One of the greatest challenges for the Hare Krishna chanters is the uncontrolled mind. Practitioners struggle with the myriad desires of the restless mind; it pushes us for selfish enjoyment and exploitative control of others. The Bhagavad Gita declares that for one whose mind is controlled, it becomes the best friend and for an aspirant whose mind is uncontrolled, the mind is the worst enemy (Bhagavad Gita 6.6). Human life offers a rare chance of self-realization, and it behoves an intelligent human to take to the spiritual path by making his mind a friend, by controlling it.
To regulate the mind, we first need to understand the root cause of our mind’s dissatisfaction. We have come to this material world, desiring to enjoy separately from the Lord. As a result, we struggle as we exploit material resources; we envy all who come in our way of enjoyment. However God’s love for us is unconditional and it’s only out of envy that we try to usurp his position, and take credit for what is meant for Him. He continues to love us and if we sincerely seek Him, He sends a bonafide teacher to help us connect to Him.
Under the loving guidance of such a teacher we learn self-management; we learn to control our mind to become non envious of God. We learn to manage our lives in such a way as to become the humble servant of all, and make self-realization and purification of our hearts as the goal of our lives. A true saint has the same merciful quality of God; he too if free from envy and has unconditional love for all beings in his heart because he sees all living entities as children of God. To learn the spiritual science under such a teacher helps us control our minds.
The principle of associating with saintly persons is very simple but for many, the application becomes difficult because it requires us to have the quality of sincerity. Sincerity means we need to hear submissively from them with an open mind; this enables us to understand the truth.
The Bhagavad Gita reveals how Arjuna was bewildered and confused. He simply opened his heart to his Guru, Lord Sri Krishna. On hearing from Him, he understood exactly what is to be done, what is not to be done, what is the truth, what is ignorance, and how to live a God conscious life. Thus the process is very simple for one who sincerely approaches a bonafide spiritual master or a saintly person. This approach opens the door for enlightenment and liberation (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5.2). If instead we associate with envious people, the doors to ignorance and bondage are flung open and we get dragged into an abominable life of selfishness.
Although in one sense it’s easy to associate with a saintly person, it’s also difficult. It’s easy because to associate with a saintly person means to associate with someone who loves you and cares about you; someone who is manifesting the qualities of God before your eyes. But on the other hand, the saintly persons, as the representatives of God, are also exposing your own false ego to you. When one hears them speak and observes them, one realises what kind of false ego one has within oneself. They kindly show us the mirror into our own selves. For most it becomes a challenge to put that aside and be humble before them. That’s the real test of our spiritual practises.
To abandon pride and take shelter of a genuine spiritualist requires us to be humble. It’s very easy to be an arm chair religious person and simply say ‘yes, yes’ to the Guru. But to actually pursue the path of self realisation means you have to become submissive. Only then, our life is blessed with the supreme treasure of God’s mercy. It’s only then that the magic happens; we learn to love God just the way the saintly people see and love divinity in all. Then our chanting of Hare Krishna becomes purposeful; it becomes a loving call to Krishna to attract His grace upon our hearts.