one has is all it can possibly receive. Compared to this piece, the last but one is brighter and more desirable and so on from the bottom upwards. As you take off piece after piece, more and more light comes to you and when you have stripped off the entire number of cloth-pieces you have the pure electric light shining out of the transparent glass bulb. Need I tell you how the last piece of cloth is the physical organism. The grossest and least lighted-up sheath of man. The ego is mounting upwards as it were, from the densest veil of matter to more and more rarefied grades. The more rarefied the grade of matter in which you are clothed the more highly energized and spiritualized it is. The finer your body, the more powerfully vibrating the pranic force animating it. Think over it in connection with the illustration of the tiny, strong, electric light confined in the glass bulb and do not feel particularly attached to your physical form.
Let us in this paper confine ourselves to (a) Habit-control, (b) thought-control and (c) self-control.
I have already spoken to you, in full of thought-control in a preceding paper. I advise you strongly to master and apply the principles laid down in that lesson conjointly with what little I succeed in giving you
here, for truly, Habit and thought are the two great pillars of our whole life-structure. They are the roots which sustain the tree of Life. Poison the roots and you have set your plans for the rapid corrosion of the royal tree; nourish and strengthen the roots and the tree shall grow, develop and expand; it shall put forth leaves, flowers, branches, and bear life-giving, sweet and nourishing fruits.
First of all let us consider Self-Control. What is it? How is this great virtue to be acquired?
What is self-control?
Self-control in Yogis is demonstrated by perfect Soul-Calm. A perfect Yogi will never allow himself to be cast into or hurried away by any form of emotional disturbance and excitement. Indeed the mere idea is absurd in connection with such developed souls. When they move through the restless and busy throngs of men yielding every moment to some emotional impulse; at times sad, at others glad, utterly unable to say a firm, "No" to their impulses; unable to view things from any higher point of view than that of the Relative and the transient form of existence and getting miserable and falling into dejection at the least touch of adverse conditions arising from the singularities of their unillumined intellects;—on such occasions the self-controlled man will remain unmoved in this atmosphere of conflicting thought-Magnetisms. While all sorts of thought-waves are dashing against him his mental aura remains untouched and unshaken, and he radiates peace. When
he sees distress and pain, he does not make the whole air throb with his cries but he calmly sets about finding a remedy for the evil. When something goes against his personality, he does not give way to a blind rush of anger but he holds himself perfectly unruffled.
There was a great sage in India named Vyasa. His father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather had all of them struggled for Perfection and had fallen short of the mark.
Vyasa had himself striven for the same prize and failed. But as no honest seeking goes unrewarded, at last a son was born to Vyasa who was to manifest perfection in himself. Vyasa named him Suka. He taught him, trained him and initiated him into the inner mysteries of the Spirit. Suka was wonderfully intelligent. He soon grasped the principles of spirit and embodied them in himself.
In those days there was a great philosopher-king named Janaka. He was called "Videha"—bodiless, since he had lost all thought of body and believed himself to be the spirit. Vyasa sent his son to this king's court so that he might be put to test. Janaka being a developed occultist came to know of this intuitively and made suitable arrangements. When Suka arrived no notice was taken of him. The guards gave him a seat but otherwise were quite oblivious of his presence. This was no light matter. Vyasa was the most venerable sage in the country and could dictate to any one. But Suka
was a Gnyani. For three days and nights he was left to himself. He sat there calm and serene.
Then they conducted him into a splendid suite of rooms. All sorts of luxuries, fragrant baths and regal honors were paid to him. Not a muscle of his face moved. He was calm, serene and thoughtful. This continued for eight days. Then he was led before the king who was sitting in full court. Music was playing. You know the intoxicating influence of music upon the brain. Beautiful girls and damsels, fit to bewitch the most abstemious of men, were dancing and singing. In short, it was a most impressive and splendid court. The king presented to Suka a cup of milk. It was full to the brim. "Go seven times round the court but spill not a drop of milk." Suka gravely bowed his head and accepted the cup. Round and round the court he went. Thousands of pairs of eyes were levelled at him. The music, dancing and nautch-girls of ravishing charm were all up in arms against his concentrated attitude of calm and repose. But this man went round, and after the seventh round returned the cup to the king—full to the brim—with the same quiet expression. The King, the court and everyone else could only gasp with surprise. This is the ideal self-controlled man. Naught could distract his attention. Can you conceive of a more positive proof of self-control? We shall do well to bear this story in mind and, whatever be our position in life, our gaze should ever be turned upwards and inwards. Never mind the form of occupation. Always
maintain an inner balance and as soon as you are free, your attention should fly back with intense longing to the Higher Life.
WHAT IS HABIT-CONTROL?
Habit or automatism compels all organized life. Habit is a by the Will. Now the former is Static. It works along sub-conscious lines of mentation. If you lift the brain-cap of man, you would see the belt of glowing and phosphorescent brain-substance physiologically known as the is the organic base of consciousness for the operation of mental energy. The finer the matter, the greater, the more powerful its vibrant force. This matter is constantly in motion, that is it ever vibrates.
Habit is a mode of motion. It is the same pitch of vibration repeating itself. The action of the Will is dynamic. When a man thinks concentratedly for some length of time upon some resolve, deep vortices are formed in the brain-substance. To these vortices the Will communicates a certain wave—motion which continues till the force which gave it the initial impulse exhausts itself. The stronger the will, the greater the wave-length and the more lasting its action and the deeper and more intensely active the vortices. You know how tenacious human nature is of habits. It cannot but be so. Your thoughts create these vortices. Your actions deepen them. Repeat the initiatory impulse and the Law of automatism will take it up permanently
and keep up the motion. Your thoughts and actions register themselves in your brain-cells and nerve-force. Each inward tension of the Will develops changes in the molecular structure of the brain and since there is an immediate rapport between the brain and the nervous system that which exhausts or recuperates the "Volts" in that battery of vital powers—the organized human brain—welds a corresponding influence upon the vital centres of the body.
Professor Elmer Gates of Chevy Chase, the great American Experimenter in the new science of Psycho-Physics, who has been conducting experiments in an elaborate laboratory through complicated apparatus for measuring the sensations and emotions of man is of the opinion—and this opinion is endorsed by D. Carpenter in his grand work on Human Physiology and many other leading investigators on the subject—that every conscious mental activity creates in some part of the brain a definite chemical and anatomical structure; that mind-activity creates organic structure; that one essential condition of remembrance is the refunctioning of the structure which was originally created by the conscious experience which we remember; that organisms are mind-embodiments; that there is an art of brain-building and mind-embodiment whereby individuals can get more mind; that evil emotions create poisonous chemical products in the cells and juices of the body; that there is an art of promoting originative mentation, consciously and subconsciously; that immoral dispositions
can be cured by putting in the same parts of the brain where they have evil-memory structures a far greater number of good structures, and then keeping the good structures functionally active a greater number of times daily than the evil ones; and that one's mental capacity can be more than doubled. The self-activity of the mind creates organic structures and, says Professor Gates:
"The mind rules the body. Here you have the grand principle of magnetic affinity between brain-waves and health-conditions in a nut shell. Psychologists give two divisions of the Habit-nature: the natural and the artificial. The natural is the mode of motion kept up by the Instinctive mind for the up-keep of health conditions. It is quite well-educated. Do not disturb it by trying to take control of it. The body has been abused and badgered by the artificial life of modern civilization. Go back to nature; have full confidence in it and do not meddle with the Involuntary activities of the body. As to artificial habits, I will simply say that they arise from the singularities of the ill-developed mind.
Remember this: All instinctive action is the continual and automatic swing of motion at first initiated by the Will and later on established on a permanent basis by continued repetition. This rhythm, if improperly and unwisely initiated can be swung on to a new line or can be disturbed. The will which started the motion can assuredly call it back by starting an opposite set of vibrations, which are finer and more powerful and bring about an equilibrium of forces and, by the further
sustenance of same, develop an entirely new condition. One can change one's physical conditions as well as mental and emotional states by suggesting to one's subconscious mind the desired transformation and by constructing a mental picture, contemplating and projecting same into the realms of subconsciousness. As James Allen puts it:
Mind is the master-power that moulds and makes, and man is mind and ever more he takes.
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:
He thinks in secret and it comes to pass;
"Environment is but his looking-glass."
We build our future, thought by thought,
Or good or bad, and know it not
Yet so the universe is wrought,
Thought is another name for Fate
Choose then thy destiny, and wait
For Love brings Love, and Hate brings Hate—
Again: All that we are is the result of thought.
Now if you would control your habits, you must begin by forming Positive Decisions and then act them out. For instance, if you want to correct yourself of Fearfulness and Nervousness, sit quietly and repeat to yourself in all earnestness, "I resolve to drive out of my brain all fear resolve to be full of Courage, Snap, and mental vigor. I am Master."
Repeat this to yourself earnestly, concentratedly and positively. Insist upon immediate mastery. Say "I will conquer, this moment, this very moment," and set up the Strong Present tense. This is a most important fact to remember. When you sit down to concentrate, relax all over, breathe deeply and gently, and let your mind dwell exclusively upon these thoughts. Then gradually wind up your brain to a state of inner tension. Do not contract your brows. Do not clench your fists. Do not make any physical movement at all. Let the body rest in quiet repose. Let the mind be alertly poised. Set the teeth together quietly for the lock of the jaws is the seat of the will-force, but do not grind and gnash them. Simply close your eyes and shut out of your mental vision all the external world.
Retire into yourself mentally. Draw inwards. As the mind becomes tense, the body naturally follows suit. But this is not right. You should "break off" from time to time and then begin again. Soon the body shall be taught to lie quiescent while the brain is intensely active. Concentrate twice every day at the same hour. Soon the Law of Periodicity will set in and lead you into your room for your concentration exercise although you might have forgotten it. Be rigid in these matters. When you have once begun, do not be overcome by initial failures and your lapses into former states of mind. The new form of vibrations must adjust
themselves along settled lines and you must persevere by right thoughts and their determined execution into actions till then.
Do not make false promises to yourself. If you do so you will become a miserable "dreamer" prostrated by mental weaknesses. Determine to do a thing and do it. After you have made your resolve to banish evil thoughts and crush a certain bad habit, turn your mind to Oppositely-higher types of thought and habit and persist in your resolve to be Master. Remember a resolve will last a certain length of time in proportion to the force which generated it and then it must be renewed repeatedly till it becomes clinched into a habit.
Hold firmly in your mind the particular thought which you would embody in yourself, during the time you are nourishing your body and at least an hour afterwards. This will liberate certain finer forces from the food and nourish particular brain-centres that you are building up. Do the same when walking in fresh air and when having physical exercise. This will deepen the thought-channels in the brain. Remember, at first there will be resistance from the lower brain-centres, but as the higher centres develop they will take absolute control. Go on. Stop not; you must build up a new brain in which the higher centres will control the lower ones and this process of Brain-transformation has to be done. It is very painful, but now that you know these things, and see the absolute necessity of setting about the task, it is no use getting impatient. The following lines fromwill help you immensely when practicing the above exercises. It has a direct bearing upon the setting up of the strong Present, I have already spoken of.
The present tense crystallizes possibilities. In "I am" and "It is" are wrapped great possibilities. There is a wealth of satisfaction to be found in being able to say, in all faith, "I am well, I am strong, I am Happy." Assurance like this crystallizes into tangibility, the things for which otherwise we are perpetually longing. It is a giant hand reaching out into the future and bringing to our feet what has long eluded us. Faith then proves a wonder-worker. It stands sponsor for us under all the trying conditions of life. When desire rises within us for some great good upon which to build a useful and happy life; the Present tense of faith at once brings it within our grasp.
To effect our purpose we should not hesitate to avail ourselves of the help to be had from any of the facilities at command. In a particular emergency all we lack may be the inspiration which shall drive us to triumph. Our greatest trouble arises from the tendency of the human (lower) mind to dwell upon failure rather than Success. We lose confidence in our ability to accomplish because we ourselves or some one else has met with failure, and it becomes necessary to churn up all our emotional energies to carry us past the sticking point. The best of us are not using a tittle of the powers which we really possess. Compared with what we ought to be,
we are only half awake. It is right here that the power of assertion can do effective work in the rousing of our dormant faculties and bringing into strong action the forces awaiting our command. But they need vigorous stirring.
A young physician had been lying ill for many weeks from what appeared to be a serious complication of disorders, from which he had nearly given up hope of recovering. All his powers of resistance were seemingly in ruin. He could not sleep, he could not eat. He could not speak above a low tone. To sit up was beyond his power; his vital forces were at so low an ebb. His circulation was feeble and even his mind appeared to be wavering. After a careful examination I pressed upon him the need of summoning all his mental and physical powers, tottering to a final fall, in a grand effort to throw off the terrible incubus, which was crushing him as a strong man might crush his foe, by one vigorous and desperate effort. It did not seem hard for him to believe, under the stimulation that he would ultimately recover, but to bring his faith to immediate acceptance of relief was the difficulty. But he resolved to do this and warmly confessed his faith when at once the force of the ailment broke, the life-forces were set into cheerful and strong action and he soon resumed his place among men.
In reviewing the case I can see that it was that final culmination of all his hopes, that concentration of all his mental and spiritual powers into creative assertion,
that lifted him out of the desperate condition into which he had sunk, and from which he would probably have moved downwards on gradually declining planes, to utter despair and death.
Before I close this chapter let me reiterate some important points. You can control your habits, however perverse they may appear. A complete decision of the mind is the first step. Effort, yea, Positive Effort and an indomitable will is the second thing. Remain unshaken in your resolves. Remember the first twenty-five years of every man constitute the Formative Period of life. The habits that you carry with yourself across this age become persistent and die hard. The psychological explanation is simple. During adult age growth is very rapid and your brain-channels are strongly grooved out; but this should not lead you to despair. You can render your brain responsive and pliant by earnest endeavor at any period of life, only those who take to these things in their youth will find the task of habit-culture comparatively easier. But it matters not at all whether you are young, middle-aged or old. You must do these things, not because of any extraneous pressure—you who have followed me so far cannot and should not believe in any such thing—but because it is the law of your nature.
At first when you start forming a new habit, there is resistance from your brain and many heroic efforts are necessary. Then gradually the task shall become easy and really pleasant. Another important fact to remember is that if at some hour today you go into your
room and send forth an intense thought, next day the same thought shall start up in your mind at the same point of time. This is known as Periodicity. Therefore supposing you want to perform some difficult task with which your mind is not accustomed to cope, Sit up a few hours previous to that time and suggest to yourself, "I wish you, subjective mind, to prepare yourself for the performance of such and such a task tomorrow at 4 o'clock. Be sure you do it. Now prepare yourself." Next day you will find yourself quite prepared to accomplish the task. Suppose you wanted to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning. Before retiring to bed say to yourself on your subjective mind "Look here—I wish you to get up (or wake me up) at 4 o'clock. Be sure you do it." You will wake at that hour..
Always concentrate your attention upon such autosuggestions and repeat them till you feel sure your commands will be obeyed and they will be, if you insist upon their fulfilment positively and persistently with confidence. Believe in your power to succeed and everything in nature shall rush to your aid.