Manage the mind through introspection and meditation
Talk at University of Colorado
Manage the mind through introspection and meditation
I welcome all of you for this lecture. We will discuss on the topic the mind. We will be speaking the topic of my mastering and managing the monkey mind. The mind is a word which has many meanings; for example that Albert Einstein the greatest mind of the 21st century, then the word mind refers to the intellectual ** of a person. The word mind can be ‘keep that in your mind’ that means remember it or the word mind can also refer to the idea of memorizing something or paying attention, pay your attention to this, it can be recollection, it can be incognition, the Bhagavad-Gita uses the word mind in the more specific sense it explains that the mind is subtle faculty within us, if we have computer, the computer has a software computer, has a physical hardware, and there is a user. So the software is itself invisible, and we can say this is the place where the software is stored but we cannot point the software directly. Similarly the subtle element, that a software that interfacing the user and the hardware. Similarly the mind is in the Bhagavad-Gita analyzes the subtle element which interfaces between us spiritual beings and the physical body which we have and the world around us. So to make this little easier all of us at different times sense some voice within us and for example right now I’m speaking to all of you but there is a voice speaking inside me. That voice is saying that ‘you’re going to forget what you are going to speak’ and I will make fool of yourself. So the voice within speaks in different voices and different tones but there is something within us which speaks in various ways whatever happens there is something within us which passes comments, if somebody walking, the mind says the person has not dressed very well, the person walks like this that. Everything there is some comment being passed on. So what is this faculty, what is this thing within us that is speaking these things? So that the Bhagavad-Gita says the mind. So usually we think of external and internal, in terms of the body, for example there is a class ** it is outside ** and if there is some thought within me, thinking of something I think that is inside me. But what the Bhagavad-Gita tells us is that everything inside me is not in. That means there is that we of course as spiritual things are there but along with us there is software we could say and which has been programmed by our own past habits, past desires, past experiences. Most of you know about the soul, the soul is Sat-Cit-Ananda. Sat is a Sanskrit word which means eternal and Cit is the conscious, Ananda joyful. So Sat is a Sanskrit word, in English there is no such word as Sat I as an author I often write things and after writing when I want to proofread them I have a text to speech software, ‘read it’ so this text to speech software reads this if I write the soul is Satcitananda the software changes it to while reading it reads it as the soul is Saturday-Cit-Anand, so it has changed the word sat to Saturday. So here it’s something like AutoCorrect that is working but AutoCorrect is working incorrectly. So this is an example of an inbuilt program. Just as there is a program for spell check and maybe AutoCorrect but now similarly there is a program within us and that program where that program is stored that is in the mind. So this program the mind often contends programs that are not healthy for us and if we don’t deal with these unhealthy programs these will end up under using our energy or rather dissipating our energy and not fulfilling our potential. You know when there is a machine and if the machine has a lot of friction internally then the fiction sucks its energy and then whatever external power is coming into the machine a lot of it gets consumed in the friction and the external productivity of the machine decreases. Similarly there are self-sabotaging programs within our mind and these actually make us underuse our potential. So managing the mind essentially it means correcting these self-sabotaging programs. So I’ll talk about there can be many programs some of the specifics of the programs will vary from person to person but I’ll talk about some general patterns which are often are unhealthy.
So the first is the mind makes us fight more battles than we need to.
Suppose there is some kind of confrontation going on war or whatever, one person is here and one person is here; both are fighting. It’s an equal fight. But if there is a one person here and there are three people here it becomes much more difficult fight to win. The mind when we have to do something, when I said that the mind makes us fight more battles then we need to, that means we are doing one thing at a particular time. The mind adds the past and the future to the present. And by adding the past and the future to the present the mind makes the present situation far tougher than what it needs to be.
So I talk about this in two terms about how the mind adds the past and the future to the present. So for example if I’m giving my first public speech and that time I shutter and stammer and I’m not able to give any good performance. Then at that time the mind immediately goes off the past and maybe in the childhood had some stammering problem, mind starts to remind me of that or maybe I knew some friend who always stammer who had a lot of difficulty and I start thinking maybe I become like that and basically the present is some problem but the mind by adding events from the past, by adding memories from the past burdens us.
So if there is a porter who is paid to carry a 10 KG weight and imagine that port the adds 20 KG weight more on top and oneself carries 30 KG and he is going to be paid only for 10 KG. So who would want to add more weight than one wants to carry. So we all have work to do but the mind transforms the work into a workload. That means rather than doing just a job at hand, the mind makes us think of, ‘Oh that time I had so much work, so much trouble that time when I tried to do this went wrong and that happens’ and if there is a just the work to be done we can do it but when the work becomes workload then it becomes the crushing burden. Then that dissipates our energy. In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says in the 13th chapter, in the 21st verse
hetuù prakåtir ucyate
bhoktåtve hetur ucyate
so he saying that kärya-käraëa-kartåtve that cause and effect, this causal change happens in the world and that is where the events take place, but experiences are what happen in the inner world and our experiences are determined by our mentality by our world view. Say someone is carrying a glass of water and somehow it just slips and falls and the water gets spilled everywhere. Then that’s what has happened. The event that has happened. Maybe there was somebody pushed him, maybe there was some slippery thing on the floor, somehow he just spilled, and that time the mind adds the burdening, ‘You are clumsy ** and with this the message, it was a small event ‘okay I just slipped and fell; others are laughing I can also laugh. Just get up and move on with it’, but when the mind interprets the event then that event doesn’t remain just the event in the outer world it becomes experience often it becomes the disheartening experience. So the mind makes us fight if I slipped and fell down, l can get up but if when the mind adds a whole gamut of emotions and it’s own interpretation of the event based on the emotions then the problem becomes much more difficult. So life determines our problems but our mind determines their size., how big the problem is going to be. The more we think of the problem.
There is some movies in which there are some 50 people are shown. There are 2 persons are fighting and one person suddenly becomes bigger and bigger and this other person feels like I’m a dwarf how can I fight with this giant. So like that when we dwell on a problem, when the mind dwells on the problem then that mental energy gets invested in the problem and when the mental energy is invested in the program the problem starts becoming bigger and bigger and as compared to that something is wrong. Sometimes when such small events happen it is like somebody slips and some water spills then that person starts thinking that I’m a clumsy… And after that that person may become afraid to carry water anywhere. And just a simple act of carrying water can cause stress and cause anxiety. When we unguardedly let the mind dwell on certain events, certain things that happen in the outer world then the mind causes that problem to become bigger and bigger. And in comparison we start thinking I’m so small, I’m so worthless, and then we disempower ourselves. So the mind makes us to fight more than we need to by adding past memories to whatever has happened in the present and by adding its own interpretation of what has happened. So another thing that the mind does is it adds future, in future the mind adds often dystopian imagery. All kinds of horrible events it’s like I’m driving the car I see some small crash has happened and I start imagining when I’m driving my car brakes may fail, and the wheels may come off, when we see some movies or elsewhere where the wheels have gone off and then the mind starts running on an overdrive imagining all kinds of terrible scene. So the mind sometimes takes some stimuli and for different people there may be different stimuli that might trigger the mind. But in this stimuli that triggered then the mind starts playing a horror movie. And in that horrible movie we are not the spectators, we are the spectacled, we are the person who are the victims, and this horror movie in which we become that can paralyze us. So fear is not a problem. Fear of what comes after fear is the problem. Fear is a healthy protective human instinct. If I look down from a big height at that time the fear which I’m experiencing a huge drop that’s natural human psychological defense mechanism to protect us from danger.
So it is not possible that we can ever be free from worry and anxiety entirely. Some of the amount of worry and anxiety makes us duly cautious. Sometimes, some people are completely free from worry and then that makes other filled with worry about them.
As they say fools rush in where angels fear to…. Children don’t understand that’s there is some danger, children might think oh this fire looks so shiny let me put my hand over it. They are fearless and that makes their mothers fearful. So fear itself is not undesirable. Similarly the worry and anxiety is not itself undesirable but when healthy fear even the healthy worry when that sends us off on a dystopian fantasy when it makes us imagine all worst-case scenarios whose probability is very low.
Once there was this lady every three month she would go to the doctor, ‘have I got cancer? ‘have I got cancer? The doctor would say, ‘you’re perfectly healthy, don’t worry’, ‘no have I got cancer?’ So after 40 years going like this finally the doctor told ‘yes you have got preliminary cancer’. ‘See I was right’. Now regular health checkup is good but paranoia is unhealthy.
So the mind when it goes into the future it goes into all sorts of negative fantasies utopia unrealistically positive fantasy dystopia is unrealistically negative fantasy. So when that happens that can also paralyze us. Sometimes people get panic attacks sometimes the panic attacks because of some psychiatric problems but quite often the panic attacks are simply because the mind is going on a uncontrolled flight and when it goes on this flight then we start envisioning the worst possible scenarios. When I talked about the mind going to the past or going to the future this itself is not unhealthy that is fine, going to the past to learn from the past is good if say last time I was speaking I stuttered and stammered if I recollect that I think what causes this stammered maybe I was looking at some person who was glaring at me and just that looking at that person started disconcerting me and this time I can avoid looking at it. People were afraid of speaking in public and you cannot avoid eye contact with people when we speak in public. Sometimes that the people get panicked on seeing others there advised to look between two people both will think you’re looking at them and you’re not looking at anyone. So if we think calmly what triggered some undesirable actions in the past you can learn from them. So learning from the past is good but learning from the past is possible when we are in control. But when the mind is in control we don’t learn from the past but we fall back into the past that means we are just simply, we paralyze ourselves by negative memories from the past. And that whether the mind is in control or that I’m in control that I will talk in a later part but the same may apply to the future. So preparing for the future is important, so if there are some dangers preparing for those dangers is good.
For example if somebody’s flying by plane and if that time if a person is a person learns okay these are the security measures, safety measures that have to be taken. That’s how I should oxygen bags and that is how I should use the water bag, but all the various things that are there precautions learning them is good but if every time a person is going to enter a plane and as soon as the air hostess starts explaining the security measures that have to be taken and I start thinking oh my plane is going to crash and I’m going to fall into the ocean and my water bag will inflate and I will drown and the one before the drowning one is drowning in the mind.
So this sort of unrealistic and worst case scenarios in this case there is firstly they are unlikely to happen, secondly even if they are likely to happen what can we do about it? There is nothing we can do except prepare. Take whatever precautions that are possible and we take them, but unfortunately when the mind goes into dystopian fantasies more it starts playing this horror movie and it just lose it. Especially in high-pressure sports, sometimes there is a defining moment, a final moment and some players lose their cool at that time, and say simple move to make in football, simple shot to play in baseball, but person just fools up. Then we will say that these people choke under pressure. So what is that choking? What causes that choking? So in many sports that is cricket, baseball, football they say it is a game of the mind, more than a game of the body or as much as the game of the body.
So people have to be mentally strong to succeed and what applies to sports, applies to our whole life also. So envisioning future possibilities, future problems and preparing for them is good; but just passively letting the mind paint up all kinds of terrible scenarios, that is dispowering and that is undesirable. So now how do we I talked about how the mind disempowers us. I said that the mind makes us fight more battles than we need to by adding the past and the future and when the mind adds meaning, it interprets events in such a way that they become sometimes they disheartening experiences for us.
Further the mind basically flitters. Flitters means like a bird may move from one place to another or a monkey may move one place to another. So the mind doesn’t focus. A fan which is round and round and round but the fan gets nowhere. It just stays where it is all the time. Our mind also goes round and round and round at least a fan gives some air but our mind often gives us nothing. What the mind does quite often is it puts our thoughts and our actions out of sake. So I’m doing one thing and thinking ‘ I’ll do that, if I do that right, or if I do that wrong and I have to do that’, So there is ABC when I’m doing A I am worrying whether that I will do B right or not and when I’m doing B I am a worrying whether I did A right or not, and I worry whether I will do C right or not, and the time I come to see, I realized ‘Oh! I did A also wrong and B also wrong. Then I’m doing C and I’m worrying I have to do A & B again and because of that worry I go and do A and B and I remember I did C also wrong so I will do C also.
So the mind puts our thoughts and actions out of sake and because of that also our energy gets dissipated. We are often habituated to think of our schedule, think of our time availability in terms of activities, okay in the morning I have to do this, in the afternoon I have to do this, in the evening I have to do this, and that is fine enough analyzing our day and our time expenditure but that is not complete enough. Because our time is not consumed only by our activities, it is also consumed by our thoughts. If say we hire unpleasant interaction with someone then I see a student going to the class we are looking at the white board and we are looking at the teacher and after half an hour what happened. We are just thinking- why that person said that, when that person said that I should’ve said this. That could have been a fitting come back. I never think on my feet I should learn to think on my feet, next time I will see this. And the mind scolds-** so that event that person may be snubbing us, it happens within 10 seconds but sometimes that one incident and the thought that situated; that may take 10 hours. And we never ** in our schedule, but thoughts take time when the thoughts take time it is same as the mind is taking the time. So when we consider this fact that the mind puts the thoughts and actions out of sake then we need to recognize how do I get them into sake. Why do I just say, ‘concentrate’, all these problems which we have talked about these are sometimes thought of and problems because of the lack of will power. Say that is why do you worry so much! Cool down! Don’t worry! cool down sometimes that may help but cool down suppose somebody had a high temperature 102 ‘cool down man’, you can’t cool down like that. There is a physical disease that is there and the cooling down the temperature of the body is not just a matter of our own willpower. There is a temperature I have got then I need a proper process. I have to take some medicines and that will help the temperature to go down. Even for that I need willpower to take the medicines regularly and I need the willpower to make sure that I don’t expose myself to stimuli that may make the fever worse. I don’t go out in the cold or whatever. But willpower alone just as it is not enough to cool our physical temperature; similarly willpower alone may not always cool our mental temperature. When the mind gets hot just tell the person cool down, yes it can help to some extent but there is a limitation to that. Just like if a person is always habitually morose whatever suggestions we give that person is like expert in finding problem with that solution and that time, ‘why do you always have a hung face, smile a bit. Smiling can help, smiling can make not only a person look better but feel better also, but there is a limit for that. If I’m sitting on this chair and there are 50 thorns on this chair and somebody says it’s fine you will feel better, well may be! but not really. So just a shift of attitude is not enough when there are real problems out there. Shift of attitude is important but the real problems will also to be dealt with. So the Bhagavat-Gita explains that,
praçänta-manasaà hy enaà
yoginaà sukham uttamam
In the 6th chapter 27th verse, it is said that brahma-bhütam when we understand our spiritual nature; not just understand but when we experience our spiritual nature then praçänta-manasaà the mind becomes peaceful the mind becomes calm upaiti çänta-rajasaà all the passion, the agitations, anxieties within the mind becomes **. The mental temperature cools down.
So what does it mean to experience our spiritual nature and how does that calm the mind down? If somebody is in the ocean, and in the ocean there are always going to be waves and when the waves are there, the person is going to shake up and down, that is inevitable, but if that the same person is in a boat and then the waves are still going to be there, and the shaking is also going to be there but it is going to be much less and if that boat is anchored with something heavy and firm; the shaking will be much much much lesser.
So in this case not stopping the waves but stopping our shaking. So the world we live in is a place of change; the weather changes, the job scenario changes, the moods of our friend and colleague changes, our own mind’s mood changes. The same thing which I like today, I may find it boring tomorrow. The mind can say about in a relationship; I can’t live without you and a few days later the mind says I cannot live with you. So this is the oscillation. So the change is constantly keep happening and in fact if we look at the world around us the only thing constant is change. So everything is changing and because of this change it naturally creates some uncertainty, some anxiety, some worry, some insecurity.
Now the researchers studied anxiety quite exhaustively in the last century, for some very interesting features that have been found that people in the first world often have fairly good amount of material security, social conveniences and comforts; as compared to that people who are in third world have far greater uncertainty, insecurity, inconveniences. And yet the researchers have found that the people in the first world suffer from higher anxiety level than the people in the third world. Not only that when people from the third world come to the first world their anxiety levels also go up.
So now what is the reason for this? If the externals are relatively more comfortable, more available and what causes the anxiety? What is causing the higher anxiety level is not our outer uncertainty but inner instability. Inner instability means that this is not a matter of comparing the first world with the third world, it is more the matter of a materialistic worldview and spiritual worldview. In a materialistic worldview matter is all that matters, that is functional materialism. Even there is some God exists, okay He exists somewhere I exist here, He’s happy there and I’m happy here why bother about Him? So God, spiritual sky, soul; all these don’t matter, that is functional materialism and then there is fanatical materialism. Fanatical materialism means matter is all that exists, nothing else exists. So of course this is its worldview both philosophically and scientifically plot, I won’t go into that direction.
I’m talking about managing the mind here, so in the materialistic worldview; matter is all that matters and the matter is always changing, so because of the constant change of matter there is uncertainty and that causes anxiety and when there is nothing unchanging to hold on to, then the anxiety level shoot up. What we need to deal with the mind’s oscillation I said that the waves are going to come, there is a boat and the boat is further anchored with some heavy immovable object and the oscillation will be much lesser. So like that we live in a world that is largely materialistic. So to manage the mind it may have a spiritual community, if we have spiritual friends, some spiritual association regularly that places us in a boat and then we connect ourselves with the ultimate anchor i.e. God, who is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita to be Krishna. Then that connection stabilizes ourselves. Prayer is when we speak to God, and meditation is when we hear God. The board are the ways of communicating with God that is. Prayer is when we speak our heart to God and meditation is when we hear God. Both are ways of communicating with God. There are different ways of meditating; the mantra that we chanted just now that one of the most accessible forms of meditation. Why is it the most accessible because sound acts as a elevator to raise our consciousness from the material to the spiritual. So the spiritual sound; whether it is singing like we did kirtan or it is individual prayer through meditation, if we just try to fix our consciousness on the sound, the sound will raise that consciousness upwards and as we feel ourselves rising upwards the uncertainty, the insecurity, the worries they will be there but they will not worry us so much. we will be calmer, and we will be able to deal with the situations better.
Suppose person is in a disaster afflicted, so there is a fire, there is flood, there is live electricity, wires exposed person is in anxiety and suppose a rescue helicopter comes from above, drops a rope and rescue, pulls up. The person is still at the same area but now he is a raised up and because he is raised up although the problem is there one doesn’t feel immediately threatened by the problem. So if we connect with ours spiritual side, if we connect to the supreme spiritual reality God then that connection raises us above our situations and then we can be concerned without being disturbed. It is not that spirituality means we don’t worry about anything. We all have issues to deal with but we want to deal with the issues we don’t want to be devowed by the issues and without a spiritual connection that is what happens. We get consumed by the worries and whatever associated negative means come up from that but when we connect ourselves with spiritual sound that raises us up and then we can deal with the situations. This is the problem these are the possible things that can happen this is how I have to deal with them. So with respect to, I’ll quickly go back and I’ll conclude the class. I talked about; with a spiritual perspective how can we deal with the minds various misdirecting happens; the bad program that are there within us with respect to the past and the future.
So if we are spiritually connected then we are calm, when we are calm then if we look at the past then we are aware, this is like if I said to someone you are a lazy bum, person says ‘you insulted how dare you speak like this?’. And that’s natural. And we either counter it how dare you speak like that? Or ** the person will try to correct oneself for that will no longer be true. So when some insulting criticism comes from outside then know we actually resisted and tried to correct it but when the same label is offered by the mind within us, instead of countering it we accept it.
For example if I have to wake up early and do some work and you know in the sleep we become inactive but often the hand is active to switch off the alarm. And then wake up. ‘You’re a lazy fool’. When the mind starts what happens is when we are… When the alarm is ringing that then that time the mind says ‘sleep for some more time, maybe five minutes,’ and when those five minutes become 25 minutes the same mind will scold us, and ‘why did you sleep so much? You are such a fool you’re lazy, you’re useless, you will never be able to do anything in your life’, some small 20 minutes sleeping becomes this statement about your life, ‘you’re never going to do anything in your life’, if somebody else said that to us we would be angry with that person but rather when the mind says that instead of being angry we start becoming depressed, ‘oh maybe it’s true’.
You know if two people are fighting in a boxing match, there is A and there is B , and A gives a bad punch and B falls down. And now B has fallen down and say it’s a bad punch, okay I have fallen down and now if B wants to rise and fight then should look around at one’s coach or look at one’s friend, he will say, ‘come on get up fight’, but suppose B has fallen down and asks say, ‘will I be able to win in this match, A will say never.’ In the same way the mind only knocks us down the mind only makes us oversleep and then I asked the mind ‘will I be able to become a better person’ it stays ‘never’. We need positive spiritual association to inspire us to bring out the best in ourselves. And when as I said if we practice meditation regularly, if we understand this spiritual wisdom of Gita, then that helps us to catch the mind ** otherwise the mind makes us act and many times we do something then we say ‘why did I do that? I never wanted to do that, why did I do that?’ But it is as if there is some stranger have entered into us, some ghost has possessed us, and made us act like that but when we meditate regularly because we are spiritually connected when the mind starts pushing us, we say this is the mind this is the mind which is talking. So recognizing the enemy is practically the biggest part of dealing with the enemy, when it comes to the mind. Because the mind inside us and unfortunately we are going to think whatever inside me is me, there is something within me which is hostile to me then we are under watch out.. So the spiritual wisdom enables us to distance ourselves from the mind, to become a little more analytical about our thinking. When we catch the mind we can stop the mind but if we don’t catch it then there is no chance of stopping it and this is actually especially possible when we do meditation. When we do meditation the mind goes here the mind goes there at that time we can observe, ‘okay the mind is good let me bring him back. The mind is good let me bring it back.’ And we focus on the spiritual sound by that the mind slowly calms down and Bhagavad Gita says something very interesting that the mind can be both our enemy and our friend,
bandhur ätmätmanas tasya
anätmanas tu çatrutve
So he says in 6th chapter 6th verse, ‘for one who has controlled the mind, the mind becomes the friend and for one who has failed to control it the mind remains his enemy’. What this means is that again, if I’m thinking about the past but the mind is in control then I will simply become paranoid but if I’m thinking about the past while being in control then I can analyze and I can learn from the past. So the way to control the mind best way is by connecting with the reality which is far greater than the mind and the highest of reality is God – Krishna and He becomes accessible to us through spiritual sound. The very word Mantra means Manas trayate iti mantra the sound which frees us from the various problems of the mind it creates..
I quickly summarize I started by talking about how the word mind can have many meanings. In the Bhagavad Gita the mind of refers to the thing within us which often works against us and the mind works against us in many ways. I talked about a few. The most fundamental strategy by which the mind work against us is it makes us fight more battles than we need to. By adding past to the present which in the past has gone wrong, or by adding future to the present, everything that can go wrong or by adding meaning to an event, by adding so many interpretation like one mistake and you are a good for nothing fool. So the mind in this way this empower us and the way to deal with the mind is, yes! it’s not just a matter of willpower as I was saying, just as physical temperature cannot be cooled down just by willpower similarly mental temperature cannot be cooled just by willpower, yes willpower helps but willpower is to be coupled with the process and that process is connecting with unchanging reality. So what fuels the mind in its various undesirable is change, change causes anxiety, change causes insecurity and the change causes anxiety not so much because of the external change but internally if there is a materialistic worldview then that causes further anxiety. As I said the first world the anxiety levels are higher than the third world, so just as we need medicines to cure, to bring the physical temperature down, similarly to bring the mental temperature down we need the medicine of meditation and what does the meditation do it gives us something unchanging to connect with. God is supreme unchanging reality. Just as the boat in an ocean it will become steady if it is anchored similarly we when connected with God becomes steadier. The best way to do that is through spiritual sound because spiritual sound acts like an elevator it will raise our consciousness from material level to the spiritual level and with ourselves spiritually connected, we can catch the mind. When the mind starts taking us in the wrong direction we will have that inner clarity and this is the mind’s speak I don’t have think about these things. Let me focus on what I’m thinking, so that capacity to perceive the mind becomes enhanced and then the capacity to counter its influences also becomes enhanced, when we connect ourselves spiritually through the wisdom of the spiritual literature like Bhagavad-Gita, and practically through the process of meditation which gives us the experience of the reality higher than the material level.
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Q.1. how can we acquire the mind and why is it default setting negatively?
A: The mind is the apparatus that we need to interact with the body, with the world. So we are spiritual beings so as spiritual beings we cannot interact with the world around us. Just like the astronauts go in to space they need space suits, similarly we need interface for connecting with the world—
çrotraà cakñuù sparçanaà ca
rasanaà ghräëam eva ca
adhiñöhäya manaç cäyaà
so in the 15th chapter 9th verse Krishna says that the five senses-acquiring senses the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue and the skin; they are all centered around the mind and through these viñayän upasevate we see pleasure in external objects. By our very nature we are pleasure seeking creatures and when we are spiritually unaware we seek pleasure in external things.
So the mind is a part of the necessary apparatus that we have for interfacing with the world, this is the soul that is eternal and whenever it is present and interfacing with the material world it needs a mechanism. And that mechanism includes the mind. The word that is used for this in Bhagavad Gita anaadi means beginning-less, just as the soul is the beginning-less similarly time when we acquire the mind that is also beginning-less. So more importantly is that why does it have negative scripts? That is because of the influences from externals in the present as well as in the past. So because we are living in largely materialistic culture, so we are by default, by nature pleasure seeking creatures but where we see pleasure that will be determined by the culture we live in. So if the culture is materialistic then naturally we start seeking pleasure in material things and that causes us anxiety. The problem with the materialism is that it makes us dependent for our happiness on things that are not in our control. The external things that may be wealth, position or power or even our own looks, these are not really in our control for a very long time. For sometimes they may be in control but they slip away from us over time. So when we become dependent on those things and further it is not just our position of those things it is our possessing them more than others. Not only should I look good I should look better than others, not only should secure good marks but I should secure better marks than others. Not that I should have a new smart phone my smart phone should be smarter than that of others. So this especially in today’s culture you know we live in a not just in materialistic culture but aggressively materialistic culture, aggressively materialistic culture means that we are exposed to the best of everything. That means I have a cell phone but advertisements all around are showing me cell phone which is far better than mine. I may have a decent physic but the movies, the billboards they all showing people the easy way to become miserable just to watch advertisements. So what happens is the advertisements essentially show us all the things that we don’t have. That’s how they make us purchase those things. So because we live in a aggressively materialistic culture so quite often we are bombarded with the things that we don’t have and that creates negative mental patterns, ‘Oh your memory is not good enough, your speech is not good enough’, essentially all that which is boiled down to, although people may not speak this directly that you’re not good enough and that can be very demoralized so just like that with respect to today obesity is a big problem and people are caught in a terrible crunch, on one side we have so many advertisements of food items, ‘this looks good, eat this and that’ and on top of that there are advertisements of all kinds of fine tasty food which are all filled with the fat quite often and along with that there are advertisements of people who are super-slim, so what you do? It becomes mental torture practically. So because of being exposed to excessive materialism and natural the result is that we cannot have all the things that are running glamorized, so that creates negative thought patterns. So to the extent we can avoid unnecessary exposure to materialistic stimuli we will find that the negative thoughts patterns will become less. It may also happen that in ours social circle be it our family or friends there might be people who has given us negative patterns, So because of that also negative thoughts patterns come up and if we learn that then we need to keep distance from them and that also can help us to counter those negative thoughts patterns.
The Bhagavad-Gita gives us very encouraging message that no matter what the word thinks of us God always loves us, Krishna is right there within our heart and He is always that and His presence in our heart, His love for us doesn’t depend on anything, there is nothing that anyone that can stop God from loving him. Nothing that we can do that can stop Him. Right now this may just be a theoretical concept for us but if we practice meditation and experience the elevation, the pacification of the consciousness by that we start realizing that the reality of God’s presence and God’s love and that becomes the greatest inner-security by which we can counter the negative mental habit that we may have acquired in the past.
Q2. Sometimes we may have doubts about God’s existence and *** spiritual, so how do we deal doubts which come from the mind how do we deal with them?
A: The doubt is a function of the intelligence, The Srimad Bhagavatam which is an important devotional classic states that ‘doubt is the beginning of intelligence’, the first function of the intelligence is to doubt that is why many countries advertisements to children who are very small are legally banned, because the children don’t have the intelligence to evaluate, they can’t doubt they are shown something, they think this is right, this is how it is, I’ll get that doll, I get that animal. They are happy. So the doubting is a sign of intelligence but doubting is not the only sign of intelligence. We can and we should doubt, there are things which should be doubted in life but one of the things is we should learn to doubt ‘doubt’ also. The doubt can tell us what is wrong; doubt can never tell us what is right. Actually if we study philosophy, somebody starts starting philosophy as academic discipline then within few years one can become trained as soon as someone presents his philosophy he can start pointing holes in it, this problem this problem! Then it becomes more like a intellectual game whatever argument you give I find faults in it. Now using doubt to acquire knowledge is like using immobility for transportation, for motion. They two are opposite. So when I said we should learn to doubt ‘doubt’ that means we need know that doubt tell us what is wrong but that doubt is never going to tell us what is right. So if we want to know what is right eventually we need to go beyond doubt.
With respect to doubts about the existence of the God, the existence of the God can be understood in various ways, sometimes say some people think that science has a disproven God or the scientific theories, there are many atheistic scientists; one atheist wrote a quite a well-known book ‘how everything came from nothing’, science has proven that God doesn’t exist, we don’t need a God for the universe. That the book was how everything came from nothing, and if you read that book then nothing is quite a thing. Basically to have nothing produce everything the scientists have had to redefine nothing so that it is something. Quite a thing in fact. That nothing is the complex quantum mechanical vacuum which requires pages upon pages of the most abstract mathematics to describe. The point is that science and quite often many doubts come from science about the existence of God but science and God can seem contradictory if we do not understand what science rests on. Science offers explanations for the things but how does science offer explanations that means if everything just came from a bang, if we just remove God entirely, remove spirit entirely and assume a purely materialistic worldview then what is the story of the universe- nothing existed because of nothing and then because of the nothing something happened to nothing and because of that something from nothing everything came and not only that is the question of original —-if science has been able to explain the new things but it has been able to explain things because of its ability to observe and find patterns in nature.
So millions of people before Newton saw fruit falling, and most of them picked it up and ate the fruit. Newton thought ‘why did this fruit fall’? and now this can point to the intelligence of Newton and yes intelligence has to be given credit. But when he questioned ‘why did the fruit fall’? In this case an assumption that there is an answer to the ‘WHY’.
If I got just a scribble of paper which- **sense to it then I just throw it away. But if I saw this scribble of paper and I started thinking, maybe this is some message written in the language that I don’t know and I start comparing this with various scripts that I know and I start taking the labor to find out what it means? which language that it is written in? That taking that labor itself assumes that there may be some meaning over there. So the very quest of science rests on the assumption that there is order in the universe. The question where did this order come from? And not only is the order in the universe, there is order of mathematical precision. F=GM1M2/R2, that is what Newton came up with, based on his observations and the principles of gravity. If everything that just come without any higher intelligence anywhere in the world, just by the random changes in the matter, then our brain is just a random collection of Stardust and the world around us is also a random arrangement that has come from the Stardust and on top of that mathematics is just a concept within the biochemical patterns in my neuro— so why in the wide world should the behavior of objects outside co-relate with the patterns of the ways in which electrochemical in the brain cells ** I hope this point is clear. I’ll put it in a different way, science offers explanation, and God offers us explanation for explain-ability. By this universe is explainable? If the stars moving in this cosmos, there are atoms that are moving around then why should their motion co-relate with mathematics which is just a concept in my hand, when both my head and the stars have just come from Stardust. So God is the explanation for explain-ability. It is not that science and God are contradictory. They offer explanation at different levels. Science functions with the premise of looking for material explanations for material phenomena and it does a great job in giving material explanations. But the material explanations are not necessarily be complete explanations. For example I came for this program in a car and if someone was observing the car and say the wheels of the car started moving. Now I can give explanation for this at two levels: one level is why the wheels start moving Oh because the wheels are connected to the crank shaft and they go to the ignition and there is a spark in the ignition, and why there was a spark in the ignition? We go back, there is a key which was in the vertical position and the key move to the horizontal position that is why the wheels started moving. It is the correct explanation but is it a complete explanation? No, I desire to come here that is why I entered the car and I moved the key from vertical to horizontal and the wheels started moving. So science by definition looks for material explanations for material things and because God is nonmaterial by definition, science does not find God. But that does not mean the science and God are contradictory but there are explanations at different levels. So science explains material phenomena through material causes, where as God is the explanation for the explainability at the material level. There is a famous Indian mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan, so he said, ‘an equation for me has no meaning unless it represents a thought of God’. E=mc2 how did that equality come about? That equality is a fact that there is in nature how it did come about? We have discovered it. So if it is because of say thinking that I am being unscientific by believing anything spiritual that is a cause of our doubt. Then understanding how spiritual and the scientific co-relate, that will clarify the doubts. Sometimes the doubts may come because of some problems that come in our life. We think okay I’m worshiping God, maybe then that should mean that God should protect me or problems should not come in my life, then if problems come that may cause— so now when that happens again if we study Scripture carefully the Bhagavad-Gita tells us that this world is a place of misery. What it means is that here our bodies are going to ** they are going to grow old, there are going to be problems in the world. So quite often to the contrary the materialistic propaganda tells us ‘you just buy this and you will be happy, you get this you’ll be happy’, so actually when we face problems rather than that causing us down, ‘yes the spiritual wisdom told that this world is a place of problem and I’m experiencing the problems. So it’s true but this is not the— Bhagavad-Gita also tells us is that there are problems but we can rise above problems by our connection with God.
atha cet tvam ahaìkärän
na çroñyasi vinaìkñyasi
In the 18th chapter 58th verse Lord Krishna says that ‘if you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all obstacles by My grace’. So then we can think rather than doubting, does God really exists? I’m having so many problems and He is not helping. Yes God has told in the Scriptures there are problems in this world and experiencing ** so one part of Scripture I found it to be true and let me see the other part of the Scripture, what is the other part? Scriptures gives us the process by which we can raise our consciousness at spiritual level and we can experience the relief. The problem itself will not immediately go away, but the mental burden because of the problem subsides, it goes down. Anyone anywhere if we turn towards prayer, if we say participate in spiritual music, we experience it really and we pray to God, we meditate, we experience relief and that that is at our level the experience of the reality of God.
Bhakti Pareshanubhav Virakt…..
Devotion is the process that gives us Para-Isha-Anubhava – experience of God who is the higher reality. When a baby is very small at that time, the baby is newborn, the baby doesn’t even know that there is something called a mother. All that baby knows is if I put my mouth over here I get milk and say the baby is and it’s cold at night and baby is shivering then mother puts a blanket at that time the baby doesn’t know that there is the mother who loves me and puts a blanket but the baby experiences the relief from the cold. The baby experiences the warmth. And as the baby grows up then she starts understanding oh there is a mother who love me and then when she feels the blanket my mother has put the blanket. So that understanding happens when she grows up. Similarly we are like spiritual infants right now, so we can’t really pursue the existence of the God but when we turn to prayer and meditation, we can experience the relief. We can experience the relief from anxiety and that is the experience of the reality of God and as we move forward that reality becomes clearer and clearer.
Q3. If the total number of souls is fixed and why is that the population increasing?
A: see that the population increased and the number of souls they are related by several underlined assumptions, there is one assumption is that souls are present only in the human beings, when we say the population is increasing who has done the population of mosquitoes, who has done the census of microbes, we have not done that. One of the things that the Bhagavad-Gita says is the soul is Sarvagatah that means it is capable of being present in various bodily forms. It is not present only in human form. Basically the soul is symptomized by consciousness; wherever consciousness is present the soul is there. So the human population which you observe that is only one specie that this soul is present. The soul if goes back to God then it will not come back yes that’s true. That is like some souls are getting liberated and going, some we could say human—-decrease but that is not the only way of entry or exit. The idea of population explosion is based on the notion that it is a closed system. The system is not closed; the system is open. There are souls from the lower species who come up and there are many souls in the human form keep coming back also. So especially because souls from the lower species come up that is why the population is not reflective of the total count of the souls. The population increase as far as the census go, The Bhagavad-Gita says that what we live in an age called Kaliyuga and this age is age characterized various kinds of problems; one problem—-is also result when there is lot of population. So the point is this question that because the souls of number of souls are fixed this because the soul cannot be created that should mean that population should not increase that is based on a assumption that no souls anywhere else, if souls enter from other species and that is how the soul population can increase. Just like suppose there was an alien who came to earth and it was told to observe the population of earth. And that alien comes to this classroom and observes, hovering at the back and they find that ‘maybe before this class the classroom was empty’, between at 6 o’clock there was a population explosion in the classroom. If we look at the vastness of the time span of the universe according to science, the time for which census is also been taken that itself is limited and for us to make a categorical statement based on that, it is a huge extrapolation from the available data. Just as population may have increased here in this classroom but what about elsewhere? Students come here there that cannot be created that can come from somewhere else. So yes by understanding the human population is not a closed system for souls rather than the problem doesn’t come.
Q3. What explains God?
Answer: Every system of knowledge begins with certain definitions and without understanding those definitions we cannot move forward in any branch of knowledge. In Geometry something which no dimensional is called a point, something with one dimension is called as a line, now a line is a set of points; if I use the logic by algebra how can accumulation of zero dimensional entities create one dimensional entity. It is like a sum of zeros creating one. It doesn’t make sense. Every field begins with certain definitions. So that definition of God is Sarva karana karanam -the cause of all causes. Now this definition is if the foundation of explaining everything based on a God-centered world. Now any explanatory setup if we take any body of knowledge, it requires some terminal point. Without a terminal point nothing will move forward. So in the materialistic worldview if we see where the original matter did come from? that itself is again as to have an assumption. It was just there.
Science for example if science—– entirely from non-spiritual perspective it may say that the laws of nature exists as they are. Now going forward from this, this is the beginning definition of God, because we live in a world of cause and effect, so we tend to think that every cause, every effect must have a cause. If a child reads a novel for the first time, and child say Oh there is a hero, there is a heroine, there is a villain, and after reading the whole novel the child comes to know there is an author. And again child asks where is the author in the book. So the author is not in the storyline, the author is not in the timeline, so the author made this storyline and the timeline and the author exists outside. So similarly God exists outside the frame work of time and place. And even from the point of pure logic if we say. that the cause of everything cannot have a cause. If it has a cause then that will be the cause of it. So we have to take the chain of causality to some terminal point.
Even science has confirmed that the universe is itself not eternal, it had a beginning point. So the causal change wherever it stops that stopping point is God. Materialism holds that matter is some tiny bit of matter is the cause. So they said that that is the similarity which has the infinite energy, infinite temperature, infinite visible mass which is beyond mathematical description, beyond physical realization. It is here we have science proposing something necessity, something which is beyond science. Any school of thought has to come to a terminal point and within a materialistic worldview science comes to our terminal point of which goes beyond science, if the science is materialistic but the spiritual worldview doesn’t require terminal point which is beyond its worldview. The spiritual worldview say is that yes there is God and there is matter and there is energy and there is consciousness these are the energies of God and if there is just a lump of matter that will not create anything, if there is an intelligent builder that builder can create things. So God is the cause of everything and God is the point where all explanations **. Alternatives to God which are a matter if we say matter the matter itself does not have causal ability to produce things and the materialistic worldview requires something which is outside of itself to begin with. A God centered worldview does not require anything outside of itself to begin with. In that sense God if we understand the definition that He is the cause of all causes then the search for all explanation ends in God.
Thank you very much, Hare Krishna !!!