Mind: Our Enemy/Our Friend
"मन के हारे हार है, मन के जीते जीत ।”
man ke hare har hai, man ke jite jit;
parmatam ko paiye, manahi ke partit.
(“Mind is the root cause of defeat and that of victory as well,
Attain the highest consciousness in concordance with the mind”)
We are following the path of meditation - learning about the concept, the techniques, the benefits and the obstacles involved. So much has been said about the power of our mind and also about how this power can be tapped. Meditation is the process of tapping the latent power of our mind. A sound body, sane mind and a powerful will are three important requisites for any progress in meditation. However as far as the process, technique and success in meditation are concerned, we notice that all the fingers point in one direction and this mainly involves ability to have a positive/friendly dialogue with the mind. We must face our mind, subject it to scrutiny, listen to it patiently on a daily basis and then only we can hope that it would become friends with us to the extent that it would start listening to us as a true friend.
We have been discussing about the obstacles or the kinds of obstacles that lie on the journey from a trapped/troubled mind to a friendly/contented mind. We can say that making mind a friend is the most important thing in achieving higher states of consciousness and consequently a state of harmony with self and the world. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna:
bandhur atma-atmanastasya yena-atmaiva-atmana jitah /
anatmanastu shtrutve vartetatmaiva shtruvat //
[His own mind is his best friend who has conquered the mind by the mind itself but someone whose mind is uncontrolled; his own mind acts like the worst enemy to him.]
How do we make sure that our mind acts as our friend and not as our enemy specially when our mind is strongly pulled by desires coming from senses and their objects.
One answer could be the Buddha’s middle path, or Madhyam Marga. Extreme asceticism or extreme indulgences are for special people who have a will power which is either too strong or too weak. Most of us can not strain our mind so much so that we can pull it entirely away from senses and desires. If we try to do that, we may face wrong consequences as either the mind would go into depression or might revolt and drive us into devious ways of fulfilling our desires turning our lives into hell.
However if we act wisely and give in a little to desires of our mind and allow it to feed the senses/desires to some extent then we can surely lure it back to the path that we have chosen to traverse in life. Where and how much should we give in to senses - is the question.
For the first part of the question as to where in should we listen to mind and senses, refer to the Scriptures. The scriptures talk about basic human instincts- Aahar, Nidra, Bhaya and Maithun i.e. food, sleep, fear and sex. In other words human beings need food, sleep, protection from fear and sex. These are four basic instincts which must be recognized and appropriately fulfilled for those who live a worldly existence. It is only after we allow optimal conditions of food, sleep, protection from fear and sexual fulfilment to ourselves that we can silence the mind from getting pulled into direction of senses. After silencing the basic instincts, we liberate the mind and have it ready to listen to us as a good friend. This answers the question as to in which regard do we have to give in to desires.
For the second part of the question as to how much should we give in to mind’s desires, we should go back to ‘Middle Path’ of Buddha or go back to The Bhagvada Gita where Krishna talks about moderation in our actions, “Yukta aharaviharasya yuktacheshtasya karmasu…”(6:17). Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna are the light bearers for those who wish to realise the full potential of their minds in life.
The month of December ushers in a spirit of festivity and celebration in all parts of the world. 25th December is commemorated as Jesus Christ’s birthday. Teachings of Lord Jesus steered the world towards a living culture which shaped the course of history by offering to mankind one of the most organised religions. In this context, it is just pertinent to remember one of the most famous teachings from the sacred Christian text, the Bible, “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you…”.
Christmas is time to rejuvenate our spirit of friendship with ourself and with others in joyous celebrations. Merry Christmas to all of us!