Four Roots of Attitudes

Four Roots of Attitudes
By Swami Rama

If you analyze your mental attitudes, you will learn that those attitudes have roots deeper than mere thought. All the roots of your attitudes lie in the primitive fountains: food, sex, sleep, and self-preservation. If you really want to do sadhana and understand life and all the motivations that drive your life force, you must understand these four primitive fountains. Any problem that you have can be seen as related to these four sources.


Dietary habits play an important role during sadhana. The sadhaka should be careful in having such a diet that does not pollute the body or agitate the nervous system. Sugar, salt, and fat should be curtailed. This will give you a joy that is derived from having a healthy body, breath, and mind.

Meditation should not be done when you are hungry, when you have overeaten, when you are tired or sleepy, or when you have any digestive problem. Select a suitable time and do it.


Many people live for sex, but when the opportunity comes, they cannot enjoy it. To experience this enjoyment, a person needs inner strength, and sometimes this is not there. Because of your food habits, or because you have not had enough rest, or do not know how to receive quality sleep, the body is not coordinated with the mind. Then you do not find yourself capable of doing those actions or behaving correctly with the other person when you are performing the sexual act, and you are always afraid.

Sex is very injurious if it is done without love. Some people do it like a mere physical exercise, but this is not a healthy way to approach sex. Your appetite for food is directly related to your body, but sex is not directly related to your body. Unless the thought or feeling comes into your mind, you cannot do sex. Sexuality occurs in the mind first, and then is expressed through the body. The desire for food occurs in the body first, and later food affects the mind.


The joy and pleasure that are provided by sleep are higher than any other pleasure, even food or sex.

The process of sleep provides rest for your body. Sleep is the state in which there is no content in the mind. If you make your mind free from conscious thinking, then you will go to sleep.

When you sleep, you often feel tired in the morning because you don’t know how to have good quality sleep. Sometimes you cannot sleep because you have many anxieties and many issues to resolve. Even if you get the best sleep, you are still tired, because a part of yourself—your mind—still remains awake even when you go into a deep sleep.

Six or seven hours of sleep are good. To force oneself not to sleep is unhealthy.

Learn to wake up before sunrise, no matter what happens. Sloth or inertia is the greatest of all sins that hampers human progress.

Yogis practice a different sort of sleep called yoga nidra. Using yoga nidra, they voluntarily go to sleep. The sages understood that sleep does not give complete rest, and they discovered the method called yoga nidra in which you learn how to go to sleep and yet remain conscious.

In this state, even though you are in a deep sleep, you can record all the things occurring around you. The whole world believes that you are in a state of deep sleep, but actually you are fully aware and rested. In this method you can give your body complete rest, you can make your breath calm, and your mind serene.


Among all these forces, self-preservation is the strongest in both human beings and animals. If your life is threatened, you try to run away or seek to protect yourself with all your might and skill. There is an inherent fear in you that you might lose your body.

Fear exists because you fear losing what you have, or not gaining what you want.

When you learn something about these primitive fountains and how to cultivate them, then it becomes easier for you to control your diet, or your sleep, or sexuality. You should learn such self-control because you are a human being. To preserve and maintain your body, eat good food. Learn to sleep when you are tired.

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of Swami Rama of the Himalayas