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Friendly Mind

Akrura das
In this article I will speak about the science of the mind One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. (Bg 6.5) Many people practice yoga in the Western world, in order to improve their health or to achieve peace of mind. My spiritual teacher Srila Prabhupada wrote that the purpose of the yoga system is to control the mind and to draw it away from attachment to sense objects. Modern yoga societies and clubs dont teach that the purpose of the yoga system is to control the mind.

disturbed and overwhelmed. Above all, he will not be induced to do something about fulfilling those desires. When you see a spiritually advanced person, its not that he doesnt experience desires. They also encounter tests. The difference between them and us is that they pass those tests and dont come under the influence of those desires.

my old habits. Maybe this is a sign that I need to get married. Maybe this is a sign that I should give in to my senses and the mind. Maybe this is a sign that I have gone crazy. Maybe this is a sign that I should kill myself. One who is selfrealised knows what is this Plop! That is simply something quite usual, the test of the illusory energy. She is checking whether we are still serious about spiritual life. Why monks fall down? There are many reasons. It may be because they dont pass the test, they dont have a sufficient higher taste, they dont have enough faith, they are not firmly established in the spiritual knowledge. We have to build a strong foundation for our spiritual life. If one practices and becomes aware of the mind and its functions, he will be able to better control the mind, to tell the mind what to do. He will not allow the mind to make him fall down. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy. (Bg 6.6) In our recent seminar we spoke about how to become more aware of whats going on in the mind, and how to ask effective questions. We are giving practical tools for controlling the mind, like re-directing the mind towards spiritual things, spiritual sound vibration, spiritual activities, and engaging the senses. For example, if you engage your senses in the activities of a spiritual service, then its easier to control the mind. Or if you absorb the mind in the spiritual philosophy or in spiritual mantras and prayers, then its much easier to control the senses. In this way we attack the enemy from all sides. Another tool that is effective for controlling the mind is powerful questions. The power of questions for achieving results in life and for controlling the mind is illustrated by a true story from the Second World War. Asking the right question can actually save your life. It did save Mr Lechs life. The Nazis stormed into his home one night and herded him and his family into a death camp in Krakow, Poland. His family was murdered before his eyes. Weak, grieving, and starving, he worked from sunrise to sundown alongside the other prisoners of the concentration camp. How could anyone survive such horrors? Somehow he continued. One day, he looked at the nightmare around him and concluded that if he stayed there even one more day, he would die. He decided that he must escape. And most important, he believed that, even though no one before him had escaped, somehow there was a way. His focus changed from how to survive to asking instead, How can we escape from this horrible place? He received the same answer over and over from prisoners. Dont be a fool! There is no escape. Asking such questions will only torture your mind. But he wouldnt accept this answer. He kept asking himself, How can I escape? There must be a way. How can I get out of here? One day, his answer came. Lech smelled rotting

How it is possible that one controls the mind? It is possible if one absorbs his mind with something better, like a child who plays with toys. If you take away all the toys, he will become distressed and disturbed, perhaps create even more problems. But if you give him a better toy, he will be satisfied. For instance, if he plays with a knife, its dangerous. If you take away the knife, he might cry. If you give him something else, he will be absorbed and peaceful. At least its likely to happen. Similarly, the mind must be engaged in There are five sense objects: rupa (form), sparsa something. To engage the mind positively and (touch), sabda (sound), gandha (smell), and rasa spiritually, we chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra, a spiritual sound vibration, the names of (taste). Our sense of smell, taste, sight, hearing God, and it helps us calm the mind, and to and touch, are all attracted with those sense absorb it in that spiritual vibration. objects. The phenomena that happens between the senses and the sense objects is like a chemical reaction. Its happening automatically A quality of questions we ask and we are mainly unconscious of it. Bhagavadourselves determines a gita helps us to understand that how this is taking place, how the senses are attracted to the quality of our thinking, what sense objects automatically, sp ontaneously. This awareness about whats happening helps us goes on in the mind and that control our senses, if we want to practice real determines the quality of the yoga successfully. According to Vedic literature, there is no success in life without results . controlled senses. It is necessary to achieve the level of self-control. There are six enemies of the mind. If we become aware of them, it will be easier to If someone has a peaceful mind, he can control defend from them. They are lust, anger, greed, his senses. Control of the senses helps to control envy, illusion and madness. All these agitate our the mind, control of the mind helps sense mind. They are also called the six highway control. Therefore, its good to practice both. robbers. When they are present, the mind is Controlled mind is a friend. Uncontrolled mind agitated, when they are not present, the mind is is an enemy. Uncontrolled mind can go so far peaceful. One who is interested in selfthat it will tell you that the best thing in a certain realisation, who wants peace of mind, will never moment is to commit suicide. Thats an extreme trust his mind. He will never think I am now situation where the mind is completely crazy. sufficiently self-controlled, I have now rejected Therefore a person who wants self-realisation, all sinful activities, I am now an advanced wants to advance in spiritual life, wants peace devotee and there is no problem. I can control and happiness, will make an effort to control his myself and I dont have to be cautious. The mind and to make it a friend. mind is like a tamed animal. Sometimes they tame lions. Even when they are tamed, we still Are you aware of the internal dialogue that goes have to be cautious, because at any moment on in the mind all the time? What is it that the they can harm us. Therefore, a self-realised mind tells us? Is it something encouraging, person always carefully deals with his mind and something that helps us, or is it something that controls it. doesnt help us, that degrades us, that is discouraging? If we practice, if we work with Its favourable to be aware what we think. We the mind, which is like an instrument, we can have that ability while the animals dont. They elevate our life to a higher level and be happy live and think Wheres food? etc, but we can even in this life. It is said that the mind of a self- observe what we think. Three functions of the controlled person is like an ocean. Many rivers mind are thinking, feeling, and willing, and they flow into the ocean. They might be turbulent can be observed. We can become more aware of and fast, but because the ocean is very calm, them. Those who practice spiritual life and they also become calm within that ocean. They make a conscious effort to think certain things, become the water of the ocean. to focus on certain things, are sometimes surprised when all of a sudden something Similarly, many desires may appear in our unwanted or strange appears in the mind. Plop! mind, but if one is self-controlled, those desires Thus sometimes monks become bewildered, will not agitate him. He will be able to see those What is this? Is this a sign that I am not a desires, acknowledge their presence, but not be monk, that I am not a devotee? Maybe this is a sign that I have to go back to

flesh just a few feet from where he worked: men, women, and children who had been gassed and whose naked corpses had been piled into the back of a truck. Instead of focusing on the question How could God allow something so evil to happen? he asked himself, How can I use this to escape? As the sun set and the work party left for the barracks, he pulled off his clothes and dove naked into the pile of bodies while no one was looking. Pretending to be dead, he waited with the sickening smell of death all around him, the weight of the corpses pressing upon him. Finally, he heard a truck engine start. After a short ride, the mountain of bodies was dumped into an open grave. He waited until he was certain no one was nearby, and ran - naked - the twenty five miles to freedom. What made a difference between the fate of Lech and that of many millions who died in concentration camps? There were probably several factors, but one big difference is that he asked a different question. And he asked it over and over, with expectation, certain he would receive an answer. We ask ourselves questions all day long. Our questions influence our focus, how we think, and how we feel. Asking the right questions can be a major way to turn our life around. Instead of asking, Why is life so unfair? and Why dont my plans ever work out? we may ask questions that could give us useful answers. Therefore, how great a difference it will bring to your life questions that are empowering, and not questions that drain your energy and take away the possibility to succeed.

can change. We cannot change others. We can try to influence them, but we cannot change them. We can influence people if they allow us, if they trust us, have a relationship with us. A quality of questions we ask ourselves determines a quality of our thinking, what goes on in the mind every day, and that, in turn, determines the quality of the results that we get. Therefore, maybe it pays off to change the quality of our questions and the quality of our thinking. If we change the way we think, we can change the quality of our lives. What about how we feel (another function of the mind)? Do you know that you can choose the way you feel? Do you know that you can get up in the morning and say, Today, Im not going to be frustrated? It is possible. I have one simple technique. It might seem too simple but if you try it youll see that it works. It works for me, it works for others, and we teach this technique in various cities around Europe. When you are upset, raise your arms high and try to remain frustrated with your arms raised. Try hard to remain disturbed! Does it work? Can you be frustrated in that position? It will be very difficult. So get up, raise your arms, and lift up your head. Motion brings emotion. Change of the bodily posture changes the state of mind. Instantly. Just raise your hands and the state of mind changes. But we like to be depressed. Why? Because then I am in the centre. Oh, poor me! I have so many problems. No one notices me. Therefore, frustration is maybe a way to draw attention to ourselves. We might like when someone asks us, Oh, whats the matter with you? And we think, Great! Im getting attention.

apply daily that which is written in the books of wisdom. In controlling the mind, there must be vigilance. We shouldnt trust the mind. It can allow the enemies of the mind to rule over us at any moment. The best Samurais, Japanese warriors, after their intense training, have to pass the final test, the test of life or death. They put a warrior in a dark room, who is to be attacked after some time by another skilled warrior, who tries to kill him with all his might. Therefore, the warrior who is tested must be awake. He doesnt know when hell be attacked. He must not sleep. He must have sharp reflexes. He must be awake, and defend his own life in the dark. Srila Prabhupada said that as this warrior is vigilant, we need to be vigilant regarding the illusory energy which tries to drag us every moment away from Krsna or from focusing on spiritual matters. Such vigilance is absolutely necessary. Its very easy to become complacent and think, I am now okay. Ive been chanting for 20 years already. I have eaten about 5 tons of prasadam, food that was offered to God. I hope Ive been purified. In the matter of seconds we can slip into illusion again. Few days ago one devotee told me how he was shocked that after many years of sincerely practicing Krsna consciousness some weird things started to appear very intensely in his mind. He was bewildered. We discussed it and concluded that the illusory, material energy tested him. He might not be interested in material, sinful activities anymore, but at the same time, he might have made an offence, or did something else that is wrong. So maya, material energy, was checking where he was at, whether he was still serious and sincere, whether he has become proud because hed been practising spiritual life for 20 years, whether he thinks hes better than others. If one has a leadership position, thats another reason to think youre better than others. And he has one. Whoever becomes proud, he comes into a very dangerous situation to fall under the influence of illusion and to fall down. Therefore cautiousness is essential. It is said that the mind is a king of cheats, therefore vigilant observation of whats happening must be there. Thinking, feeling, willing, what desires are there? What do I feel?

For example, we ask ourselves a classic But we like to be depressed. question Why they do this or that? But, who are they? The government, demigods that Why? Because then I am in make trouble with the weather or create other the centre. natural disturbances, society, my colleagues at the workplace, family members. Who else? Ants, mosquitoes, the wind (which brought me a One way you can be happy the whole day is to headache today), bus drivers, bowels. decide in the morning to focus on others, not on yourself. Let me do something for my We can blame so many people and things. We friends, for my family. Let me focus on others. sometimes make a condition that when they For the past fifty years I think of myself only. become perfect, I will become too. Until then, I Let me practice at least for one day, and see have an excuse that because you are not perfect, what happens. See whether at the end of the I am also not perfect, and I dont want to make day Ill be happy or not. an effort. However, statistics show that successful people ask themselves a different There are many ways and techniques, but I question. Instead of Why they? they ask strongly recommend powerful questions for How can I? How can I contribute to a changing the quality of our thinking. For positive change? Whats the best thing I can example, you may take a verse from the do in this situation? Bhagavad-gita and turn it into a question. Bhagavad-gitas timeless knowledge is so Lets say you have a conflict. Thats usual. powerful. It comes from Krsna, God. The verse During a conflict we usually think, Why is this turned into a question changes the quality of person like this? Somehow I have to convince our thinking and of our life. Try it and let me this person to change. But if we ask ourselves a know the result. There are 700 verses and most question, What I can do to help resolve this verses can be turned into a question that can be conflict? What I can do to understand this a useful tool for controlling the mind. person? What is my responsibility in this situation towards God, towards people, towards Scriptures like Bhagavad-gita are not only myself? then its a different approach. We are theological or religious theory. They are meant to be used in everyday life. Thats why we do the only person we service of coaching, which helps to

To read Akruras full article please visit http://www.vedicilluminations.com/gita coaching/articles.htm Akrura das gives personal coaching to devotees and regularly attends Soho Street Temple