In this theme, the mind and its control, we are all deeply interested, in a very personal way, for nothing affects us individually more than our own minds. We know something about the subject. All of us try to control our minds. But we should like to know more and do better.
Who can help us in this regard? Only those who have perfectly controlled their own minds. What we may learn from such sources we shall present here as a system of simple disciplines.
Control of the mind is a very interesting inner game. If you have a sportsman’s attitude. You will thoroughly enjoy it, even while apparently losing. In the playing, this game takes a great deal of skill, alertness, sense of hum our, goodness of heart, sense of strategy, patience and some heroic flair which makes it possible not to get disheartened in the face of a hundred failures.
Shri Krishna, was explaining in the Gita how the supreme state of Yoga was to be attained. After listening to him Arjuna said to the Lord in understandable despair :
“ O Krishna, this yoga which you declare to be characterized by perfect evenness of mind, I do not see how it can endure, Because of the restlessness of the mind. The mind, O krishna, is restless, turbulent, powerful and obstinate. To control the mind is as hard, it seems to me, as to control the wind.
Shri krishna listened to this representative complaint of man and gave a reply important for all men of all times. All Indian thinking and practice on mind-control are largely based on this teaching of Shri Krishna. He said: ‘undoubtedly, O Arjuna, the mind is restless and hard to control. But by practice and dispassion it can be controlled.
From this conversation we know three basic facts about mind-control:
a. That it has always been an extremely difficult task even for heroic persons of the stature of Arjuna.
b. That yet it is possible to control the mind.
c. That there are well-defined methods for controlling the mind.
In these two words, practice and dispassion, Shri Krishna gave the whole secret of controlling the mind. It is the uniform verdict of all the saints of India down the ages that there is no other way of controlling the mind expect through ‘Practice and Dispassion’. This is also called ‘the yoga of practice’.
We shall quote here a dialogue between Shri Ramkrishna and a devotee, in which the former emphasizes a fundamental point which everyone needs to remember:
Shri Ramkrishna: ‘Don’t sit idle simply because your spiritual consciousness has been awakened a little. Go forward. Beyond the forest of sandalwood there are other and more valuable things – silver-mines, gold-mines and so on.’
Priya : ‘Sir, our legs are in chains. We cannot go forward.’
Shri Ramkrishna: ‘What if the legs are chained? The important thing is the mind. Bondage is of the mind, and freedom is also of the mind.’
Priya: ‘But the mind is not under my control.’
Shri Ramkrishna: ‘How is that? There is such a thing as the yoga of practice, yoga through practice. Keep up the practice and you will find that your mind will follow in whatever direction you lead it. The mind like a white cloth just returned from the laundry. It will be red if you dip it in red dye and blue if you dip it in blue. It will have whatever color you dip it in.’
Practice and Dispassion are no doubt the entire secret of controlling the mind. But how do we bring them into our life-stream? That is the question. To do this
a. We shall have to develop a strong will to control the mind;
b. We shall have to understand the nature of the mind;
c. We shall have to learn certain techniques and practice them earnestly and intelligently.