MANAGEMENT OF THOUGHT, BREATH & TIME
Science has taken a photograph of the brain and the synoptic link which proves that there is a link between the points where the nervous centre gives a message and we act out of habit or attitude. Supposing you hit me, how do I react? I can either hit back or keep quiet. Why do I do one thing and why do I not do the other thing, that decision making reaction to the specific situation is the structure of the brain which is settled. If you press a switch in one place the light comes on in another – why this happens is because a particular type of network has been established. A circuit is established. This establishment of a circuit takes places between the age of 6-15. We have to establish the circuit of goodness, circuit of excellence and circuit of the fragrance of divinity.
We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to mankind and most of all we owe it to the fair name and grace of Bhagwan. This age group that we deal with is subjected to the right inputs, is exposed to right kind of habits, the right attitude of life as a result of which we have before us the right kind of man that the world needs today. It may also be equal in depressing the study conducted on terrorism in Punjab-the violence that has taken place the hard core terrorists are in the age group of 15-25. Why are they? Because it is our failure as parents, as teachers, as Gurus in spiritual organisations, have not provided those children with the inputs which can help them to retain their balance of mind. It is in this age the blood is boiling when, the aspirations are there in the right direction and self realization is not provided – no one else but the present generation has to be blamed for the disaster that follows. It is therefore ever more significant that when science is advancing itself past space, when technology is taking in a new turn everyday, our Balvikas students must be living examples. In what way? Not only in excellence but also in academic excellence. If they have not excelled in their academic excellence then we have failed them completely. It is a fiercely competitive world today whether our children are in Balvikas, Sai Colleges or Sai University, they must outshine everybody else, if that is not achieved then spirituality is perhaps not worth following. Why has this subject crept into the Trainers training Camp? Who are meant for it? Children, trainers, Parents or Gurus? Let us first understand the background of this. This subject is for following categories of people.
1. For all Sai devotees of Bhagwan. For a better and clear understanding of the message of Baba. The first application of this subject to all of us is , in our role and responsibility as a devotee of Bhagwan.
2. It is an ideal subject to introduce Bhagawan’s message on Sai organisations to a lay audience, to an audience which is new, which is not exposed of Swami and this most primarily includes the parents of Balvikas children. Because our Balvikas centres do receiving a large number of children whose parents have not had the privilege of being exposed to Baba. To give them in a nutshell what the message of Baba’s life is, what Baba’s philosophy of good living is-this subject is ideally suited.
3. Baba has again repeatedly told in His discourses that we must speak in the language that is understood. We must use the words that are understood. We must use the expressions which should be appreciated. Supposing I give a talk in Sanskrit, some of you will understand and some of you will not. But, if you and I speak in the language which is understood by both, using expressions which are current and illustrations drawn from science – I am sure we have a better chance of putting the message across. If you compare the discourses given by Bhagwan in 1950, 1960, 1975 and in 1986 – the message is the same – one absolute clear difference is there – the illustrations Swami uses are drawn increasingly from the world of management – Because that is the language we understand, that is the vocabulary we are exposed to. The appreciation of the message goes up correspondingly.
So having given this brief background of the subject, we understand why we, being trainers of the Balvikas Gurus need to be conversant with it – in three different capacities –
Bhagwan’s key would be Excellence – if someone asks me how I would explain Baba and how would I explain Satya Sai – my answer will be and most of you will agree that Baba stands for personalities EXCELLENCE.
What is the meaning of excellence from Swami’s point of view – is whatever He does, talking, walking. If He says My life is My Message – whatever He does, it is in a manner which is appropriate, is the best, and cannot be done better. That is the definition of Excellence.
For us excellence means – in fact we normally conduct a very pertinent mistake – I consider my excellence in relation to the excellence of my competitors, my class fellows, my neighbours. Baba says excellence is not competition with other, rather by competing with your ownself. Excellence is competition with my ownself today – afternoon, morning and night – if I am not better, then I have wasted my time and time waste is life waste. Competition with oneself that is the first definition of Excellence.
Excellence we all believe lies in doing extraordinary things – giving a beautiful speech, singing a beautiful song as the situation demands. Now that is not excellence.
If we read Baba’s discourse we find that Excellence is not doing extraordinary things – but Excellence is doing ordinary things EXTRAORDINARILY WELL.
Vivekananda made the same statement differently. He said “In the glare of the foot lights wherever you put a fool on stage he may rise up to the occasion but it is only in the small insignificant things of life, that greatness is exhibited.
It is said – trifles lead to perfection (trifles – how we talk, how we work, what we are). But perfection itself is no trifle. But unless we care about small things we cannot do big things. If we care about small things, big things will take care by themselves.
What we are trying to embody in the minds of Balvikas is this spirit of excellence in oneself – competition with oneself – the spirit, of continuous excellence and if we have not been able to achieve this, then we have not succeeded in Balvikas and to my mind it is for this reason that we have failed in tapping the enormous talent of Pre sevadal – Despite 15 years of Balvikas and pre sevadal we do not have a sizable number of good citizens or those who have joined the main stream of the Sai Organisation. Why? We have not fired in them the spark of Excellence, the quest for improvement equally in not only spiritual living but material life also- then, they will realize that it is only by following Bhagawan’s message that they will be in the pathway to Excellence.
The other thing to remember is that excellence is not doing one thing 100% better – you may be a good artist or a good scientist a good dress maker etc., Excellence is doing 1000 things 100% better.
Across the world there is a movement, – qualitative improvement in doing whatever we are doing. That is the beginning. Every individual in this world consciously or unconsciously is struggling on this pathway of Excellence and he is trying to achieve success. Everyone wants success – everyone wants happiness. What then is the secret of success – the secret of happiness ?
Well the secret of success and of happiness lies in achieving something that others thought we could not do and that we ourselves thought that we perhaps couldn’t. Because we are able by the grace of the Divine – by means of the catalyst.
Baba gives a beautiful example. The air distance between – say Madras and Bangalore – as the crow flies is 150 minutes. It is 150 miles for you, for me and for all of us. Still on certain days the plane reaches in 40 minutes – on certain days 30 minutes and on still others 1 hr. Why is this for the same distance? Because it is aided by a favourable wind and on other days the wind opposes it, turbulence is there, or the environment is unfavourable. Divine grace says Baba is like the favourable wind – it is His grace – the distance is the same but we reach in a shorter time.
Now let us see what Swami says about the human body – “There are 3 things without which we cannot live”. I can live without a shirt, or a watch. I can live without car or wealth or a million other things.
But the 3 things without which I cannot live are Thought, Breath and Time.
1. I cannot live without breath. Science tells us that if breathing stops even for a while – the flow of oxygen stops in the system and it will be the end of our life.
2. So long as I am breathing my brain and thoughts are continuously working. I have my thoughts all the time. No human being can live without thoughts. In fact the process of breathing is involuntary control of the brain. We all know that if a medulla oblongata – the system of the brain is injured our lungs stop functioning. It is the brain that gets hurt – not the lung. Commands to the heart to beat, to the lung to breathe comes from the brain.
3. Third thing which we need to live – which is the very framework of our existence is TIME.
These 3 are primary inputs of life available to every human being. I may have money – or I may not, I may have wealth –or I may not, I may have intelligence, a skill or I may not – but three things I always have. I have my Thoughts, I have my breath, I have my time. Baba says very simply – each of these can be used in different ways and can be used differently by each different individual. I can use thought one way and you can use it in another – so also breath and time. That much flexibility is there. Therefore if we want the output of excellence in our life – we want to aim at success, happiness, satisfaction in life that is an output. Our inputs are Thought, Breath and Time. The process involved is Management: Management of Thought, Management of Breath and Management of Time.
A simple definition of Management is that – Management is the art and science of optimisation. Optimising means that when you have different possibilities – you use them in a certain manner in which your best interests are served. Optimisation of these resources, all these, which are scarce – your Time,Breath and Thoughts are scarce. Optimising of these scarce resources in a manner that you reach the best result which in our case is pre-defined as Excellence.
Therefore we have the need to manage our Time, Breath and Thought – and Bhagwan tells us that when we are able to manage these three, Excellence is ours.
I. MANAGEMENT OF THOUGHT :
Thoughts take energy and that is the definition when these sparks (single particles) of energy come together it forms a desire and when a number of these desires come together they form the mind.
Baba gives the wonderful example of a handkerchief. Handkerchief is made of cotton. Cotton is like thought and the yarn threads spun together are desire, when we warp and woof, that is, weave these threads – put them together we get a handkerchief which is a mind. While the brain is a physical entity, the mind is not a physical entity.
If I ask you where your mind is, it might be inside you or it might be away. For instance while I am speaking to you, it is 9.45am and Ramayan is going on elsewhere and some of you might be thinking what happened to Hanuman who had his leg in the crocodile’s mouth last week. Your mind is not here, it is in front of your television. Mind might not be in the body, but the ability to have it in the body under your control is what is called the control of mind. We are the master.
Baba gives us a wonderful example about the handkerchief if you want a clean handkerchief, if you want it to be white, washing with one kind of special detergent will not help, weaving will not help and spinning will not help. What is essential to restore its whiteness is the quality of the cotton. Where there are no waste components in the cotton, the quality of cotton is controlled, the kerchief will be good and it will be white. In the same way if there is control of the quality of our thoughts, our mind is taken care. Baba draws our attention to another very important idea. What is the speed of a thought? I am speaking to you with the help of this mike. The sound waves created are travelling in the air; they are striking the membrane in the ear, going through the auditory canal to the brain. The brain in turn is decodifying them and then you are listening.
Sound travels at 332 m/sec i.e 1120 ft/sec, you are seeing me because of light and light travels. There is no time gap, you are seeing me almost continuously and yet we know that every time you are seeing me, there is a ray of light going to you from me and from you to me. You are seeing because light travels at the rate of 1 lakh 86000 miles per sec. and yet a ray of light from the sky takes 9 minutes time span to reach the earth. May I ask you to close your eyes and think of the sun. How much time does it take you – Less than the batting of an eyelid – Thought therefore travels at a speed infinitely more than that of the speed of light.
Let me take an example of a man travelling in a car. There are traffic lights at Gemini studio and my speed is 40km, per hour. If my brakes were to fail and if there is a car in front of me or behind me, red lights are gone, the consequence will be accident, it is beyond my control so in the same way if there is no braking mechanism in a thought, no control and they travel at an enormous speed then the consequence is terrorism, confusion and chaos.
Because we are equipped with this power of thought which is travelling at an enormous speed and if we do not have the mechanism to brake it – control it, we will go head long into an accident. It is not something new. This knowledge has been available to man for a longtime. Let us go back to the Mahabharata – The four Pandava brothers were lying beside a lake fainted having wanted water. Yudhishthira reached there when the Yaksh said “Oh Dharma unless you answer my questions you shall also meet the fate of your brothers”.
40-50 questions are asked – which form a wonderful body of knowledge. One of them was:
Yaksha Q : What travels faster than, Wind?
Yudhishtra A : It is the mind of man that travels faster than wind.
Yaksha Q : What is more numerous than all the blades of grass put together in this world?
Yudhishtra A : The number of thoughts present in the mind of a man at any part of time is more numerous than all the blades of grass put together.
This is the truth. The first step in concentration is the ability to control thoughts through concentration. Baba gives a simple example – When we expose a paper to sunlight nothing happens, but when we bring a lens in between, then the concentrated light turns to fire and burns the paper.
Similarly we can use another lens to achieve this concentration the SAI + LENS = Silence.
Next we must question ourselves “Are we silent when we are sitting silently?” When we believe we are silent no sound is coming out of the mouth. But man’s mind is constantly in dialogue, the mind is constantly talking ceaselessly, chattering. What is required is silent sitting in which chattering of mind is reduced. For that most important technique is Jyothi Meditation. What is achieved is that the light goes through us entirely if we can reduce the speed of thought to the speed of light, it produces illumination within and it is called intuition. When we want to have intuition, again the technique of management is silent sitting. We recommend it to parents but for Sai devotees, they must do it everyday. When it should be done? For others before going to office, please sit down and compose your thoughts for two minutes, be to yourself and then one finds what will happen. Baba gives an example of a watch, it takes only one or two minutes for winding, that takes care for 24 hours.
The technique is self-audit. It is not an unusual affair. It is a daily affair. Before we go to sleep we must sit down, ask ourselves what did we do during the day? Where did we contradict Bhagwan’s message? Where did we commit the breach of dharma? Then pray to God that I should not lose again and again. Next morning, when we sit, take the light to that limb or that part of body which had let us down, previous day e.g., the tongue which spoke wrongly. Then Baba says if you fight with me not physically (i.e) if we pray and we want to be good and yet we are not good, then the divine grace flows double – folded. So silent sitting self-audit will lead to management of thought.
II. MANAGEMENT OF BREATH is best explained by the distinction between western and eastern philosophy. Western philosophy says “I think therefore I am” thought is fore-most for them. Eastern system says I am therefore I think” I am in breath, unless I am – who is there to think – Ekoham. Breath is the manifestation of Brahman. Breath is the life force that is going on in us. Let us understand Breathing. It is the process of inhalation, retention and exhalation of air. Science tells us that man dies because he does not know how to breathe. Slower our breath longer our life. More rhythmic the breath more is there peace.
When I tell a lie you may not know I told a lie – but immediately my breath starts going haywire telling me – “my dear fellow you told a lie”. The conscience tells the brain. I am killing whom – not the other but myself. I am harming and killing. I have broken my continuous rhythm. Breath is a continuous process and what is continuous we like and enjoy fully – if it is rhythmic. When something is not a continuous rhythm, it is called cacophone, noise – not symphony – not music.
It is said that if music like this, is listened to for 24 hours, it can make a man mad and for more than 7 days can kill a person. The greatest punishment in Literean days was as to put a person in a room with loud music and drive him mad. Because the music had no Rhythm, it was cacophony.
Thereforetye in order to be able to manage breath and have the peace, we need to be in Rhythm. Rhythm is the symbol of peace. Wherever there is peace there is Rhythm and wherever there is Rhythm there is peace. Therefore if we can get a technique to maintain this Rhythm of breath we will have peace.
Baba’s prescription for attaining this Rhythm is to do two basic things.
1. Namasmarana – (Singing the glory of God): When we sing what happens – we are sending out rhythmic sound vibrations and everytime we breathe in the same air which we have set into motion. Breathing in this Rhythmic air we have set in motion – creates a rebound impact – multiplying the impact. Thus we sit in charged environment. That is why Baba says that, after a Bhajan you should retain the poise, the calmness so that you can retain the rhythmic vibrations– which gives you peace. That is why Namasmarana is prescribed for everyone – an injection for every Sai devotee. When we speak to the lay audience we can prescribe rhythmic singing because some singing is better than no singing – even film music because of Rhythm.
2. Second technique is Music which is related to Namasmarana. It has been the experience of all crowded places, railway stations, bus stands that when you put music in public places there is less noise and when you withdraw music there is too – much noise; you can’t understand what’s happening because everyone is, talking. While there is music in the air and the environment, the mind has a lesser tendency to chatter because at once there is a system, it gets turned into rhythm, into the best. At least with the Balvikas Children this should become a routine. At least once a week sit-down with your family, your child, wife, husband and sing the glory of God. Enjoy the calmness, enjoy the Rhythm. Please notice what is happening. We are covering entirely the code of conduct Namasmarana – music the essence of Swami’s philosophy.
3. Third teaching is prayer – you must pray. What is the use of prayer? Prayer is a medium to say our inner most thoughts – gives expression to an inner most feeling, which we cannot bring out outside, we are afraid of ourselves, we are afraid of the environment – but the divine entity will hear all that we say. However, many of us often say that we forget to pray. Baba gives an example – Prayer is something like medicine. When you go to a doctor he prescribes a few tablets. He does not say have it at 3a.m, 9.a.m and 3p.m etc., He says after meals or at bedtime etc., in the hope that since these are daily routine will at least remember the medicine regularly. Prayer relates itself to these things that we do everyday. In Balvikas we teach children to pray daily. When you bathe pray – while the water is being poured from outside purifies my body. Chant the Gayatri and it will purify and cleanse the inner body. Before you eat thank God, for the meal. Prayer is not only gratitude but Baba says it purifies the food from which have accumulated so many things in the process of cooking in the container. This is prayer. It is a way of life. So prayer should be done – it must be done at least these times: at the time of cleansing, chanting Gayatri and at the time one sits to eat.
Once we do that our breath becomes more and more rhythmic, more peace dawns on us – thus giving us Shanthi and leading us from Shanthi to – Prashanthi.
That is the Beauty of Management of Breath.
III Management of time The question now arises about time. I like to do so many things but I do not seem to have the time. When we go to people and say why don’t you come for Bhajan or Nagasankeertan – people don’t seem to have the time. Baba has made a million dollar statement “A person who says he has no time is the biggest fool on this earth” – Why? Let us analyse it carefully. What do I mean when I say I do not have time? Has my watch stopped and therefore I do not have time? No – What I really mean is that I do not have any more mental space to do anything more than what I am doing at this moment. Please note, what is not there is mental space. So the solution lies in creating mental space and not in blaming time.
Take the example of an attaché case. If I wish to pack in 20 shirts and 10 sarees. Supposing I crumple them I will not be able to put in more than 7 shirts and 4 sarees. If they are folded neatly then I suddently find space for all the clothes. The case suddenly seems to take on more capacity it can take in much more than when everything was ruffled. The same with MIND and THOUGHTS they should be neatly set in order to take more and then even the breath will be under control. Never say you have no TIME, because Mental space will be created if we are practising management of Thougths and if we are following the 9 point code of conduct then automatically mental space will be created to do more work.
Not only question of workout increases but quality of work also. Because we have a new vision, perception, which is not available to us;
Therefore Baba tells us in order to create more mental space we have to ensure that there are limited desires. If we have unlimited desires we will have no mental space. Limited desires – do we understand the term? Baba has simplified it for us – Baba says desires are basically of 4 kinds – If one can put a ceiling on these 4 aspects, the other desires will take care of themselves.
1. Ceiling on desire:
- a. Do not misuse food – ceiling on food. The famous American Economist John Kenneth Galbraith has said – “More people in this world die of overeating than of starvation”. It’s true. If we have control over our food intake – if our mind is controlled, our food intake will also go down.
If our breath is rhythmic then we get our calories strength from the environment. It is not that we have to stop eating – But we must eat only the right amount – not overeat, we will get the right amount of energy required for the active use of body and mind.
- b. Ceiling on Money – “Money is God. It is placed with us as a trust – you can give it and take it back also. Hold in good trust.
- c. Ceiling on energy.
- d. Ceiling on Knowledge – that is misuse of knowledge. If I am a competent Doctor with a patient in front of me telling him to give me Rs.10000/- and then only I can do the operation, it is misuse of knowledge. If I am a scientist and I am using all my knowledge to produce atom bomb, it is misuse of knowledge.
Whatever skill God has given us should be used for the sake of mankind. Once we can capture these 4 aspects the result will be Management of TIME.
2. Very important technique Baba says is 6 x 4 – a size of paper not 24. This technique was evolved by John Hislop and it was explained to Baba and Baba said everyone can use it
We read or hear several good things and we note them and then we forget where we put them.
Baba says whenever you read a good thing note it down on a paper of a fixed size and put them together. Whenever we are upset or whenever things don’t go the way we want them to go or we are confused and troubled – pick up one paper from the pack and we will find a solution right there. We have all found that when troubled we have picked a volume of Satyam Sivam Sundaram and found a healing for the troubled affected mind we have. It is not the size of paper – but the fact that we should keep – a note of all these good things we read and hear and read them every day – 9 point code of conduct – “Everday Study of Sai Literature”.
3. Next salient point is Study circles. For the parents of Balvikas children – for members of the audience we invite them to join the study circle – Study in a Circle – we give them the opportunity to understand a statement – that is the objective. Unity – Divinity – and other aspects of life productivity, happiness, how we interact.
4. Finally, Baba tells us, enemy number one of time is anger. The greater our anger the more mismanagement of time, the lesser our anger, the greater is the management of time.
If we regularly practice Management of thoughts, i.e., self audit and silent sitting – if you regularly practice Management of Breath i.e., Namasmarana, music and prayer – there is every possiblility ,that you will not lose your temper – because there are psychological forces acting with our body to control anger. But Baba Says that even at the end if you loose your temper – there are two things.
- The situation that one should not lose temper
- Having lost it, one must know how to come out of it. Baba has given the methods.
1. Drink a glass of water at room temperature and not cold water. This has a scientific reason. When we are angry the secretion of adrenaline, which is a toxic chemical beyond a point of time starts filling the body which is dangerous.
Baba gives an example, a mother feeding her child had put her bucket at the public tap, someone removed it and put theirs instead and she got into such a vicious bout of temper. After fighting when she put the child back after feeding the child died because her milk had turned to poison. Baba says one bout of anger destroys good food one has taken for 3 months – 90 days of good food can be destroyed by just about of anger – spiritual progress goes backwards. Vishwamitra worshiped for one million years and then suddenly someone made him angry and he had to start all over again. We have only a short span of life, when angry, drink a glass of water – dilute the impact of toxic chemicals and secretions created in system, take down the toxins and there is a possibility that anger will be diluted, and we will come out of the viciousness of our anger.
2. Leave the place where we have lost our temper, physically walk away from there. Why? Because at the spot at which I have lost my temper – I have created negative ionized field of energy and when I walk away from it – I come into contact with a better vibration or at least one not as bad as the one I had created for myself and therefore I get away from my anger. When two people are fighting on the road – what do the elders do? They pull the two apart away from negative charge – quite unconsciously and perhaps as a result the anger subsides.
However, how much distance to walk away perhaps depends on how much temper we have lost.
3. Whenever you lose your temper Baba says lie down. Why? Negative energy (like anger) can travel only on a vertical plane and not on a horizontal plane e.g. if I am lying down and I suddenly want to express my anger what do I do – I sit up and then scold – if I lie down I cannot seem to get angry. To express anger one must be vertical and to remove anger one must be horizontal. Here again there is a word of caution – you must practice this technique at home – not at a public place. Suppose you lose your temper at the bus stop and lie down on the road – please do not blame Baba for the consequence.
4. If at any part of time if one is angry, if he looks at his face in the mirror – never does he will get anger next time. The face resembles more to a monkey. Ears are red, face disfigured and no one likes to see himself ugly.
To sum up – Excellence is an objective of life. Excellence is the, essence of Swami’s message – Excellence is competition with our own self- excellence is achieved by managing the three primary inputs – Thought, Breath and Time. Only then, we are on the pathway of excellence. This subject is to be dealt discreetly – because it is an experience that this message summarises Swami’s message in a vocabulary and terminology that is easily understood today. This is essentially Satya Sai Technique for living, Satya Sai Technique of Management. Therefore, what is important is the banner – the name of Satya Sai must come. All that is told in the name of Baba connot remain in the back ground. Each description – each such presentation that we make to the parents, to an audience, it must not mince the words that this is the message of Baba – it is not the individual contribution of anyone but the essence of Baba as per his discourses and commandments.