Q. How can one control the mind? Simple English please!

Insight wilderbeast non-duality nature

Q. Dear Tom, I hope you are well. How can one control the mind? Simple English please!

Tom: There are basically two ways of doing this. First of all by various practices to calm the mind and generate peace, of which there are different types (see the link below). Secondly by insight, which means seeing that there is no mind, or no thinker/doer entity, only a spontaneous succession of thoughts.

These two methods usually work together in tandem, like a virtuous circle, one helping the other which in turn helps the other, and so on.

Insight alone is usually not stable and leads to an ‘enlightenment’ that comes and goes, and calm/peace alone is not ultimately liberating, as peace also comes and goes. Both of these alone are not ultimately satisfactory. However the two together usually work wonderfully well.

I’ve written some blog posts here that goes into a bit more detail about some of this, so please take your time to read through these if you want to:

Roadmap to enlightenment: a (fairly) comprehensive guide to spiritual practices

Manifesting awakening in everyday life: purification and insight

How to have peace and a challenging job?

Q. Hi Tom, thank you so much for sharing your experiences through your blog. It’s very helpful. In my journey I have learned a lot from the folks you have read Ramana Maharshi, Kirshnamurti, etc. I have experienced the sense of oneness almost like a peaceful black hole, and this feeling is now always accessible to me, although the strength of it varies. This access has changed how I experience life and a lot of suffering has diminished.

However I have a pretty intense, stressful leadership job and I find that my reactions to some people that I think are not being effective in my jobs is just as intense as it used to be before I found this state. I find myself suffering in navigating these situations, but I have to address these types of problems as a natural part of my job responsibilities.

Is there some guidance you can share that might nudge me to navigate this differently? I really suffer every time I confront this situation, and I have found myself making good decisions but causing pain to both myself and the people who are impacted by this decision. I know you are busy, but anything you can nudge me on would be helpful. I want to stay in the world and be effective in whatever role I am playing at the time, but want to not cause suffering to me or others in my path.


Tom: Thank you for your kind words and sorry it has taken me some time to respond. It’s great that your suffering has reduced and that you have instant access to that state of peace whenever you need to take shelter there.

I think I understand what you mean by the situation you face at work. As you know, I also have a job and family life and am in some ways very much in the world.

With these kinds of issues, there is no one fixed solution that works for everyone. I can give you some suggestions, but it is for you to experiment and find what works for you.

My recommendation is to start the day with a sense of gratitude, perhaps even a formal ‘giving thanks’ meditation session/puja in the morning to start the day.

Thereafter try to love everything that happens to you. This sadhana is described here in more detail: Start the day with love, fill the day with love, end the day with love

Thanks again for writing to me, best wishes and let me know how it all goes 🙏🏾

Buddha: How to approach the teachings


Going back to the Pali suttas, the Buddha also repeatedly warned against being attached to any particular teaching or teaching tradition:

‘Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by logic, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘This ascetic is our teacher.’
AN 3.65 Kesaputti [Kālāma] Sutta

This really is quite a stark warning, and we could see this as a very ‘modern’ and scientific way of approaching this search for freedom from suffering.

The above text is an except taken from a larger article: Buddhism: How enlightenment happens


The essence of yoga


The other aim of yoga, in addition to seeing through the false concept of being a separate doer-entity described in my previous post, is to remove compulsive desires. When these have been removed, the result is peace of mind which in turn leads to the ending of suffering and moksha (freedom, liberation).

We could classify desires into two types, compulsive and non-compulsive. Compulsive desires are ones that you feel compelled to enact. Your happiness depends upon fulfilling these desires. Non-compulsive desires are ones which you could take or leave. While you may enjoy the consequences of acting out and fulfilling a non-compulsive desire, your sense of happiness and wellbeing does not depend on it. You could call non-compulsive desires preferences.

When a compulsive desire is not fulfilled, suffering is the result. When a non-compulsive desire is not fulfilled, it’s ok. You may have wanted it to pan out a certain way, but it’s fine that it didn’t happen the way you wanted it to.

When compulsive desires have been rooted out, our happiness no longer depends on objects, and the mind becomes peaceful (sattvic).

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna repeatedly advises Arjuna to practice yoga. By this Krishna means to practice not minding what happens regardless of the outcome of a situation. In his first lesson to Arjuna on the subject of yoga, Krishna defines yoga as follows, a definition that is often repeated in various ways throughout the text:

yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā dhanañjaya

siddhyasiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṃ yoga ucyate
Perform actions, Dhananjaya [Arjuna], giving up attachment, be steadfast in yoga, be equal in success and failure. This evenness of mind is called yoga.
Bhagavad Gita 2.48

So in summary, what is the essence of yoga? Well according to the Bhagavad Gita, yoga essentially means ‘evenness of mind’, or as I put it, not minding what happens. Practice of this leads to having a peaceful (sattvic) mind. All forms of yoga have this sattva and peace as their aim, with the exact methods and mechanisms varying depending on the type of yoga.

Also see:
How yoga works
The paradox of yoga
Ramana Maharshi: The 4 paths to freedom (the 4 yogas)

Ramana Maharshi: Laugh and cry!

ramana umbrella.jpg

The realized person weeps with the weeping,

laughs with the laughing,

plays with the playful,
sings with those who sing,
keeping time to the song.

What does he lose?

Tom’s comments:

Many truth seekers suppose that the ‘fully self-realised guru’ would act in a certain way:

speak, walk, dress in certain ways,
never angry, always kind,
never unhappy, ever-blissful
pure and faultless

What a prison!
Freedom does not care for that!

In Freedom our humanity naturally shines

Also see All exist in me

That ancient path


In seeking it, it is lost.
In loosing it, it is found.

If you never heard of it, you would never seek it;
If you never sought it, you would (probably) never find it.

Thus the importance of hearing about it.
Thus the importance of seeking it.
Thus the importance of letting it go.
Thus the importance of finding
That which was always here.

Peace and blessings