His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
by Purujit Dasa
Lord Krsna is the perfect teacher of meditation. In the Bhagavad-gita, He explains the essential point of such practice:
From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self.
This we can relate to our internet experience. Often time when we go online to accomplish some purpose, we tend to forget that purpose and we get distracted along the way. We start from one page and read, or watch a little video, but ultimately this will lead us to another page and another video, and another link. Next thing we know an hour has passed and we have accomplished absolutely nothing and it’s too late to actually access the information we originally wanted to find because we have to go to work or school. Our mind is like the internet. It functions in a similar way. In Sanskrit language the two activities of the mind are called sankalpa(acceptance) and vikalpa (rejection) and whatever the mind creates by this system of sankalpa and vikalpa is called manodharma or mental concoction. Observe your thoughts and see that it is very difficult to think of one subject for a extended period of time. The reason for this is that the mind is constantly being bombarded by sensual inputs via the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell). It is just like being on the internet and getting constantly bombarded by different links and ads saying “click here”. By clicking a new link, the current page I am on disappears and I forget about it. Similarly although the senses are inspiring us to think of different sense objects, because the sense objects are being projected on our mind constantly in a fast fashion we quickly forget the old ones in exchange for the new ones and then new ones and new ones and thus are unable to fully focus on any of them. The Vedic literature gives a following analogy:
"The individual is the passenger in the car of the material body, and intelligence is the driver. Mind is the driving instrument, and the senses are the horses. The self is thus the enjoyer or sufferer in the association of the mind and senses. So it is understood by great thinkers."
(Katha Upanisad 1.3.3-4)
If we have a good driver, we will very soon reach our destination. But if the driver is a rascal, then our life is in danger. Similarly if we are able to control our mind and detach it from the sense objects by transcendental engagement of devotional service, we can reach our destination and gain relief from all the miserable obstacles of material existence. Thus the mind is our best friend. However, if our mind succumbs to the senses and thus turns into a completely reckless driver, in whom we cannot put our trust, it is our greatest enemy. We become a polarized personality with no fixed idea of what we are doing in this material cosmos. The mind is dragging us from one set of situations, to another, to another, to another without any specific purpose. Just consider how many friendships, relationships you shared in your life and how most of them disappeared over the time. Your best friend turned out to be your worst enemy. Your worst enemy became your best friend. Your girl friend cheated on you, so you found another one whom you dumped because she was boring anyway. Perhaps the only stable relationship is in connection to our family, but even that does not last and our family members die, marry, or just move out of our house. Still, we cannot live without a relationship and even though we see the futility in trying to establish a permanent and perfect relationship we are being dragged by our senses to have one again and again, life after life.
The problem is not the desire for pleasure itself. Rather the difficulty lays in the unguided channeling of that primeval desire into the impermanence of matter. Because in our innermost being, we are eternal, we can never be in peace with impermanent solutions of the material mind. The sankalpa-vikalpa sequence thus only brings us disturbance, anxiety and ultimately madness such as schizophrenia. The proper channeling of our desires is to engage ourselves in loving devotion to Krsna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada comments:
Unless one is in Krsna consciousness, there is no possibility of peace. So it is confirmed in the Fifth Chapter (5.29) that when one understands that Krsna is the only enjoyer of all the good results of sacrifice and penance, and that He is the proprietor of all universal manifestations, that He is the real friend of all living entities, then only can one have real peace. Therefore, if one is not in Krsna consciousness, there cannot be a final goal for the mind. Disturbance is due to want of an ultimate goal, and when one is certain that Krsna is the enjoyer, proprietor and friend of everyone and everything, then one can, with a steady mind, bring about peace. Therefore, one who is engaged without a relationship with Krsna is certainly always in distress and is without peace, however much one may make a show of peace and spiritual advancement in life. Krsna consciousness is a self-manifested peaceful condition which can be achieved only in relationship with Krsna.
If the goal (Krsna) is ascertained, the natural functions of the mind, namely sankalpa and vikalpa can be dovetailed in spiritual realization by accepting things which are favorable for the execution of Krsna consciousness and rejecting things that are opposed to it. In other words, one does not have to make his mind void as it is often wrongly contemplated by the meditational amateurs. One can continue to work from the dualistic platform and at the same time try to gradually come to transcendence by following the do’s and the do not’s of spiritual life. In this way one can come to the point of conquering the mind and reaching the Supersoul as stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquility. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.
The mind must admit some superior dictation and follow it and therefore the effect of controlling the mind is that one automatically follows the dictation of the Paramatma or Supersoul. Because this transcendental position is at once achieved by one who is in Krsna consciousness, the devotee becomes unaffected by the dualities of distress and happiness, cold and heat, etc.
Naïve people, who are not willing to take responsibility for their actions, have devised a theory of “mind control” through which they justify their regretted choices by blaming someone else. This theory proposes that one can loose his free will under the influence of others. They boldly declare complete independence from any sort of influence on their minds from the outside sources and proclaim that everyone should use his mind independently. But this is an impossible task, because the very nature of the mind is to keep us under control. Such people clearly have a difficulty to distinguish the self from the mind and thus are unable to recognize the outside influences on their minds and ironically mistake them for being their own mind, choices, or so-called independence. Choosing between wet stool and dry stool is not freedom. One should rather question why is he supposed to pick stool, such an abominable thing, in the first place? Similarly, unless one gains control over his mind and senses, his choices, desires and so-called freedom is dictated by the material nature. Any intelligent person should be interested in the idea of how to master one’s own mind. The mind, being constantly agitated by the association with the sense objects as explained before is ultimately controlled by the three modes of material nature and one indeed looses his free will by the very act of denying such influence. The Bhagavad-gita calls such a person by the appropriate name of vimudhatma (bewildred soul):
The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.
The mind is controlled by nature and the nature is controlled by the Lord. Thus the Lord controls our mind either through matter or directly in the form of Supersoul. When the living entity wants to become the independently-minded doer in the material existence, his decision-making is influenced by the material nature and he must suffer in the cycle of action and reaction. The Lord complies with all his wishes and allows him to enjoy and suffer through various situations in the material world. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita as well.
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
Similarly, when he decides to turn his face to the Supreme Lord again and revive his original consciousness, the Lord also helps him from within. The Lord speaks to us under the condition that we engage in loving devotional service:
To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.
Srila Prabhupada comments on this verse in the following words: “A person may have a bona fide spiritual master and may be attached to a spiritual organization, but still, if he is not intelligent enough to make progress, then Krsna from within gives him instructions so that he may ultimately come to Him without difficulty. The qualification is that a person always engage himself in Krsna consciousness and with love and devotion render all kinds of services. He should perform some sort of work for Krsna, and that work should be with love.”
It is therefore of topmost importance to engage in the service of the Lord starting with the chanting of the Holy Names: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and also render other service and this should be done with love. In other words, we should engage in the service to Krsna for no other purpose than to attain His lotus feet in the spiritual world. Such service, never mind whether that person is a neophyte or advanced practitioner is pleasing to the heart and thus gives us sufficient strength to defend ourselves from the temptations of maya. For this reason it important to take guidance of a bona fide spiritual, who knows how to engage our energy in the service of Krsna and thus unentangle us from the web of mental concoction. Only then we can gain relief from the influence of material energy and gain the full benefit of the maha-mantra.