A Yogic student should abstain from greed. He should not receive luxurious presents from anybody. Gifts affect the mind of the receiver. These five virtues must be practised in thought, word and deed, for they are not merely restraints but change the character of the practitioner, implying inward purity and strength.
Two things are necessary for attaining success in mind-control, viz., practice (Abhyasa) and dispassion (Vairagya).
You must try your level best to be free from any desire for any pleasure, seen or unseen, and this dispassion can be attained through constant perception of evil in them. Dispassion is renunciation of attainment. It is aversion to sensual enjoyments herein and hereafter. The detachment or dispassion is of two kinds, the lower and the higher. Vijnana Bhikshu distinguishes the inferior and the superior types of Vairagya in the following way: “The former is a distaste for the good things of life, here or hereafter, due to the experience that they cannot be acquired or preserved without trouble, while their loss causes pain and that the quest is never free from egoistic feelings. The latter, however, is based on a clear perception of the difference between intelligence and the objects that appear in its light.”
There are various stages in dispassion. The determination to refrain from enjoying all sorts of sensual objects is the first stage. In the second stage certain objects lose their charm for the spiritual aspirant and he attempts to destroy the attraction for others also. In the third stage the senses are controlled, but a vague longing for the sensual enjoyment remains in the mind. In the fourth the aspirant loses completely all interest whatsoever in the external objects. The final stage is a state of highest desirelessness. It is this kind of dispassion that bestows Absolute Independence on the Yogi. In this stage the Yogi renounces all kinds of psychic powers even such as Omniscience, etc.
It is by practice and dispassion that the passage of thought towards external objects can be checked. Mere indifference will not serve the purpose. Practice is also necessary. Remembering God always is also practice. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna with reference to this practice of controlling the mind: “Abandoning without reserve all desires born of the imagination by the mind, curbing in the aggregate of the senses on every side, little by little let him gain tranquillity by means of reason controlled by steadiness; having made the mind abide in the Self, let him not think of anything. As often as the wavering and unsteady mind goeth forth, so often reining it in, let him bring it under the control of the Self.” (Bhagavad Gita, Ch. VI-24, 25, 26)
Mind is drawn towards external objects by the force of desire. By convincing oneself of the illusoriness of sense-objects through an investigation into their nature and by cultivating indifference to worldly objects, the mind can be restrained and brought back to the Self to abide finally. By virtue of this practice of Yoga, the Yogi’s mind attains peace in the Self. Practice consists in constantly repeating the same idea or thought regarding some one object. By constant reflection and exercise of will-power, suggestions should be given to the subconscious mind not to look for enjoyment in the changing world without, but in the changeless within. You should exercise great vigilance to get hold of opportunities, when the mind dwells on sense-objects, suggest to it new meanings and interpretations and make it change its attitude towards them with a view to its ultimate withdrawal there from. This is called practice.
Restraint does not come in a day, but by long and continued practice with zeal and enthusiasm. The progress in Yoga can only be gradual. Many people give up the practice of concentration after some time, when they do not see any tangible prospect of getting psychic powers. They become impatient. They do little and expect much. This is bad. Doing any kind of practice by fits and starts will not bring the desired fruit. Direct experience is the goal of life. Though the effort of practice is painful in the beginning, yet it brings Supreme Joy in the end. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “Supreme Joy is for this Yogi, whose mind is peaceful, whose passionate nature is controlled, who is sinless, and of the nature of the eternal!” (Bhagavad Gita, Ch. VI-27)
Desire is born of ignorance (Avidya). Attachment, longing and preference are the constituents of desire. Do not endeavour to fulfil desires. Try to reduce your desires as best as you can. Withdraw the fuel of gratification. Then the fire of desire will get extinguished by itself. Just as a ghee less lamp dies out when the ghee is withdrawn, even so the fire of desire dies when the fuel of gratification is withdrawn. If attachment is eradicated then longing and preference for objects will die by themselves.
Man commits various kinds of sins and injures others, when he exerts to get the desired objects. He has to reap the fruits of his actions; hence he is brought again and again in this round of births and deaths. If you increase one object in the list of your possessions or wants, the desire also increases ten times. The more worldly objects you possess, the more distant you are from God. Your mind will always be thinking and planning as to how to get and guard the objects, how to earn tons of money and keep them safe. If the acquired objects are lost, your mind is completely upset. Cares, worries, anxieties, and all sorts of mental torments increase with the objects.