Amma Bhagvan Sharnam: The Mind and the Stormy Ocean Story

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Mind and the Stormy Ocean Story

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Swamiananda and his disciple Ranga were strolling on the beach by the ocean. It was a cold day and the wind was blowing strongly over the ocean, raising very high waves.

After walking for some time, Swamiananda stopped, looked at his disciple and asked:
"What does the choppy ocean remind you?"

"It reminds me of my mind. Of my rushing and restless thoughts", answered Ranga.

"Yes, the stormy ocean is like the mind, and the waves are the thoughts. The mind is neutral like the water. It is neither good, nor bad. The wind is causing the waves, as desires and fears produce thoughts", said Swamiananda.

"I wouldn't want to be on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, in a storm like this", said Ranga.

"You are there all the time." Responded Swamiananda and continued, "Most people are on a rudderless boat in the middle of a choppy ocean, even if they do not realize it. The mind of most people is very restless. Thoughts of all kinds come and go incessantly, agitating the mind like the ocean's waves."

"Yes", Ranga interrupted him, "You don't have to tell me. This is the reason I am with you. I want to calm down the waves of my mind."

Swamiananda looked at Ranga for a while, smiled and said:
"You don't calm the ocean by holding the water and not letting it move. What is necessary is to stop the wind. The wind is made of your thoughts, desires and fears. Don't let them rule your life. Learn to control them by controlling your attention, and then the ocean of your mind becomes calm."

"And how do I do that?"

"Suppose it is possible for the ocean to disregard the wind, what would happen then?" asked Swamiananda.

"The waves would cease. But no one can stop the wind."

Swamiananda looked at him with a mysterious smile and said:
"Why not? The wind, the ocean, and thoughts are all within the mind. When you can control the mind, you can control everything within it. But first you have to control your mind, which means you have to control your attention."

"Yes master", said Ranga, " this is what I am trying to do. You say whoever controls his mind can also control the wind. Can you do that?"

"First learn to calm down the ocean of your mind, and then find out if you can calm down the ocean. It is better to learn to control the mind, than enjoying mental tricks. When you calm your mind, you can calm down everything."

Contemplative Questions

Here is a set of questions that would provoke you and put you through some soul searching. They are not about religion nor about ethics. They are merely about you.

They are not meant to serve as solutions nor are they meant to lead you anywhere. These questions are meant to serve as tools to discovering yourself.

1) Do you perceive the Presence of a benevolent force guiding, protecting and shaping your life? What name do you give that Presence? When did you best feel this Presence?

2) What is your opinion of God? Is your opinion drawn from religion, books, parents and or your personal experience of life?

3) Do you pray? Do they get answered? How often?

4) Do you think it is possible to relate to the Divine? What relationship would you opt?

5) Here is a story for you - Two fierce enemies once did a penance to placate god and receive boons vying with each other. God appeared to the first man and asked what he wanted. He said "give me twice of whatever you give my enemy". Then God appeared to the second one. Even before God could say anything he asked, "God, would you please tell me what my enemy asked for? On knowing his prayer request, he said, "then God, blind me in one eye."
Now what would you wish for yourself, your best friend and your worst enemy if God gave you a chance?

6) Have you ever experienced a coincidence or chance that seems to have involved so many people and factors that you can't stop wondering if a mastermind was behind this operation? If yes, do you savour the experience often and have you shared it with someone close to you?

Namaste Amma Abhagvan Sharnam

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