One of the major stumbling blocks for a Bhakti Yogi has been to contend with the restless mind. Few teachers openly discuss this subject matter. Many spiritualists implore us to not worry too much about the mind. Popular meditation classes and yoga sessions avoid touching this sensitive topic lest the prospective candidates get discouraged from pursuing spirituality. But ignoring the mind while discussing spirituality is as incongruent as a businessman refusing to think of money. A spiritual path offers challenges at each step of progress, and most of these challenges deal with the mind’s protest to accept a sublime path. Till the mind is purified of its lower, base instincts, it shall provide newer challenges and obstacles. What then is the solution?
Srimad Bhagavatam, the scripture dealing with the science of Bhakti Yoga implores serious practitioners to distrust the mind at the outset. The mind should not be made friends with. Radhanath Swami echoes the teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam in his own poetic words, “The mind will present himself as your best well wishing friend. But we should refuse to make friends with him. Instead we should make friends with Krishna, God; we should listen to Krishna’s words and refuse to hear the mind’s dictations. Slowly this will lead the mind to become one with the words of Krishna. It’s only then that the mind becomes our best friend because at that time the mind can access our best friend Krishna.” Our real best friend and well wisher is God and to the extent our mind cooperates in our attempt to connect to God, it’s our friend. Therefore a genuine spiritual path encourages the practitioners to be careful and serious about regulating the mind’s activities.
Radhanath Swami offers a practical solution to address the mind’s unpredictable proposals; association of sincere devotees of God. The association of sincere devotees inspires us and humbles us in our endeavour; inspires us to follow the example of others who are struggling to quell their restless mind, and humbles us by showing us how we are puny compared to other stalwart devotees of God. This humility goes a long way in helping us keep guard over the mind.
The association of devotees helps us most practically during our Hare Krishna yoga sessions. The Hare Krishna meditation requires each practitioner to chant a fixed number of maha mantras daily. This helps us develop regulation and consistency in the practise. As we sit down to chant our prescribed rounds of Hare Krishna maha mantra on the chanting beads, the mind invites sleep, distractions, and laziness. At such times if we are sitting to chant with other devotees, say in a semi circle or circular formation, the energy of collective effort of other practitioners helps us fight the lethargy. As we are chanting, and feeling distracted, the presence of other chanters helps us push the protesting mind to submission; our chanting then helps us connect to God rather than pull us away from Him.
Radhanath Swami chants his daily quota of Hare Krishna mantras in the association of his students and other Bhakti Yogis. Although he is a four decade veteran in the science of practising Hare Krishna meditation, he teaches by his own example the need to tap the power of association of other devotees while practising Bhakti Yoga.