Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Afflictions of the Material Intellect

Previously it was explained that the ignorant consider themselves to be the body and think of the world as theirs, while the wise consider themselves to be the soul and accept Shyamsundar (Shree Krishna) as theirs. The Vedas declare:
चिन्मात्रं श्री हरेरंशं सूक्ष्ममक्षरमव्ययम् ।
कृष्णाधीनमितिप्राहुर्जीवं ज्ञानगुणाश्रयम् ॥ (Ved)
“The soul is an eternal fraction of God, and its inherent nature is to serve Him.” This truth has been told to us innumerable times in infinite lives, yet we have not understood it. We have heard a lot, read a lot, nodded our heads in agreement, and even claimed to understand, but we have not accepted the truth from within. In the course of innumerable past lifetimes, we have formed such a strong habit of accepting the world as ours that now we are unable to break the habit. It is not that we stubbornly insist on accepting worldly people as our own, and denying our true relationship with Shree Krishna. No! It is just that we are so attached to the world that even though we know the truth, we fail to admit it. This is our greatest misfortune. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has used the very word “misfortune” to describe our predicament:
नान्नामकारि बहुधा निजसर्वशक्तिस्तत्रार्पिता नियमितः स्मरणे न कालः।
एतादृशी तवकृपा भगवन्ममापि दुर्दैवमीदृशमिहाजनिनानुरागः ॥  
This is our misfortune! Innumerable times we have met Saints and descensions of God; we have listened to their discourses; we have even written commentaries on the scriptures. Yes, all of us have, many, many times. We have occupied the seat of Indra, the king of heaven. We have acquired every kind of knowledge. There is only one thing we have not done: we have not accepted Shyamsundar as ours. I explained the reason for this - and I hope you not have forgotten - that the deep-rooted habit of looking at the world as ours, acts as an obstacle. You may have heard the story of the Hindu who converted to Islam. The Maulavi instructed him, “You must utter the name of Allah from now on. No more Ram and Shyam.” The man replied, “Yes, of course. Now that I am a Muslim, I will only utter the name of Allah.” However, when he awoke the next morning, he yawned, saying, “O Ram!” He forgot that he was now a Muslim. The Maulavi chided him, “Why are you still saying Ram? Did you forget what you promised yesterday?” The man replied, “Maulavi Sahib! Ram has resided in my heart for the past 42 years. Allah came in only yesterday. How can I forget Ram so quickly?” See how difficult it is to erase an attachment of forty-two years. And the world has been living in our heart since time immemorial. It will not leave suddenly, as a result of listening to the discourses of a couple of Saints. We will have to do much more to get it out of our mind. We will have to practice devotion. This is, after all, the reason why you people have come here.

Now, the question before us is: what should we do to accept Shree Krishna rather than the world as ours? To understand the philosophy intellectually is not difficult, but how do we follow it on a practical level? We repeatedly experience that the world is not ours, and yet we are not able to renounce our worldly attachments. Death separates our nearest and dearest ones from us. Worldly relationships do not last even one lifetime. When they get married, a man and woman vow to remain together till death. But one passes away and the other continues to live. “What happened to the promise you had made? Why are you leaving me?” “Well, the promise was to stay together until my death. It is not within my control to stay together until your death. My time is over, and so I must go. In my next life, I will have another husband or wife, another father and mother. A new chapter will begin.” This play has been staged endless times.

Let us now understand who it is that has to consider Shyamsundar as his. We use the word “I” daily, but who is this “I”? It was explained earlier that there are two interpretations of the word “I.” Some use the word ‘I’ to mean the soul; some use it to refer to the body, inclusive of senses, mind, and intellect. Amongst these, who is the actual performer of actions? Is it the soul? This question raises a controversy. Some argue that if the soul were the performer of our actions, we would not have to face these bad days. They say the soul is a non-doer; that it only suffers the consequences of actions. Sankhya system of philosophy also declares the soul as the non-doer. But this is not fully correct. If the soul were a non-doer, Sankhya darshan should have simultaneously stated, “The soul is the non-doer, and Nature is the doer.” Nyaya system of philosophy states that the soul is associated with the mind and intellect, and together they are the doers. Sankhya darshan disagrees with this, claiming that the soul is detached from the mind and the intellect. Now, if according to Sankhya, the soul is both a non-doer and detached from the mind and the intellect, why should it be forced to suffer for actions of the mind and the intellect? Why should it revolve in 8.4 million forms of life? This bondage of karma implies that the soul is responsible for its actions, and that it is the doer. It also experiences happiness and distress in conjunction with the mind and the intellect.

The internal mechanism consisting of the mind, intellect, and our sanskars, or subtle impressions left on the mind due to activities of past lives, is collectively known as the antahkaran. This antahkaran accompanies the soul after death. Every thought and action we perform, accompanies the soul through the cycle of life and death, until the point of God-realization.
भिद्यते ह्दयग्रंथिश्छिद्यंते सर्वसंशयाः ।
क्षीयंते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन् दृष्टे परावरे ॥  
“The very moment one realizes God and sees Him face to face, all the bonds are severed, the karma of endless past lives is destroyed, and all doubts cease to exist.” This antahkaran, which accompanies the soul life after life, is the actual performer of actions. However, it becomes the performer only by the power it receives from the soul. Of itself, the antahkaran is lifeless, like a lump of clay. It is incapable of performing actions. The soul energizes it, and the antahkaran is then able to perform actions.

Now let us briefly understand what the antahakaran is. “Antah” means “internal” and “karan” means “that which works.” Thus, Antahkaran means “internal machinery.” This antahkaran has two partitions; one is the mind, and the other is the intellect. Sankhya describes it as having three partitions: mind, intellect, and ego. Advait Vedant mentions four partitions: mind, intellect, chit, and ego. This is all a matter of terminology. For our purpose, we shall look on it as having two parts: mind and intellect. This is how the Bhagavad Geeta has described it:
मँयेव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय ।
मँयर्पित मनो बुद्धिः । (Geeta)
According to the Geeta, antahkaran is the combination of the mind and the intellect. How does the system work, and what does the mind do? The mind grasps the objects of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch with the help of the five senses. Without the involvement of the mind, the senses cannot do anything. When the mind is preoccupied, you do not see, hear or smell anything. If you fall asleep while attending a discourse or a keertan session, you do not hear anything although words are entering your ears. It is the mind that perceives the external objects, but it does so with the help of the senses. Next, the mind begins the thinking process. It generates options regarding the object it perceives. “Is this a man or a woman? Should I look upon this person with love, hatred or indifference? Will my self-interest be helped or harmed?” At this point, the mind stops its work and relays the information to the intellect, the central government. The intellect then takes a decision, “This is no one to you, move on,” and you pass that person by. In this way, as you walk in the marketplace, you pass hundreds of people. The intellect keeps deciding, “He is not mine, she is not mine,” and you remain indifferent to everyone you see. But the moment you spot a friend, you become happy. “Hello! When did you come here?” This joyful reaction takes place because the intellect tells the mind that the person you are seeing is dear to you and so should be warmly greeted. Until then, you passed so many people in the market, but the intellect did not instruct the mind to greet them. The mind’s work takes place twice. First, the mind grasps the object via the senses, makes an analysis, and sends the message to the intellect. The second time, the mind receives the decision of the intellect, and orders the senses, “Say this, do this, look in this manner,” etc. Our internal mechanism works in this fashion, though we may not understand it. The process is identical for an illiterate person, as well as for Sarasvati and Brihaspati, the ultimate authorities on Knowledge.

Now, what is the practical implication of this? When someone who is wise, sees the objects of the senses, his mind relays information to the intellect. But the intellect, being firm in the knowledge received from the Spiritual Master, decides, “This is not mine. It cannot give me the fulfillment I am seeking.” The intellect instructs the mind not to direct the senses there. The mind does not object, nor do the senses. Why should they? They are mere servants; their duty is to do as they are told. If you instruct a horse to follow a particular path, it does so. If a driver turns the wheels of a car towards a particular street, the wheels do not object. They follow the directions of the driver. They do not lose anything, because their job is to move, irrespective of the direction. So, the senses and the mind have no objection. Everything depends upon the decision of the intellect alone.

This is why we require the power of discrimination. This is a must. Without it, our common sense of infinite lifetimes tells us that the world is ours. People are running in the direction of the world even in old age, even after retirement. If a man does not have a wife and children, he finds another’s wife and children to serve. He adopts a child and spends years raising that child. In this way, we knowingly bring upon ourselves all the anxieties, frustrations, and tensions that accompany material attachments. We do not attempt to get out of this mess. I tell people, “Your son has grown up and now he is earning. Why don’t you give up your family responsibilities, and make time for sadhana?” They say, “Maharaj Ji, he is still a child. He is not good in business yet, and so I must help him.” “What do you expect him to grow up and become - your father? He will always remain your child. When, if not now, will you spend time for your own spiritual welfare?” “What you are saying is right, but this intellect of mine - the intellect which is a product of maya - wants to go by its practice of innumerable past lives.” That is why such a person can never move towards God. Only one who has surrendered the intellect at the lotus feet of a Saint can succeed. Hence, Shree Krishna emphasizes that two things must be surrendered:
मँयेव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय । (Geeta)
Shree Krishna says, “Arjun! Submit your mind to Me.” Arjun thinks, “I can do that. After all, the main thing, my intellect, will still remain with me. I will hand over my mind.” Shree Krishna immediately understood, and added: मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय ।“Submit your intellect as well.” To do that is to give away everything, because then you have to act according to the instruction of the person to whom you have surrendered the intellect.” Now, if this personality is from a higher plane, he will take you there, and if he belongs to this world, he will keep you here. If he is a drunkard, gambler, or a thief, he will make you one also. We will follow the footsteps of the one to whom we surrender the intellect.

So, the intellect is responsible for the quandary we are in. We will have to be very careful until we have a decisive intellect. The intellect becomes decisive only when we directly perceive the presence of Shyamsundar and attain Divine Bliss. Until then, the constant danger of downfall remains. We should not consider ourselves to be so advanced that we can choose to ignore this danger. We may have rowed 190 yards across a river that is 200 yards wide, but we have not yet reached the other shore. If we leave the safety of the boat and attempt to jump to the shore, we may still drown. Similarly, until we touch the safety line, i.e. see God face to face, we not out of danger.
भावोऽप्यभावमायाति कृष्ण प्रेष्ठा पराधतः (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu)
“Even if one has attained the stage of Bhaw bhakti, he can still suffer a downfall.” Then what should we say about ourselves, who are still in the stage of sadhan bhakti, or preparatory devotion? You may have seen devotees who were once immersed in devotion, dancing and crying for God, and who are now completely absorbed in the world. “Where is he now?” “These days, he is in a truly pitiable state. He has again become very attached to the world.” “Really! How did this happen?” “Well, you have seen students who passed High School in first division, got a second in Intermediate, third in B.A., and failed in M.A. It is nothing new.” One who does not make constant efforts to prepare for the changing situation has to bear the consequences. Even devotees who have reached the stage of Bhaw bhakti can fall. Ordinary sadhaks should never harbor the pride that they know it all and that nothing can disturb them. At present, we are not such expert snake charmers that we will remain unaffected by the poison of the snakebite. First, we will have to become experts at reciting the appropriate mantras and recognizing medicinal potions. Then and only then can we challenge poisonous snakes. If we dare to do so before that, we will die while making our very first attempt.

Thus, the intellect is the primary culprit in depriving us of our goal for countless lifetimes. This intellect is of many kinds, but broadly it can be placed into two categories. One is good intellect and the other is bad intellect. Sankhya darshan refers to this classification in another way: sattvic intellect and tamasic intellect. Sattvic intellect has four qualities: (1) dharm, (2) gyan, (3) vairagya, and (4) aishvarya. Tamasic intellect has the four opposite qualities: (1) adharm, (2) agyan, (3) avairagya, and (4) anaishvarya. These four negative qualities have been described in Yog darshan as the five afflictions: (1) avidya, (2) asmita, (3) raag, (4) dvesh, and (5) abhinivesh. These five afflictions have tormented us since time immemorial.

The first negative quality is called adharm in Sankhya philosophy and abhinivesh in Yog darshan. What does the word abhinivesh mean? It is the desire to remain alive and to never die. We are all miserable due to this desire. The fear of death haunts us constantly. “Oh…he has a revolver in his hand.” “My God! That’s a snake…” “So what! What will it do that terrifies you so much?” “It will bite me.” “What then!” “I will die.” “But you are the soul and you cannot die.” “That’s true, yet I don’t know why I fear death.” “Have you ever seen a physical body that does not perish? We read about great Sages and ascetics in history. They all had to leave the world one day, did they not? Then what is so special about your body that you will never die? Death will come one day, so why be afraid?” “Yes, that is true, but I am still frightened.” This suffering is called abhinivesh in Yog darshan, and adharm in Sankhya darshan. Adharm means that which is not worthy of being accepted. But, we do accept it and become miserable on account of it. We wish to hold on to our body, though we see death snatching away others’ bodies all around us. I have often told you about the sixty questions that the yaksh put to Yudhishthir. The most important question was किमाश्चर्यम् The yaksh asked, “What is the most astonishing phenomenon in the world? Yudhishthir replied:
अहन्यहनि भूतानि गच्छन्तीह यमालय ।
शेषाः स्थिरत्वमिच्छन्ति किमाश्चर्यमतः परम् ॥(Mahabharat)
“Everyday we see living beings departing from the world. Some die the moment they are born, some in their youth, and some in their old age. But the ones who remain, consider themselves to be here permanently, and they fear death.” Everyone is afraid of dying. “What if I die!” “But you will die one day. Don’t you know it?” “I know it, but I do not wish to die.” “Do you possess such exceptional powers that you plan to break the law of God?” “No, no, I have no such intentions, nor am I capable of it.” When great Sages and ascetics, and even the celestial gods cannot break God’s law, then how can we dare to even think of it? We hear that the residents of heaven possess amrit, the elexir that cures all bodily ailments. Then why is their lifespan still limited? The celestial gods have the kalpavriksha, or wish-fulfilling tree. Then why can they not ask it to grant them the boon of immortality? Even Indra, the king of heaven, is not immortal. He lives for a hundred celestial years. When his time is over, he is forced to vacate his seat and return to earth. He may even descend into lower species of life, and become a cat or a dog. Even Brahma, the creator of the universe, has a limited lifespan. No one is exempt. In English language there is an expression “dead sure,” meaning “as certain as death.” So if death is certain, why do you worry about it? It is definite that night will follow day, so do you worry about it? Do you say, “O God! It is late evening. Darkness is descending. What if night falls?” Do you get upset in this manner? No. It happens every single day, so it is not something to be upset about. It is a daily routine. Then why are you so disturbed by the thought that you may die?

The fear of death does not exist just in young people. Even old people riddled with disease, who have been forsaken by their family, and who cannot even get out of bed, are fearful of death. Although death can bring release from their present sufferings, yet they object to it. Put your hands around a very old man’s neck, in a mock gesture of strangling him. He will protest immediately. “What are you doing? How dare you do this to me!” “I am only helping you leave this body, so that you may not suffer any longer.” The old man will complain, “But I do not wish to go yet. I have so much to do. I have to see my grandson getting married.” “You saw your own wedding; that did not satisfy you. You saw your son’s wedding; even that did not satisfy you. You attended thousands of other weddings; they did not satisfy you. Now you want to see your grandson’s wedding. Will that help you attain Vaikunth?”

So this is abhinivesh. This suffering exists in everyone’s life, and it exists because we consider ourselves to be the body. If we think of ourselves as the immortal soul, this fear can no longer remain. For the soul, death is merely a change of bodies, so why be upset? Yet, people do get upset. I was once flying from Delhi to Nagpur. One of the engines of the plane failed, and we were forced to return to Delhi. When the announcement was made, the expression on everyone’s face was worth watching. “Now, we will surely die.” “So what if you die! There will be no loss. You will leave the body. This is all that will happen. You got this body in your mother’s womb, and after you leave it, you will get another one.” “But I may not get a human body.” “Well, you should have thought of that earlier, and done the things that would guarantee you a human form again.” You gave birth to a daughter, and for eighteen years, you did not think of putting anything aside for her marriage. Now people approach you, persuading you to get her married, and you do not have any money. “But did you not earn any money all your life?” “Yes, I earned a few million rupees.” “Then you could have easily saved a hundred thousand.” “Yes, I know I should have, but…” “Well, you will have to suffer the consequenses now.” So, abhinivesh means sorrow caused by holding onto something that we should be detached from, i.e. the material body.

The second quality of the tamasic intellect is referred to in Sankhya darshan as agyan. You all know what agyan is. Ignorance. Lack of understanding. Yog darshan has termed it as avidya.

The third quality of the tamasic intellect is termed avairagya in Sankhya philosophy. It is the opposite of vairagya. What does the word vairagya mean? Vi means “bereft of”, and raag means “love”. So the word vairagya means “without love for the world.” And its reverse avairagya means “love for the world.” In the place of avairagya, Yog darshan refers to two: raag, or “love for the world,” and dvesh, or “hatred for the world.” Both these terms, avairagya in Sankhya darshan, and raag – dvesh in Yog darshan mean the same. How is that so? Well, what happens in love? The mind becomes attached. And what happens in hatred? Again, the mind becomes attached. When we love someone: our mother, father, or someone else, that person repeatedly enters our mind. And when we hate some one, we harbor negative thoughts about him all day. In both cases, the mind is attached. Although the emotions are different, yet there is no difference in the method or the result. When you love someone, you bring his form to your mind, “He has such a beautiful nose. He has such wonderful eyes. He speaks so sweetly. He has such a charming walk. I miss my dear friend so much.” Similarly, when we hate someone, his form enters repeatedly into our mind, “That rascal! He has such a big moustache. This is how he grins, that crook.” Notice, even in hatred, the mind is attached, just as it is in love. The result of both the emotions is the same. What is that? The heart melts and that personality permeates it. When we love someone, remembrance in separation melts the heart, and that person becomes ensconced within.

When we remember a Saint or God, our heart melts for Them, and these Divine personalities enter the heart and render it pure. On the other hand, if the heart melts for a sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic person, such as husband, wife, children, and friends, those qualities permeate the heart. Thus, we acquire the qualities of the person to whom we are attached, and for whom our heart melts. It is a straightforward theory. We know that worldly people are under the influence of maya, and their hearts are impure. So whether we love someone as a father, son, wife, husband, or friend, is immaterial. The result of loving them is that our heart takes on their qualities and becomes impure. It is like this. Take some sealing wax and heat it. When it melts, add some blue, yellow, or black color to it, and allow it to cool. The color blends with every particle of the wax and becomes one with it. Similarly, when our heart melts either in love or in hatred, it takes on the color of the person for whom it melts. Therefore, we may define detachment as being devoid of love, or devoid of both love and hatred. It is the same thing. The latter is only a detailed version of the former. By stating raag and dvesh as two separate miseries, Yog darshan only elaborates what Sankhya darshan refers to as vairagya.

The next quality of the tamasic intellect is called asmita in Yog darshan. Sankhya darshan has referred to it as anaishvarya or ahankar (ego). It is in everyone; the feeling that “I am someone special.” One person looks at another sitting next to him and thinks, “This guy is a fool. He does not know how to sit properly. He does not know how to talk properly.” What kind of nonsense is this; why can't you sit calmly? Why waste time in such thoughts? “Yes, I was okay until I glanced sideways.” When we sit in a train or in a plane, we put on an act. We egotistically pretend to be what we are not. Our manner of sitting, talking, working, everything becomes artificial when there are people watching us. Why do we behave like this? “Because there is a demon sitting within called ego, which directs me to do all this.” “Do you feel comfortable doing all this?” “Certainly not. It stifles me. But what can I do? I have no choice. I have to do it. The ego inside me is ordering me to behave artificially.” These demands of the ego do not give us happiness. Happiness is what you experience when you are all alone in your room, and the room is locked. There is no one there, neither wife nor children. You lay down in a comfortable position without worrying about someone watching you. You do not care how your clothes are, or in what position your hands and feet are. You are not troubled with thoughts of straightening your clothes and sitting decently. But if even one person is with you in the room, you immediately adjust your posture so that you will not offend anyone. Naturality ends and acting begins. This is all due to the ego within.

So, we have discussed adharm, agyan, avairagya, and anaishvarya, the four qualites of the tamasic intellect, as described in Sankhya darshan. These four have been placed in five categories in Yog darshan, namely abhinivesh, avidya, raag, dvesh, and asmita. They have been the cause of our miseries in infinite lifetimes. The four opposite qualities, dharm, gyan, vairagya, and aishvarya are traits of the sattvic intellect. To these four, if we add two more, yash and shree, or fame and splendor, and make them unlimited, we will arrive at the definition of God.
ऐश्वर्यस्य समग्रस्य धर्मस्य यशसः श्रिय ।
ज्ञान वैरागग्य योश्चैव षण्णां भग इतीरणा ॥  
(Devi Bhagavat Puran)
“God is He who possesses the six opulences, dharm, gyan, vairagya, shree, yash, and aishvarya to an unlimited degree.”

Let us now return to the point we were discussing earlier; that the intellect alone is the governor. The senses and the mind obediently carry out the orders of the intellect. Now the question is: what must we do to accept Shree Krishna as ours? The barrier is the intellect, not the mind. We get angry at the mind unnecessarily. If a person gets involved in a car accident, no one blames or beats the car. The blame is placed on the driver. Similarly, the senses and the mind are instruments in the hands of the intellect, and if they do something wrong, it is the fault of the intellect. We often say that such-and-such a person is foolish. Why do we say this? Because he has never met anyone with proper intelligence who could put some sense into his head. Even if he meets someone wise, he thinks himself to be wiser, and so does not learn anything. In other words, whenever we got the opportunity to associate with Saints in the past, our intellect prevented us from deriving any benefit. It told us, “I am all right as I am. I do not need any guidance or knowledge.” With our petty intellect, when we tried to comprehend the words of Saints, our intellect claimed adamantly, “I cannot accept anyone to be wiser than myself, hence why should I surrender?” We were not willing to link our intellect with the Saint’s intellect.

Let us understand the internal mechanism a little further. The combination of mind and intellect is the performer of our actions. In brief, this mind-intellect pair is referred to as the “mind.” Panchadashi states:
मन एव मनुष्याणां कारणं बंधमोक्षयोः (Panchadashi)
“Mind alone is the cause of bondage as well as liberation.” What does this verse signify? It only mentions the mind and not the intellect. Well, once again it is only a matter of semantics. Here, mind refers to both mind and intellect. The internal machinery, or antahkaran, is one, but according to the function it performs, it is referred to either as the “mind” or the “intellect.” For example, “destiny” and “freedom of will” are not two distinct entities. What we call “freedom of will” in the present becomes our “destiny” in the future. These are two stages of the same thing. Similarly, the mind and intellect are two stages of the one inner machine, the antahkaran. So, when Saints chastise the mind in their writings, they actually mean both mind and intellect.

We have to attach this inner machinery of the mind and intellect to Shyamsundar. To achieve this, the first step is to understand that the world, to which we are attached, is not ours. This is not clear to us at present. We are moving full steam in the direction of the world. Had we been at a standstill, then if someone had asked us to turn left, or right, or right around, we would have done so immediately. But unfortunately, we are not at a standstill. We are constantly on the move.
न हि कश्चित् क्षणापि जातु तिष्ठत्य कर्मकृत् (Geeta)
“The individual equipped with a mind and an intellect cannot remain inactive for even a moment.” We must, by nature, keep moving; and at present, we are moving in the wrong direction, towards the world. The decision of the intellect is constantly taking us in this direction. Hence, we must first come to a halt. “Stop running! Stand still and tell me where you are going.” “I am going home.” “But where is your home?” “I don’t know, and I don’t have time for useless talk. I am just going full speed in the direction everyone else is taking.” “Just listen to me a while. Your house is not in this direction.” “But everyone is going the same way. They say that if you become a millionaire you will attain bliss. Should I believe them, or should I believe the few Saints like Tulsidas, Soordas, and Meerabai who say that we are running in the wrong direction?”

There is so much of a rush to run that no one has the patience to wait and listen. “Why did you not attend the discourse? I was explaining what your aim in life is and how you can attain it.” “That is wonderful, Maharaj Ji, but I do not have the time.” “You have plenty of time to run, but no time to take directions.” “Well, you have your way of thinking, and I have mine. My philosophy is to listen to everyone and eventually do what pleases me. I listen to you too, Guru ji, so that you may feel happy, and I nod my head in agreement, ‘That’s true, that’s right,’ and so on. Later, when I am left to my own thinking, my decision changes. I think I should not fall victim to these foolish talks of Saints. I must become a billionaire, for it is the only way I can be happy. Only then will I be able to sleep peacefully.”

So, we will first have to free the mind of love and hatred for the world. In other words, we will have to reduce the speed at which we are running towards the world. When you drive a car, the sharper the turn, the more you reduce your speed. If you turn at high speed, the car flips over. In the same way, we must slow down by reflecting on the sayings of scriptures and teachings of the Guru, and logically appreciating the truth. Nothing is to be done by force. We must understand the truth for ourselves. What is the nature of the material world? Why is the happiness we attain here only a delusion? Once we are convinced that we are running in the wrong direction, we will be compelled to reduce our speed. शनैः शनैरुपरमेत् When the mind stops running towards the world, we will be in a neutral position; neither attached to God nor to the world. But we cannot remain in that position. The mind cannot remain static. You have ordered it to go away from the world and it has obeyed. But the mind says, “Now tell me quickly where I should go. If you do not, I will go back from where I came. I cannot remain in suspension. You instructed me not to go in that direction, and so I have stopped. Now give me a new direction quickly.” “Wait a minute, I will tell you.” “No, I cannot wait. Until you reach a decision, I am going back to the same place.” The mind says, “You can go to the Saints and scriptures to make your decision. I will not stop you. But I cannot remain in suspension. I have to go somewhere or the other. And because of past practice, I will naturally go back to the world. It is a familiar area for me. If you say someone else is mine, then tell me quickly. I have no objection going wherever you ask me to. It is immaterial to me, because I am a mere servant. A servant simply follows orders and does not question the master’s decision.”

Now, to remove the mind from the world, we will have to constantly reflect on the nature of the world:
जन्ममृत्यु जरा व्याधि दुःख दोषानुदर्शनम् । (Geeta)
“Again and again, bring to your mind the miseries of material existence, like birth, death, disease, and old age.” We must remind ourselves that the world is not ours, and that the spiritual happiness we seek does not exist here. Attaining the world will not appease our hunger; it will only increase it. We must reflect upon these facts repeatedly. This repeated thinking is most important. Remember this great mantra. Whatever results we achieve will be due to constant reflection upon the truth. “Why does something happen this way?” The answer is, “Because of constant thinking.” “Why does it not happen in this way?” “Because of repeated thinking.” Ved-Vyas has described this beautifully in two lines:
विषयान् ध्यायतश्चितं विषयेष्ा विषज्जते ।
मामनुस्मरतश्चित्तं मँयेव प्रवलीते ॥ (Bhagwat)
God says, “If you constantly think of material things, you will become attached to them, and if you think of Me, you will become attached to Me.” Everything depends upon thinking. Let us ask ourselves: “In twenty-four hours, how much time do I spend thinking, ‘Shyamsundar is mine’ and how much time do I spend thinking, ‘The world is mine?’” One may answer, “I think of God two hours daily.” Another replies, “I think of God four hours every day.” The speed of our advancement will be in direct proportion to the amount of time spent thinking of God. The goal will be reached only when the thought of God remains constantly in the mind:
तेषां नित्याभियुक्तानाम्
यो मां स्मरति नित्यशः
सततं कीर्तयन्तो माम्
एवं सततयुक्ता ये (Geeta)
We will have to reach the stage of thinking constantly, “O Shree Krishna! You alone are mine… You alone are mine… You alone are mine.” When this thought becomes constant, our work will be over. Now we must decide how quickly we wish to attain our goal. The faster we wish to attain it, the more we will have to reflect that Shyamsundar alone is ours. This is all that needs to be done. We need not consult the Vedas or any other scripture. This is the statement of the smritis, and Shankaracharya has quoted it as well:
ननुध्यायाय…बहूनख्यान…विग्लावन हितत् (Smriti)
“All this study of the scriptures, all this knowledge is so much mental gymnastics. Do not waste your time on it.” Scriptures emphasize self-surrender to the Guru. We must learn from the Guru what is relevant and compulsory, leaving aside all irrelevant knowledge. And then we must constantly reflect upon what we have learned. There is a well-known verse in the Bhagavad Geeta that all of you must have read:
विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः ।
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते ॥ (Geeta)
This verse says that if one abstains from eating and drinking, his sensual desires cease. विषया विनिवर्तन्ते Now, if desires can be destroyed by merely renouncing eating and drinking, this is the easiest way to attain liberation. Then what is the need of bhakti? All you have to do is to remain hungry and thirsty, and you will be liberated. But the Geeta also says:
युक्ताहार विहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु ।
युक्तस्वप्नाबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा ॥ (Geeta)
“You must eat the right food, you must behave properly, and sleep the right amount. Everything you do must be regulated.” If we eat too much or too little, nature will punish us. When the body does not get the vitamins and proteins it requires, it falls victim to various diseases. We are then unable to progress spiritually and materially. Thus, we seem to have contradictory statements made in the same scripture. On the one hand, Shree Krishna talks about the consequence of renouncing food, and on the other hand, He mentions the necessity of the right kind of food for the well-being of the body.

The Vedas tell the story of the Sage Uddalak, who had a disciple named Shvetaketu. Uddalak told Shvetaketu that since food and drink significantly affect the mind, one must consume sattvic food. One should not become a slave to the whims and fancies of the mind: “Today I want to eat a rasgulla,” “Today I feel like puris and samosas,” and so on. Most of us have an attachment to taste. “What will you cook today?” “What’s for lunch today?” Uddalak explained that this weakness for taste defiles the mind. Shvetaketu did not understand this, and questioned his master, “Food is meant for the gross body, and the mind is subtle matter, so how can the food we eat affect the mind? Food and drink are physical things. Whether we eat dry bread or a rasgulla, should be irrelevant.”

Actually, the food we eat is divided into three parts. One part is converted into excreta; one part turns into blood, flesh and marrow that constitute the physical body. The third part nourishes and develops the mind. Thus, our ideas are affected by what we eat and drink. There are five sheaths that cover the soul, and when your sadhana crosses the first one, the annamaya kosh, then food and drink will no longer affect you. Consuming meat and alcohol will not matter. But until you have crossed the annamaya kosh, the food you eat will continue to influence the mind. People tell me, “Maharaj Ji! I cannot control my temper. I am also fond of chillies, and eat three or four everyday.” “Why do you eat such hot food?” “Because I enjoy it, and I am unable to give it up.” “In that case, you will be unable to give up anger as well.” If you eat the wrong food, you will have to suffer the consequences.

Shvetaketu did not understand his Guru’s statement. Although he did not refute his Guru’s words, he was confused. Noticing his bewilderment, Uddalak ordered, “Shvetaketu! No food for you today.” The next day, he repeated his instruction, and continued doing so for sixteen consecutive days. After sixteen days of fasting, Shvetaketu was finding it difficult to move, and his head was spinning. In that state, Uddalak asked him to recite and explain some Vedic verses. Shvetaketu was not able to remember anything. On the seventeeth day, the Guru ordered that Shvetaketu be given some milk. The following day he was permitted to eat some fruit. Then the Guru asked him to recite a Ved mantra, and Shvetaketu said:
स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।
This time, Shvetaketu could easily recite the verse. Uddalak then said to him, “My son! I asked you the same question two days ago, but you could not reply, and today you are able to do so easily. So you see, food does affect the mind. Sattvic food creates a sattvic intellect. Rajasic food creates a rajasic intellect, and tamasic food creates a tamasic intellect. Therefore, you should be careful about what you eat. Do not be a slave of taste.”

The verse from the Geeta, discussed earlier, says that by fasting the desires of our senses will cease. But the second line clarifies:
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते (Geeta)
Here, the word “rasavarjam” has been used. What does it mean? “Rasavarjam” means that the desires of the mind will not come to an end. If we fast continuously, the senses will weaken, and will not be able to perform any action, so the tendencies of the senses will end. But even in such a condition, the desires of the mind will remain. This is why Saints and scriptures lay such importance on the mind, and give instructions for its purification. We must follow these instructions without doubting them. The intellect, with which we question, is material, and has been made impure from many lifetimes of misuse. We must surrender it to the Guru, and follow his instructions without consideration of gain or loss. When we govern our mind in accordance with the Divine intellect of the Guru, then within a few days of practice, we will be able to accept Shree Krishna as our own. But here another question arises. What is the method of loving Shree Krishna? This I will discuss tomorrow.
बोलिए वृन्दावन बिहारी लाल की जय
All glories to Vrindaban Bihari Lal.


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  2. Shree Mahrajji's lectures are truly a beacon to those treading the path to spirituality. Topics like this are rare to find; no words. i am currently reading The Bhagavatam, the topic is very much relevant to where i am right now in the huge Bhagavatam.

    Thanks for sharing.