“For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from the sense objects is the cause of liberation.”(Amrita-bindu Upanishad 2)
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own minds” said the former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and I can see this truth in my own life.
The ‘to do list’ crops up in mind just when I sit to chant my daily rounds.
Are they really important and if so why don’t they strike at other times with the same intensity? I have often seen that what appears to be an extremely important appeal by the mind fizzles off after the japa session. Novelist Patricia Briggs said it aptly in her fantasy series ‘Dragon blood’, “A man says lot of things in summer he doesn’t mean in winter”. That’s also the mind’s nature; it doesn’t mean during the day what it says during the japa session.
Recently one day while chanting, my mind suggested I sort out my travel schedule for November. I reasoned I would do so after my japa period. But I could feel my mind scream, “No, this needs to be done now” I was tormented relentlessly and I felt like a helpless mother who has her child constantly throwing tantrums. The more I refused to yield, the more I suffered and I literally cried. It was like a puny feather weight being bashed repeatedly by a heavy weight boxer. However at the end I felt stronger because I had chosen to hear Krishna rather than my own mind. It’s interesting that although I didn’t really hear the syllables of the Hare Krishna mantra as I was chanting, yet I felt nourished, simply because I had stubbornly rejected my mind’s demands. I then wondered that if I had actually heard the Holy Names while I chanted how much more I’d have pleased Krishna.
During that japa session, my mind pursued and as I persevered in my Japa, slowly the mind gave up the proposal and offered yet another distraction to lure me away from my chanting. I silently continued uttering the syllables and tried listening to the mantra. Soon another thought engulfed me, again I negotiated and at the end as soon as I completed by rounds, I had to rush to attend an important meeting.
Then came lunch time, and then some other services and eventually I retired for the day. The next morning as I sat down to begin my chanting suddenly my mind reminded me of the November schedule. This is how nasty the mind could be.
If it was really important I could have done the job previous day. But now again I had to negotiate for some time till my mind settled down to listen to the Holy names. That’s how life goes on for a chanter of Krishna’s Holy Names. Even when the world outside is silent, the inner world is hyper active. The dogs may have stopped barking, the cars stopped honking and the children are off to bed, yet the mind has a lot to yell about.
It’s not easy to ignore the mind, but if we do it, the rewards are promising. Whenever I have refused to succumb to the various calls of the mind during my japa period, I have felt nourished by the association of Krishna. Life is tough, and the list of important and urgent things to do is never going to end. Although the mind assures that just this one last thing needs to be done and then you could chant peacefully, we need to know that’s a lie. Our lives will never get settled; there will always be a list of important and urgent things. It’s foolish to trust our mind. We need to rise beyond our mind and even intelligence.
If we simply listen to the Holy names as we chant, we touch the transcendental plane that’s beyond our material mind and intelligence. Even if we don’t listen to the Holy Names but just try to listen as we chant, that attempt itself fills our hearts with joy. Then we are catapulted to a state beyond the mind.
Ironically we have mirrors to see our bodies but hardly a clear mirror to see our own minds. But the good news is it’s the Holy Names that would reveal to us how we are victims of our minds and also how we could happily free ourselves from its tyranny.