In The Science of Mind Management, Swami Mukundananda explores the four different parts of the human mind and creates a roadmap to control it and use it to her advantage. The inner battle is not an easy one and the author touches upon real life stories, anecdotal instances and even tales from Vedas to craft ways in which we can emerge victorious.
The book is being published by Westland Books. Read an extract here.
We all are acquainted with our whimsical mind. It flits from place to place and from topic to topic like the ball in a roulette game. It wanders off even from very interesting topics, then what to say of its rebelliousness when the work at hand is dreary! Consequently, we develop the notion that our mind is not under our control and that we just have to put up with unwelcome distractions and thoughts. However, this is not the case. If we learn to harness the power of the intellect, we will discover immense ability to manage our mind. In the last chapter, we learned how breaking bad habits and developing good ones requires a resolute intellect. The Bhagavad Gita also repeatedly refers to the importance of the intellect. In it, Lord Krishna describes His teachings as Buddhi Yog or the ‘Yoga of the Intellect’. He repeatedly instructs Arjun to surrender his intellect to God. In light of this, let us explore the intellect’s position in the internal hierarchy.
The intellect makes decisions and the mind generates desires. For example, if the intellect decides that happiness is in ice creams, the mind hankers for it. If the intellect decides that money will solve all of life’s problems, the mind thinks … money, money, money. And if the intellect decides that prestige is the source of happiness, the mind yearns to be famous and respected in society. In other words, the intellect makes the decisions and the mind engages in sankalp (hankering) and vikalp (aversion). Between them, the intellect’s position is of paramount importance.
An example will make this very clear.
Let us say Ganga Prasad has not eaten for four days. He is very tormented. Food … food … food … is all he can think about. After four days, he is presented with a silver plate filled with delicious foods. His mouth salivates, and the senses hanker for relishing the contact with their sense objects. The mind asks the intellect for the go-ahead to pick up a delicious gulab jamun (an Indian dessert). The intellect instructs the mind, ‘Yes, yes go ahead; I am also very tormented. Do not delay! Pick it up.’The mind instructs the hand, and it picks up the gulab jamun. The hand brings it up to his mouth. The senses are eager and the stomach rumbles. Will anything be able to change his mind at this moment? ‘Impossible,’ you may think.
But suddenly his friend cries out, ‘What are you doing? Do you wish to die? That gulab jamun has been poisoned!’ ‘Poison? Die? Something is wrong here.’ The intellect commands, ‘Stop!’ The intellect instructs the mind which instructs the hand. The hand tosses away the gulab jamun. Now see if he will change his mind? Offer him a temptation: ‘Sir, we will give you one crore to consume that gulab jamun. Please eat it.’ ‘What will I do with a crore, if I die? No, thank you.’ He won’t budge, no matter how hungry he is, for his intellect is convinced that eating the gulab jamun will kill him. Ask him again, ‘How do you know the food is poisoned?’ ‘My friend told me,’ he replies. ‘Is your friend perfectly honest? Is he an avatar of the truthful Harishchandra?’ ‘No, no, I have often caught him telling lies.’ ‘Okay, never mind. Have you ever seen poison in your life?’‘No.’ ‘So, you have never seen poison in your life, and yet one statement from this untrustworthy friend made you
throw away the gulab jamun?’ ‘Yes.’
How did Ganga Prasad gain such control over the mind? Though he was hungry for the last four days and his senses were hankering for food, he abstained from the delicious gulab jamun. The control came from the intellect. When it decided that the gulab jamun is harmful to his self-interest, it clamped down upon the mind and senses. The Yajur Veda states: vijñāna sārathiryastu manaḥ pragrahavān naraḥ so ’dhvanaḥ pāramāpnoti tadviṣhṇoḥ paraṁ padam. ‘To cross over the material ocean and attain your divine goal, illumine your intellect with divine knowledge, then with the illumined intellect, control the unruly mind.’
This is why it is said, ‘Knowledge is power!’ for it is true or correct knowledge that enables good decision-making. Usually, however, the situation is not so straightforward. The mind and intellect are not always in accord. Sometimes, the intellect is unclear about what is beneficial, and at other times, the mind is adamant about the object it craves. Thus, strife arises in the internal machinery. Let us understand our inner apparatus further.
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