A way to gain discipline would be through devotion and surrender. That devotion takes the form that, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” and when man fully appreciates and says, “Thy will be done,” surrender to that will come spontaneously. That is one way of self-discipline. Because the emphasis or importance is not put upon our little self, but the emphasis and importance are put upon the big self. That is one way.

Then, there would be another way where you are not concerned about whether there is divinity. You are not worried about all the various heavens the scriptures talk about. Your principle in life would be, “Do good, be good.” To do that, one has to exercise conscious effort because doing good does not always come spontaneously because, as we have said before, we are a product of conditioning. So, we have to repattern our minds. Man is usually a creature of habit; most things we do are without thinking and just an automatic reflex created by habit. These habits have to be changed, and that requires effort.

In doing good and being good, effort is required; very consciously, we curb what we would typically do. A Chinese proverb says, “Before you say an angry word, roll your tongue nine times in the mouth.” Because by the time you roll the tongue nine times in the mouth, your anger is gone, and you will not say those angry words. So, in effortful living, where we consciously try to do good and be good, follow the precepts of morality and ethics, and live that kind of life, you do not need to believe in anything.


What shall we do when we recognise our weaknesses? That question would be difficult to answer because one has to describe the weakness specifically, and by knowing the specific weakness, a specific method of overcoming the weakness can be given. It is like going to a doctor and saying, “I am sick,” which would make it difficult for the doctor. But if you tell the doctor, “I have got a stomachache or a headache or a footache,” the doctor will know exactly what kind of medicine to give and for what purpose. But we can talk of weaknesses in general.

Weakness does not allow us to cope adequately in life, and when we cannot cope adequately in life, it means that instead of running on four pistons, our motor car runs on three pistons. It is straightforward to say that if the one piston of the vehicle is not working, fix it up. But how to fix it? That is the real question. When our weaknesses are brought face to face in front of us through our meditational practices, and it could be any weakness, then half the cure is done. Any Doctor will tell you that proper diagnosis is half the cure. By facing our weakness honestly and sincerely, we are halfway to overcoming it. It does require some courage to look at ourselves squarely in the mirror. Meditation and spiritual practices give us courage and strength, which is the primary purpose of meditation and many other purposes. When we face the weakness, there is a cognition of the weakness. That means that our minds have started acknowledging and accepting our weaknesses.

I have been doing a lot of work in various kinds of hospitals. Hospitals treat cardiac and nervous troubles and all types of rehabilitation programmes, and by teaching them the proper forms of meditation, a more fantastic calmness dawns on them. This calmness gives them a greater chance of evaluating their weakness. The most significant difficulty one finds, even after knowing the weakness, is accepting it ourselves. I am referring primarily to the work I have been doing with alcoholics. The biggest problem I have with alcoholics is to make them admit that “I am an alcoholic.” Once the man sincerely acknowledged that the person must accept the first and second points that “I am not capable on my own to deal with my problem.”


It means, firstly, acceptance and, secondly, admitting that I am too weak to do it on my own. We have only used the alcoholic as an example, but the same two principles apply to every weakness. So, when these two principles are accepted, when we accept the weakness and admit that “I am not capable of handling it myself,” then because of that sincerity, the power of Grace automatically dawns upon us. When that power of Grace dawns upon us, it acts as medicine.

So, accepting, admitting and being able to use the power of Grace helps us immensely, but the most incredible realisation it brings to us is to feel a confident presence that I am walking through life, and I am not walking alone; my hand is held by the hand of superior power. That means there is a Spiritual Force, a spiritual energy; you can call it God. That Spiritual Force is with me, and when we come to these realisations, we do not feel alone, and because we do not feel alone, we find the strength. But to admit to ourselves and accept to ourselves that I am not alone, there is another quality that develops: self-surrender. We surrender ourselves to this higher power, and then we can honestly say, “Not my will be done, but Thy will be done.” And when His will is done, the weaknesses disappear.


When people pray, they are always doing business with God. They do business. They say, “If my son passes the examination, I will give 10 pounds to charity. It means, “Lord, you do first, then I pay.” No, it must be the other way round. “I will do my charity, and lord, you be the judge to give me the reward of my charity, and even if you do not give me any reward, then I will know that perhaps I do not deserve the reward.”

So, in this process of self-surrender, we also develop the virtue of humility because no person can surrender himself without humility. Total humbleness. It is only when we feel humble that we also gain strength. You will have noticed that all these virtues of sincerity, truthfulness, self-surrender, and humbleness are all blood brothers. So, when we cultivate one quality, all the other attributes follow. Every positive quality cultivated will bring positive qualities, and every negative quality cultivated will draw negative attributes. An old English saying says, “Birds of a feather flock together.” In other words, very simply put, it means, like attracts like. So, we have to exercise some conscious effort to overcome our weaknesses.


Now, we go back to the story of the drunkard. If he does not try to push the bottle further and further away, then all the meditation will not help him. There always has to be self-effort in the waking state of life to rid ourselves of whatever weakness we have. All weaknesses have their origin in the mind. Even a doctor will tell you that physical illnesses originate in the mind. American scientists have proved that 80% of hospital beds are occupied by people who have organic diseases, but the origin has been from the mind and those we call psychosomatic diseases. It means that the negativities of the mind translate itself into its physical counterpart.

The greatest weakness that man has is fear. We fear everything in life, and 99% of the fears are created by imagination. Our minds keep swirling around about what will happen tomorrow, next year or the year after. The other thing we do is that we live in the past. So it means we live in the past or the future, but not today. If you look at your thoughts objectively, you will find that your mind is filled with thoughts of yesterday, what happened last year and the year before. Two weeks ago, Aunty Matilda said one wrong word, which was two weeks ago, but still today, it is swirling around in your mind, and Aunty Matilda might have forgotten everything about it.


There is a lovely Zen story, which I will tell you. Zen monks are not supposed to touch a woman. One day, two Zen monks were going on a long journey, and on this journey, they had to cross a river. When they came to the river, they found a woman who could not cross the river by herself. So, the one monk picked up the woman, took her across the river and dropped her on the other side. Then, the two monks kept on walking on their pilgrimage. They walked the whole day, and when evening came, they rested under a tree. So, the other monk, the brother monk who watched the incident of his brother carrying the woman, remarked, “Brother, you have done something wrong. Our principles say that you are not to touch a woman.” So, the monk who carried the woman replied, “As soon as I dropped the woman on the other side, the whole incident was forgotten, but you are still carrying the woman in your mind.” That is how we carry all the past in our minds, and by carrying the past in our minds, we cannot live to enjoy the present.

We are taking a walk in a beautiful garden. The lawns are beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, the rockery is gorgeous, and the waterfall is beautiful, but we only look at it with our eyes, and as we walk, we say, “Nice, nice, nice, nice.” Why? Because our minds are preoccupied either with the past or the future. If our minds were occupied with the presence and the present in the garden, then the grass, flowers, rockery, and the waterfall would be enjoyed to their fullest. And when we enjoy the moment to the fullest, we enjoy the presence of divinity because divinity is there in the flowers, lawns, and the waterfall. He is in every petal, in every leaf. He is in every drop of water in the waterfall and just listening to the sound of the water falling, which could become a divine mantra. We live in the present, and when we live in the present, our weaknesses can be overcome. The weakness is often not there anymore, but it is only the memory of the weakness, and that memory becomes the weakness.


Now that we have discussed the past let us discuss the future. I will tell you another story: a woman was living in England. She heard that the world is ending in two million years. So, she immediately committed suicide. What does two million years have to do with now or the short 60 – 70 years of life? We are constantly worrying about the future, which is also why we cannot enjoy today. We have all kinds of worries, but that does not mean we must go to sleep.

If a business person wants to be successful, he has to plan how he will run his business. A young couple that wants to marry have to plan how they will live their life and what they will do. But that plan must always remain in the mind’s background and not be thinking of every minute. When you go to work, you will get a paycheck at the end of the month. You know that at the end of the month, that paycheck, that salary will be there. So, from the first of the month through to the 31st, you are not thinking of the paycheck coming at the end of the month. Nobody does that. You go to work in the morning, come back in the evening, do your work, and the paycheck is not even in your mind. But in the background of the mind, you know it is coming. It is only when it comes near the end of the month, and you get a bit broke, that you start expecting. Like that, in every circumstance, the future is there. We have to do things, but we do not live in the future today. Do not cross the bridge before you come to it.


I know many meditators who are housewives. The housewife knows that for the day, she has to do the laundry, the cooking, housecleaning and a hundred other kinds of work. But instead of doing the work practically, many homemakers always do the work in their minds. “Oh, I have got to do washing, I have got to do cooking, I have got to do the beds, I have got to do housecleaning,” the mind is working, working, working. That is what most people do. Instead of tackling the job at hand, they do the same sweeping of the floor ten times in their mind and then one time with a broom.

You know that the mind uses eight times more energy than the body. So, they have used eight ounces of energy for one little job of sweeping that will require one ounce of power. Like that, in everything, every day is also a weakness. Then, the wife feels tired, and the husband comes home from work with no nice smile. Even too tired to smile. These are the practical things of life. We always have to be practical. In the word “hereafter”, people worry more about the after than about here. So, we must always think of the here and now and the after will take care of itself. In practical life, all the world’s philosophies are useless if they do not become day-to-day practical philosophy.

I will tell you another story. In India, we have people called pandits; a pandit is a man learned in the scriptures. In this story, we have the city on one side of the river and the villages on the other. Every day, people go on a ferry boat from the villages to the town to work, so in the morning and evening, they get to cross the river. A learned man, this pandit used to talk on the ferry of all the philosophies he had studied. He started talking of Vedanta, Upanishads, Patanjali, Sankhya, all those philosophies and from the village, there were a lot of peasants on the ferry every day, coming and going, and this one peasant always used to sit near this pandit. And the pandit asked him, “Did you read the scripture?” the peasant said, “No.” That scripture? “No, I do not understand these things,” the peasant said. A storm came up one day, and the ferry was tossing and turning on the river. So, everyone had to dive off the ferry, so the peasant asked the pandit, “Can you swim?” The pandit could not swim. So, what is the use of all those philosophies when it was known that they got to cross the river every day, morning and night? Is it not better to be practical when learning to swim? Because you never know when there will be a storm. So that is practical living.


So, like that, we can overcome many of our weaknesses by using common sense, which is not too familiar. More minor shortcomings can be overcome with common sense and correct thinking. Specific weaknesses can be overcome by consultation. If you have trouble with your water tap, you call a plumber. If you have trouble with the roof leaking, you call a roof repairer. If you have trouble with your body, you call a doctor, and if you have trouble with the inner spirit, you speak to your guru. And when all these do not help, you surrender your little self to the Divine Self. “Thy will be done.”


All our weaknesses come from one primary root because we think the entire universe revolves around us. Everyone thinks I am the most critical thing in the universe, which is a misconception. By regarding ourselves to be the centre of the universe, we are expanding our self-importance. Expansion of self-importance is the building up of the ego. There could be no hurt if we find Him within ourselves and all our weaknesses disappear. And even if we have not found Him there yet, if we just acknowledge and surrender to His Will, our shortcomings will be washed away, and He knows best how much to give.

You can take the example of a road with a lot of holes, small and big. When the rains come or the river floods over, all the holes are covered in a flat sheet of water. The small hole would have needed less water; the big hole would have needed more water. The Divine Force knows the need; we do not. We only imagine, and we can only get what we deserve. First, deserve and then demand.

… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang DK 1978 – 02