Peace for the Soul

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Mind - The Key to Life - Last Part By Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji

Dear all,

We should understand that just as the body suffers from small troubles like headache, cold, etc. to more serious ones like cancer, kidney failure, etc., so too, does the mind suffer from ill health. Our ancient Ayurvedic Texts have spoken about these. While bodily afflictions are called 'vyaadi', mental afflictions are called 'aadi'. Further, in Srimad Bhaagavatam is found a sloka that says, 'in Kali Yuga many people will be mentally afflicted.' From this, we learn that our religion points to mental sickness, too.

Well! How to keep the mind healthy? We should know the reason behind the deterioration of mental health. Food, water, air, place that does not suit the body would certainly affect its health. Wrong counsel ['upadesas'] and books would certainly weaken the intellect. Likewise, there are matters that make the mind healthy and those that ruin its health. Moreover, in today's world much more care is required for man's health because increase in population, society, scientific progress, etc. have made life very challenging and difficult. Consequently, expectations run high and disappointments, competition, avarice, loss, sorrow, accidents, mechanical life, etc. are all on the increase. Man has to face all these with his mind only. Therefore, one should transform the mind [to a matured state] for facing the trials and tribulations of life efficiently.

Do you wonder, 'How to transform the mind to such a matured state?'

Well! It is very easy. The mind becomes whatever you convince it to be! This is the strange characteristic of the mind! The great Epic, Mahabharata, written in days yonder, narrates an incident to emphasize that one should not lose his mental strength.

In the great Mahabharata war, Saliya was the charioteer for Karna. On the battlefield, Saliya, the charioteer, repeatedly praised Arjuna and spoke only of his [Arjuna's] valour to Karna. Not stopping at that, he abused Karna and spoke lowly about his qualities. Saliya said to Karna, "Inviting Arjuna to fight you is akin to a deer challenging the mighty lion! Just as a child lying on the mother's lap has the illusion that it can catch the Moon up in the sky, so too, do you dream of defeating Arjuna. Just as a dog barks at a tiger you bark at Arjuna. You can consider yourself a great warrior only until you meet Arjuna. You will always remain a fox and Arjuna a Lion. If he were the cat you are a mouse! If he were the elephant you are a mere hare! Your defeat at Arjuna's hands is certain! It is my misfortune that I have become your charioteer!" Thus, did Saliya repeatedly speak to Karna and dampen his spirits. As a result Karna lost much of his mental strength and was unable to fight against Arjuna with valor [Mahabharata - 'Karna parva'].

In this manner, our Epics, in many a place, speak of the working of the mind.
In the Tamizh language (South Indian Language) 'man' is known as 'manithan'; mind is known as 'manam'. Since he is what his 'Manam' (mind) is he is known as 'Manithan' (man)].

In the Dravidian tradition is the practice of blessing people 'live as you wish’ {as your mind likens}. What it really means is that 'your life will be as your mental make up is'.

Mind is a slave of habits. It does not obey a command. For example, when a man is asked to clap his hands he is able to do it at once. But if he were asked to weep he cannot. He can weep only when the mind suffers some grief that would bring tears to his eyes. That is, an external factor is required to kindle his feelings within. The smell of good food kindles hunger. A foul smell kindles the feeling of aversion. In this way a triggering external factor is required to kindle the feelings of the mind. Spirituality is verily the inevitable triggering factor for increasing the capability of and empowering the mind as also enjoy peace of mind and bliss.
Well! Do you ask 'how’?

In truth, spirituality is not opposing to rationality, scientific progress and modern society! It is an inseparable, interwoven feature in all factors of life; for, there are no two groups as 'believer' [of God - theist] and 'non-believer' [atheist], in the world! All, from the tiny ant to Man, seek only joy. And, all desire that joy to be unalloyed [without a tinge of sorrow of any kind] and everlasting. The ant seeks that joy in sugar, a thief in thieving. It is verily this joy that the people of the world seek in fame, office, wealth, family and friendship! And, spirituality is to search for that unalloyed, everlasting joy in the right place and not in temporal worldly matters! God is a not a six-foot form. Everlasting joy [Bliss] is verily God. In seeking joy even a man who refuses to accept the existence of God is actually seeking God. Saints are those who know where true joy lies and the right path to attain it. Others are restless not knowing where real joy lies and how to attain it.

Several people, all over the world, are involved in conducting research into the five elements ['panch bhootaas'] the Rishis of our land have, controlling their senses and turning their vision within, discovered several truths about the power of the mind, Bliss and God. They have declared that happiness and sorrow are not in external factors but is a matter of the mind. Let me explain this with a simple illustration – even a man who enjoys a palatial house, vehicles with all modern amenities to move about, affectionate family, prosperity, comforts and happiness of all kinds in life loses himself in drinks and desires to remain in that 'thoughts subdued' trance state. From this it becomes clear that joy is a matter of the mind.

Further, according to our religion there is no such thing as the mind! Thoughts verily form the mind. Other than thoughts there is no mind. More the rising of thoughts weaker the mind gets. Lesser the rising of thoughts stronger the mind gets. Joy is experienced. It is very easy to understand this; even in our every day life we find that when there is gush of thoughts it leads to confusion and we are not happy. When thoughts lessen we experience peace of mind and are happy. Does not everyone accept there is joy in sleep or in the state experienced when some drug is taken – whence thoughts are controlled to some extent?

Can one then speak of the deep Bliss experienced in the state of 'no-thought', that is, in the state of total annihilation of the mind?

Worship of God was formed only with a view to give due importance/care to the state of mind just as we do towards health of our body. Music, dance, Temple, art, literature, theatre, festivals, religious processions and all other celebrations have come about only to always keep the mind happy and cheerful and avoid slipping into depression. Mind needs rest and, sleep is verily the gift from God!

Confusion and troubles are the outcome when those without proper understanding of these matters go about offering spiritual advice. Buddha, even at the outset, began to do intense meditation. At once some Devas appeared before him and advised him, "if a veena is played harshly the strings would be cut; if played too softly there would be no music. Playing it at the right level will bring forth melodious music."

Buddha grasped the import behind the words of the Devas. He lessened the intensity of dhyana (Penance) in the initial stage. He increased the intensity gradually; with regular, controlled practice of dhyana he finally attained the highest Blissful state.

The trunk of the elephant keeps moving. When the mahout wishes to stop its movement he gives the elephant an iron chain to hold. Holding the iron chain the trunk of the elephant remains still. Likewise, to offer spiritual practice (sadhanas) like puja, japa, dhyana to the restless mind [the mind always moves hither and thither] and controlling the thoughts gradually and making it one-pointed and finally leading it to the everlasting Blissful state, where there is no single thought, with the mind having been totally annihilated, is verily spirituality. It is verily this state that the Saints of our land call 'the joy of being quiet (mental inaction)!'

When a man's body needs some vitamin it is not wise to take a large amount of it in a day; higher education cannot be goaded into the young mind; the same applies to spirituality, too. Depending on the maturity of one's mind if one would undertake suitable sadhana and practice it regularly one can lead a joyful life. This is verily the truth discovered by religion (spirituality)!

This essay is an adaptation of Sri Swamiji's article on the human mind which was published in the souvenir of 59th annual seminar of the ANCIPS (Annual National Conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society) conducted in Chennai India from January 4-7, 2007.

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

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