18.42: Shun senselessness or shun the senseless mind

by July 25, 2012

Practicing devotional life means embarking on an inward devotional journey to connect with Krishna. On this journey, the mind poses the primary roadblock by constantly craving for external pleasures.

For removing this roadblock, we can derive a two-pronged strategy from the Bhagavad-gita (18.42):

Shama (Peacefulness): This is the strategy for converting the mind. We draw on the strength of our intellectual convictions to show the mind the true nature of material pleasures: despite all their promises, they disappoint us at best and devastate us at worst. Then we contemplate on the taste of our devotional experiences to show the mind their superiority and preferability as alternative sources of happiness. When we thus highlight before the mind this undeniable contrast between the emptiness of material pleasures and the richness of spiritual pleasures, the mind shuns the senselessness of worldly cravings and becomes peaceful.

Dama (Sense Control): This is the strategy for controlling the mind if it refuses to get converted or till it gets converted. Sometimes the mind, despite all our logical presentations, remains illogically addicted to material pleasures. When we are stonewalled by such a senseless mind, we need to respond in kind by stonewalling its sources of nourishment. The mind derives its food from the images provided by the senses. If we resolve rigidly to never indulge sensually in the pleasures that the mind is craving for, then the mind eventually runs out of food and shuts up. During the transitional period when the mind is still adamant, we can neglect it by keeping ourselves fully engaged in devotionally purposeful activities.

By this dual strategy for at best converting or at least controlling the mind, we can remove the mental roadblocks on our devotional journey.


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