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The Mind

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The mind is our central sense
The mind is our central sense. Our senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell constantly gather information and send it to the mind. Our mind sorts this information into two categories—agreeable or disagreeable—based on how we see the world and what our goals are. For example, if we see this world as meant for our enjoyment—as we tend to do—our mind will accept those things that give pleasure to our senses and reject anything that goes against that pleasure.

But this material world is an endless, unpredictable mix of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances that we can't control. When we let our mind's decisions—based on our desire for temporary pleasure—dictate our choices, our happiness isn't guaranteed at all. A materially oriented mind can't lead us to permanent fulfillment. For that, we need to train the mind to make judgments based on a more elevated worldview.

The system of yoga, as Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, is meant to make our life peaceful by giving our mind a superior objective—specifically, meditating on the Supreme Person. Scriptures say that this, Krishna consciousness, is the perfection of all mental activity. When the mind is controlled in this way, it can be our best friend and help lead us to genuine happiness. Then we can be undisturbed by the temporary comings and goings of pleasure and pain in this world.

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Everything we do, and everything that happens to us as a result, is stored in our mind in the form of memory. The impressions made upon our mind influence how we see the world and how we behave. Our behavior, in turn, results in further impressions being made on our mind. This cycle of action and reaction, or karma, continues until we begin to act on higher authority than our mind's materialistic pronouncements—such as God's representatives and scripture.

Krishna says that controlling the mind isn't easy, but it's possible by practice and detachment. Our mind, like everything else, is ultimately part of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, Krishna. So when we focus our mind on the Supreme, especially by hearing and chanting Krishna's names and activities, our mind begins to act spiritually. It becomes habituated to accept things favorable for our spiritual progress and reject whatever isn't. Then we can enjoy a peaceful existence—detached from material ideas of pleasure and attracted to the natural, eternal pleasures of the spirit self.

When we leave the material body, at the time commonly known as death, we go to our next destination based on the state of mind we've cultivated during our life. If our mind has been trained in Krishna consciousness, there's every possibility of our being able to return to the spiritual world, also known as Vaikuntha, "the place of no anxiety," where we find the lasting happiness this world can't offer.

QT Mind

  • Meditation for a Nasty and Brutish World
    - the mind reacts to whatever input we give it, so it pays to be selective about what we meditate on.
  • Bhakti-yoga—A Method of Nonmechanistic Science: Part II
    - To understand some of the practical problems involved in controlling the senses, we must first understand the concept of the material mind.
  • Between Matter and Spirit
    - Is the mind merely an “emergent” property of the physical body that really has no existence of its own, as many modern philosophers would maintain? Or is the mind something completely different from matter?
  • Coping with Depression
    - If we repeatedly maintain certain thoughts in our minds, they will eventually turn into words and then actions.
  • Who Is Crazy?
    - a closer look at why materialists question the sanity of spiritualists, and vice versa.

More on this topic

We like to quote our sources. This page is based on the following:

  • Bhagavad-gita, 6.5:

    "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."

  • Bhagavad-gita, 15.7:

    "The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind."

  • Amrita-bindu Upanishad 2:

    "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."

  • Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 6.5, Purport:

    "In the yoga system, the mind and the conditioned soul are especially important. . . the mind is the central point of yoga practice . . . The purpose of the yoga system is to control the mind and to draw it away from attachment to sense objects. . . the mind must be so trained that it can deliver the conditioned soul from the mire of nescience. . . the mind should be trained so that it will not be attracted by the glitter of material nature, and in this way the conditioned soul may be saved . . .The best way to disentangle oneself is to always engage the mind in Krishna consciousness."

  • Bhagavad-gita, 6.6:

    "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."

  • Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 6.7, Purport:

    "When the mind is misled by the external, illusory energy, one becomes entangled in material activities. Therefore, as soon as one's mind is controlled through one of the yoga systems, one should be considered to have already reached the destination. One has to abide by superior dictation. When one's mind is fixed on the superior nature, he has no alternative but to follow the dictation of the Supreme. The mind must admit some superior dictation and follow it. The effect of controlling the mind is that one automatically follows the dictation of the Paramatma, or Supersoul. Because this transcendental position is at once achieved by one who is in Krishna consciousness, the devotee of the Lord is unaffected by the dualities of material existence, namely distress and happiness, cold and heat, etc."

  • Bhagavad-gita, 6.26:

    "From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self."

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