Of one heart and mind I make you, devoid of hate. Love one another as a cow loves the calf she has borne. Let the son be courteous to his father, of one mind with his mother. Let the wife speak words that are gentle and sweet to her husband. Never may brother hate brother or sister hurt sister. United in heart and in purpose, commune sweetly together.
Atharva Veda 3.30.1-3. VE, P. 85
Many people, even those who consider themselves religious, go through life using profane language to express their frustrations at each difficulty they meet. Do they know the effect of these negative mantras? Apparently not. People who swear — even if it’s just under their breath — are cursing themselves. What does that mean? It means they are holding themselves back in life. They are demeaning themselves and making themselves unsuccessful. Their lack of success will create more frustrations within the home, and more swearing. Even thinking a swear word is a mantra.
Why do people repeat mantras? To generate a positive force for successful life. Why do people swear mentally, under their breath, or verbally, or at their children, or at their wives, or wives at their husbands? To vent their anger, spite or sarcasm, or just by mindless habit. But in the process they unleash a negative force that will ruin their lives and break up their homes. Every time you swear, that swearing goes into your subconscious and hooks up with all the other swear words you’ve said since you were a kid.
Many people habitually say, “I’ll be damned,” “Damn you,” or “Damn it” as emphatic figures of speech. But all speech has its effect. Such mantras block their future and bind them to what they wish on others or crassly blurt out. This is a good way to curse oneself, to be sure — to build up a big balloon of negative energy. Under that negative force, they will never be able to relax or enjoy a vacation. Many people live together as a family, but their home is broken, their lives are broken, because they broke their own heart and forfeited their own courage simply by swearing a repeated mantra. Using profane language is a curse upon the system we call life.
What is even worse is knowing you shouldn’t do something and then doing it anyway, even knowing why you shouldn’t do it and doing it anyway — knowing why you shouldn’t swear, why you shouldn’t be abusive to the children, why you shouldn’t be abusive to the spouse, and then doing it anyway! It has a triple impact of negative force on the subconscious mind of the individual if he knows what he is doing to himself and to the minds of others, if he knows the law and yet ignores the law, the divine karmic law that he accepted.
Now, having heard this, if you continue to break the law, you bring a triple curse upon yourself! That is the built-in prayashchitta, the automatic penance or penalty. Those of you who know how the subconscious mind and the sub of the subconscious mind work can see the negative impact very, very clearly. And if you continue knowingly doing what you know is harmful to you, you will earn a bad birth. Do you want that? Maybe you do. Or maybe you don’t believe in reincarnation. Well, it’s going to happen anyway.
I was on a United Airlines flight. A stewardess spilled something. She didn’t use the “d” word or the “s” word. She kept a smile on her face and cleaned up the mess! Why didn’t she swear? Because if you’re an employee on a United Airlines flight you don’t swear, or else you don’t take the next flight! That’s why. This shows there is an integrity built within everyone by which they can break a habit cycle if it means some benefits to them. In this case it was financial benefit, also avoiding the embarrassment of losing her job.
The motivation to change isn’t that clear when, for example, someone is working at a construction site where everyone else is also swearing. But the motivation to stop swearing should be clear, because it takes its toll even if you don’t realize it. It is simply taking longer to lose your job, because swearing will make you less productive, less efficient, less liked by others. You’ll be cheated, you’ll make wrong financial decisions, and your income will go down. Your inspiration will go down. You can count on it, because you are repeating mantras to destroy everything that you have. You won’t be able to appreciate that sunset. You will be so confused on the inside that all you’ll see is your own mind. Avoiding all that should be the motivation; but the effect of swearing is slow, insidious, and in most cases not appreciated
The Courage To Change
It’s up to the individual to stand on his own two feet, take his life in his own hands, his karmas in his own hands, to bear his karma cheerfully and work with it. Nobody else can do that for you. Gurus and swamis can point the way and give certain sadhanas, but they cannot do it for you. They won’t do it for you. If they did do it for you, it wouldn’t do you any good!
People who are cynical are expressing their anger and contempt with snide remarks. They may seem to be joking, but their sharp feelings come across anyway, which stimulates that lower chakra until one day their cynicism will turn into really good anger. Then they build up new karmas they never had before, which they will live with until they are faced with those karmas.
Some devotees take pride in saying, “I’ve been with Gurudeva for forty-five years.” “I’ve been with Gurudeva for thirty years.” But if you ask them, “Do you still get angry?” “Yes,” they say. “What have you realized?” “Well, that I shouldn’t get angry.” “Do you still get angry?” “Uh-huh, yes, sometimes.” Those people haven’t been with Gurudeva at all! They’ve just been hanging around. Because the results of everything we have been teaching have not taken hold. Results have to manifest in the lives of each of you. Otherwise, you’re just bodies, sitting there listening to me talk, living your own private life, living a double standard. Just bodies. So, there can be a lack of sincerity. I want my shishyas to do a job, do it right, and be on to the next one, not this insincerity of playing with me, playing with my mind. I don’t like that
You can’t work at correcting something. You either do it or you don’t do it. You don’t work at not falling off a cliff, a big precipice that drops off a hundred feet. You just don’t step forward; that’s what you don’t do! When you come to the point where you hear about the Self, and you get interested in the Self, you’re at a point where you can break the cycle of certain karmas through sadhana. You’re either going to do it or you’re going to think, “Oh, that’s kind of silly, you know. It’s really nice to listen to Gurudeva, but to actually take these teachings seriously and make changes in my life, well…ho hum. That kind of attitude, that kind of ho-hum, lazy attitude, also results in making new karmas, because others look at you as an example and take up your example. It’s living a double life that I am talking about. It depends on the strength of the person’s soul whether he actually makes some definite changes in his character or not.
Verbal Abuse Of Children
It’s one thing to hurt yourself through swearing, but it’s a double hurt of yourself if you hurt another person. We wrote quite extensively on the widespread problem of corporal punishment and child abuse last year in HINDUISM TODAY. We explained that those who abuse their children, their spouse — even husbands get abused and hit and scratched — are hurting themselves five to ten times worse than if they simply hit themselves once instead of hitting their child. We find that in some homes the advice to stop was taken very seriously. Scaring children by threatening them has also ceased, at least in the homes that I am aware of in the broad Hindu community. But verbal abuse of children has increased, calling children bad names in order to put them down, expressing anger by viciously badgering them: “You’re stupid!” “You’re worthless!” There’s a long list that apparently nearly every mother and every father has memorized. It goes on and on and on, this constant downgrading and demeaning, expressed in the name of discipline, starting at five or six years of age and continuing until youths are old enough to leave home on their own.
The verbally abused child’s self-image is terrible, but the pain and humiliation is locked away in his subconscious. He covers it up and forgets it, but it continues festering there, and one day bursts forth. If he is a kind-hearted child, he will protect his own children in the future from verbal abuse. If he is a mean-spirited child, he will release what his parents put upon him and into his mind, all of that hatred, upon his children. So, the verbal abuse continues generation after generation. Its pain and hurt long outlasts that of a slap or a beating.
In some parts of the Hindu community we hear a lot about curses. The more intellectual, Western-educated Hindu doesn’t believe in curses at all. But what is a curse? A curse is negative energy gathered together and pointed at someone you don’t like. Those priests who are able to conjure up a curse — and are often paid for it — take careful precautions to protect themselves from being cursed by their own curse! Sometimes that protection doesn’t work, and they become ill, occasionally even die, or become tremendously confused as long as the curse is working.
To freely hurl mental harassment and abuse at a child who can’t talk back — lest he be slapped down, dragged across the floor and slammed against the wall — is cursing the child as well as oneself. It is also cursing the home, as well as the entire family, because this tremendous force of negative, angry energy that has been suppressed leaches out and fills the room and the entire house. Call a child one bad name and you are calling yourself ten bad names. And that goes into your subconscious mind, because the perpetrator of the crime also hears what he has said.
Many people verbally abuse children in order to motivate them, to make them courageous, to make them stand up straight, to make them do better in school. Any psychiatrist or psychologist will tell you that to tell a child he’s stupid is no motivation to do better in school! To tell him that he’s a pig, he’s a dog — and then there are the four-letter words, the “f” word and the “b” word — is no motivation whatsoever. But the children have to take it, because they are dependent for housing, clothing and food. The verbal abuse goes into their subconscious mind. But it goes double, triple, quadruple into the subconscious mind of the mother — and the father also if he hears the mother cursing the kid — and on and on until finally the whole family has cursed itself, become filled with the hatred, the scorn and the filthy meanings of the words they have spoken to one another a thousand times.
Will that family be successful? Never. Will that family enjoy vacations? No way. Will they be totally frustrated on the inside? Yes. Will disease come to that family? Of course! They are creating disease by the disease they are putting into their own subconscious mind, and the harm to the astral body will eventually affect the physical body
Making Up For Abuse
Of course, parents who curse their children can’t hug them, can’t show the same love for them. That would be counterproductive! In fact, many families think it’s weakening to the child to hug a child and to show love or to congratulate the child. Thus we have whole societies and entire countries that hold themselves down, generation after generation and do not flourish, and therefore are held down by other communities who are doing the same thing, and that are held down by other communities.
What is the prayashchitta, what is the penance, for foul or abusive language — for language that hurts? If you call a child stupid, or call him a little bastard, counteract it by telling him he is intelligent, wanted in the family, loved. Counteract the abuse by saying five good words for every bad word. Otherwise, the parents will have a bad birth. What is a bad birth? Being born diseased. A bad birth is being born without parents. A bad birth is being born in a land that has no room for children. There are lots of suffering kids these days who abused their children in a past life without mercy, taking out their frustrations on them. Which is worse, beating the child physically or berating him with words? The pain of the beating will go away, even the memory, somehow. But the words will ring deep in the mind of the child throughout his lifetime.
Now, if the child performs certain sadhanas and is able to forgive the family for the verbal beatings, what then happens? It breaks the curse. Then what happens? The whole force of that curse goes back on the mother and the father. The child walks away free, healed, and his parents take the impact of their impropriety. They take the impact of their bad words. To young people who are cursed by your families, I say take your life in your own hands and plan for your own future. After all, why would parents curse and call bad words and put down a child but to control him, use him as a meal ticket, social security, make him so afraid that he can’t talk to them!
In many homes parents are not beating their children anymore, but they still raise their hand in the threat to hit them! The child knows that if he persists, he’s going to get it right in the head. Physical threats and verbal abuse turn a child into a person who is weak, discouraged, without courage — without courage enough to have a con-versation with his mother, without courage enough to have a conversation with his father, without courage enough to have a conversation with himself, to develop any initiative, to stand on his own two feet, to be a leader. If your kids cannot or will not talk to you and have a conversation with you, you have probably hurt those kids and scared those kids so much that they don’t want to be hurt by you anymore. It’s as simple as that.
There are awful stories we hear about slavery, how slaves were brought to America, Europe and all over the world, beaten and whipped to bring them down to abject servitude so they wouldn’t cause any problems lest they be beaten without mercy for the slightest thing — beaten even if they did nothing wrong, just to keep them in their place. That’s what verbal beating does, too. It keeps kids “in their place” so they become useless slaves in the family, earning money to give to parents who still curse them, and then feigning love toward the parents lest they get more verbal abuse. We see this happening all the time. I hear and receive by e-mail desperate testimonies from children and young adults on how they have been abused, physically and with words, in their own home. From the many experiences I know about, I can assure you that words can hurt a child as much or more than a bamboo switch, a belt or a fist.
Advice for Abused Youth
We want to talk to the next generation that’s coming up. Fourteen-year-olds, eighteen-year-olds, twenty-year-olds, stand on your own two feet! Make your decisions according to dharma. What is the book of dharma? Weaver’s Wisdom, the famous Tirukural. It gives you all the tools you need to live a very good life. If your parents are verbally abusing you, don’t let their words affect you. Try to have compassion by appreciating what led them to the point where they could say these cruel things to you; but realize that they can offer you nothing but more abuse, because they are in the process of cursing themselves. The message is to “stand on your own two feet, take your life in your own hands, claim your independence,” once you realize that life at home is not going to get any better.
In certain shops in Asian cities, parents can buy bamboo switches, belts and other instruments of torture made just for punishing kids. Few realize that their mean words can cause just as much hurt, if not more. Parents have developed long lists of words used to demean and belittle. It has become an unspoken rulebook of how to bring their child down to feeling like he’s a big nothing, willing to do anything you say, because he inwardly begs: “Don’t hurt me anymore. Don’t hit me with your words. Don’t hurt me with your long silences and by turning your head away from me. Don’t hurt me that way anymore. I’ll do anything. I’ll get a dumb job and work at it fourteen hours a day to give you some money, to pay you for not hurting me anymore.” That’s what we have in the Hindu community around the world. And that’s what we don’t want to have in the Hindu community around the world.
What can a child of eight, ten or twelve do who is being verbally and physically beaten at home and in school? Nothing. It’s a sad situation. I’ve received lists of abuses from children of that age, just exactly what their mothers have said and what their fathers have said. It’s a tremendous pain in their mind. We’ve given young people the prayashchitta, the remedy, of putting a flower in front of their parents’ picture for thirty-one days. Most can’t do it. They just can’t do it. We ask them to say each day, “I forgive you for playing my karma back to me,” but they just can’t do it. The hate, the mistrust, the disappointment, the hurt, is so great, they’ve been put down so low, that they just cannot do it.
My counsel to Hindu families is: Stop the physical abuse. Stop the verbal abuse. Stop the war in the home. Use positive discipline. Praise your children. Discover the good things that they do and tell them how well they have done. Celebrate their Divinity. Enjoy them and enjoy good times with them. This is the family tradition and the ideal of Sanatana Dharma, the Hindu Dharma of the past, before the Church of England reigned over India for 150 years and changed education to their way of thinking, making beating a must in schools and homes in accordance with the many biblical verses that highly recommend “not to spare the rod,” and the theological rationale to “beat the devil out of them.” Hindus of today’s world have begun working together to stop the abuse, passing and enforcing laws to bring us back to the true meaning of discipline, which is to teach, train and patiently guide. We must remember that ahimsa, nonhurting, physically, mentally or emotionally, is the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma.
My advice to verbally abusive parents: stop tearing them down by telling them they’re stupid, that they’re too small, too fat, too lazy, too ugly or too naughty. If you constantly tell a child he is naughty, he will become naughtier. If you constantly tell a child he’s nice, he will be nicer. It just works like that. All the psychiatrists agree with this approach, to be sure, as do mothers and fathers who really love their children and take an interest in their children
Backbiting And Gossip
There are two very great religious laws, and you have heard me talk about them before, and if you follow them and obey them, you will have the spiritual protection of your own intuitive mind. Your intuitive mind will be available to you all of the time.
One of these great laws is the law of dashamamsha, tithing, and the other great law is shaucha kriya, doing good. Now, what is doing good? Doing good is controlling your mind, really, because when the mind is out of control or when you allow it to be out of control, you are really under the control of the instinctive mind of other people. You are more or less like a puppet in their hands. Therefore, we teach, “Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary.” This is very, very difficult for most people to do. If you carry each thought on the tip of your tongue, quite often it won’t be your thought at all. It may be what is seething in the instinctive mind of people around you. That’s what makes for backbiting and gossip. Like those who swear, those who gossip do not think. They pick up the low, seething vibrations of the instinctive mind of everyone around and, like stovepipes, emanate the smoke of the fire that is burning or smoldering or fuming or raging underneath. Many undeveloped people believe and repeat the last thing they hear spoken by someone they consider higher than themselves. They gossip freely, hurt freely and are often the pawns of strong-minded, unscrupulous individuals who use their ignorance and weakness to further their own selfish ends.
Do you know what gossiping is like? It’s like scratching an itch. Something is antagonizing your mind, so you gossip, and you go on and on and on until somebody changes the subject for you, or until somebody does something else that you can gossip about. Shall we say that backbiting and hurtful gossip are the dissipation of the creative, spiritual force? That’s all they are, dissipation of your great, God-given inner power. Anyone will tell you that to dissipate your energy is bad for you, but you do that when you gossip. By doing that, you are only the chimney, the dirty smokestack, of the seething instinctive mind, the ugly state of mind, of other people. You are not in control of your own mind. Have I painted a picture that is bad enough, hideous enough, gruesome enough, for you all to stop gossiping and control your mind a little bit? Gossip invokes the asuric beings on the lower astral plane and makes new karmas for the gossiper, who will be gossiped about in the future when the karmas return
Let’s paint another picture. When you defile others, mentally and verbally, through backbiting gossip about the happenings in their lives, you are hurting them. You are actually making it difficult for them to succeed, to even persist where they are. They sense, they feel, the ugliness that you are projecting toward them. Many women gossip about their husbands over the telephone to other women while their husbands are at work. How can the husband be successful with the wife’s mind, in which he presumably trusts, working and plotting against him in such a chaotic condition? Gossip and backbiting, like verbal abuse, hurt another. You know what happens according to spiritual law when you hurt another. You are only hurting yourself in the future. Of course, you don’t meet the hurt right away, but in a few months you will find that it will come to you. You are hurting yourself in the future if you hurt another in the present.
It takes great sincerity in life to control the mind. And the power to be sincere is based on honesty. Honesty, arjava, gives a great boon to you. It gives you stability. It makes you strong. It makes every atom in your being vibrate with an inner power. It gives you perspective; it gives you the eye to justice. But you must first be honest with yourself. Then the next time you see something happening in the life of another person that you would just love to sit down and gossip about, stop the menacing wheel of your mind and think about the experience and feelings the other person is going through.
Thoughts Have Power
Each thought and each word has a form, an etheric form. That is why when a room is happy and you walk into it, you feel joyous. When a house is sad and you walk into it, you can sense that misery, for every thought you think and every word you speak takes form and shape in the ether.
Prana is mental energy. When you use mental energy, you make mental creations. When you use physical energy, you can create physically. With your hands, you can build a house, you can cook a dinner; you can do many things with your physical energy and your physical body. With your mind, through the use of prana, you can also create for yourself. How many understand the meaning of the words prana and mental energy? You would be surprised at the power that you have in your mind as an individual.
Every positive thought that you have manifests in a subtle world and remains there for the length of time that it took you to generate it. Everything that you make with your physical energy on the physical plane will remain on the physical plane in physical form according to the time and effort that you took to generate it. If you have done a very fine job, it may remain over a hundred years. If you didn’t put much effort into it, it will not remain long on the physical plane.
Let’s think about the mental world for a moment. Suppose you are generating a thought for something good to happen, a positive circumstance you want to come your way. You concentrate upon it, and you generate it and you make the picture just the way you want to see it. Then you are happy and joyous. You feel as if it has already happened. Now suppose you drop into a lower state of consciousness. You begin to gossip. You use foul language and backbite. You lose control of your mind. You don’t put your intuitive mind first. You put the instinctive mind first and begin to think: “Oh, that can’t possibly happen because of this…” or “I can’t possibly do this because of that….” You are building a negative pattern of fear, worry and doubt that covers up the beautiful picture and snuffs it out. Then, when it does not manifest, you say: “My prayers were not answered. God was too busy helping somebody else. He couldn’t help me.” But you were the creator. You preserved it on the mental plane for as long as you could, and without knowing it you destroyed it before it manifested physically. That is one way you can go on through life, as so many, many Hindus do — blaming others for their own self-created failures.
Do you know what all of that is? Confusion of the mind! So, we have two alternatives: confusion or control. And we have all the spiritual laws to follow that help you control your mind. When the external mind is controlled, then the spirit or inner being, the Reality of you, can shine forth. Shall we say that a confused mind is like a cloud the sun cannot shine through? A controlled mind is like clear ether which the radiance of the sun can shine through