Question: How can we maintain a balanced state of mind without suppressing our feelings?

Answer: To remain balanced does not mean you suppress your feelings. Suppression will never make you a balanced person. Instead, you should analyze the situation. Remember, every time you express a negative emotion, it gets renewed. Any kind of thought—any want or desire—every time you fulfill that, you are feeding it. It gains new strength. You will have noticed this in your own life. How many times would you have said, “Okay, this is the last chocolate.” Until the box is empty, each chocolate is the last chocolate. Because every time you eat one, the mind wants one more. So you are renewing the desire each time you fulfill it. If you want a balanced mind, a peaceful mind, the desires should not be renewed in this way. It’s almost like putting out a fire. If you want the fire to go out, do you add more firewood? No. Instead, you take the firewood away.

Desires are like the fire. Don’t give opportunities for them to get fulfilled. Then they will slowly wither away and die for want of opportunities to get renewed. Every time you fulfill a desire, it becomes stronger. It is sustained by that. Eastern psychology doesn’t approve of this approach, because it knows that every time you express it, it gets renewed. Then, you will want more, more, more. So neither express, nor suppress. What are you to do then? Analyze. Take time to question. Meditate on that. Think of the pros and cons. If you can’t do that, the next best thing is to ignore it. Don’t even think of it. Just ignore it, and for want of attention, it will undergo a natural death. It will wither and die. It is like a plant; if you don’t water the plant, it dies by itself.

If you do that, if you become stronger rather than weaker, how great that will be. How much people will admire you. Put the positive side forward always. Weigh the pros and cons. Educate your mind. It’s a naughty child and you are the boss. If you want to train your dog, you cannot just give in every time. At the same time, you cannot be too rough. Training a horse or a puppy is like that. Only when it listens to you, obeys you, do you admire and appreciate it. That is the yogic approach.

Question: What is the cause of fear, anger and depression?

Answer: According to Sage Patanjali, ignorance is the root cause of all the problems—not only fear, anger and depression, but all the other things as well. He lists some of the problems the mind can go through. Then he sums up everything as being caused by ignorance. Ignorance of what? Ignorance of your true nature. In reality you are pure spirit, pure energy, pure vibration. When you realize that, then you will be able to see the same spirit, vibration, consciousness, whatever way you label it, everywhere.

All the dualities—pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow—come in because you lost that central identity. It doesn’t matter what is the cause of the depression. Ultimately, it came because of you. No situation is going to cause you depression if you look at it in the proper light. What is the cause of fear? Mainly the fear is there because you think that you are going to lose something. It is a fear of loss. “I don’t want to lose it.” Whatever it is. A little money, you got it, you don’t want to lose it. A name, you got it, you don’t want to lose it. The body, you got it, you don’t want to lose it. But remember, when you get something you will have to lose it as well. Whenever there is a coming there will certainly be a going. You got it. And it’s not going to stay with you always. What do you have that is yours to lose? Did you bring anything with you when you came into this world?

It has all somehow come to you along the way. So, the root cause of fear is an unconscious attachment towards things that were never yours. Keep things, use them for the benefit of everybody, and be ready to let them go when the time comes. Then there will be no fear at all. Once attachment comes and the fear comes, then the anger comes also. Because you need to find an excuse for your loss. “He is the one who took it from me. He is the cause for my loss, so I am angry at him.” And then when you cannot do anything to him, you cannot go and fight with him, you are depressed. So all the other problems come out of this basic ignorance.

That is why one has to always question oneself, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I really? All these things are mine. I am using them. What is mine cannot be me.” Anything you call “mine” can never be you. You are the owner of that thing, that’s why you call it “mine.” “My body, my mind, my ego. My ego. It’s not me, it’s my ego.” So then who are you? “I am totally different from all these things. All these that I call ‘mine, mine, mine, mine’ are just given to me.” And when the job is over it might be taken away and you have to accept that. So accept this coming and going. When there is a profit, there is a loss. When there is a pleasure, there is pain. Accept this phenomenon, this natural, worldly phenomenon. Everything just comes and goes. As long as you know that it’s not yours, that you are provided these things to use for the sake of others, then you have no problem. I assure you that you will never have any fear, any worry, anxiety, anger or depression, no. The essential aim behind Yoga is to keep your mind totally balanced. The only way to find the balance is to detach yourself from everything and utilize everything for the benefit of others. If every moment of ours is based on this, we live a yogic life totally free from fear, anger, anxiety, worry or depression.

Question: I seem to have a very emotional nature and don’t know how to maintain equanimity.

Answer: Emotion is nice. It is not a bad thing. But when it is based on a selfish feeling, you get disturbed. Pure emotion is love. It comes from the heart. It is universal love, not based on selfishness. But when you limit it, it disturbs you. “I only want this and not that. And I want it for my sake.” Then it disturbs you. All those great saints and sages were emotional people. How much they cried for God. How much they felt.

Once a devotee was talking to Sri Krishna, saying that he was very jealous of Krishna’s little bamboo flute. Krishna asked, “Why? It’s just a reed. Why are you jealous of that?” “Well, every time I see you holding and kissing it, I feel very jealous, you never gave me kisses like that.” Then Krishna said, “Certainly, you too will have all the kisses if you could make yourself like the flute.” It is just a simple piece of bamboo. It always gets the beautiful kisses from the Lord, because it is hollow, it has nothing of its own. “Lord, I am just your hollow reed. I’m in your hands. You play any tune You want.“ So the flute is a beautiful symbol of a true devotee who has given him or herself absolutely into the hands of God. That kind of emptiness is what you call total purity. There is no I, me, mine in it. There is only total surrender to God. The purpose of devotional practices is to help address one’s emotional side. Normally we are all emotional people, we are all attached to certain things. When you leave everything in God’s hands, you find equanimity through the devotional approach. That also is Yoga.

Question: During kirtan, there was a lot of intensive clapping. It seemed contrary to a meditative experience. It seemed more emotional, as far as I was concerned.

Answer: Yes, by singing God’s name you give vent to your emotional feelings. That is not called meditation; it is called kirtan. In kirtan you are more or less taking care of the emotional side. The mind has an emotional side. That’s why in the name of Integral Yoga, in the name of spirituality, we try to address all the different aspects of the mind. By singing God’s name, you give vent to your emotional feelings in a gentle way. But not by a violent chanting, because then you are shaking the entire mechanism of the mind. You are rousing the subconscious mind and certain dormant instincts will be kindled up. So you shouldn’t go to that level. Kirtan should be done consciously, not in an unconscious way.

Certain chants are selected mainly for their vibrations. They create a feeling. And slowly through those vibrations, you get into a sort of serenity. If you continue a little longer, you might even forget yourself completely. You transcend body consciousness. That is also a way of transcending the mind and body.


– Swami Satchidananda

Excerpted from satsang transcripts

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