The definition of the weakness and strength of the mind is analogous to the weakness and strength of the body and its vital functions. Through the practice of yoga and meditation and other attendant disciplines, both the body and the mind may be energized.
We feel low on energy sometimes; we feel high sometimes. Sometimes we feel weak; sometimes we feel strong. When we feel weak, we have a lack of initiative, a lack of memory, a lack of concentration; fatigue, inability to endure a situation, a relationship, a difficulty, a job, a course of study, any kind of dedication or devotion. At that time, we have a preoccupation with ourselves.
The weakest word in the human dictionary is "I." It is one of the major sources of weakness of the body and mind – the thought “me” . . . "What about me?" . . . what I want. When people write letters, for example, notice how many times the word "I" is used – how many paragraphs begin with the word "I," how many times the word "me" is used: “I want, I feel, it happens to me, my reaction, my feeling, my disappointment, my frustration, my expectation. He told me, I told him. I’m not like this, I’m not like that. I am this way, that's the way I am.” This shows their weakness. And in a spiritually strong person, the frequency of the word "I" and "me" becomes less and less. It is said that one of the greatest yogis of this century, or of the last 500 years, Ramana Maharshi, in the last 25 years of his life simply did not use the pronouns "I" and "me."
When we are energized, we have endurance; we have strength; we can carry weight – physical or mental. Things that before made us quit, now seem as nothing. We can carry through and enjoy doing so. Energy is creativity. Without energy, we do not have the inspiration to create. Without energy, we do not have the initiative to begin the creation nor to carry it through, nor to complete it, nor to perfect it. This is true whether it is carrying a physical weight, entertaining guests, becoming a great musician, or in serving others. We need to find sources of energy for ourselves.
Let us summarize some sources of energy through which we may energize ourselves.
FOOD – When eaten in a regular and balanced manner, when not overeaten, food is a source of energy. Overindulgence in food de-energizes us. Food eaten in moderate amounts leaves less residue1 to block the energy channels of the body. One of the most debilitating and de-energizing factors causing inertia is the residue from foods left in the body which are not properly assimilated or cleaned out. Irregular eating, constant nibbling and eating between meals do not allow the system, sufficient time to rest, assimilate and clean house. If the dead cells and phlegmatic flows are not eliminated, if the putrid stuff just lying in the internal organs is never removed, a de-energizing, debilitating, tamasic influence is exerted on the nerves and the mind.2
THOUGHT– is a great source of energy. For example, having a firm faith in something often becomes a driving force of such potent strength that a wiry framed bag of bones, like Mahatma Gandhi can lead an entire nation to almost impossible lofty heights. His energy did riot arise from muscles and nerves; it arose from carefully cultivated positive thoughts in which he had firm conviction and faith – thoughts which were not dogmatic nor competitive with anything else3. To be pure, a faith must not be competitive; it must not be against something. Any faith that is against something is not an energizing faith. Any faith which is an abandoning of something else is not an energizing faith.
Blockage of energy occurs through wrong karmas. The words, "wrong karmas" do not mean past karma. They mean the karma of now, the karma now being gathered in the form of our thoughts. The karma that you are now doing will affect your future energy levels. Wrong, karma, for example, is a jealous thought, a guilty thought, an unloving thought, a me-centered thought, a thought in which the washing-soap of the Four Right Attitudes4 is not used. Therefore, any me-centered thought is a de-energizing thought. An energizing thought is not a thought that suppresses a negative thought; an energizing thought is a thought that replaces a negative thought. Such a positive thought is an energizing thought.
A beautiful thought, a peaceful thought, is the greatest source of human energy – a thought such as love. For example, I spoke of food. Food purchased from a fast-food place and gobbled, not eaten is not a source of energy. But food that someone prepares with gentle, loving thoughts, with you in mind and then is given to you and you enjoy it because it is an act of love, this food then is a source of energy. It is more a source of energy than food which is prepared without the thought of love in the mind. Without love being directed to flow through the fingers of the person who is cooking, there is no energy. For this reason, the pie made by grandmother was seldom overeaten, but pie made in the popular pie shops is over-eaten because, though it fills the stomach, it does not fill the mind.
The love that gives you energy must be repaid. Food that you do not eat, but that you give to someone else out of love, also gives you energy. The energy there is the energy of a loving thought. Food prepared with someone in mind and handed to them personally is a source of energy to both the giver and the receiver.
WATER – is a source of energy, both as you drink it and as, it bathes the body. Again, a proper thought-flow, a mental connection with the Cosmic Reality, is the true source of that energy. When you are taking a shower, if you are taking a shower with the Divine Flux of the universe, the flow of all the galaxies in your mind – the sacredness of the Jordan and Ganges in your mind – then that bathing acts as a daily baptism. If bathing is a preparation of the body as a temple for the Divine whom you invite to be present in your meditation, then that bathing becomes a source of energy.
BLESSING – One of the great unknown sources of energy is a blessing, and one of the most debilitating things is a curse. By a curse, I do not mean a curse placed upon you by a witch, but rather the ugly thoughts that others are thinking about you. If you have lived a life in which there has been too much of the "me-thought," then you have created a "non-me" – you have created its opposite. The moment you separate yourself from the Great Cosmos, you create a duality, you create an "other," an opposition. That opposite tries to destroy you, tries to I compete with you. You say, "Me?" and the other one says, "No, not that 'me,' this 'me' – ME!" Which "me" in the Great Cosmic Consciousness is more important – the "me" inhabiting this body, or the "me" inhabiting that body? So other minds think ugly thoughts about you, and those thoughts hit you if you keep your mind open to those thoughts. On the other hand, if you avoid wondering, "Is that person still thinking bad thoughts about me? That person must be thinking bad thoughts about me. I cannot believe he or she would ever love me. I wonder if that person will ever trust me." If you avoid those debilitating, de-energizing thoughts and cultivate indifference to evil, those thoughts cannot affect you. But thoughts directed toward you can be debilitating if you are open to them. When you are open to such thoughts, you also think thoughts that are negative, harmful, and self-destructive. It is not that person's curse that is affecting you, but your own curse that says, "Who me, selfish? No, no, that other person is the selfish one!" And that thought is the source of your mental and physical debility and eventual disease.
To repeat, one of the greatest sources of energy is a blessing. There is a saying in India that from the parental blessing flows all other blessings in life – the parental thought of tenderness and love that, although a child is going wrong, yet, "I would like my child to prosper, grow and be happy." We speak of specific sources of blessing. The first source is the mother; the second source is the father; the third source is the teacher; and, of course, the fourth source is God. Always try to obtain the blessings of these sources. Please them: "May they be pleased with me." Why? Because the very cells of your body respond to the thoughts that permeate them. From the moment of your conception, a synchrony exists between you and those with whom you are sharing an inherited structure, an inherited body structure. Similarly, between a loving teacher and a loved student there exists a mental synchrony, and the good thoughts of these people should always be sought irrespective of any differences of opinion. These thoughts will bring you blessings. The Muslims call it a barakat. In India the blessing of friends brings you energy: "He's such a fine person, such a wonderful person, such a giving, loving, gentle human being. They say sampati: a prospering. They bring you a prospering in the same manner in which the happiness of a pregnant mother brings health to the child in her womb and the unhappiness, depression or dejection of the pregnant mother brings debilitation to a child in the womb. That relationship that you have with the mother while you are in the womb is never quite broken; it is not cut with the umbilical cord. This type of blessing is efficacious, then, as well as a person thinking, "May he ever prosper, may all good things happen to him." When others think such thoughts about you, whether you know about them or not, you grow. May others think such thoughts about you! If in our minds there are such thoughts about others, others will think such thoughts about you. Consider how to eliminate the "me," and instead think, "How may I serve?"
SELFLESS SERVICE – One of the greatest sources of energy is selfless service. It comes as a surprise to many when someone resents, or resists helping, or resigns from his organization or church because he has to tithe or to work. Giving is a virtue. Giving is a source of blessing. Sharing is a source of blessing. Sharing one's strengths, sharing one's mind – these are all sources of blessing. You cannot live without giving, without serving, without helping, without sharing. How would you live? You would be very lonely. So, we have this constant feeling of being debilitated, not having enough strength to keep going, wanting to quit, to drop out, to get away. Irrespective of where you are, whether it's a job or a relationship or a church or a study, rid yourself of this debilitating depression by cultivating the Four Right Attitudes, by seeking proper health-giving sources of energy, and by eliminating negative, me-centered thoughts through selfless service to others.
CONCENTRATION – There are other very, very great sources of energy. One is concentration. Concentrate on any given sense. From how far away can you smell a flower? Concentrate at the tip of the nose where the nose bridge joins the upper lip5 and feel as if the breath is going in from there and is branching off into two. Take a slow, deep, fine, breath; then see if you can smell the flowers that are sitting at the other side of the room. If you cannot smell them from where you are, try moving closer . . . closer . . . closer. Gradually, as your concentration improves, you will be able to smell them from a greater distance. You will increase the energy of your smell organs and will give yourself a greater joy.
Or concentrate on tasting your food. Concentrate on the food and on the taste buds, and you will derive a greater amount of energy while eating. Then you need not eat large amounts of food, hoping for mental energy and mental fulfillment from eating.
Concentration on a mantram also energizes the mind.
LIGHT – Light is a source of energy. Concentration through gazing at a flame of light energizes us. If the eyes are closed after gazing and the mental after-image of that flame is focused between the eyebrows, this creates a reaction in the pineal gland. Thus, gazing at a flame of light – a pure, still, steady, white-light candle flame – energizes the pineal gland which then starts further reactions which control the pituitary gland. This awakens the mind from its lethargy, and we are energized. Concentration on any form of light, whether external or internal, in any one of the chakras or centers of consciousness, is a great source of energizing the mind as well as the body. For example, a red flame visualized and concentrated in the upward triangle of the navel center is a source, of energy that helps the process of digestion and the functioning of all the internal organs.
PRANAYAMA – Another source of energy is pranayama, lengthening and deepening the breath, doing the 108-breath channel purification, deep breathing, real deep breathing, not chest breathing, but abdominal and diaphragmatic breathing. Concentrate on the left nostril and the right nostril and then merge the nostrils, letting the ida and pingala join, and become the flow of sushumna itself.
You need not start with the highest forms of energizing. Start with the smaller ones. Eliminate thoughts that do not invite or bestow blessings, eliminate unnecessary residues of dead cells, the remains of half-eaten meals, etc. And constantly, constantly observe ways in which to serve and share as one of the greatest energizing forces. When you give somebody a gift, aren't you pleased? That pleasing state of mind is the energy of the mind. In India there is a custom on certain occasions when gifts are given in which we say, "Thank you. Please accept this gift." Not "Thank you for giving me the gift," but "Thank you for taking the gift from me, giving me the opportunity to be happy." That is energizing.
So, go over these sources of energy in your mind and lead a life that is full of shakti, full of fulfillment and realized potential. That becomes your creativity, your completeness, and your path to perfection.
[Published in Himalayan News – April, 1978]
1) In Ayurveda, this residue of toxic, undigested food is known as āma.
2) See Dr. Rudolph Ballentine’s book, Radical Healing, Chapter 8, titled “Detox.”
3) "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." (Gandhi)
4) The Four Right Attitudes, also called the Brahmā Vihāras or the Parikarmas (pari-karman) are:
maitrī (amity, friendliness),
upekşhā (indifference to evil).
Practicing these Four Right Attitudes enables one to stabilize the mind-field. (See Swami Veda’s commentary on Yoga-sutras I.33 and III.23.)
5) This point of focus is called nāsāgra. It located at the base of the nostrils where the partition (columella) between the two nostrils meets the indentation (philtrum) extending upward from the middle of the upper lip. The nose “bridge” (nasal bridge) is higher up – the bony part of the nose – a little below eye level.
Thank you to Michael Smith for archiving and editing.
This article was also published in the August 2020 edition of the AHYMSIN newsletter.