Question: How should we go about making specific changes in areas where we would like to improve?
Swami Satchidananda: The most important change is to make sure you are in good company. One way to put yourself in the right company is by coming to a spiritual community. If you can’t do that, then surround yourself with spiritual books. Then you are in spiritual company by the ideas they fill you with. You can also make your entire home into good company. The pictures you put around the home, the books that you read and the TV programs and movies that you watch should all bring good thoughts to you. That will take care of everything else. Shankaracharya, a saintly Indian philosopher, was asked, “How can I become a jivanmukta, a living liberated soul?” He said, “Go and have good company.”
By putting yourself in good company, the immediate benefit is that you are not in the wrong company. And because you are in good company, you are not deluded. And because you are not deluded, your mind becomes steady. And because the mind is steady and peaceful, you attain mukti, total liberation. That’s why we should always make sure we are in the right company; seeing the right things, hearing the right things, saying the right things and doing the right things.
You are all familiar with the three monkeys: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. That means that the more you see, or hear, or speak unhelpful thoughts, the more you are living with those. As you think, so you become. As the mind, so the individual. Good company is very important because it will lead the way to the final spiritual realization. Let us all have the eye to see the right things.