Published in: The Pioneer
    Category: Spirituality
    Dated: 2/2/2004
There have been many instances in the past of famous rulers who behaved whimsically and suffered greatly. Alexander gained important victories in the North of India and wished to push towards South. He was advised by his generals to not pursue this idea since the army was tired due to long and hard battles they had fought. But Alexander was adamant and ordered his army to proceed, which resulted in mutiny by his army. Another great ruler, Napoleon got upset with Czar Alexander I of Russia on an issue which was not so important and decided to invade that country ; the French lost 500,000 men of the 600,000 sent in. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour which brought the US into World War and defeat for the Japanese.

All these were highly whimsical decisions and inevitably brought great misery to them and their countries. Similar to these famous instances, we common people also take many highly debatable decisions every day in our lives, though not much is known of them to others but we personally suffer on account of them. What is the reason for such variant behaviour ?

Lord Krishna provides the answer in the Bhagavad-Geeta : "He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination" (16.23). Lack of faith in the scriptures, combined with some material success, makes one a prime candidate for whimsical behaviour. One begins to assume that he can do no wrong, that is, whatever his mind comes up with must be the best thing to do.

At this point, let us understand the decision making process in our minds. Human mind has four main functions, desiring, thinking, feeling and willing. Based on one's previous experiences, one desires something ; then thinks of various ways of achieving the same and if strongly desirous wills the senses to act. Human beings also possess intelligence which is supposed to cross check our desires and the ways of implementing them. However, in absence of scriptural knowledge, real intelligence is lacking and such intelligence plays more or less a supporting role to the mind rather than a guiding one.

Imagine joining a new office. What would one do ? Surely one would make oneself aware of the details of the office conduct, duties to perform, whom to report to, etc. But in a much more important assignment of living one’s life, one accepts no boss (God), no guidance (Teacher), no ground rules (Scriptures), and is driven by one's mind only.

What is this mind which is all in all for us ? We all have experienced talking to a computer and we know how frustrating it can get at times. Our minds are also like computers - material machines. But whereas a computer is programmed to do specific tasks and generally does that well, human mind in absence of proper intelligence is uncontrollable. Arjuna describes mind's natural tendencies : “The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong" (6.34). And, we gladly submit to such an entity. Lord Krishna has warned about an uncontrolled mind, "For one who has failed to control his mind, his mind will remain his greatest enemy” (6.6).

And whimsical behaviour flows out of an uncontrolled mind. We can easily visualise the disastrous consequences of unregulated eating, recreation, working and sleeping upon our gross bodies but why is it so difficult to imagine the same about our minds which are so important to us ? And, we can see what this ignorance is doing to human society with wide-spread depression and stress-related problems.

Therefore, in order to live healthy, one must recognise the need to discipline one's mind, regulate it, but not many do so since we identify themselves with our minds. This is due to lack of spiritual intelligence by which one knows that a person is a spiritual soul and possesses a mind - a material instrument. By identifying ourselves with our minds, we do not feel any need to discipline it. Such a mind is like a missile with no guidance system. And such uncontrolled minds can only cause havoc to their owners. Thus one can understand that in order to be happy, one must attempt to discipline one's mind. Bodily discipline will automatically follow since bodily discipline comes from a controlled mind. Lord Krishna informs : “The senses are grouped around the mind" (15.9). Mind controls bodily functions and whatever the mind wills, the body follows.

So how does one control one's mind which, as Arjuna has informed, is as difficult as controlling a raging wind ? Lord Krishna provides the answer, "lt is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and detachment" (6.35). Here the Lord is suggesting practices, as recommended in the scriptures. He is also recommending detachment from things material, that is, one should attempt to satisfy one's needs only and not to be too greedy for material possessions. Such spiritual knowledge enhances intelligence, which in turn helps in curbing the natural tendencies of the mind.
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