The Greatest Austerity lies in mind Control

Austerity! Penance! What is the real import of these terms? If you go for their established meanings, you will be able to gather the whole gamut of terminologies which all together can be put in a set form, as:
AUSTERITY = {Sternness of manner, Restriction in disposition, Severity in judgment, Rigorous living style, Severe self-discipline, Moral strictness, Severe simplicity, Lack of luxury or adornment, Abstinence, Ascetic practices, Dispassion with tasteful foods…}

Thus, there is no dearth of varying definitions related to 'austerity'.However, our great ones endeavoured to explain it in very simple and plain words. According to them,“To emaciate one's body with fasts and the like is not true penance. So long as evil passions persist in man, all external appliances are useless.” (Saint Eknath)

Real austerity does not lie in torturing the body, for which ascetics adopt various ways; like, starving in the name of fasting, offering oblation of one's body parts, etc. etc. Mind it! The control of mind is the greatest austerity one can ever undertake. Generally, people undergo rigorous austerities only with the motive of gaining occult powers. But, dear readers, remember that the supreme gain lies in appeasing God, and God can only be pleased and moved, in the real sense, if you succeed in overcoming the greatest and the toughest challenge of your life. That challenge is bridling one's mind, as only when the mind is subjugated, God can be known and realised. Only when the known is obscured from view, the unknown can be seen and known. It is only when the extrovert mind is turned inward that you suddenly come across something you have been seeking for since time immemorial. In other words, God appears when your ego and mind halt. Even to receive and experience the eternally showering grace of God and great ones, the mind should be fully reined and controlled. There is a thought-provoking saying:“An individual may have the grace of all the three – Guru, God, and holy men. However, without the grace of his own mind, it comes to an utter ruin and disaster.”Meaning, even if a disciple has the favour of his Guru, even if he is showered with the grace of God in abundance, and even if he receives the holy effect and vibes of the sacred company, all these otherwise invaluable blessings prove futile without mind-control. A controlled and conducive mind alone can help you in accomplishing your goal. A pure mind alone is capable of receiving and enjoying the otherwise eternally showering grace of the great ones. Therefore, it is well said: “Real austerity does not lie in torturing your body as in holding fasts and starving; to conquer the mind is actual austerity.”

It is very easy to reign over the body but very tedious to dominate its subtler limb, i.e., the mind, which is generally imbued with all sorts of vicious instincts and tendencies. Basically, mind can be defined as a flux of thoughts, which together can be graded as:
1. Negative thoughts arising with a whole range of shades, such as those of hate, lust, jealousy, anger, egocentricity, immorality, cynicism, etc…
2. Positive thoughts rendering the whole atmosphere with pleasant, hallowed vibes of love, empathy, sympathy, forgiveness, compassion, contentment, morality, humbleness, etc…

Consequently, your mind, consisting of negative as well as positive thoughts, is subtler than your gross body, and it is a well-known fact that the subtler an entity is, the more difficult becomes its maintenance; for, the subtle is always more powerful than its grosser part. For instance, water being subtler than ice is more powerful than ice. At the same time, steam being even subtler than water is the most potent among all the three states of water. How? Let's try to grasp this principle by focusing on the life-sketch of James Watt. The very same principle was used by him when he invented the steam engine. One day, in his childhood, he, while sitting near the hearth of his mother's cottage, watched how the steam was lifting the lid of a teakettle kept on fire. This was the first time when he got the opportunity to judge the might of the steam pressure. It was this childhood analysis which prompted Mr. Watt to ultimately invent a steam engine that could work and multiply man's energy a thousand fold.

However, here, there is something which is worth considering. No doubt, steam can be used to create a variable pressure as per requirement, but, at the same time, its maintenance, including preservation, is harder than that of water and ice. The essential condition is that to use it effectively for creating pressure, we need to store and enclose it in some tightly closed container. Otherwise, it may be released astray along with the evaporation of the whole of its potential. In a similar fashion, the human mind is very subtle and, hence, mighty. So, for its effective utilisation, we need to control and keep it within the boundaries of self-denial as directed by the eye-opening, soul-stirring teachings of the great ones, who possess supreme wisdom.

Hence, though it is difficult to control the mind, yet it is not an impossible task. Mind can be pacified and brought under restraint through the divine inebriation of meditation based upon True Knowledge, achieved by the grace of a Perfect Master. Without this Brahm Gyan's meditation, the mind cannot be tranquilized, and without tranquility, purity is not possible. In other words, with meditation comes real purification. However, for total mind-purgation, the practice of meditation should be pursued on a regular basis, as purification is a gradual process that needs the ladder of Divine Knowledge to climb up from the lower vicious levels to the highest level of spiritual virtues. For example, if you are standing in a courtyard and you wish to climb up the wall to the roof, then, what will you do? Of course, you will use a staircase or some ladder to climb up safely. If you are thrown directly, then you, getting hurt, may harm yourself! On the same ground, for perfection, step by step purification is needed. You can't reach the supreme goal of perfection in a single go! If any one tries to do so, he will end up in frustration and nothing else! Divine Knowledge is such a ladder which provides us with the opportunity of perfecting ourselves step by step, by overcoming all our vices one after another and, at the same time, by progressively imbuing us with divine, virtuous tendencies.

Our mind, being fickle, has a tendency of wandering hither and thither restlessly and unnecessarily. Nevertheless, there is no need of losing hope! There is nothing to despair of! Instead, keep on fighting hard with the might of meditation against those interrupting distractions until you succeed; for instance, when the clock is out of order, you get it repaired again. Similarly, whenever your mind is out of order, simply get it repaired through the tools of True Knowledge. Time and again, it needs to be dragged back and fixed on the thought of God by hauling it through the reins of True Knowledge. A regular and thorough dive into the blissful pool of meditation, built by the walls of Divine Knowledge, purifies and brings the mind under control, enabling one to experience the joy unspeakable – the one that is transcendently ecstatic. One should practise sadhna (meditation) with unswerving steadfastness and should not let even a single day pass without it. Whether your mind favours or opposes, do not leave it; for, your mission is to be the controller of your mind and not otherwise.

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