By Swami Rama
Uncontrolled thoughts lead to the asylum, but controlled internal dialogue leads to an understanding of the nature of the mind and helps in the path of meditation and contemplation.
If you do not want to meditate, then do not meditate. You should not fight with your mind; you should have a gentle dialogue with your mind. You will learn many things when you enter into this kind of self-dialogue.
Developing internal dialogue is a very important step, but one that few students understand. To succeed in meditation you have to develop this important step. You do not begin with meditation itself. First you learn to set a regular meditation time, and then to have a dialogue with yourself. In this process you are coming in contact with your inner, internal states. You are learning about the subtle aspects of your mind, your own conscience, and at the same time you are training yourself. If you don’t have time to have a dialogue with yourself, to fulfill the purpose of your life, that is a sin.
If you have a dialogue with yourself for a few minutes or hours before you do meditation, then your meditation will be good. If you do not do that, then you use your meditation time for self-dialogue, and then the “meditation” is not really meditation. So before you begin to try to meditate, you should sit down and talk to yourself, have a dialogue. In this manner many problems can be solved, and you will receive new insights. The state of meditation may not yet have actually been developed, but you can just relax and have a dialogue with yourself at exactly the same time.
Your task is to cultivate a relationship with your own mind. This process of dialogue is very important. You will enjoy internal dialogue, provided you take the time to do it well. Learn to make some time for this. Have a good, pleasant dialogue. To talk to your mind, you should have confidence. You have to realize that the mind is yours, but is has taken over. In this process, you start a dialogue, talking to yourself.
When you coordinate the way you think, the way you speak, and the way you act, that is perfect communication. Such a person has the capacity to become a sage. Your problem is that this inner perspective—and thus your knowledge—is not retained. It is as if your are pouring milk into a bowl with a hole in it. Your first effort should be to patch that hole, and then, when knowledge comes, it is retained. When you expand the capacity you have, you receive knowledge. In your self-dialogue you do not, out of egotism, start controlling your mind—you start by being a friend.
To have a friend is great. You share what you have with a friend, and he shares what he has. Understand that your mind is your friend. Be a close friend to your mind, a very close friend. Let the mind whisper those inner secrets to you, and put all things in front of your mind. This is the contract between you and your great friend, the mind. Put in front of your mind all your external problems, and your mind will share all its inner secrets and whispers. To do this, you need courage. This path of fire and light is tread only by the person who has courage.
Each of you has good qualities, but you do not come in touch with them. When you experience your negativity, then you develop many sicknesses. That is why having a dialogue is very important. When you have a dialogue, your mind has a tremendous capacity, a vast capacity. Your mind can tell you many things, but do not allow your untrained, unpolished, uncontrolled, and uneducated mind become your teacher. Let your mind remain a friend. When you talk to a friend there is a question of what you accept and what you do not accept. Do experiments with yourself: how often does your mind lie and how often is it accurate? Establish a friendship with your mind on an equal basis. Do not listen to the mind’s temptations, but do listen to its suggestions, good ideas, and advice.
When you have a self-dialogue, you may realize that God has graced you with everything. So who creates problems for you if you are not at peace? Your mind. You can have a dialogue with the mind and tell the mind, “When you do this to me, you are perhaps the greatest sufferer. You suffer and make the body suffer. Please be my friend.” Your mind can be a great friend or a great foe. If you use all your internal resources you will not have an enemy, but you will have a friend. That which is an enemy can be converted into a great friend. To learn to love, begin by being gentle in your dialogue.
The process of learning to have an internal dialogue will definitely help you learn to make a friend of your mind, and then you can begin the process of self-transformation.
Learn to counsel yourself and have a self-dialogue. Learn to mentally talk to yourself. Sit down and have a dialogue with yourself; ask yourself why you are doing an action. Then you will understand the process of habit formation. With all your idealization of sadhana and gurus and teachers, you have neglected one thing: you need to know something practical. You need to know a practical method of gaining freedom from those weaknesses which are difficult for you to resolve.
Your whole life can be one of meditation. One method is to ask yourself to consider some question that is on your mind. The source of the answers for such questions is exactly the same place as that from which the questions themselves spring. The question comes from within and the answer is also within. Your questions remain a question because you cannot withdraw yourself from the conflict for some time like a second person, and watch from a distance. When questions come, say to them, “Okay, come.” Do not push them away by repeating your mantra. That is not helpful; instead, let everything come before you for a decision—just watch.
You need to train your buddhi, the intellect, as well as the functions of manas, ahamkara, and chitta. This is the real training and the real education in life—when you start to educate yourself. In this kind of training, books can’t help you; nothing external will help you. You have to understand yourself. You need to ask yourself how you think, why you are emotional, and what the problems are with your mind. You need to question why you become emotionally disorganized, why you forget things, and why you do not attend to things properly. You need to consider why you often do not do what you really want to do. Put these questions to yourself and you’ll find the answers.
Such a dialogue is itself called “upanishad.” The word “upanishad” refers to those teachings imparted by a teacher. It is a dialogue between the student and the teacher: one wants to learn, and the other wants to teach, and both are very dedicated. A special kind of loyalty and sincerity exists between them. Fortunate are whose who are enlightened, and most fortunate are those who are prepared to receive the teachings. When a competent teacher, a great seer, has prepared his student, that dialogue is an upanishad. You can also enter into such a dialogue with yourself if you become a real student, and if you are committed, and have decided that you want to receive knowledge from within. There is a procedure for doing this that you should understand. The teacher in the external world has his responsibility. The responsibility of the external teacher is over when he leads his student to the path of silence, from which everyone receives knowledge.
The simple method to enlightenment is to first know yourself. Learn to work with yourself; don’t give up in that. Give up on anything else, but don’t give up that goal. Remind yourself, “I will continue to work with myself. I can do it, I will do it, and I must do it.” Remember these three sentences: “I can do it. I will do it, and I must do it.”
Whenever anything comes into your mind, ask your buddhi, the counselor within, “Should I do it?” The moment you ask, “Should I do it?” means you are counseling with your buddhi. You may commit mistakes, once, twice, or even three times, but buddhi will always guide you more and more clearly. Slowly your ego will become aware of the Truth. The day that the ego becomes aware of the Truth, that barrier that the ego creates every day will instead become a means. Then, the same power that is presently your enemy becomes your friend, and that is a delightful experience.
Internal dialogue is actually a contemplative method. Such dialogues strengthen the faculty of decisiveness and sharpen the buddhi, the higher intellect, which can penetrate into the subtleties of the inner levels. Mental dialogue is very healthy for resolving many conflicts that arise in the mind of the aspirant as it remains habitually traveling to the grooves of past habits. One example of this contemplative method of internal dialogue is to close the eyes and ask, “O mind, witness the world of objects, and observe the impermanence of those objects you long to achieve, to embrace, and to save. What difference is there in the objects of dreams and the objects of the waking state? What reason is there for being attached to the unreal things of the world; they are like experiences of the dreaming state. They are constantly changing, and you have no right to own them, for you can only use them. O mind, listen to the sayings of the great sages and teachers; follow in the footprints of those who have already trod the path of light and enlightenment. You will find that Truth is that which is unchangeable; Absolute Reality is that which is beyond the conditioning of time, space, and causation.”
If one does not appreciate and accept himself, it is because he has been doing negative meditation. This has made him what he is today. Worry is one form of negative meditation and it can become a deep-seated unconscious habit. One can create many diseases through his own mind and one can heal himself through this same mind. So one should learn to give himself feedback. “I am all right, and the life force is here in me. Why am I condemning myself? Why am I hurting myself?” That mind which has the power to create guilt feelings and many diseases also has the power to heal, for it is completely controlled by the thinking process.
Internal dialogue is an important practice which can help one remain aware of the reality within while he is doing his actions in the world. One should sit down every morning and talk to himself. This will help him learn more about himself, and knowing about himself, he will not become egotistical. All the ancient scriptures are actually dialogues. Christ talked with His apostles; Moses talked with the wise men; Krishna talked with Arjuna—these are all dialogues. We should also learn to go through a mental dialogue of our own. You should have a dialogue with yourself within your mind every day. A conscious process of inner dialogue like this can pacify one and wash off all bad feelings.
This dialogue is one of the finest therapies there is and prepares one for meditational therapy. Meditational therapy, if used and properly understood, is the highest of all the therapies and teaches one how to be still on all levels. Then by allowing the unconscious mind to come forward, one can go beyond it, and that inner reality comes to the conscious field and expands.
The process of purifying, cleansing and emptying the mind is absolutely essential for successful meditation. We must not seek too quickly and impatiently to achieve higher states and higher experiences before we have managed to empty the mind from disturbing thought and to calm it. In a monastery novices do not begin with meditation. First students are taught to purify their minds. Modern man is too impatient and wants to master the art of meditation immediately. Learn to have a dialogue between the observer and that which is being observed. Follow the imagination in this dialogue, analyze and observe the train of mental objects, and slowly control will be gained over these things. We rise above them, and they disappear from the domain of mind.
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of Swami Rama of the Himalayas