How can we Master the Mind?


Mind is like a housefly. It lacks the ability to investigate if a thing is real and relevant or otherwise. One moment it feeds upon the sacred food, and the next moment it flies away to sit upon a garbage dump. In this manner, man ponders on good ideas and positive thoughts for a minute, but quickly becomes disturbed and agitated with bad ideas and negative thoughts the next minute. Mind has no holds barred. It has no sense to discriminate between purity and impurity. There is Buddhi (intellect), the faculty that can examine things and discriminate between the relevant and irrelevant, but it is not given an opportunity and is not being made use of by man. Mind is like the elephant. Even as the Mahout gives it a thorough wash, it sprinkles mud upon itself with its trunk. That is natural to it. Similar is the condition of man. Now and then, man purifies himself with some spiritual exercises, virtuous deeds or sacred feelings. But soon he dirties himself with the dust of mundane and materialistic indulgences and loses peace of mind. If you want to contain water in a storage reservoir, first of all, the outlets and leakages in the reservoir should be plugged up. Otherwise, the water that flow in keeps draining out through the outlets and the leakages. Atmic energy is a mighty stream, which flows into the mind-reservoir that rarely gets filled. For man, the mind itself is a great reservoir. Atmic energy is a mighty stream that flows into the mind-reservoir through the channel of Buddhi. The senses are leakages or outlets to the reservoir. 

The water of Atmic energy can fill the mind-reservoir, only when the senses are restrained. Mind, in actuality, is the master of the senses, but it has surrendered itself to the senses. So mind is like the king, who has become subservient to his servants! How can such a king be free and fair? How can he expect honour and respect? Thus, when mind, the master, gives intervention to the senses, the slaves, man himself becomes a slave. So man must always remain as the master, and not turn into a servant. What happens is that the mind drains itself of its energies and powers through the activities and indulgences of the sense organs. By talking much, by watching sights and scenes, by brooding over various matters, the mental energies are being spent out. 
Just as the body becomes weak when it is not given nourishment, mind too becomes weak due to the incessant activity of the senses. So man has to keep these activities under control. He must also control the thought processes, i.e. to will and ponder, to focus and disperse. Then alone will the mind power develop in a sacred and concentrated way. Such soundness of mind and will power are most necessary for man today. Man is running after the mind – when the mind becomes weak, the sanctity of the man also weakens. So, on account of encouraging and supporting the senses out of greed, man faces much sorrow and lack of peace. 

If we investigate into the reason behind sorrow in life, we find that it arises out of ignorance of the reality. What is the cause of that ignorance? Ego is the cause. What is the cause of ego? Attachment is the cause. And what is the basis of attachment? One’s body consciousness, of course! Summarily, the reason behind sorrow in life is the body. If one keeps the body, i.e. its senses and faculties under check, he will never have any sorrow or grief, either in worldly life or in spiritual life. Sorrow is not natural to man. It is only an effect or result of some cause. If something is natural, none can destroy it. For example, sweetness is the nature of sugar; whatever you may do, you cannot remove the sweetness of sugar and make it taste otherwise. If sorrow were to be natural to man, there would not be so many ways to get rid of the sorrow, for it could not be got rid of through effort. Sorrow is unnatural to man and there are several means to cure him of it. Sorrow is destroyed only by turning to God and leading a spiritual life. A lazy horse when fed with nutritious food becomes lazier. The senses too are lazy and if they are fed with all that they fancy, they become stronger and more demanding. Thus strengthened, they finally destroy the humanness in man. When we set our mind on the ways of truth, we can experience, in future, the real bliss. 

Here is an illustration to understand how to follow the path that is true and lasting using our senses. Man is pursued by three kinds of sorrow in life. They are worldly sorrow, providential sorrow and spiritual sorrow. Adhi-Bhouthika sorrow, worldly sorrow, is that which is inflicted by the creatures of the world like snakes, bears, animals, insects, worms, etc. Adhi-Daivika sorrow or providential sorrow is that which we face in unforeseen and providential ways, like floods, drought, earthquakes, fire, accidents, etc. Sometimes one is struck by lightning quite unexpectedly; even this is providential sorrow. Adhi-Atmic sorrow, spiritual sorrow, is the pains and ailments suffered by one’s body and mind. The body is subjected to various illnesses and diseases throughout life, and man experiences much sorrow due to this. Even when the body is all right, one may suffer from problems and diseases related to the mind. 

The Way to Enlightenment

Once, a disciple approached his Guru saying, “Master, please enlighten me with some knowledge!” The Guru was seated outside a cave. He said patronizingly, “Child, it is getting dark outside. I shall teach you inside the cave dwelling. Please go inside and light the small lamp lying inside.” The disciple entered the cave with a matchbox in hand, located the lamp and tried to light it. He struck many matches but the lamp would not be lit. He emptied the matchbox but remained unsuccessful in his attempts. He reported to the Guru, “Master, this lamp is not lighting.” Guru asked, “Why it is so? Let me have a look at the lamp.” The lamp was brought to him and he asked the disciple to check if it was filled with oil or something else. The disciple then discovered that it was water that was in the lamp and not oil. And as the wick was soaked in water, it would not burn. The Guru instructed him, “First, throw the water out and squeeze water out of the wick; next, pour some oil and also soak the wick in the oil. Then light it. It will surely burn brightly.” The disciple followed the instructions and was successful in lighting the lamp. Once the lamp was lit, the Guru turned silent. The disciple waited a while and asked, “Master, you said you would enlighten me with knowledge. When will you do that?” The Guru replied, “I have been doing that all the while. Didn’t you understand?” The disciple was confused. The Guru then explained, “How can the flame of knowledge be kindled if the lamp of your heart is filled with the water of worldly and materialistic impressions, and your mind, the wick, is soaked in materialistic ideas? First, drain out from your heart all affinity to the physical world. Free your mind too of such ideas. Fill yourself with God’s love. Then I will kindle the flame by initiating you with God’s name. That itself will be the flame of knowledge. On the contrary, without love for God and with a heart filled with worldliness, how can I enlighten you?” 


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