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Watching your thoughts

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

16 August 2021

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To set right the expressions, you have to watch and change your thoughts and emotions – the blaming thoughts, strong clinging to likes and dislikes, the egoistic and rigid ideas, etc.

What is the meaning of “watching the thoughts” you had suggested? However much I may be successful in watching my thoughts, I am not able to change my behaviour with others…

Dear and blessed —

“Watching the thoughts” means witnessing them come and go without getting involved in them. Normally we are always getting involved in the current thought. When depressing or happy thoughts arise, we “become depressed or happy”. Witnessing means we have to see the happy thoughts, depressing thoughts, without becoming happy or depressed.

When we are dreaming, we react to all the dream perceptions as if in wakefulness. But, what is our reaction to the dream after we have woken up? Don’t we simply “remember and observe” the dream events without getting involved in them or reacting to them? Because we know that they were just some events displayed in our mind. Suppose, while dreaming we come to know that it is all dream?

Gurudev Baba used to say, “Be like the still Babul tree standing on the bank of a river. So many boats are passing by – one carrying a dead body where all accompanying people are wailing in sorrow, another carrying a marriage party where all the participants are dancing merrily. The Babul tree does not react to what it sees!”

If you can do it properly, you will realize the unaffected nature of our Atma. Sukha and duhkha will become just like waves witnessed by our real identity.

For behavioural improvement, you have to work at the causal level. Behaviours are expressions – effects resulting from your thoughts and emotions. So, to set right the expressions, you have to watch and change your thoughts and emotions – the blaming thoughts, strong clinging to likes and dislikes, the egoistic and rigid ideas, etc.

When you try this, you will find that it is not easy to change the thoughts. The unwanted thoughts just arise in your mind without asking for your permission. So, to transform the thoughts, you have to reach still deeper causal level. What is that? It is called “bhāva” – the emotional constitution of the mind, or the mindset. It is the “colour” or quality of the mind. As red radiation comes from a red bulb, selfish thoughts come from a selfish mindset, egoistic thoughts come from a rigid egoistic mindset.

So, the real saadhana becomes one of “bhāva-śuddhi” – purifying the mindset. That is what we try to do by constant contemplation on the Ātma, by repeated interaction with the Soul-dimensions. Thinking constantly of the unchanging, impersonal, impartial, unaffected Soul, the mind too becomes like that. The sky-like mindset gives rise to liberal thoughts, and the liberal thoughts translate into non-egoistic, non-agitated behaviour…

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

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“Watching the thoughts" means witnessing them come and go without getting involved in them. ”

“Thinking constantly of the unchanging, impersonal, impartial, unaffected Soul, the mind too becomes like that.”

“Gurudev Baba used to say, “Be like the still Babul tree standing on the bank of a river. So many boats are passing by – one carrying a dead body where all accompanying people are wailing in sorrow, another carrying a marriage party where all the participants are dancing merrily. The Babul tree does not react to what it sees!”

“The sky-like mindset gives rise to liberal thoughts, and the liberal thoughts translate into non-egoistic, non-agitated behaviour. ”

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