Self-Restraint Pathway to God – Gandhi
(1) RESTRAINT SHOULD BE VOLUNTARY
Restraint self-imposed is not compulsion. A man who chooses the path of freedom from restraint, i.e. self-indulgence, will be a bondslave of passions, whilst a man who binds himself to rules and restraints, releases himself. All things in the universe including the sun and the moon and the stars — obey certain laws.
Without the restraining influence of these laws, the world would not go on for a single moment. … It is discipline and restraint that separates us from the brute. If we would be men walking with our heads erect and not walking on all fours, let us understand and put ourselves under voluntary discipline and restraint.
(2) CONTROL OF PALATE
True happiness is impossible without true health and true health is impossible without a rigid control of the palate. All the other senses will automatically come under our control when the palate has been brought under control. And he who has conquered his senses has really conquered the whole world.
One should eat not in order to please the palate but just to keep the body going. When each organ of sense subserves the body and through the body the soul, its specific relish disappears and then alone does it begin to function in the way nature intended it to do. Any number of experiments is too small and no sacrifice too great for attaining this symphony with nature.
(3) CONQUEST OF LUST
The conquest of lust is the highest endeavour of man or woman’s existence. Without overcoming lust man cannot hope to rule over self. And without rule over self there can be no Swaraj or Ramaraj. Rule of all without rule of oneself would prove to be as deceptive and disappointing as a painted toy-mango, charming to look at outwardly, but hollow and empty within… Great causes… call for spiritual effort or soul- force. Soul-force comes only through God’s grace, and God’s grace never descends upon a man who is a slave to lust.
Brahmacharya means control of all organs of sense. He who attempts to control only one organ and allows all others free play, is bound to find his effort futile. To hear suggestive stories with ears, to see suggestive sights with the eyes, to taste stimulating food with the tongue, to touch exciting things with the hands and then at the same time, try to control the only remaining organ, is like putting one’s hand in fire and then trying to escape being burnt. … If we practise simultaneous self-control in all directions, the attempt is scientific and easy of success. Perhaps the palate is the chief sinner. Hence we have assigned to its control, a separate place among the observances.
(4) SUBLIMATION OF VITALITY
All power comes from the observation and sublimation of the vitality that is responsible for the creation of life. If the vitality is husbanded instead of being dissipated, it is transmuted into creative energy of the highest order. . . . This vitality is . . . dissipated by evil . . . thoughts. And since thought is the root of all speech and action, the quality of the latter corresponds to that of the former.
Hence perfectly controlled thought is itself a power, of the highest potency and can become self-acting. . . . Such power is impossible in one who dissipates his energy . . . even as steam kept in a leaking pot yields no power.
(5) RESTRAINT VS. SUPPRESSION
It is harmful to suppress the body if the mind at the same time is allowed to go astray. Where the mind wanders, the body must follow sooner or later. It is necessary here to appreciate one distinction. It is one thing to allow the mind to harbour impure thoughts, it is different thing altogether if it strays among them in spite of ourselves. Victory will be ours in the end, if we non-co-operate with the mind in this evil process. . . . Hence the body must be immediately taken in hand and then we must put forth a constant endeavour to bring the mind under control. We can do nothing more, nothing less.
Restraint never ruins one’s health. What ruins one’s health is not restraint but outward suppression. A really self-restrained person grows every day from strength to strength and from peace to more peace. The very first step in self- restraint is the restraint of thoughts. Understand your limitations and do only as much as you can. . . . Let not what I have told you alarm you or weaken you. Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed.
Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well. There is nothing potent than thought, deed follows word and word follows thought. The world is the result of a mighty thought, and where the thought is mighty and pure, the result is always mighty and pure.