To cultivate equanimity you have to have a strong mind and that means a strong will. In order to develop the will, that one-pointed mind, you practice concentration and meditation. Concentration strengthens the mind because anything that is fully concentrated is more powerful. If the sun’s light is concentrated, it can burn anything. When the mind is concentrated, it can also become very powerful and that is why we must first take care to know what kind of mind we have. It should be made pure, before we try to make it that strong. Otherwise, it can be misused. The mind is made clean and pure by practicing and observing certain ethical precepts that we find in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. They are the foundation of any genuine spiritual life. They are similar to the Bible’s Ten Commandments and include truthfulness, non-injury refraining from greed, to name a few.

In a way, all the great scientists and inventors are yogis. They apply their entire mind to what they are doing. That requires great concentration and is a kind of  meditation. But unfortunately, as in the case of atomic energy, the gifts that come with such concentration are not always used for a good purpose. You can’t blame the energy. It is the person who is using the energy that makes it good or bad. In the same way, God’s powers that come to us through meditation and prayer can be misused if the mind is not pure and clean. Even the practices of Hatha Yoga, such as bandhas, mudras, and kriyas, can develop certain powers that could be easily misused if your mind is not clean.

Some people are interested in developing great powers that are often called ESPs (extra sensory perceptions). They think they will be happier and better off. But, ask yourself, “Am I happy and free even with my Ordinary Sensory Perception, or OSP? With just ordinary sensory perception, you can’t even go near a kitchen without exciting your nose and tongue. A simple little smell is enough to make you forget everything you were in the middle of. If you are on your way somewhere and see something nice, you forget all about where you were going—you become totally distracted. If you are tossed around so easily by your ordinary sensory perceptions, what will happen if your sensory perceptions become extra ordinary? You’ll be tossed much more.

That’s why the great Yoga masters, and the great scriptures, warn every seeker not to run after these powers that we call siddhis. If you don’t run after them, when the time is right, they will come to you. They will even run after you. So, in your everyday life, see that your mind is calm, that you are free from greed, anger, and selfishness. Every religion is based on that. Moses wasn’t given concentration and meditation techniques. Instead, he was given the Ten Commandments.

If you are free from selfishness the mind will be calm and you will get everything. Peace, is the God in you. That is the Yoga in you. You don’t need to run after peace. All you need to do is to stop doing everything that is disturbing your natural state of peace. Then you will experience the Divine.

The Bible tells us to “Seek the Kingdom of God,” which is within, and once you get that all the rest will be added on to you. What is that kingdom? It is the peace and neutrality that comes from having a balanced and contented mind. That’s why we have the proverb, “Contentment is golden.” What does that really mean? When you are contented, then whatever you do and whatever you touch becomes gold. You don’t have to rush after the gold. If you are contented the gold will rush after you.

All the rivers flow to the sea, even without an invitation. The sea is just there calm, serene, contented. That’s why the rivers want to go there: to experience that same contentment. First, they are individual rivers: Mississippi, Ganges, this and that and they all have different characteristics. But once they merge with the sea they become absorbed into that and they become one with the sea and with each other. That’s what is meant by the Biblical phrase, “I and my Father are one.” If the mind is peaceful, you have the whole world at your feet because everything comes to you— everything will be added onto you. So let us have that one-pointed concentration and peace as our aim behind all the Yoga practices.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda