A disciplined mind is your beautiful friend and a fantastic instrument. You’ll not only win God, you win everything, because when you automatically win God, you win the whole universe. An undisciplined mind can cause you to run here and there, chasing desire after desire as you search for happiness outside yourself. But chasing desires and running after things outside yourself can never bring you happiness. There’s nothing wrong with having things. You don’t have to renounce things. You renounce your attachment to those things. You can’t even renounce the body until death takes you away from it. We use the body, but don’t say “it’s mine.” Everything that we are using and seem to be possessing does not belong to us. It is simply around us, given by God or Nature—put it anyway you want. Some people don’t like to use the term God, so call it nature, the Cosmic Consciousness, or the Cosmic Intelligence. But if we understand this, then we are free and we are not affected by anything. That is the only way to clean the mind. It’s easy to say, easy to hear, but hard to do. For that, we have to develop strength of the mind. We have to discipline the mind.

An undisciplined mind will constantly put you in hell. Nobody else needs to discipline you. You have to discipline yourself. If you are interested in disciplining yourself, you will ask everybody to help you in that discipline. Particularly in the modern age, among the youth, even the term “discipline” does not sit well with them. Why should I tell them discipline is important? It’s none of my business. I don’t lose anything or gain anything. But individuals should realize, that without the proper discipline in life—discipline of the mind and body, discipline of the senses—you can neither enjoy this world or any other world. Without discipline, you can never be happy anywhere.

And that is what is said in the Ten Commandments: Thou shall not kill, thou shall not lie, and so on. There are certain disciplinary guidelines that we can follow to strengthen our minds. A disciplined mind becomes a very strong instrument. Like natural forces harnessed, you can use it for anything you want. You see the scientists doing that nowadays. Everything is harnessed. You focus light on a precise point, and you have laser bean light where you want it. A camera gets focused, my voice is focused. Unless you regulate and focus, you cannot achieve great results in anything you do. A dissipated mind cannot get anything. Your body should have discipline, and that is what we see in the entire cosmos. Don’t you see discipline even among the galaxies? The stars follow certain rules. The sun follows a rule, the moon follows a rule. They just don’t run around here and there.

We say we want freedom to do whatever we want. If the sun and moon and stars and the planets were to run as they want, the scientists would never learn that the moon will be at such and such place on such and such day. They will send a capsule up and then the moon will change its mind and go somewhere else. That is the proof that everything in nature follows a disciplined life. There is a course, of course.

But, I don’t know why that mischievous God, gave a little freedom to human beings. Maybe God thought: I’m controlling everything, everything obeys me and they follow the disciplines I gave them. They just go on the allotted course, no problem, whatsoever. But maybe I’ll have some fun and give human beings some freedom.

Sometimes I’m not quite happy with whoever it is that did that. Who asked God to give us the freedom? Nobody. God just gave it and then sits and watches how the kids will do. God wanted it that way, it’s done that way, and it cannot be changed. So, we simply have to accept it and that God is not going to interfere with our freedom—at least within certain limits. So it’s better for us to use the freedom properly, by watching the entire nature and following its lesson.

That is where concentration and meditation helps. That’s an important point. Even if we cannot sit and self-analyze or do any of the other Yoga practices, let meditation become a part of our lives. At least that, because that will slowly set everything right. All our problems are due to the unruly mind. And concentration helps us in slowly getting control over that mind. Little by little, we gain mastery over the mind. And one day you’ll be surprised how obedient your mind is. You’ll notice that everything that you’ve been running after will begin to run after you. The Bible clearly says, “Seek ye the kingdom of God and everything else will be added unto you.” Instead of running after things one by one, run after that one, which, when gotten, will make everything run after you!

The Hindu scriptures also have said the same teaching: “Know that, by knowing which you can know everything else.” What is that? The realization of the truth. How is that possible? By having a well-disciplined mind. There is no shortcut. And how can you discipline the mind? You certainly work with the body too. Because you cannot discipline the mind while totally ignoring the body. They go together because, remember, that body and mind are not two different things. They are one and the same in different levels of expression. Mind came together and became solid—that is the body. Body expanded, becomes mind. The subtle body and physical body. They are one and the same, like ice and water. And the causal body is like steam, but still more expanded. That is the reason, if you want to do anything with the mind, it’s easy to begin with the body. It’s very scientific.

People with a technical mind will know what it is. I can explain this in a simple analogy. The automobile, which we all know and we all use, begins to move from a stand still position. The minute we start the key, the spark plug ignites the gas, and the first visible movement is in the piston. The piston is kicked down by the ignition, and then from the piston it is transferred to the connecting rod, then the crankshaft to the running shaft, and then to the axle and then to the wheel. So, all movement begins at the piston and the major expression of the movement is at the wheel. Because of the wheel moving, the entire car moves. So if this analogy is clearly understood you see that it is because of the piston movement that the car moves. If we want to stop a moving car, where do we apply the brake? We apply the brake at the wheel, not at the piston where the movement started. There, the movement is magnified. It is more gross, not at the beginning where it is very subtle.

In the same way, this body, which is a motor car, moves not because the leg wants to move, but because of the piston inside. Something fires in you and there is ignition. What fires? The thought: Ah, I want to eat. A desire fires in the mind and leads you to feel: I must go and have a sumptuous meal. Immediately the thought sends a message to the brain and the motor nerves say: legs walk to the kitchen. And of course, the entire body should coordinate immediately, so the message goes all over the body and the legs begin to walk. A thought causes the movement of the body.

Now, if you want to stop the movement of the mind—the thought—where would you apply the brake? To the body. You simply apply the brake to the legs: Legs don’t walk towards the kitchen. Don’t go. The thought will roar, but the brakes are applied to the legs. You are adamant: No, I’m not going to budge an inch! I’m not going to open the refrigerator anymore. You are applying the brake at a very physical place, at a very gross area, to control the subtle mind. That is where the practice of meditation comes in: it can lead us to the real freedom—inner freedom.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda