This is an excerpt from Yoga, The Sacred Science, Volume 1, by Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, 2002. Chapter “Nirodhah means to cultivate, to coordinate all the aspects of your mind,” pages 72 -74.
You have to understand your mind properly in its totality. You have to know yourself within and without both. It is very easy to know yourself provided you want to. You are trying to escape. You are afraid of knowing yourself. From childhood onward you are trained to see and examine things in the external world. Nobody teaches you to look within, to find within, or to see within. You are a stranger to yourself, and others are also strangers to you. Two strangers make promises to each other, smile, talk, and establish home, and then create disaster for themselves in society. This is going on all over the world. Life as it is seems to be summed up with one word – relationship – relationship in the external world and relationship within. How is your body related to your breathing being, to your thinking being, and then to your consciousness? How is individual consciousness related to other individuals and to the whole universe?
Although the body and mind are two separate unites they work together. Your body is related to your mind with the help of two guards called inhalation and exhalation. The day they do not work together, these two units fall apart. The mortal part (your body, your breath, and your conscious mind) separates from the partially mortal self (the unconscious mind) and the immortal self (the jiva or individual soul). When the mortal self is separated from the partially mortal self and the immortal self, that is death. Death means separation of the body, senses, and conscious mind from the unconscious mind and the soul. Death occurs the moment the breath stops functioning. People worry and talk about death so much and are so afraid of it, they do not want to think about or understand or analyze what death is. Death is a habit of the body. Death is very peaceful, but fear of death is very painful. Let me tell you one thing: if you are waiting to die, you will be sorry. Death never changes your inner personality; it never helps you. Just as sleep does not change your financial condition, death does not change your personality. You have to learn to transform your personality here and now by understanding not only body, breath, and conscious mind, but also both parts of the unconscious – active and latent. Death means separation, not complete annihilation. You still live after you cast off your body. Which part of you lives? The unconscious mind, the reservoir of all your samskaras – the impressions of your merits and demerits, whatever you have done – continues to live. The unconscious mind is a vehicle for the soul. All of your acts dwell in this reservoir as a memory. It is just like starting another day. Today you are the same as you were yesterday. Sleep makes you forget some things, but that which is useful you still remember. Those impressions that you stored from your past – from yesterday, from the day before yesterday, from last year, from your whole life, from several lives – every impression that you received in the past, you have stored in the unconscious mind.
Those who are yogis recognize the people they have known before. For them the previous life is like yesterday. It is an interesting subject: my master used to check me when he was training me. It became a serious problem for me when he taught me this. I would meet somebody I had known in a previous life. That person who in a prior life was a great enemy, in this life had become a great friend. Why? To fulfill his animosity. The person who was a great enemy, now became a friend, and the person who was a friend, now became an enemy. It was very difficult for me to adjust: I was suspicious of everybody and I could not relate. Many times the impressions of two or three lifetimes came in front of me and they were very vivid.
You do not go to heaven or hell after death, but you live in your habit patterns. You go with your habit patterns, with your unconscious. That is a vehicle for the individual soul, or jiva. The unconscious mind stays with you. You are called an individual because you have an individual vehicle that has been formed by your individual habit patterns, impressions, desires, and motivations. One human being’s habits are not like the habits of any other human being. You are different, not because of different thinking, but because of different behavior, different desires, motivations, impressions, and samskaras. All individuals have the vehicle of the unconscious even after death. That is where impressions, samskaras, and desires remain. Without knowing yoursamskaras you cannot purify yourself, you cannot train yourself, you cannot realize the wisdom that you have carried from your past lives or from your childhood.
Who created these samskaras for you? You resign and say that God has created you as you are and nothing can be done. You think you cannot be transformed, you cannot be helped, so you pray. Suppose food is offered to you and you are hungry and you eat. You could say, Oh, Lord, this is your grace. That would be very good. Instead you say,Lord, digest my food. Please chew for me, please circulate my blood properly. This is not going to help you. It is just like trying to churn oil from sand. A human being has the power to understand his own existence and the universal existence, that eternal Truth which exists itself.
One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.