Shiva Sankalpa Sukam
Shiva-Sankalpa-Suktam, is a hymn which consists of six verses, found in Chapter 34 of Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, where it carefully describes the nature of mind. It is very important for all of us to know our mind.
There is a saying that states:
Observe your thought; otherwise it will become your action
Observe your action; otherwise it will become your habit
Watch your habits; otherwise it will become your personality
Observe your personality; as otherwise that will become your life.
Our life originates from a thought. You will be surprised to discover how many thoughts, which
you consider your own, comes from outside. For example, if someone wanted to become a doctor
but could not due to some reason, there is likely to be a lot of frustration in him. Then he awaits his
child to be born and injects the thought into him“You should be a doctor”.
Now the child starts to own this thought and this thought begins to influence his actions, habits, personality and eventually his life. We always say, “This is my life” but do we really live for ourselves or others?
Sometimes when we have an itch in our back, that too at a point which we cannot reach, what do we do? We will find another person who also has an itch in his back and ask him to scratch our back and in return, we scratch his own. So is it true when we say that we live only for others and that our life has meaning only if it’s spent for others?
We do an action for others but in doing so, our real purpose is to get something in return. A person can either destroy us by injecting a certain thought or uplift us by injecting a different thought. The whole world moves because of a thought. The power of a thought is so huge that we hardly imagine its magnitude.
Let us look at an example. If someone tells you, “You are beautiful”, what happens to you? You become very happy. On the other hand, if someone says “You are stupid”, what happens? Your face is most likely to turn into that of a beaten dog instantaneously. Any word, whether it is beautiful or stupid, has the power to change your day, your mood, and almost everything. Why is this so?
In life, all of us are basically selfish. It is not possible to come across somebody who is selfless. For an ordinary person, the concept of “I” is identified with me and mine. In fact, the current concept of family is me and me. Today people do not care about others and are only concerned about themselves. The concept of “self ” is limited to the body and that which gives comfort to the body. Next step, the concept of me includes not only me but also my family, children, parents, and relatives; the concept of self, in this way, gets expanded.
From my body and what was connected to my body, now it includes my family and people related to my family. If we continue with the same reasoning, for the leader of a nation, the concept of I expands to include the whole nation. In each of these cases, e can see how the sense of “I” expands. The concept of “I” should never shrink. You should observe yourself carefully to see whether the sense of “I” in you is expanding or contracting. If it is expanding it means that you are growing, if it shrinks, you need to know that you are possibly missing something.
If “I” expands we accommodate people. Accommodation becomes spontaneous when life is
expanding. If it is not, we can never accommodate.
If someone plants a thought in your mind, you carry it without your knowledge, whether you want
it or not. It happens to all of us, many times and we waste much of our time acting on an unhealthy
thought that we picked up unconsciously.
For example, when we go to a mall to buy a few things, we end up buying more than we need. This happens to most of us. At home, we make a list of what we need, but in the end, we discover that we
have put a lot of extra things in the cart. How did this happen?
We get attracted to something and think, “Ah, this may be useful!” The thought: “this may be useful”
consumes our time, resources, and everything, and that is what happens to us every day.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati used to tell the story of a Sadhu in Rishikesh who preferred to sleep
outside his hut rather than inside. When asked the reason, the Sadhu replied that there was no room in his hut. When Swamiji requested him to show his hut, he saw the hut was full of empty tins which the Sadhu had collected thinking, they would be useful sometime. If we look at ourselves, the same happens to us too. In life, the more we accumulate things, both that we want and do not want, the more it becomes complicated. In a similar way, it is required for us to not accumulate a lot of thoughts, especially undesirable ones that will not support our growth.
We may agree that from the thought comes the action, the action comes the habit, the habit comes to the personality and from the personality comes life. But how do we reverse the process?
At first, we need to watch our mind carefully and objectively. We must consider it as a location, where
thoughts come and go. We must detach ourselves from the mind to be able to observe the mind.
It is the first thing we must do; otherwise, we will end up complicating our lives more and more. How we look at our mind is much more important than what we are thinking. How we approach the mind is more important than the knowledge we possess.
In the name of religion or spirituality or both, we are increasingly interested in collecting more and more information, rather than developing the ability to observe how the mind functions.
A mind is like a child. If you are too tough and strict with a child, it will not listen to you. On the other hand, if you are very friendly, it will not respect you. And the same thing happens with a monkey too. The mind is nothing but a monkey. The more you try to chase it, the more chaos it creates. On the contrary, it is also dangerous to ignore the mind completely. One must be very careful with the mind. One should neither be too strict nor give it complete freedom. If we look at ourselves, we tend to give absolute freedom to our mind which is not healthy. We need to understand the extent of freedom to be given because a thought in our mind translates into action.
For example, while sitting some of us might have the tendency to constantly change positions because the mind engages in a thought that sitting is painful. We begin to move immediately, without ascertaining whether it is necessary or not, whether the pain is bearable or not, and if we can handle it without making any movement. As soon as the thought occurs we at once translate it into action.
It is correct to change position if there is a pain, but before we do, we should check if the pain is bearable and if we can handle it.
Let us look at another example. Many young children have the habit of sucking their thumb which may be helpful for some time. But when they get older, it is no longer good to continue this habit.
Parents should take care to ensure that this practice does not continue.
Similarly, it is natural that the mind develops certain habits, but we must become responsible and
ascertain whether to persist with these habits or not. It will be surprising to know that the mind has
tremendous strength. It can work the way we want it to. If we consider our mind as being dumb, we
will end up becoming dumb. But if we consider it as a great tool, we’ll discover that the mind will give its best. Let us learn how to make the mind a better tool.
We started with the saying,
“Watch your thoughts, or they become your actions, watch your actions or they become your habit, watch your habits or they become your personality, watch your personality as otherwise, they will become your life.”
As we have seen, our lives stem from a thought, and someone from outside can inculcate a thought and without us realising, it could eventually become our life.
That’s why it is very important to note every little thought that comes to mind. Every thought that comes to our mind must be seen objectively. If I pick up a flower and play with it by passing it from hand to hand, or tear the petals or drop it, no one is bothered. But If I say this flower belongs to you, but I take it on loan to give a demo and start to play with it and drop it, you react differently.
In the first instance, with the same flower, there was no problem for anyone. But when I say it is your flower, I borrow it and then I start to play, you are concerned about it. All our conflicts and confusion is in relation to this. The more we understand and assimilate this concept, the more will we be able to enjoy our life. It seems very simple but it is not so easy.
If you were to own a beach, you would not be able to enjoy it. As soon as someone walked on it, we
would begin to wonder “Who is this person? Why
is he walking here? Who gave him permission?”
The more we think that in life we have to own to
enjoy things and people, the more will we suffer.
Now let me pose a question, “Is the body you have,
If you say yes, your father could claim to say. “Hello, your body is mine!” And your mother could
say, “Hello, half of that body is mine” The farmer might say, “I too have contributed to your body”
The government could say, “Oh no, your body belongs to me, to the nation” And the bacteria that live in your body could say, “It is our body. We have lived here for many generations. It is our property.” And if you marry, your spouse will say, “Half of your body belongs to me” and your children could say, “your body belongs to us too.” Where will you be at this point? How many people have their claim on your body? But what do you say?
And every time you think this is your body, do you enjoy or suffer? Instead, if you understand that the body has been given and you have to take care of it and put it to good use, would you enjoy it or not? It is a very simple logic.
And the same logic is applicable to the mind. It is very easy to look at the body and try to understand
the concept of the body. But it is not as simple as far as the mind is concerned.