Teachings of Swami Brahmananda
Within the palace of seven gates there dwells a king with whom a poor man begs an audience. The king’s minister grants his request, and leads him through the gates to the royal presence. At each gate there stands a nicely dressed officer. And each time, the poor man asks the minister, if that is the king. The minister answers, ‘No!’ each time, until they have passed the seventh gate, and the king stands before them in all his splendor and beauty.
Then no question is asked. The man recognizes his king. So it is with the guru. Like the king’s minister, he leads the disciple through the different stages of spiritual unfoldment, until he leaves him with the Lord. But know this! There is no greater guru than your own mind. When the mind has been purified by prayer and contemplation it will direct you from within.
Even in your daily duties, this inner guru will guide you and will continue to help you until the goal is reached. Have intense love for God and the mind will remain always tranquil and pure.
The easiest way to purity and steady the mind is to retire into solitude, control all cravings, and engage oneself in contemplation and meditation. The more you occupy the mind with holy thoughts, the greater will be your spiritual unfoldmcnt. Just as a cow yields much milk when it is well fed, so when the mind is fed spiritual food, it will yield greater tranquillity. Spiritual food consists of meditation, prayer, contemplation and japa.
Another way to steady the mind is to let it wander, but to keep a steady watch over its wanderings. After a while the mind itself becomes tired and comes back to find peace in God. If you watch your mind, your mind wall in turn watch over you. It is good to risc early in the morning. The time best suited for contemplation is when night passes into day, and when day passes into night. It is then that the Sushumna (the central nerve within the spinal column) becomes active, and one breathes through both nostrils. As a general rule, we breathe through only one nostril at a time. This causes restlessness of the mind. Spiritual aspirants should observe when they are breathing through both nostrils. The Sushumna is active then and those times are the most helpful to contemplation, and we should take advantage of them. Free your mind from cravings and attachments. Practice spiritual disciplines, and your mind will be come pure and steady. If a man does not struggle hard to realize God, he remains steeped in ignorance. Therefore struggle, struggle, and God will be revealed. Accept all struggles boldly. Welcome them, for through them you shall surely find peace.