Shikshashtakam 2 Text 1 The mind as a window, a TV screen and a mirror

by Chaitanya Charan dasSeptember 6, 2016

[​Workshop at Krishna Institute, Alachua, USA]

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Transcription of Lecture

So, the last lesion was primarily an introductory overview of the siksastakam, and we discussed the position of the Siksastakam, how it comes at the anta of the anta lila. It is more in the mode of reflection rather than instruction, and that is in harmony with the mood of the antya-lila, which is more of relishing remembrance of Krishna more than sharing Krishna’s message with the world, or Krishna’s name with the world.

So, within the Sikshastakam, there are 8 texts which are – some of them are in the mood of instruction to oneself or instruction to one’s own mind, and some of them are in the mood of prayers to Krishna, but it is more of introspective meditation. So, it is not like Bhagavad-gita or Bhagavatam. It is more like the vaisanava songs, like one is instructing oneself.
Caitanya Caritamrita is actually a book of theology in the mood of biography, and thus it culminates not so much in the historical ending of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, but in the instructions by which the mood in which he lived his life – that mood can live on in our heart also. And with respect to the 8 verses we discussed how the first five talk about the sambandha – they give us the knowledge of the object with whom we have to develop a relationship. That is Krishna’s holy name and Krishna. Then all the 8 verses themselves are abhidheya. They are the process by which we can connect with Krishna, and develop our attraction to him, and the last three verses describe prayojana. They describe the fruit of love for Krishna. So, they demonstrate emotions – intense emotions in relationship with Krishna, and another way of analysing these 8 verses is in terms of the later stages of bhakti.

The first 5 verses are talking about vaidi bhakti. The 6th verse is talking about raganuga bhakti. This two are the stages of sadhana bhakti. 7th verse is talking about bhava bhakti, and 8th is talking about prema bhakti – progressively more intense remembrances – intensely emotional remembrances of Krishna, and then we discussed how the Sikshastakam starts with meditation in the holy name, and it ends with absorption in Krishna, so that it reveals how the Siksastakam itself demonstrates the non-difference of Krishna’s holy name and Krishna, and in that connection we discussed how first a name is simply a name for us, but when we know the person who is named – then the name triggers certain thoughts associated with that person, and then if we love that person, then the name just doesn’t trigger just thoughts associated with that person, but the name also triggers emotions associated with that person, and in that sense for us, as we chant the holy names, initially it may just seem like a sound that we are uttering, but as our knowledge of Krishna develops then we will be able to think more and more about Krishna when we chant his holy names, and as our bhakti for Krishna develops then the chanting of the holy names will trigger also emotions in relationship with Krishna.
So, let’s begin with the 1st text. So once again we will recite together.
ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha–davagni-nirvapanam
shreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
So, this is the most concept rich text of the whole siksastakam. All of the verses are very rich with spiritual emotions and spiritual insight, but this is the most concentrated. That is why we will talk this over several texts – several talks, several sessions we will actually go on with this first text itself. So, it is all talking about vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam. Let this be victorious, let it be glorious, let it be victorious, and then what is so glorious about it? That is described.

So, it is something like a battle cry. When an army is going out for fighting, and they have a very powerful commander, and then the soldiers are reminded, “This commander has won this war, this war, this war.” So many wars that have been won, and now let us attain victory. So, like that the glories of the holy name are described and vijayate Shri Krishna sankirtanam. So glorious is the holy name. Let the holy name be victorious. Now what does it mean? Let the holy name be victorious. That means that it has to be victorious in our own hearts. That holy name should conquer our own heart, and when we remember the glory of the holy name that inspires us to surrender to Krishna.

So when Krishna conquers the heart – our heart, it is not by force. It is by our voluntary submission. So, when it is said, param vijayate shri Krishna sankirtanam – let the holy name be victorious means – we appreciate the glories of the holy name, and then we voluntarily surrender to the holy name. So, actually speaking we see that this is Bhagavad-gita – that normally when there is a war, when the war is lost by a particular party, then they say, “surrender”. So, usually surrender comes at the end of a war when a warrior is defeated, but we see that the Bhagavad-gita is exactly the opposite. Krishna tells Arjuna in B.G (18.66) – “mam ekam shaman vraja, just surrender unto me” and Arjuna says, “I will surrender, karishye vacanam taba (B.G18.73) I will do your will”, but after he says that what happens? The Bhagavad-gita ends with 18.78, “yatro partho danurdharaha.” Arjuna has picked up his bow and is ready to fight. So, surrender here is actually not the end of the war. Rather surrender is the start of the war. So, how is that? This surrender is not the surrender of a frustrated military general who has been defeated and who has no alternative except to surrender. This surrender is actually a voluntary offering of one’s will and one’s heart, out of love. So, similarly when it is said, vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam, let the holy name be glorious, that means we voluntarily submit to the holy name. “Oh the holy name is such a glorious manifestation of Krishna. So, let me offer my heart to the holy name.”

So, in that way when we meditate on the glory of the holy name, we are praying to the holy name become victorious in the territory of our heart. That means our heart submits to the holy name, and when will that happen, when we understand the glory of the holy name, and so for example say somebody is – say some citizen is opposing. Sometimes in some countries there may be some insurgents, some citizens who are protesting against the government. They are doing some antisocial activities, but if they understand that actually this government wants our good, and the particular head of state who is there now – he is actually – he wants to help us develop, he wants to offer some good measures for our welfare, then they will stop opposing, they will start cooperating. So, similarly when we understand that actually Krishna is our well wisher – suhridam sarva bhutanam, when we understand Krishna’s glory, then we stop opposing him. Then we stop resenting surrender to him, we stop resenting serving him. So, when we understand his glories – the result of understanding his glories is that our reluctance to surrender changes to willingness to surrender, and when we have become willing to surrender, then the holy name conquers our heart. So, vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam.

So, let’s look at the glories of the holy name which can inspire us to surrender. So, the first is ceto darpana marjanam. This is a little philosophically technical. So, I will try to make it as simple as possible, but ceto – ceto is consciousness or mind, I will talk about this a little bit more. Darpana – the word that is said here is mirror, and marjanam is to clean. So, I will try to explain first of all what the mind is, and then we will talk about how the mind acts like a mirror. So, firstly the mind is like a window. Now what do we mean by window? Say I am sitting in this room, I cannot see what is there outside but if there is a window, then the window gives me a glimpse of what is outside. So, like that we are souls, and the soul itself cannot directly perceive material things. The soul needs some structure by which it can perceive material things. So, in one sense the senses are our connection with the outer world, but the senses are centred on the mind.
In Gita (15.9), Krishna says that,
śrotraṁ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṁ ca
rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva ca
adhiṣṭhāya manaś cāyaṁ
viṣayān upasevate
So, in this section of the Bhagavad-gita, he is talking about how the soul goes from one body to another body. In the previous verse he stated that,
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
Just as the wind by flowing through a area catches the fragrance of that area – whatever smell is there in that area, so like that the soul goes from one body to another body, acquiring certain conceptions of life – that was the previous verse. So, basically this context is of the soul going from one body to another body, and this verse says, it gives a list of five knowledge acquiring senses –srotram, caksuh, sparsanam, rasanam, ghranam – the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the skin, and then it says, adhisthaya manaschyam – all of them are centred around the mind, and visayan upasevate – using this, the soul perceives the sense objects, seeks the sense objects.
So, upasevate – actually it means that soul does the seva of the sense objects. We think that I am enjoying the sense objects, but actually we are chasing after them, and the sense objects often make us dance to their tunes. So, the thing is that if you consider the palm of the hand – there are five fingers, and all the fingers are centred around the palm. So, similarly we have the five senses and the senses are centred around the mind.

So, at one level it is the senses that are the pathways for information from outer world to come inside, but the senses themselves cannot give us information unless the mind is there. So, to give another example – say if in this room there are four windows, and maybe two doors. Now from all of them, what is going on outside it is coming in. Some information of maybe somebody walking here or somebody is talking here, the birds are flying there. All that information is there, but where my attention is that is what I will be able to see. So, if my attention is not there, then although the information is coming in from there I will not be able to see the information. So, like that if you consider the five senses – the five senses are channels from which information from the outer world comes in, but the mind is like the window – the main window in the sense that, that wherever the mind is focussed that is what we are able to perceive.

Sometimes you know we are looking at someone but our mind is somewhere else. Then what happens, we say, “What did you say?” or “What happened?” we often ask what happened. So, what happens over there is, the senses are in contact with whatever is being perceived. The information is coming in from the senses, but the information is not reaching the soul, because the mind is the intermediary. If the mind is not focussed in that direction, whatever comes in from outside it doesn’t come in.

So, for functioning in this world, the mind is like the primary window. In this section – 15.7 onwards, Krishna talks about how the soul is in the material world. He earlier also said, “manaha sastani indriyani, prakriti sthani karshati.” In 15.7 he says, “There is mind and the senses. Together the six.” So, the mind is very important. So, in that sense for us the mind is like the window to the world. So, wherever the mind is focussed, that part of the material world we see, and other parts we don’t see. So, this is the normal way the mind functions.

Now another example to understand the mind is a T.V. screen. Now when say if I am sitting at my home, and I am looking at a T.V. Now that T.V, say it is showing say a cricket match or a soccer match or whatever. Now that might be happening somewhere 100 or 1000 of miles away. So, what is happening over there, through some technology that is coming on the T.V screen, and when it comes on the T.V screen, if I am looking at the T.V screen, my consciousness through that T.V screen gets transported to somewhere else. So, although I am in that room, I am not much aware of what is happening in that room because through the T.V my consciousness has gone somewhere else entirely. So, like that the mind – when we say, “Oh, he or she is absent minded person.”

Actually it is not that the mind is absent. The mind is always there, but the mind is not where the body is or the mind is not where the person is. So, the mind has gone somewhere. So, in that case the mind is acting like a T.V where instead of being a window to the Lord around me, the mind is becoming like a T.V which is taking me somewhere else entirely. So, the mind can act in both ways. Now this is with respect to functioning in this world itself.
Now going at a deeper level, we know that
the soul is different from matter.
puruṣaḥ prakṛti-stho hi
bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya
sad-asad-yoni-janmasu (B.G 13.22)
In Gita (13.22) Krishna says, purusah – the soul, prakṛti-stho hi – is caught in material nature. How? Bhungte prakriti jan gunan. Because of the desire to enjoy material things. So, suppose say a child is watching a horror movie, and while watching the horror movie the child is trembling, crying, screaming, and the mother comes, “There is nothing wrong. There is no need to be scared.” But the child is scared watching the horror movie. There is a horrifying shape changing monster. You know he is devouring different kinds of people. The child is scared. So, what has happened over there? The child could be comfortably with the mother, talking with the mother, playing something, the security of the home, but because of the desire to watch that movie, the child’s consciousness got caught in the T.V, and after that it get entangled in the T.V . So, bhungte – the desire to enjoy is what takes the person from the safety of the house into the fear of the horror movie. So, like that the soul is separate from the material world, separate from matter, but the desire to enjoy of the soul takes the souls consciousness into this material world, and when the soul’s consciousness get caught in the material world, at that time the soul experiences various emotions.
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya
sad-asad-yoni-janmasu
Because of the association with the modes, sad-asad- sometimes good and sometimes bad. So, we experience a wide variety of emotions in this world in relationship to various objects, because of this desire to enjoy. Now taking this particular example further, instead of watching a T.V, we say have a movie screen or a theatre. Now in a theatre, actually two things happen. When we go and sit inside the theatre and the movie is about to start, the first thing that happens is – one set of lights go out. All the lights in the surrounding, they go out, and then another set of light go on. That is the light on the screen. So, what this two light – they serve two distinct purposes.

If all the surrounding lights go off, that means we cannot see what is happening around us, and then the light on the screen goes on. Because that is the only thing that is lighted, so our whole attention focuses over there, and then it is almost – so, then it is natural that our consciousness will go towards the movie screen, and actually if I want to look elsewhere I have to strain. Who is this person? What are they doing? So, there it requires much greater effort to see that which is even next to us, because the light is much lesser. So, now how the soul gets caught into matter is explained in the Gaudia tradition using two energies. There is the avaritmika shakti, and there is the praksyapatmika shakti. Avaratmika is – avaran is cover. So, the soul’s knowledge is covered. So, roughly speaking the avaratmika shakti is like the lights going off. So, when the lights go off – when the avaratmika shakti covers the soul, the soul forgets reality. “Ok, I am a soul, Krishna as paramatma is just next to me. I belong to a spiritual world.” All this is forgotten. Just like when the lights go off in a movie theatre, they can’t see what is around them. So, avaranatmika shakti covers up our awareness of our actual reality, and the prakshepatmika shakti is the energy that turns on the movie screen. The lights that go on in the movie screen, and that our consciousness almost is pushed towards the movie screen. Whatever is seen on the movie screen, we get caught in that. So, in this case these two energies, they both are moralities of functioning of the mind.

Now we talk about maya as the illusory energy of the Lord. Yes, and Maya is a real entity. She is the energy of the Lord, but for most practical purposes we can have an equation. Maya is equal to the mind. For almost for all practical purposes, maya acts primarily through the mind for us. Yes, there are external sense objects which may attract us, but even there they attract us when our mind gets caught with them. So, that’s why maya – what she does is – she makes us forget reality and then she gets us attracted to illusion. So, that avaratmika shakti and prakshepayatmika shakti – both of them are what is happening in the mind. So, in that sense the mind is the cause of illusion for us. So, the mind can act as a window by which we perceive this world, and we function in this world. The mind can also act as a T.V screen, the whole mechanism by which our consciousness gets caught in the unreal. Now these are the ways in which normally our mind functions. So, the mind is not always an enemy.

Even when we are working in the world – say, if I am driving a car, I have to use my mind for concentrating – if some traffic is coming from that direction, which direction am I to turn? So, the mind is a functional necessity in this world. Now we cannot live without the mind. So, the mind is an essential part of the mechanism needed for the soul to function in this world. So, that is why the mind is not like a replaceable part. Our mind is the only mind we have. So, we have to – I have a seminar called – normally we talk about controlling the mind. So, I have a seminar which is titled as – “Learning to live with the mind.” I may talk about controlling the mind – Yes, but ultimately I have to live with the mind. So, the mind is something which is a essential part of our functional mechanism for living in this world. So, the mind when it functions as a window, it functions for us to perform things. To perform some activities, whatever they may be – material responsibility or spiritual responsibilities. We need the mind as a functional tool, but at a bigger level the mind acts as a T.V screen by which it transports our consciousness from where we are to somewhere else.

I talked about two levels. One is, while living in this world itself our mind goes somewhere else. Now say a student is studying, but while studying they start thinking, “Oh, there is this football match. What must be the score? Who are all the players?” He is sitting in the class room, in the library or in the study room, but the mind has gone somewhere else. That is – in this world itself the mind transfers our consciousness from one place to another, and at another level we are souls who are spiritual, but our consciousness is transferred to the material level of reality through the mind.

Just now the mind actually at one level is a functional necessity, but at another level it is the source of – it is the tool by which we get into illusion. So, now when we talk about the mind as the mirror – so, what does this mean? Ceto darpana – so, this is a little bit more intricate thing now. There is sat-cit-ananda. These are the three innate characteristics of the soul. In this cit is consciousness. The soul is eternal, the soul is conscious, and the soul is blissful. So, this cit is the innate feature of the soul. So, the soul by nature is cit, but citta – that is something slightly different. Now if you see this – what is citta? Citta is the embodied consciousness of the soul. Going back to the earlier say T.V or movie example, the person who is watching the movie, that person has the capacity to look around and see, “Who is my labour. Who is sitting behind me? Who is sitting right of me? Who is sitting left ahead of me?” The capacity is there, but if the person is very caught in watching the movie, is very attached to whatever is happening in the movie, then although that capacity to see other things is there, a person doesn’t see other things. The consciousness is caught in the movie at that time. So, in this example the capacity of the person to be conscious of the whole movie theatre – that is cit, whereas the consciousness that is projected into the movie – that is citta. So, cit is the souls original consciousness by which the soul can perceive spiritual reality also, but citta is the souls consciousness that is attached to matter, and therefore the souls consciousness gets caught in matter, and when the consciousness is caught in matter, the soul cannot perceive anything other than matter.

Now we can also actually see this to some extent with whatever we are attached to. Now suppose some people are very money minded. Then even if on their birthday if somebody gives a very affectionate gift to them – they look at the gift and see – $50, another gift they look – $10, whatever. So, what is happening? Actually because their consciousness is so caught in money, they see everything in terms of money.

So, once there was an anti-alcohol campaigner, and he would go and give talks to people who were alcoholics, how alcohol is so dangerous and we should give it up, and one day he said, “I will do a demonstration.” So, he had a bottle of alcohol, and in a small box he had caught a fly. He had got that fly, and he said that, “I will show you how dangerous alcohol is.” He opened the box, he showed them the fly, and then he took the fly and put it in the bottle containing the alcohol, and the fly just fluttered for a few minutes and then it sank and died over there. He turned around and he asked all of them, “So, what do you learn from this?” All of them started looking. They all knew what it meant. He was demonstrating how dangerous alcohol was. But there was one person in the audience who was very cheerful. He said, “What do you learn?” and he raised his hand. He said, “We learned that when we take alcohol all the germs in our stomach will die.” (laughter)

So, when we are attached to something we basically see everything in relationship with our object of our attachment, in a way that is favourable for our enjoyment. So, this of course is slightly different. It is more of a subjective interpretation of reality to support our desires, but the principle is the same that our vision gets conditioned by our attachments. Our vision gets conditioned by our attachments. So, citta is the consciousness that is caught in matter, and this difference Krishna also talks about this in the Bhagavat Gita. Initially in 2.17 he states that,
avināśi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
vināśam avyayasyāsya
na kaścit kartum arhati
He says that, that which pervades the whole body that is indestructible, and Prabhupada explains in the purport, what pervades the body is the consciousness. So, consciousness there is described – it is the energy of the soul, but the later in 13.6 and 13.7, when Krishna talks about Sankhya, at that time he gives a list of the elements. So, first he tells the gross elements –
mahā-bhūtāny ahaṅkāro
buddhir avyaktam eva ca
indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ ca
pañca cendriya-gocarāḥ
So, he describes this 24 elements which are the ksetra, which are the material nature, and then after that he describes –
icchā dveṣaḥ sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ
saṅghātaś cetanā dhṛtiḥ
etat kṣetraṁ samāsena
sa-vikāram udāhṛtam
So, the first 24 elements are ksetra, they are the material nature, and then after that what he describes – iccha, dvesah, sukha, dukha, sanghat and cetana. So, desire, aversion, happiness, distress and consciousness. All these are ksetra vicar. They are transformations of material nature. Now we may say, “How can consciousness be a transformation of material nature? Now consciousness is non-material, consciousness is spiritual. So, how can consciousness be a transformation of material nature? So, here when Krishna is talking about cetana, he is talking about citta. He is talking about the embodied consciousness. So, what does this mean?

Prabhupada gives the example that, say we human beings when we respond to nature, the product that comes out – that is so foul smelling that we just want to flush it away, but a soul similar to us, when the soul is a hogs body, that soul is attracted to the same stuff. That soul may have been in a human body earlier, but the consciousness is such that the soul is attracted to that. So, this cetana – this is embodied consciousness, and this embodied consciousness with its desires, with its aversion – this is the result of the material nature. So, the same thing which is considered revolting in one body, that same thing is considered irresistible in another body. This sort of iccha, dwesha, sukha, dukha, sanghata cetana – this consciousness is the embodied consciousness, and the nature of the embodied consciousness is shaped by the body. So, say even if a cow is hungry, the cow will not eat flesh. So, why is that? Because the consciousness of the soul is shaped in such a way, that the cow sees as food certain items, and doesn’t see as food as other items. So, the embodied consciousness – citta, is shaped by the kind of body that the soul has, and in that sense this citta is a ksetra vicar, it is a transformation of the – it is something which is resulting from the nature of the body that one has. So, why are we talking about all this now?

Ceto darpana marjanam – so, when we talk about consciousness as the mirror – so, what is it referring to? That ceto is this citta. I will explain the correlation now. So, what happens is – based on the kind of conditioned consciousness that we have, we perceive things differently and we perceive ourselves differently. So, for example if I am very attached to money, then I see everything in terms of money, and then I see my self-worth as equal to my net-worth. So, how much I earn that is what I am. I think of myself entirely on those terms. So, that means that our consciousness doesn’t just determine how we see the world. Our consciousness determines how we see ourselves also. If I am very money minded, then I see myself as successful if I earn a lot of money, and I see myself as a failure if I don’t have enough money. That means that our consciousness shapes our own self-perception. So, if I am a person who is very health conscious, then if I have – even if I have a little bit extra flesh on my body, I think that it is intolerable. I will do anything and everything to get that flesh off my body, and if I am very heath conscious then I have a very attractive figure, then I think that I am a hero or I am a heroin, whatever. So, what happens, our consciousness shapes our self-perception also. So, in that sense the consciousness – when we are talking about consciousness we mean citta, that ceto, that acts like a mirror also.

So now here, a little bit of differentiation between some concepts – see, in terms of – there is the mind, intelligence and ego – these are components of the subtle body. Now when we come to subtle body, things are so subtle as the word itself suggests, that the – as far as our understanding is concerned, the difference is primarily in terms of functionality. That means that if I say, “Earth, water, fire, air, ether.” The earth is one particular element of a particular kind, water is another element of another kind. But when it goes to the subtle realm, is the mind one kind of element? Is the intelligence another kind of element? Is the ego another kind of element?

Broadly speaking it is all subtle, and we can discarnate primarily in terms of functioning. So, I was giving a seminar a few days ago. So, one devotee asked a question. Why do always talk in terms of controlling the mind, why don’t we talk about controlling the intelligence.

Yes, we don’t talk about that because broadly speaking, the way the words are used is, there is a short term impulsive side inside us, and there is long term reflective side inside us, and we call the short term impulsive side as the mind, and we call the long-term reflective side as the intelligence. So, in that sense the intelligences is what enables us to see long term, to make wise decisions.

Now Krishna does talk about how the intelligence is also the sitting place of lust. He says,
indriyāṇi mano buddhir
asyādhiṣṭhānam ucyate

So, the intelligence can also be taken over by lust, by selfish desires in general, and then it can also be used for pursuing sense gratification, instead of being used to control sense gratification, but broadly speaking, when the shastra talks about buddhi, it talks about that faculty which enables us to discern, “Ok, this is temporary, this is eternal, this is short term, this is long-term.” Now that faculty can also be used, that capacity to discern – say for example, say that can also be used for short term desire, like I gave the example of this alcoholic saying that, “The alcohol will kill the germs in our body.” So, what this means is that – that answer needs some intelligence to come up with that answer, but that is intelligence that is used for pursuing sense gratification.

Say like nowadays there is with internet available all the time, people often visit some undesirable sites. “Let me surf this site, let me see this, let me watch this” whatever. Now that impulse comes from the mind, but then after seeing that, then they think, “I don’t want anyone to come to know about it.” Then I go and delete all the history, or even before I go there, I first turn on the incognito tab, and then I go and see that. So, what is happening over here? I am succumbing to the impulse of the mind, but I am using my intelligence to fulfil that impulse. So, here the intelligence instead of being the master of the mind, the intelligence has become the servant of the mind.

So, Prahbupada says, “We are meant to use the intelligence to control the enjoying mentality, but our problem is that we are used to enjoying intelligently.” That means that we use our intelligence to try to enjoy in a way I can enjoy, and I won’t get the consequences. So, why am I analysing all these? Is that, at the subtle level things may be a little – the division may not be very crystal clear, but for our purposes we identify what is the mind, what is the intelligence largely in terms of their functionality. “I cannot locate. I can locate this is my finger, this are my legs, but I cannot locate, this is my mind, this is my intelligence. They are all inside, but we understand in terms of functionality.

Q: Could you go over that again regarding the short time desire and the long term desire.

CCP: I know that it is becoming a little heavy, but let me try to repeat it in a simpler way.
Let me give a simply example to illustrate this.
Say a child is sick, and the mother takes the child to the doctor, and then the doctor may give the child some chocolates, smiles at the child, but the doctor will primarily talk with the mother, and the doctor will tell the mother that, “Ok, you will give this medicine morning, afternoon and evening to the child.” And then after that, the doctor is not going to be always there. The mother has to be there with the child, and the mother has to ensure that the child takes the medicine on time.
So, in this example the mind is like the child. The intelligence is meant to be like the mother, the spiritual master is the doctor, and the holy name is the medicine. So, when the mother and the child they go to the doctor, the doctor primarily speaks to the mother. That means the doctor is like the guru. The guru gives instructions primarily to our intelligence. So, we with our intelligence understand what the spiritual master is speaking. Krishna says at the end of the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna,
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru (B.G-18.63)
You deliberate with you intelligence and you decide what you want to do.
So, now the mother hears and understands, and then comes back home and then the mother has to make sure that the child takes the medicine. So, like that we hear from the spiritual master, and then the spiritual master is not going to be always with us, and when we are going through the normal course of our life, at that time it is the intelligence which has to apply, “Ok, this is what I should do, and this is what I should not do.”
Now the mind is like the child. The child may say, “This medicine is too bitter. I want don’t want to take it.” The child may say, “I don’t want to take the medicine”, but then the mother will catch the child by the mouth and take the medicine. So, the mother may have to force the child a little bit to take the medicine. So, like that Krishna says,
yato yato niścalati
manaś cañcalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
ātmany eva vaśaṁ nayet (B.G 6.26)
“That wherever and whenever the mind wanders, bring it under the control of the self.” In the previous verse, 6.25 he says, “How do you do this?” buddhyā dhṛti-gṛhītayā. With intelligence sustained by conviction. That means that the intelligence has to be the force that will bring the mind back again and again. So, in this case the child is simply concerned with the taste. “This doesn’t taste good, I don’t want it.” So, the child is concerned only with short-term things. “Ok, what feels good now or what doesn’t feel good now”, but the mother is thinking of long term. “If my child falls sick, there will be so much problems. Sickness can become a big, big problem. It can last for many days. It can sap the health. It cause so many problems.” So, the mother sees long term, and then the mother makes sure that the child does what is good, even if it doesn’t seem so good at that time. So, in that sense within us there is a side which sees long term, and there is side which sees only the short term. So, the side which sees short-term, that is the mind, and the side which sees long-term, that is the intelligence. So, we in the process of bhakti – it is the side which sees the long term, that is the intelligence, that is what is required for us to sustain ourselves.

So, what Jiva Goswami says in the sandharvas is that for a advanced devotee, for the siddhas they will stay in bhakti, they will stay at the spiritual platform because of their priti. Priti is love. They have love for Krishna. So, they will naturally practice bhakti, but for us sadhakas what will keep us in bhakti, what will keep us at the spiritual level is our buddhi, the intelligence.

So, for the siddhas, those who have love for Krishna, their love will naturally keep them at the spiritual platform, but for us it is our –
Here we are talking about the role of the mind as just seeing short-term things, and focussing on the short–term things. The intelligence is what sees the long term, and then tries to guide us act in terms of long-term things.

Question: Now in the hierarchy, the intelligence should be above the mind, but can the mind become stronger than the intelligence?

CCP: Yes, it can. Just like in the chariot-body analogy, the charioteer should be strong enough, skilled enough to take the chariot in the direction which is intended, in the direction in which the warrior wants to go, but sometimes if the horse is turbulent and the horse starts pulling the chariot in a particular direction, and the reigns will also go in that direction – now if the charioteer is not strong enough or skilled enough, then the horses may take the chariot in an entirely different direction. So, it can happen that the intelligence wants to go in one particular direction, but the mind becomes stronger that the intelligence and it drags them somewhere else. In fact that is what Krishna talks about,
indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ
yan mano ’nuvidhīyate
tad asya harati prajñāṁ
vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi
In Gita (2.67) Krishna says that the senses are wandering. On whichever of the roaming senses the mind focuses. When the mind focuses on that, that itself can cease away the prajna – the intelligence, and we can dragged away in some undesirable direction, somewhere we don’t want to go. So, now this brings us to the point of – “Is the mind simply a channel of information or is the mind also like a selector of information. So, that is what your question is essentially.

Yes, it is both. Like earlier I gave the example – say, that in this room there are say six windows. Now all of them I can see something from some place, but I can decide whether to look in this window or look in this window. So, I gave the example say of a child who can – there are two T.V’s, in one some educational channel is going on, in another some sports is going on. So, both are there. The child chooses which one to watch. So, like that all the senses give in information to us, but the mind selects which sense to focus on, and actually the mind can select to not focus on any of the senses also. The mind can go into an imaginary world itself also. So, in that sense the mind is at one level a channel of information, but the mind is also – by channel I mean pathway of information, but at another level the mind is also selector of information.

So, there can be – say, at this moment itself we are getting multiple inputs from different senses. Say there is some sound coming, and we are hearing that sound, but along with that some other sound may come from somewhere and our attention can get distracted towards that. Or say, if suddenly somebody brings some gulab jamun over here, and then we start getting the fragrance of the gulab jamun – so, what will happen? Through the ears some sound is coming, but through the mouth some other fragrance is also coming. So, then our mind may go towards there. Where is the gulab jamun? How can I get it? When can I eat it? And then our consciousness may go completely in that direction. So, like that our consciousness can get channelled in different directions based on the attachments that are there in the mind. So, whatever is our primary attachment – so, if there are two senses giving in two different kinds of information – then whichever I am more attached to, that is where my consciousness will naturally be directed. So, now here I will differentiate between consciousnesses itself and the mind.

So, the consciousness is like our awareness, and the mind is what is the channel which directs the awareness. So, it’s like this door is open, my consciousness will see through this door. If that door is open, then I will see through that door. So, the consciousness is the energy of the soul – it is awareness, and where that awareness goes, that is quite often shaped by the mind. So, now coming back to our point of – ceto darpana marjanam – so, what are we talking about – the mind as the mirror that is cleansed.

So, earlier I talked about how the mind doesn’t only select what we see, but the mind also selects how we see ourselves. The mind shapes not only our perceptions of the world. The mind shapes our perceptions of ourselves also. Just like I gave the example, If I am very money minded, then depending on how much earn I think of myself successful or failure. So, like that when we say, ceto darpana marjanam – so, when the mirror of the mind gets cleansed – that means I am able to perceive myself properly. So, in the Bhagavad-gita (6.20-23), talks about the verses which talks about Samadhi. The state of Samadhi on the path of yoga, and there it is said,
yatroparamate cittaṁ
niruddhaṁ yoga-sevayā
yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ
paśyann ātmani tuṣyati
So, it is said over there, yatroparamate cittaṁ – there the material moments of consciousness stop.

niruddhaṁ yoga-sevayā – I will talk about this in the next session. This is just a quick overview to conclude the session now, but niruddhaṁ yoga-sevayā – by the practice of yoga the material moments of consciousness stop, and then- yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ paśyann ātmani tuṣyati, it is said that by then the self – one sees the self with oneself it is said, and then one delights in the self. What does it mean over there? That actually the mirror of the mind – So, the mind is – Prabhupada uses the word atma, sometimes he translates as mind, sometimes he translates as self. So, what happens is, when we are purified by the practice of yoga at that time the mirror of the mind shows us for who we really are, and when we see, “Oh I am a part of Krishna. Krishna loves me even now, and Krishna is so loving, Krishna is so attractive. When we see ourselves in relationship with Krishna, pasyan atmani tusyati, we become satisfied within the self – self satisfied as Sukhadev Goswami is said to be. So, what happens? As long as the mirror of the mind is unclean, we see ourselves in material terms. We see ourselves – “Oh I am less intelligent that person. I don’t look as good as that person. I can’t speak as well as that person. I don’t earn that much as that person.” And we see ourselves in material terms, and as long as we see ourselves in material terms, we will be dissatisfied. But once the mirror of the mind gets cleaned, then the mirror shows us for who we are.

Now if a mirror is unclean – now suppose I am applying tilak on my face, and say there is a tilak mark on the mirror itself. Then if I look at the reflection, I will see the tilak mark over here. There is no tilak mark on my face, but because it is there on the mirror, I am seeing it. So, if the mirror is unclean, if the mirror is spotted, the mirror is dirty, then I cannot see myself as I am. When the mirror is clean, then I can see myself as I am. So, what the chanting of the holy name does is, it cleans the mirror of mind. So, when the mirror of the mind is cleaned, then we see ourselves for who we are. We see that, “I am a soul, I am a part of Krishna, and Krishna still loves me, and by loving Krishna I can be happy even now, and in that way – pasyan atmani tusyati – we become satisfied within oneself.

So, in our next talk I will talk about how the holy name cleans the mirror of the mind. So, here we focussed actually on the point of ceto darpana, how the consciousness acts like a mirror.

So, I will summarize:
So, I basically talked about – the whole talk was primarily focussed on the mechanism of the mind. So, first I talked about first how the mind acts like a window. It is the channel by which we perceive the outer world. Actually we perceive through the senses, but the senses give a information, we take in that information which the mind focuses on. So the sense may be giving information, but if the mind is not there, we don’t realize that information, we don’t get it. So, the mind is in that sense our window to the outer world, but along with that the mind is also like a T.V screen.

The difference between a window and T.V screen is – window shows what is out there actually. The T.V screen takes us to somewhere else. So, like that we may be sitting in one place, but when we say somebody is absent minded, that means their mind is acting like a T.V screen. It is taking them somewhere else entirely. So, the mind acting as a T.V screen can happen even at the material level where we are at one material place and we start thinking about some other material place, and in another sense this mind acts as a T.V screen in the sense that the soul is spiritual, but the soul’s spiritual consciousness gets caught at the material level because of the mind, and in that connection we discussed about how there are this two shaktis – the avarantmika and the praksheyamatmika. So, in a movie theatre first all the lights go off, so that we can’t see what is happening around us. That is like the avaratmika shakti. Our awareness of our spiritual reality gets obscured, and then the lights on the movie screen turn on, and our consciousness gets caught over there, “What is being shown over there?” So, that is the prakshyeyatmika shakti.

So, first we forget the spiritual reality, and then we are caught in material reality. We get caught in material things. So, now both these things, what happen – these are for all practical purposes – maya is equal to the mind. So, all these things happen in the mind. Then we discussed about how the cit and the citta are different. So, a person watching a movie, they can see things around them also, but when they are caught in watching the movie they are no longer aware of other things.

So, the soul’s capacity for consciousness is cit, sat-cit-ananda, but the souls consciousness is caught in matter, the embodied consciousness that is citta, and the nature of citta is shaped by the kind of body the person has, the kind of perception that the person has. That’s why human being and a hog, they may perceive the same object completely different. Why? That is how the citta has shaped at the perception of the person. So, now when this citta, the conditioned consciousness – that doesn’t just shape our perception of the world outside, it shapes our perception of ourselves also, and it shapes how we look at ourselves.

So, in that connection we have went to a direction of how the mind sees short-term, and the intelligence sees long-term. The example of, the mind is like child, the intelligence is like mother, the holy name is the medicine, and the guru is the doctor.

So, the mind and intelligence – that’s how they see the short-term and long term. Now the last one which we took was that when the mind becomes purified, that means when the citta is just shaping our perception, it shapes not only the perception of things outside, but it shapes our own self-perception also.

So, in this case when the citta is shaping our self-perception, it is acting as a mirror, and so when the mirror is cleaned, that time we see ourselves for who we are. As long as we see ourselves in material terms, we will always find ourselves in some way deficient, and we will feel unhappy, but when the mirror of the mind shows us for who we are as souls, parts of Krishna, then we see ourselves as souls and we become satisfied. Pasyan atmani tusyati.

Thank you very much. We will continue this in our next session in the afternoon.

(End of transcription)

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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