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Power Of Impressions In The Mind

Every thought and action leaves an impression in the mind. According to Swami Vivekananda, the sum total of these impressions determines our character; they account for what we are at any moment, and how we react to people and circumstances.

Impressions have the tendency to make us repeat the action or thought that gave rise to them. With every repetition, they become deeper and more powerful.

Past actions inevitably come back to haunt us or defend us. Having to experience the effects of all our accumulated actions is certainly a frightening thought. Yet devotees are not intimidated, but strive to strengthen their character by good actions and good thoughts. They are careful not to gather new bad impressions. Placing implicit trust in God's redeeming power; they forge ahead on the path of devotion. By prayer, meditation and work done as worship, they free themselves from the hold of both good and bad impressions, and grow in God-consciousness.

Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi assures us that repetition of God's name is a great help in minimizing the intensity of past impressions. When a disciple asked her if the effect of karma performed in previous lives could be cancelled by the repetition of God's name, she said, "One must experience the effect of past action. None can escape it. But japa minimizes its intensity. For example, a man who, as a result of his past karma, is destined to lose his leg, may instead suffer from the prick of a thorn in his foot."

How long does it take for all our past impressions to be burnt in the fire of Self-knowledge? Someone remarked to Sri Ramakrishna, "Our union with God is only momentary. It doesn't last any longer than a pipeful of tobacco." Sri Ramakrishna replied: "What if that is so? Union with God even for one moment surely gives a man liberation." On another occasion, Sri Ramakrishna spoke reassuringly to his devotees: "Is there anything, however hard, that cannot be achieved through God's grace? His grace makes even the impossible possible. If a lamp is brought into a room that has been dark a thousand years, does it illumine the room little by little? The room is lighted all at once."

Source – notes taken from divine qualities - teachings by Swami Yuktatmananda