Satsang with Adi Shankaracharya and some disciples.

Recently I was asked the question, “What can I do when I find I am lacking the discipline to practice my disciplines?”

Follow the spirit: The spirit vs. the mind—that means your own inner consciousness and your outer mind. There is always a tug of war between those two. So which side do you want to take? Do you want to take the side of the spirit? Then, ignore the argument of the mind. It has been well spoiled and wants to use the same old route. So don’t give in. Either control it, or, ignore it if you can’t control it.

How to control the mind is the eternal question in all the spiritual approaches. One of the great Indian saints, Adi Shankaracharya, expresses the same idea when he says the mind is like a wild monkey running around that is hard to control. So, we have a monkey mind. But, with persistence, you will always be successful. Don’t give up. When the mind wants to do something that is not to your benefit, try to do the opposite to control the mind. You will win one day, no doubt. It’s not something new. Many people have achieved this discipline and control. If one person achieves something in the world at any time, it can be done the same way by everybody. There have been so many saints, sages, and prophets who came, who achieved this control, and they are all there to help us and bless us, even now.

Let’s not give in; let’s continue the practices. And, if you fail, don’t worry and don’t give up, because nothing is built in one day. When you were a baby, you fell down many times before you started walking. In the same way, failures should be the stepping stones for the future success. Ultimately, you will succeed.

And of course, the easiest way, is to keep the company of other people who want to achieve the same thing. If you have good company, even without your knowing, you will be able to achieve your goals. That’s what you call satsanga, good company. Adi Shankaracharya talked about satsanga and said it will lead you to the jivanmukti state—the state of a living, liberated soul. When you are in satsanga your mind never wavers. When you are in a group of a majority, automatically you become that. So always have good company, and not necessarily only people. Your good pictures, and books are your company. That way your thoughts will be involved in the same atmosphere.

Don’t we normally see this in life? For example, take someone who wants to practice boxing. What kind of pictures will he or she be keeping around the house? Pictures of all the best boxers. Then, automatically, they can feel inspired by them. A person who wants to be a movie star will have photographs of famous actors all around. That is the reason why the type of company you keep is so important. Keep good company and never give up.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda