The Art Of Positive Thinking: Training In Methods Of Mind-Transformation

Published: 14.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Two men were travelling together. They came to a stream. The stream was full and deep. One of them stood at the bank, the other descended into the water and soon crossed over to the other bank. Crossing the stream presented a problem. One man stood helplessly on the bank, while his companion crossed over to the other bank. The one who knew how to swim, crossed over; the other, who had not been so trained, stood helplessly—purely a matter of training!

Life too presents us with many problems, much more intricate and serious than crossing a stream. It is easier to cross a stream, but to meet adequately life's challenges is harder. However, a man trained in the science of living overcomes all problems. One whose mind and heart are not so disciplined, stands helplessly and cannot resolve a thing. He never reaches the other shore. So proper training is of great importance in life. A task which may be beyond the capacity of an average person, is easily accomplished by a trained person. Skill in drama, sculpture and other arts comes through training. It is through training that all works are properly performed. Without training and practice, even passing the thread through the needle becomes a problem. Every man cannot do it. Thus, without training everything becomes a problem. It is only through proper instruction that one acquires the ability to meet all kinds of problems, big and small. If the kitchen is assigned to a person who does not know how to cook, the boarders are likely to go hungry.

Not only man, but animals too—the elephant, the monkey, the horse and the dog—require to be trained. Feats performed by many animals are truly astonishing. It cannot be gainsaid that training plays a very important role in life. A person who has not been disciplined or trained cannot be truly religious. A man requires no qualifications to become a minister. Likewise, a man who takes to the religious life is not commonly supposed to require any training. But this is an illusion; an untrained disciple cannot be of much use to himself or others.

There can be no radical transformation of the mind without proper training. Training is likely to be hard and long. Without it, there is no possibility of transformation. Training is essential for the flowering of non-violence in life.

One spiritual practitioner said, "Non-violence fails in war. One who is vowed to non-violence has no utility whatsoever in wartime."   

I said, non-violence never fails, nor one who is given to non­violence. What makes for failure is deficient effort. The fault lies with us who provide no training in non-violence. We have made no headway in that direction. With proper training in non-violence, an individual develops in himself a great capacity for death. Whether on the war-front, or in any other battle of life, a person endowed with the capacity to die—one who has no fear of death—can never fail. The root cause of failure is love of life and fear of death. The man who is attached to life and fears death can never succeed, particularly on the battle-front. Only the man who has ended all attachments and knows no fear of death, can be truly non-violent. Such a person never fails.

Does the soldier going to the battle-front proceed with the assurance that he will not die? Actually he knows that death is most probable, and it would be a great thing if he escapes. He is prepared for death at all times. It is his good luck if he escapes unhurt. What accounts for such an attitude on the part of the soldier? His training, the discipline he has undergone. From the day he enlists, his training starts and it continues for ever. Daily practice, theoretical instruction and training courses make him a fit soldier. A great deal of effort is devoted to training in violence. If even a half of that effort were devoted to training in non-violence, then these non-violent gallants could fight any war with perfect fearlessness. But today no training is imparted in non-violence, nor is there visible any concern for the proper training of persons embracing non-violence. It is generally believed that no such training is required. For proficiency in violence which is imposed from outside, some training is consid­ered necessary; not for non-violence. This is obviously a delusion. For lack of training, truth is failing; likewise are failing the non-acquisitive spirit and brahmcharya. It may be said that all the truths, the realities of life, are rendered futile for lack of proper instruction and training.

A Preksha Meditation camp provides training in spiritual development. There are three essential elements:

  1. the evolution of faith;
  2. comprehension of the means thereto, and
  3. regular practice

Whatever work a man undertakes to accomplish, if he has no faith in it, he can never succeed. The first condition of success is faith in the work being accomplished. If we have faith in whatever we propose to do, we succeed; if we work without faith, we are bound to fail. Lack of faith in the thing to be done prognosticates failure.

The second principle of training is full understanding of the means to be employed. It is an essential requirement for success. There may be faith, but if the right means is not available, if one does not possess the necessary know-how, the work will never be accomplished. Most people are not even conscious of what they are doing, or what they really want to do. They are totally engrossed in futile worries.

A man kept standing in the bus. People close to him said, "Why don't you sit down? Your destination is yet far off." He said, "I can't sit down. I must be up and doing. I have to reach my place at the earliest possible."

Man is lost in ignorance and problems. He is caught in an illusion and his vision is distorted so that he can never grasp the truth.

No training course can be successful without a comprehension of the means to be employed. The importance of methodology cannot be too much emphasized.

Shreinik, the emperor of Magadh, had a powerful elephant called Sechanak, whose very odour made other elephants lose their nerve. Once, while crossing a stream, this elephant was caught by a crocodile. It was a very powerful elephant, but the crocodile was in its clement and therefore no less powerful. The elephant stood helpless in its grip.

The emperor came to know of it. But all his efforts to free the elephant from the clutches of the crocodile failed. The emperor asked his chief minister, Abhay Kumar, to suggest a remedy. Abhay Kumar said, "Sir! if we can procure the water-sucking jewel, it might be possible to free the elephant—that jewel has the virtue of drying up water and making a solid path thereon." The emperor issued a proclamation saying that he would be prepared to marry the princess, his daughter to anyone who procures the water-sucking jewel.

It so happened that that very day a sweetmeat-seller received a laddu (a sweetmeat ball) which contained a jewel. The confectioner put that jewel into water to clean it. The water instantly evaporated. On hearing the emperor's proclamation, he at once took the jewel to the king. Abhay Kumar recognized the jewel; it was the genuine article. He took the jewel to the stream and downed it into the flowing water. The water gave way to land. Deprived of its element, the crocodile lost vitality; its grip loosened and the elephant got away.

However tight the grip of the problem in which our life's Sechanak is caught, however complex the situation, however mon­strous the crocodile that holds our Gandhhasti (the elephant with a powerful smell), if a suitable means is found, the problem stands resolved.

The mind is very complex. Its restlessness poses an extreme problem. Even great men of action, doers of formidable deeds, have little control over their mind. The fickleness of the mind is one of the biggest problems facing mankind. To evolve a stable mind, capable of concentration, to enter a condition of living in which the mind becomes non-existent, a state of mind in which all thought, all duality come to an end, is the biggest problem - the problem of problems indeed. But given the right means, even this problem is capable of being resolved.

In Preksha Meditation camps we work for the evolution of faith. We cultivate faith and an awareness of the right means. We practise meditation for an hour. At the end of the meditation period, some meditators say, "Has it not ended rather abruptly? Did we practise meditation today only for 10 minutes?" While practising medita­tion, all sense of time is dissolved. It is only a restless, disintegrated mind that experiences space and time. In a state of complete integration, all such distinctions vanish of themselves.

Leshya meditation, perception of psychic colours, is a very important means of transforming the mind. It affects the whole of the inner self. After passing through the experience of leshya meditation many men and women meditators said, 'Today the mind was so concentrated that we did not want to come out of meditation at all!" I thought, on the one hand there is the problem of the mind that is incapable of concentration, on the other hand, there is the mind that is too much concentrated and it does not want to move away from a particular centre. In the formation of curds, no coagulation of milk, or too much coagulation, both constitute problems.

We live in a world of constant change. There is nothing fixed, eternal. Innumerable series of events confront us without beginning or ending. One is quite lost. One development follows another. Milk forms into curd; curd yields butter. Gas becomes liquified and liquids form into solids. There is endless development. But all changes have a cause. They occur through a means, there is behind it all a methodology.

We gain a knowledge of the right means through Preksha Meditation. We know of the device which makes the mind capable of concentration. How to steady the mind? How to end its fickleness? There are many ways to achieve this. Leshya meditation (perception of psychic colours) is one of them. Chaitanaya-Kendra Preksha (perception of psychic centres) is another. Perception of body is still another. To observe, to see, is a great device. Thinking has not as much utility as seeing. Thinking is a function of the mind. To think means to reflect, to deliberate, and all thought is fickle. Fickleness and thinking go together. There is no thought which is not fickle, and there is no fickleness in the absence of thought. Thinking is one alternative. Another is seeing in which all fickleness ends of itself. To observe and to know are to be free from sensation. Sensation is ever fickle, changeable. Knowledge and awareness, knowing and seeing, end fickleness.

Darshan (philosophy) is an important element. But today's philosophy is the outcome of intellect; logic and argument play a great part in it. Such philosophy is highly misleading; it does not bring about wisdom. The root meaning of darshan is direct perception, where there is direct experiencing, all illusion and hindrances come to an end. The distance between the knower and the known disappears. The knower experiences the known without any mediation. There is then direct knowledge; perfect identifica­tion. This is ancient philosophy, the starting point.

I am using the word 'darshan' in that sense. Preksha Meditation is an experiment in darshan; a process of direct experiencing. In leshya meditation (perception of psychic colours), we offer suggestions—perceive the white colour on Jyoti Kendra (the Centre of Enlightenment); perceive the green colour on Anand Kendra (the Centre of Bliss); perceive the blue on the Vishuddhi Kendra (the Centre of Purity) and so on. You might wonder how you are going to perceive the white or the green or any other colour with your eyes closed. Our faith is usually based upon the senses. It is, however, necessary to enter a newer and a much more comprehensive dimension. What we see with our eyes is very limited. Man's capacity is far greater. We can perceive something even without the eyes. The whole of space is full of colours. Whatever colours we see on earth, the atoms thereof are diffused in the whole of space. Keeping our eyes closed, when we experience reality with complete identification and total concentra­tion, we begin to perceive a variety of colours around us. Even with eyes closed, we perceive such a variety of sparkling colours, such beautiful and attractive hues, that are never seen by the eye open. All those colours are the outcome of extrasensory perception.

Direct perception lays bare that which is hidden and unrevealed. Thereby starts a process by which all things become apparent. The phenomena of the material world as well as those of the inner world - both Eire directly experienced. With a fully integrated mind and with eyes closed, we perceive all that is happening within, which we never witnessed before. All that remained hitherto unexperienced, now manifests itself. The phenomena of the material world too pass before one even though one's eyes be closed.

We can see for ourselves that our consciousness is not confined to the five senses. That is, whatever we perceive through the senses, does not constitute the whole of consciousness. Our consciousness is vast, beyond measure; it has no ending, and it knows no limit. By limiting this infinite and boundless consciousness man is leading a life of ignorance. Preksha meditation is a process for putting an end to this ignorance. With the dissolution of ignorance, a new dimension of consciousness manifests itself and evolves. There is a technique for the evolution of consciousness.

Still another factor in education is practice. One may have faith, one may also have a technique, but if one does not practise it, no significant development is possible. Regular practice is a must for the confirmation of knowledge gained. People who abjure practice fail to make any headway. The knowledge of the right means and its practice are inseparably connected with each other. Without the means, no practice is possible. And without practice, no means can succeed.

A villager set out to purchase a cow. He rested for a while in a shop dealing in bicycles. The shopkeeper said, "Why not purchase a bicycle, instead? By riding the bicycle you will reach your village soon and comfortably. If you ride a cow, people would ridicule you. You've got the money, I have a bicycle ready for you. Take it."- The villager said, "You're quite right, Sir. But when I reach the village and begin to milk the bicycle, people would ridicule me much more!"

It is important to find the right means. If you want milk, you cannot get it from a bicycle. You can get milk only from a cow. Again, you may have a cow, but if you don't milk it you would have no milk. For obtaining milk, you must have a cow, and you must also know how to milk it and do it. Both are necessary. In the absence of either, you get no milk. The means and the practice of it go together.

Education may be said to be successful only when it is linked with practice. This has become very clear today. During the Middle Ages, the greatest stress was laid on the training of the intellect. Teaching was wholly knowledge-oriented, not action-oriented. However, after the development of modern science, education today combines both theory and practice—both go together. Nothing succeeds without practice. Students today are encouraged to experience the truth for themselves. Both theory and practice are important if a student is to become perfect.

Ancient masters have emphasized both these aspects of edu­cation - theoretical and practical. Theoretical education is knowl­edge-oriented and practical training is action-oriented. It is also called practical or experimental education. Mere theoretical educa­tion without practice loses half its value. In the beginning, the theory and the practical were combined.   Later, however, mere theory, divorced from practice, continued. So one's education remained incomplete and became a burden.

Practical work is an important part of education. Many things become clear through practice. A doctrine, unintelligible in theory, is easily grasped when put into practice.

One starts with theory, and then moves on to practice. A master taught his pupil the following maxim: "A disciple should never take ill the guru's disciplining." That was the lesson. If merely memorising this maxim were enough, all would have learnt the lesson easily. If mere theory could work, none in the world would fail; all would be successful. But without practice, the maxim does not flower.

The master propounded the lesson. The disciple who learnt it was Koorgaru who had a weakness for eating. He could never keep a fast. Early in the morning he would grow restless for food. However, he started practising the lesson taught by the master. He was steadfast in his practice. Sometimes his mind would react against the master's admonishment, his heart filled with anger or some other contrary feeling, but he would keep vigilant and not allow his conduct to be affected by a passing mood. In time, practice matured. Whatever the occasion and whatever the disciplining, he discovered, it was possible to keep tranquil and unmoved.

Discipline is like fire. Only through practice can one endure its heat.

Koorgaru kept up his practice. On the occasion of a religious festival, all the monks observed a fast. The master too fasted. Koorgaru, however, got up early and stood before the master as usual, seeking his permission to go out for alms. The master expostulated, sermonized and later used hard words but Koorgaru kept calm. He brought his hands together in a gesture of humility and quietly said, "O Master, your teaching is infallible. But I'm really helpless." After taking the master's permission he went out. He returned with rice-porridge in his bowl. The master was still unpacified, flared up again at the sight of Koorgaru. In a harsh tone, the master said, "All the monks are fasting, but you must eat!" And the master uttered many a hard word. But Koorgaru was absolutely calm. Koorgaru's tranquillity inflamed the master even more and in great anger he spat into Koorgaru's bowl. Koorgaru, however, kept unperturbed. He went to his place and quietly took his meal. He never lost his equilibrium. He thought his guru was great since he had taught him to keep his balance under all circumstances. He never found fault with the master. He humbly realized the truth of the maxim which the master had taught him. It is said that while taking his meal, Koorgaru's equanimity grew to an extent that he attained omniscience; the guru remained unenlightened.

Fasting is no great achievement, nor eating something to be derided. Our yardstick is faulty. We accord honour to a man who fasts, and look down upon one who does not. But these are secondary considerations. What really matters is whether the practice of meditation has led to the growth of equanimity and how firmly is consciousness established in tranquillity, and whether consciousness has been awakened within. The thing to note is whether there has been some respite from like and dislike, from the extremes of heat and cold. Agreeability and disagreeability, appro­bation and condemnation constitute the summer and winter of life. The man who transcends these, experiences in himself the awaken­ing of consciousness. But this is not possible without practice.

When all the three elements of education - the faith, the right understanding and the practice - are found together, it releases a force that sweeps aside all problems. Then there is no hurdle which cannot be crossed.

The spiritual practitioners who practise preksha meditation must deeply understand that their task is to evolve a powerful current. They must not be content with a mere drizzle; they must aim at a full-fledged flow. We must have faith, and grasp the means and regularly practise, practice being the key to success.

Title: The Art Of Positive Thinking
B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Reprint Edition:
R.K. Seth

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anand
  2. Anand Kendra
  3. Anger
  4. Body
  5. Brahmcharya
  6. Centre of Bliss
  7. Centre of Enlightenment
  8. Centre of Purity
  9. Concentration
  10. Consciousness
  11. Darshan
  12. Discipline
  13. Equanimity
  14. Fasting
  15. Fear
  16. Fearlessness
  17. Guru
  18. Jyoti Kendra
  19. Kendra
  20. Leshya
  21. Magadh
  22. Meditation
  23. Non-violence
  24. Perception Of Body
  25. Perception of Psychic Centres
  26. Perception of Psychic Colours
  27. Preksha
  28. Preksha Meditation
  29. Preksha Meditation Camp
  30. Preksha Meditation Camps
  31. Psychic Centres
  32. Psychic Colours
  33. Science
  34. Science Of Living
  35. Space
  36. Violence
  37. Vishuddhi Kendra
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