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Control of the Tongue

Today's devotees have imposed on themselves all sorts of rules and regulations in order to live a disciplined spiritual life. Unfortunately, these have not been effective in gaining control over the tongue. Truly speaking, it is not necessary to make such strenuous efforts to control the various sense organs. If the tongue is properly controlled all the other sense organs will come in line by themselves. Because people have not been able to gain control over the tongue, they are afflicted with numerous doubts, emotional turmoil, contradictions and confusion. Control of the tongue refers not only to food but also to speech. You must recognize that there is nothing more powerful than the power of words. For this reason, you must keep your talk strictly under control.

In life, you can observe that even for little things a number of sacrifices have to be made. You cannot get anything without paying for it. You are prepared to sacrifice even your own life to obtain some small, petty, useless things. But, you are not seeking that which is exceedingly important, that which includes all other things and is the very basis of everything worthwhile. That greatest of all treasures is the immortal self. Only when you give up one thing can you get another in its place. Should you not then give up everything else for the sake of gaining this most important and most valuable of all possessions? Should you not sacrifice everything for the sake of reaching your highest self?

In the market place, if you want some vegetables you will have to give some money in exchange. Without offering to pay, and thereby sacrificing some of your money, you will not be able to get those vegetables. By giving up one thing you can then acquire another. In the same way, if you want to acquire virtues, you will have to give up your bad qualities. Only by sacrificing your likes and dislikes can you obtain equal-mindedness. Only by sacrificing your bad qualities can you attain the noble qualities. Only by giving up your bad thoughts, bad habits and bad behavior can you possibly achieve good thoughts, good habits and good behavior.

Many sages have described how the tongue always longs to enjoy good things, and how everything will be easy once you can gain control over it. The principal way of exercising this control is by observing silence. Silence does not merely refer to restraint of the tongue. Not only should you exercise silence in speech but you should also be silent in thoughts. Your mind should remain free of all thoughts. That is true silence.