Mind

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The mind is our central sense. Our five gross senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell—send the mind information, which the mind judges as either agreeable or disagreeable. Typically, the mind makes its judgments based on false ego, the misconception that we are our bodies, and the assumption that we can find lasting happiness by gaining control over the material world. The mind constantly calculates how to find and sustain pleasure and how to avoid discomfort, and sends us signals—thoughts—how to do so.

But the material world is an endless, unpredictable mix of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances, and when we act on the mind's decisions, our happiness isn't guaranteed. The mind can't lead us toward genuine fulfillment of any kind. For us to succeed in any significant endeavor, especially anything involving long-term, goal-directed activity, the mind must be trained to make judgments that support that success.

The system of yoga, as Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, is meant to help quiet the mind's constant chatter and bring it back under the control of the self, the atma. When the mind is controlled by superior, spiritual direction, it can be our best friend, and help lead us to our life's perfection.

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Everything we've ever done and everything that has ever happened to us is stored in the 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, also known as karma, continues until the mind receives direction from a superior—spiritual—source.

Krishna says that it's difficult to control the mind, but that it can be trained by practice and detachment. The mind, like everything else, is part of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, Krishna. Focusing our mind on the Supreme, especially by hearing and chanting Krishna's names and activities, reorients the mind to act spiritually. Then it naturally becomes peaceful, detached from material ideas of pleasure, and attracted to superior, spiritual pursuits.

When the self leaves the material body—the time commonly known as death—it goes to its next destination based on the state of mind we've cultivated throughout our life. If the mind has been sufficiently 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 the mind finds the lasting happiness this world can't offer.

[book reference: Coming Back]

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."

ARTICLES:

  • 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.

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