I used to say to myself, whenever some difficulty would arise, Well, I have to face it one day. If I put it off today, tomorrow I shall have to face it. Let me, then, get it over with today.’ After all^ you want to finish the difficult portions of your job first, don’t you? So by various means you should hearten yourself. Then strength comes, and you find the way is not so difficult, after all. A balance comes into your being.
What is that balance? Balance is not only an alert sense that makes us aware of anything that is going even slightly wrong, it is also an immediate reaction whereby we remedy this situation. When we have that kind of alertness we become balanced. It is like the keen aesthetic sense of a great artist. When a line is wrong he will at once know it and correct it. Or if a great singer has sung a slightly sour note, others listening to him may not know anything is wrong but it will grate on his ear and he will correct it. That kind of alertness is what we acquire through discipline.
Now, let me warn you about this: like everything else in this universe, the mind has its rhythm. Wherever there is energy, there is action and rhythm, up and down, up and down. The whole universe is a story of rhythm. Mental activity is energy; therefore it has its rhythms, its ups and downs. What are you to do about it? Nothing; you don’t pay any attention to it. Let mental states come and go; you go steadily on, living according to certain rules and disciplines and plans. You just say, I shall practise like this every day; what does it matter whether I feel spontaneously hilarious today or whether I feel melancholy; what difference does it make? I shall call forth the best energies of my mind, I shall make the mind behave’. That is the attitude you should take towards the mind. You should not be the kind of person who gets cloudy when the sky is cloudy and has a big smile on his face when the sun shines. What kind of creature are you then? A piece of cloud can make you dance! You haven’t any dignity or integrity of your own. Something happens, your mind becomes depressed, then you follow in the wake of the mind. Mind is gloomy; therefore you are gloomy. If I ask you why you should be gloomy just because your mind is gloomy, you probably will laugh at me. Look at this fellow! If my mind is down, am I not also down?’ No, you are not! You certainly are not. That is the thing to be learnt in life.
I sometimes think that people who are out in the world learn a great deal about these things. In a sense they are in a more responsible position than those who are not in the world. Those not in the world tend to become self-centred; they become so selfish; they are keenly conscious of their little ills, their little difficulties. But when a person is in the world he cannot afford to think about those things. His body might be aching with flu; he still will have to put on his clothes and go out and work eight hours in the office. He is a responsible man and has to support his family; he really cannot pay attention to his ills or moods. He learns to go through the routine of life whether he is ill or well, whether his mind is amenable or not. In spiritual life, you have to take the same attitude; you must not allow the mind to become playful. You make it do what it should do. True, when the mind is down it will not do so well. What of it? You have to wrestle with it; it must be made to do what is expected of it. After a time you will find it does not go down so far. That habit has gone. Contrary conditions of mind may come, but you will realize they are not your condition, that you can still carry on your duties, your better thoughts, your meditations, and so on. Wrong thoughts come and go; they cannot affect you. A steadiness comes into the mind. That is how you become independent.