The Mind and the Stormy Ocean
By Remez Sasson
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 of?"
"It reminds me of my mind and 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 creating 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 within this storm." 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 need to tell me this, I know that. This is the reason I want to learn from 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. Your thoughts, desires and fears are like the wind, and you need to calm them down, and not let them rule your life. You learn to control them by controlling your attention and focus, and then the ocean of your mind would become 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. However, no one can stop the wind."
Swamiananda looked at Ranga with a mysterious smile and said:
"You can calm down the wind in your mind that makes the ocean of your mind restless. The wind are your thoughts and the ocean is your mind."
"Yes master", said Ranga, "this is what I am trying to do. If I can calm the windows of my mind, would I also be able to calm the wind and the ocean?"
"First, learn to calm down the wind and the ocean in your mind," Swamiananda explained, "when you can control your mind and make it peaceful, you will have more control of your life. However, don't focus on changing the outside world. Focus on changing and calming your inner world. When you control your inner world, you can control your the world around you."
"And how do I do that?" Ranga asked.
"Learn to focus your mind, develop willpower and self-discipline, and learn to meditate." Swamiananda answered.
Does your attention often wander away? Are you unable to focus your mind? Learn how to improve your focus and strengthen your concentration skills with simple mental exercises.