Bhikshu Gita 5 – Happiness comes by raising the standard of longing (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.23.46)
Congregation program in the Middle East
Transcription of Lecture
Caitanya Charan Prabhu: I will try to speak today on the topic of the mind, and how it affects us in our life and how we can affect it positively. So, I will be speaking today and tomorrow in a series, and possibly I may continue on Thursday also. So, this is – I will speak from the 11th canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam where there is a section called the Uddhava Gita, where Krishna instructs Uddhava and within that there is a section called the Bhikshu Gita. So, Bhikshu Gita is the song of the mendicant.
So, the backdrop is that -There is this Brahmana who faces adversity upon adversity upon adversity. He is wealthy and prosperous and suddenly he loses everything, and because he has been miserly earlier. So, now people get back at him. They will insult him, mock him and do all sorts of – And humiliate him in various ways.
So, at that time – When he is facing extreme misery, he gets the realization that this problems are primarily because of my mind.
Manah karana karanma mananti
Sarsaar..(1.55-57- sloka not found) ..
So, he says manaha parama karanam. The primary reason for my suffering is the mind, and then he analyses various other causes of suffering – ‘I am suffering because of disease, I am suffering because this person behaved so unreasonably.’ He analyses various other causes, and he shows how all those causes are subordinate to the primary cause of the mind. So, let’s look at some verses from this section.
So, I will talk on 11.23.46.
samāhitaṁ yasya manaḥ praśāntaṁ
dānādibhiḥ kiṁ vada tasya kṛtyam
asaṁyataṁ yasya mano vinaśyad
dānādibhiś ced aparaṁ kim ebhiḥ
samāhitaṁ yasya manaḥ praśāntaṁ
For a person whose mind has become peaceful – dānādibhiḥ kiṁ vada tasya kṛtyam
So, there are various activities which are considered to be good. Danaadhibi. There is generally – In the vedic tradition there are three activities which are considered to be important for people who are in the material world. There is yajna, dana and tapa. So, danadibhi – Dan and other activities, kiṁ vada tasya kṛtyam, what is the use of all this? Rather what is the need for all these for one who’s mind is peaceful, and for one whose mind is not peaceful such a person is going to be doomed, and dānādibhiś ced aparaṁ kim ebhiḥwhat will dana and other things achieve? This means that the primary thing which all our practices in life are meant to achieve is control of the mind, focus of the mind. Now we often talk about our standard of living.
We all especially in today’s world want be upwardly mobile, we want to improve our standard of living and that is a reasonable expectation to have – If I have a smaller house I want a bigger house; If I have a smaller car, I want a bigger car. This is – when we talk about the standard of living and how to improve it. Now there is another standard which actually determines whether we will become happy or not. Improving the standard of living alone will not make us happy. Now what will determine our happiness is our standard of longing. Standard of longing means what is the nature of our desires. So, as long as we are externally directed, then no matter how much we achieve we will always feel that there is – I don’t have, that I don’t have – and that way we will never gain satisfaction.
To illustrate this point that most often we see others having something’s and we feel that – ‘I don’t have this, I don’t have that, I have to get that, and if I get that I will become happy.’ So, happiness seems to be out there in the things that we don’t have, and yes when we get those things there is some pleasure, but the pleasure is very short lived. So, there is a British writer, Oscar Wilde. Nowadays everyone wants be vey be very fashionable. Wear the most fashionable kinds of clothes – So, he said, Oscar Wilde said, ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it every six months.’ Normally we consider fashion as something beautiful. Yes, it looks good in the eyes of the world, but only as long as that is a trendy fashion, and as soon as that thing goes out of fashion then what happens? – ‘You are wearing such a old fashioned thing.’ , and for people who are very fashion conscious, there is practically no word as hurting as old fashioned. They have to be constantly …6.35…and then because the fashions keep changing, that which was fashionable earlier, not only doesn’t stay attractive – It actually becomes ugly – it’s old, and then it becomes a form of ugliness so intolerable that one has to change it, and this cravings for things which we don’t have – this ensures that we never stay satisfied. Actually to some extent the modern consumerist economy runs on the fuel of consumer dissatisfaction. The economy actually doesn’t want us to be satisfied.
There is nothing wrong in getting products if they are needed and if they are useful, but just getting them because they are glamorised, that is something where we are controlled by our others.. There is a famous advertiser who later on wrote a book exposing how advertising works, how advertising manipulates people’s minds. So, the book was titled, ‘Trust Me, I am Lying.’ So, the idea is that we live in a world where whatever desires we have they are fanned and fuelled by the outside culture, and not only whatever desires we have are fanned and fuelled, but along with that desires are also injected into us, and when desires are injected into us, then the more desires that we have the more dissatisfied we become –
cintām aparimeyāḿ ca
etāvad iti niścitāḥ
In the Bhagavad-gita (16.11) Krishna says that, cintām aparimeyāḿ ca – aparimeyāḿ is that which is not measurable. Cinta is anxiety. Immeasurable anxiety results for those people – pralayāntām upāśritāḥ – means that till the moment of death the desires are simply insatiable, ‘I want this, I want that.’
So, the traditional stories told in Indian circles about how the pralayāntām upāśritāḥ – How till the moment of death the craving continues. So, there was a young man who was fairly religious but he found that his father was still very materialistic and attached. So, he thought, how can I make my father more spiritual? So, he arranged to have his father go for a pilgrimage to some holy places, to meet some holy people and when his father went and came back – When he came back he did not come back to his home – The father had a clothe shop; he did not come back home. He went straight to the shop. He was looking at all the accounts, how well he had been managing the business.
So, the son was exasperated. So, he thought that there is no detachment coming, ‘Let me take my father to a crematorium. If he sees dead bodies – And then when he went there, what happened? His father’s face fell, and he told, ‘Oh no, what have I done, I have wasted my life.’ So, the young man thought, ‘Now, some wisdom has come. He has recognised the temporariness.’ He asked his father – When he went close to his father, his father said, ‘Alas! I have wasted my life. My whole life I was dealing in a business of clothes, and in this business sometimes the market is there and sometimes the market is not there. If I had been dealing in a business of wood – People are always dying. I would have made so much more money.’ So, pralayantam upasatah. Till the moment of death, the desire – now there is nothing wrong in wanting money. The problem is that money is the means for living, but he materialistic propaganda makes money into the purpose of living. Money is a means for living. It is something which we need for living in this world, but life has to have some higher purpose, but then the money and the things that money can buy – That is what has become the purpose of life, and when that becomes the purpose then it is an endless chain, which just goes on and on.
There is a rat race that goes on the society, and the problem with the rat race is – That even if we win the rat race we still remain rats. Nothing changes practically speaking. So, the fulfilment of desires doesn’t change the nature of the desire. That means that… Ok, I have a particular desire – Ok I have got this phone, but the latest phone has come and so I want to get this phone. I think that if I get this phone I will be satisfied. Yes, if that phone is useful for functional purposes fine – You can get it, but thinking that by getting that phone will make me happy, that is not going to happen, because the problem is not just that the charm of that phone is limited. The problem is that actually the nature of our very desire is that – If the desire will make us look for something out there – So, now the mind often get’s programmed to function in particular ways. That means – The mind is like a software, and as a software it gets programmed. To understand what the mind is and how it plays a role here in continuing the – in perpetuating the nature of our desires – We can compare our existence to a computer system. In a computer system there is the user, there is software, and there is a hardware. Similarly our existence is three dimensional. So, there is the body – which is like the hardware, there is the mind which is like the software, and there is soul which is like the user.
So, now the body being like the hardware is important. If I am working on a computer and if say the hard disk is damaged or the power connection is lost then I cannot function. So, the hardware is essential. Like that the body is essential, but if say the software is corrupted. If say my software is corrupted, and because of that there is nothing on my display, then just replacing the display will not remove the problem because the problem is of a different nature.
A Software problem cannot be corrected by improving the hardware. So, same way in today’s society there is a phenomenal amount of energy, creativity and intelligence for improving things at the physical level. That’s like improving the hardware, and it is helpful to improve the hardware, but just as improving the hardware doesn’t solve software problems, similarly improving things physically doesn’t help people mentally. Improving things physically is good, but that doesn’t help people mentally. People are still in anxiety. So, psychologists are talking about what they call as the anxiety epidemic.
Just like we may have AIDS epidemic or we have Ebola Epidemic – We are talking about anxiety epidemic, and millions upon millions people all over the world are afflicted by uncontrollable anxiety.
At one level anxiety is a function of living in this world where there is uncertainty. If I have to catch a flight and there is a traffic jam, and I am not sure if I will be able to reach the flight in time or that. That uncertainty will cause anxiety. So, we can’t avoid anxiety entirely in this world, but much of the anxiety that we encounter in today’s world is often anxiety that is not based on realistic uncertainty. It is simply based on imagination of the mind.
So, for example there was recently an article in the Guardian and – What were the greatest anxieties of 7,8,10 years old children? So, one boy he said that the worst thing that can happen in the world is that Britain will leave the European Union. What has that to do with a 8,9, 10 year old child? Another boy said, ‘Oh, what if global warming occurs and the whole earth gets covered by water? – Well, these are possible dangers, but this has nothing to do with the day to day living of the children.
So, when we get too caught in a materialistic way of living, thinking that the material things out there will make me happy, then all the things out there can also cause us anxiety. When I think that my happiness lies out there, then the threat to that source of happiness out there causes anxiety, and this direction of our consciousness – This direction of our consciousness means, ‘Where am I looking for happiness?’ That becomes like a default
software program. So, default software program means something which happens even against our will or even without our conscious notice.
I am a writer primarily. So, for proof reading my articles I use a text-to- speak software. So, after I had written the article, then I have it read out by the computer. So, once I had written an article and the article was, ‘The soul is sat cid ananda.’ – There was a sentence in that, and the computer read it out, ‘The soul is Saturday Cit Ananda.’ (laughter) So, here what happens is that the computers auto-correct made the correct incorrect. I have put Sat, but the computers autocorrect made it into Saturday. This is an example of a default programming. So, when we do a particular thing repeatedly – Say for example if I go repeatedly to a particular website. Say if I repeatedly – Which is the popular newspaper here?
Audience: Gulf News.
Ok – So, if just type G, then over a period of time my browser google – As soon as I type G it will immediately complete as Gulf New. Now I may want to go somewhere else. Maybe I want to read Guardian, but as soon as I type G and I am not careful it will become Gulf News and it will go there also. So, I will have to consciously go and change it.
So, just as in a software default programs are set, like that in our mind default programs gets set and once those default programs gets set, then our mind functions in that way irrespective of whether we want it to function in that way or not. It just goes out of our control. The default program works on its own. So, when we repeatedly expose ourselves to materialistic stimuli – Buy this, watch this, eat this, touch this, get this – All these propaganda’s are bombarding us from various sides then it infects us, it becomes like a default conditioning of our consciousness, and because of this default conditioning whatever we do our mind repeatedly sees what I don’t have. So, I may get the most expensive car, but then as soon as I am driving I see, ‘That car looks better than mine’ Now there will be so many other people whose – ‘My car is better than their car.’ But the mind has become conditioned in a particular way that it will always look for what we don’t have, and based on looking for what we don’t have it keeps us dissatisfied, and by keeping us dissatisfied like this we never have any peace of mind, we never have any happiness – Prasantasya kutaha sukham.
In the Bhagavat Gita (2.66), Krishna says that
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
It is said that if the mind is not peaceful there cannot be any happiness. Now people in general as a part of behaving in a cultured society often put on a facade of happiness.
Basically, whenever they meet and socialize everybody acts as if they are happy – And yes, it is not that when we are in society we all should be glum, looking miserable. It’s natural that when we are meeting with people we are courteous, then they are cheerful. But sometimes this facade – It not only conceals as a matter of courtesy, but it actually deceives the world and we try to deceive ourselves also. We think that, I am happy, everything is fine. Or, what happens is that – ‘If I get that thing everything will be fine.’ But improving that hardware will not correct the software problem. So, like that if the mind is conditioned in a particular way to look for what I don’t have, then no matter how much I have still the mind will keep me dissatisfied.
Dissatisfaction is not necessary for ambition. Sometimes people say that, ‘OH! If you become satisfied, if you become spiritually satisfied than you are no longer ambitious.’ So, dissatisfaction and ambition are two different things. It is not necessary that dissatisfaction alone is necessary for ambition, because when there is dissatisfaction there is basic insecurity. As I am, I am not good enough. I will have to do something more than may be I will be good enough. So, that dissatisfaction, it just keeps us insecure, it keeps us fearful –
Nowadays many people suffer from inferiority complex or some variant of – Some self-esteem problems. Now this whole idea of inferiority complex and personality disorder, this all started maybe 100 or 150 years ago. Prior to that people – It is not that everybody had equal talents. People had different levels of talents, but the sheer amount of materialism and the sheer amount of portraying oneself as if one is great in order to come off successful in life, that was not required. So, when the setting of the mind is not changed –
When dissatisfaction is the basis of our ambition, then no matter what we achieve it will not keep us satisfied. We will feel that there is something more, something more, something more. And there are basically two foundations for ambition. One is dissatisfaction, the other is contribution. When because of my dissatisfaction I want to achieve this, I want to achieve that, then I will always stay insecure, but when our goal is to make a contribution – Yes, ok God has given me some talents, he has given me some ability, some resources and whatever God given talents that I have, I meant to do justice to them, to develop them, express them and make a positive contribution in this world. So, when we have a spiritual vision of life, when we understand that we are parts of God, and we get our satisfaction and security from our connection with God, then there is a stability which we have internally, and with that stability when we act in the world, then also we are positively ambitious, but that ambition doesn’t come from a platform of insecurity and unworthiness.
What happens in the materialistic society is that people’s self-worth becomes equated with their net worth. So, how much is my salary, that’s how good I am. If somebody has more salary than me then I feel insecure, but different people are different, and we all have different talents and yes, how much we are earning is important but that is not the sole determiner of a person’s worth. So, when we are routed in our spiritual understanding – The bhakti vision of life is that what we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.
What we are is God’s gift to us – We have certain talents, we have certain abilities, and then we have to work hard, we have channel and direct our use of those abilities so that we can become better human beings. So, that we make positive contributions in this world. So, what we become is our gift to God, and the bhakti vision of life is that this world also belongs to God. Because this world belongs to Krishna, so the resources of this world are also meant to be used in his service, and some of the resources are – my talents. The talents which I have are also given to me by God. So, I have to use them, and to use them, if I have to work hard I will work hard, but that hard work is not driven by dissatisfaction. Because I don’t have this, I am insecure. If that is the platform on which we are working – Because I don’t have that I am not happy. When I get that I will become happy. Then that is like a software setting which is wrong, and no matter how much I achieve, the software setting will remain the same way only, and how much I will achieve I will still be looking for what I don’t have and I will stay dissatisfied.
In the Bhagavad-gita (17.16) verse Krishna talks about austerity of the mind, and about the austerity of the mind he says,
bhāva-saṁśuddhir ity etat
tapo mānasam ucyate
So, here it says manaḥ-prasādaḥ – That satisfaction, cheerfulness, this is an austerity of the mind. This is an interesting concept. Normally when we talk about austerity – in today’s world austerity is not common word in political and economical circles—Government says, ‘You have to take austerity measures.’ They will cut down some facilities, they will increase the taxes, and they say that this is the austerity measure that we have to take because our economy is down.
Basically, in spiritual circles we talk about austerity – maybe fasting on some holy days. Austerity is the idea that – It’s basically a voluntary acceptance of a particular condition. Even if it is uncomfortable, it is for a higher purpose. So, we naturally want to eat but sometimes we fast. That is an austerity. Now of course austerity apart from its spiritual benefits – there are other benefits also. Nowadays many people fast because they lose weight, they want to look good, whatever it is –
So, austerity means that I want something higher and for that I am ready to give up something lower. So, it is interesting when Krishna talks about satisfaction – He is talking about it as a austerity of the mind. Normally we think of satisfaction – We think of it as a feeling that we have or we don’t have – ‘I am feeling satisfied, I am feeling dissatisfied.’ Yes, satisfaction is an emotion, but satisfaction is also a decision. Satisfaction is not just an emotion that comes upon me. Sometimes I feel satisfied and sometimes I don’t feel satisfied. Satisfaction is also a decision. That means it is a decision about what is going to be focus of my attention. If I keep looking at the things which I don’t have, I will never be satisfied. So, satisfaction is a decision means that I will not let my thoughts wander to the various things that I don’t have. I will focus on counting my blessings.
So, for example after this program we have Prasad. Say there is a feast, and suppose it is special feast where everyone has got different items on their plate, and now if I instead of looking at the items in my plate and eating that if I look at others plates – ‘Oh he has got that, she has got that!’ – ‘Ok, enjoy your feast, why you are worrying about – ‘So, when I keep looking at all the things that everyone else has, even if have got a feast I will be dissatisfied – ‘Ok, I have got a feast. Let me go into Samadhi now.’ (laughter) ‘Let me just savour this feast that I have.’ Then we will enjoy the feast.
So, satisfaction can be a decision also. I will not look at what is there in others plate, I will look at what I have and appreciate it. So, like that all of us have gifts in life. It’s only when we start comparing our gifts with others, then we start feeling dissatisfied, but if we focus on what we have, we will find that what we have is enough for our satisfaction, and actually by focussing on what we have we can also increase it, but if we develop the habit of counting our blessings, then there is a possibility of satisfaction. If we don’t develop this habit no matter how much we have there will never be satisfaction.
Once I saw an advertisement of a car. There was a young man who was driving a car and just next to him a young, good looking girl was standing with adoring eyes looking at him, and in the background there is another young man who was glaring at him with envy. And the advertisement was, ‘Buy this car and enjoy the envy in your neighbours eyes.’ What a pathetic standard of happiness. They are not even saying enjoy the car. They are saying enjoy the envy in your neighbours eyes. That means that if your neighbour gets a better car, then he will enjoy the envy in your eyes. Where is the enjoyment at all? That’s why I started by talking about – our happiness doesn’t depend on our standard of our living, it depends on the standard of longing.
If the nature or our longings are materialistic, if we are always looking for the things that we don’t have, and getting those things is the basis of our understanding of what will make me happy, then we will never become happy. So, improving the standard of living is like improving the hardware. Improving the standard of longing—that is like improving the software. Improving the standard of longing means refining and elevating our own desires. So, one standard of longing can be, ‘I want to get better things than my neighbour or my cousin or my relative or whatever.’ Now that is one standard of longing, and that standard of longing will always keep us dissatisfied. Another standard of longing can be, ‘I have been given gifts and I want to make a contribution using these gifts.’ This is a higher level of longing. There is longing there, but that longing doesn’t step from basic insecurity. That longing stems from a desire to share, a desire to contribute, and for elevating our longing-ness we need spiritual understanding and spiritual realizations. When we practice bhakti, it’s not just a cultural activity that we do because this what our culture is all about. It’s good if we do it that way, but we are actually under using the potential of bhakti in that way.
So, the process of bhakti yoga is meant to connect us with Krishna, and Krishna is the reservoir of all happiness.
In the Bhagavat Gita (10.41), Krishna tells that –
yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
So, he says that whatever is attractive, whatever is beautiful, whatever is opulent in this world, know that it is a spark of my splendour – mama tejo-’ṁśa-sambhavam.
So, for example if I see a very attractive car – that car is attractive. Bhakti doesn’t tell us, ‘That is maya. It is all false.’ Maya doesn’t mean it is false. What is maya is to think that that car will itself make me happy. If that car is attractive, it is attractive because there are intelligent people, artistic people who may have designed that car. So, it is attractive. Some houses are very attractive. That’s fine. But their attractiveness is actually like a spark, and that spark is a reflection of Krishna who is like the sun, or to give another example, the capacity of those objects to give us pleasure is like the capacity of a drop of water to quench thirst, whereas Krishna is like the ocean of water. The drop cannot quench thirst, but the ocean can quench it.
In the Mukunda Mala Strotra, Kulasekhar Maharaj says that,
hari-sarasi vigāhyāpīya tejo-jalaughaṁ
bhava-maru-parikhinnaḥ kleśam adya tyajāmi
So, he says that hari-sarasi – Lord Hari is like a lake – big lake filled with cool clear water. vigāhyāpīya tejo-jalaughaṁ – I will dive into this lake and drink from the lake. What is the water in the lake? It is jalaughaṁ. It is his glories. So, understanding the beauty, the greatness, the sweetness of Krishna, that is like drinking the water, and thus what will happen? bhava-maru-parikhinnaḥ kleśam adya tyajāmi. bhava-maru – this material existence is like a desert, and in this desert I have been searching for water for so long – parikhinnaḥ. I have become dejected. Klesaha – I have only got distress in this age. adya tyajāmi – I will no longer go in the desert looking for mirages. I will focus – I will dive into the nectar of Hari’s glories, and thereby quench my thirst fully and forever. So, the process of bhakti actually gives us higher happiness by connecting us with Krishna, and when that higher happiness is experienced – Prasantam, as is mentioned in the verse – That we become peaceful, and then when we are peaceful internally, whatever we do externally we will be able to do it more effectively, we will get more satisfaction to what we are doing.
If our satisfaction depends only on – I have to achieve this. If I don’t achieve it, I have no satisfaction. If I achieve it I have satisfaction till someone else achieves something better than me. So, actually there can be no satisfaction, but our intension is contribution – we have got satisfaction and security by our inner connection with Krishna, then our intension is contribution. Then we work in life – whatever we do that will simply increase our satisfaction. We will be able to contribute more effectively.
Even our religious activities – As I said, bhakti is not just a cultural activity. When we do it as simply a cultural activity, it is good, there is some connection with Krishna and that leads to purification, but it is a very gradual purification. So, when we understand that bhakti is meant to be a transformational activity, it is meant to change the settings of the software of my mind. That means that it is meant to direct my mind’s search for happiness from the world to Krishna. Then when there is a transformation like that, then we are tapping the potential of bhakti, and the Bhagavad-gita tells us that for a person who becomes connected with Krishna,
yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ
manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ
yasmin sthito na duḥkhena
That yaṁ labdhvā – Having attained this, cāparaṁ lābhaṁ- There is nothing more to be attained. One gets the highest satisfaction by connection with Krishna, and that highest satisfaction –
yasmin sthito na duḥkhena
Even if great miseries come one is able to tolerate it, because one has got so much more. One has got something which will never be lost, which is our own eternally. So, on the other hand the more we achieve materially, the more it actually subjects us to insecurity and anxiety because it may go away at any time. Nothing in this material world is enduring, but Krishna and our relationship with Krishna is enduring. When we focus on cultivating that relationship with Krishna by diligently practicing bhakti, then that is an achievement which lasts forever with us, and having the security of an inner connection with Krishna we can contribute externally in this world.
I will summarize and then we can have questions.
I started by speaking about the Bhikshu Gita where he is talking about how the mind is what is to be pacified. If the mind is not pacified, then what is the use of those activities, and if the mind is pacified what is the need for those activities. Any activities, good activities or religious activities. So, I talked about how everybody believes that improving the standard of living will make them happy, but what is more important is improving our standard of longing, and in that connection I explained, we are all always longing for things. Our mind is has a setting by which it looks for the things it doesn’t have, and craves for those things, and that materialistic setting of the mind is further aggravated by the corporate controlled media in today’s world, which through advertisements, it fuels whatever desires are there and it injects others desires also.
So, fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that you have to change in six months, and if our – if we think that by getting the things out there I will be happy, the problem is that even I get those things still the minds habit of looking outwards has not changed. In fact that has become reinforced by pursuing that habit. So then, again I will look for something outside and this way we will dissatisfied. People may put on a facade, ‘Oh I am happy, I am successful, but internally they are actually deceiving themselves. Asantasya kutha sukham.
So, when the mind is peaceful where is the question of not peaceful, where is the question of happiness? I talked about anxiety epidemic even in the Western world where there is a lot of prosperity. Why is that? Because the minds setting is wrong. People are always looking for material things out there and no matter how much they have they cannot be satisfied.
cintām aparimeyāṁ ca
Till the moment of death, I talked about the story of elderly man who on seeing a crematorium instead of getting realization about renunciation, was lamenting that I didn’t have – get into good business. So, the setting doesn’t change. Even if one sees death in the eyes, still that setting doesn’t change. So, what is the setting? I discussed about the body is like a hardware, and the mind is like a software, and the soul is like the user, and today’s society works phenomenally hard for improving the hardware, for providing more and more physical comforts. Its good, but that is not going to solve the software problem.
Improving things physically won’t improve the state of our mind mentally. It won’t because that is different setting entirely, and I discussed about the default setting of the mind, and Sat-cit-ananda becomes Saturday-Cit-Ananda, or as soon as I type G I may go to the Gulf News even if I want to go to some other site. So, like that our mind has got a default setting, and if you want to become happy you need to change the default setting. I talked about how Krishna says that, satisfaction is not just an emotion. It is a decision. If all of us have feast, rather than looking what feast others have we can rather look at what I have, and count my blessings, and for having ambition we don’t need dissatisfaction. When the ambition comes from dissatisfaction, even achievement and ambition will not bring satisfaction, because that setting will be wrong. So, to enjoy the envy in your neighbours eyes— That is a setting that will never lead to happiness because we are dependent on something external which is not normal.
So, we can have ambition which is founded not on dissatisfaction but on contribution. The Bhakti …45.13… tells us that what we have is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God, and Bhakti gives us an inner connection with Krishna, and that inner connection we understand that – Krishna is there, Krishna is in control, Krishna loves me, Krishna will take care of me. That brings security and stability, and then with that foundation of security and stability when we function in the world, whatever we do we will be able to do it more effectively, and we won’t depend on its success for our happiness, and whatever is attractive in this world it is a spark of Krishna’s splendour. So, it can give us some pleasure—When we connect with Krishna that will give us – It’s like connecting with a ocean of happiness, that will give us far, far greater pleasure.
Bhakti is not just a cultural activity. It’s meant to be a transformational activity. Bhakti by giving us experience of Krishna changes the default setting of our search for happiness. Instead of looking outwards at the world we look upwards to Krishna, and when our happiness comes from a connection from Krishna, then whatever we do in the world we don’t depend on it for happiness. Rather we contribute positively in our life, and this connection with Krishna, in the light of contribution to Krishna in that mood of service and sharing, that brings the highest satisfaction, and that gives us the inner stability to even tolerate distress.
In the case of material accumulation, when there is a loss – The more we achieve, the more we have the fear of losing, and more is the grief when we lose, but when we get a connection with Krishna that is never lost. An enduring gain towards which we can work, while also contributing and gaining in this world.
Thank you very much.
Questions and Answers:
Question 1: How can we maintain the resolution to satisfy materially and focus on inner growth and inner improvement – because that decision doesn’t sustain. If you go out in the materialistic world, then we tend to forget these resolutions.
CCP: Yes, forgetfulness – We should see it not as something unnatural. It is something which is a natural result of the dissipation of energy. That means that when I eat food, I feel energetic, but after a few hours naturally my energy will go because the energy has been used, and then what do I do? I take food again. So, like that when we talk about decision, the decision is basically intension of the mind – and inner intension. This is how I am going to do, but it needs sustenance, and for that sustenance we need energy. So, when we associate with devotees we hear some wisdom, then, we feel that this is what I want to do. So, what we have heard is the energy for maintaining the mind, but after sometime that energy is going to get exhausted. So, we shouldn’t expect that once I make a decision it is going to stay. Why shouldn’t we expect that? Again that is because the patterns of the mind are also real things. Say for example, we use the word inclination. I have a inclination for this thing, or I don’t have inclination for that thing. So, when we mean that I have an inclination for something that means that I like that and I naturally go towards that, and I naturally think about that.
So, to understand this further we can consider say – the inclination of a floor – sometimes in a bathroom the sink is one side, the floor is slightly inclined towards that side. Now if say we have had to change some design or maybe that sink is choked and we have created some sink elsewhere. Now just because I have created a sink there, the water is not going to flow in that direction. If the floor is inclined this way, and if I want the water to go in that direction each time I will have to pull the water in that direction, and if I want the sink to be there only and I want the water to go naturally, then just by intention that- I have got the sink there only and I want the water to go naturally then just by intension, ‘I have got a sink there, the water should go there.’, it is not going to work, and I will have to restructure the flooring.
Only when I change the inclination of the flooring, then the water will have to go there naturally. So, like that our mind has developed certain inclinations, and inclination means that thoughts will naturally go in a particular direction. So, by association – we make some positive resolutions – then we are trying to get the water to flow against the inclination right now, and it is going to be difficult. So, it requires energy and as soon as we stop applying the energy, water starts flowing in the opposite direction.
So, now – This is not unexpected. First of all we expect that just one intention is going to stay lifelong, it is not going to work. We have to reinforce that decision, and – so, if we hear something, maybe we can note and revisit that. Basically the point is that we have to associate regularly, hear regularly. Just as we get exposed repeatedly to materialistic things, we have to periodically expose ourselves to spiritual circles, spiritual wisdom, and that will give us the energy to keep pushing the water upwards against the direction of the inclination, but over a period of time if we keep practicing bhakti, what happens is – When we keep repeatedly directing the mind in a particular direction, then that changes the inclination of the mental floor. If we keep doing something again and again, gradually that becomes ingrained within us. That becomes like the change or default setting. That is what purification is. So, that is basically three steps.
First is the conviction of the intelligence.
śanaiḥ śanair uparamed
ātma-saṁsthaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā
na kiñcid api cintayet
In Gita (6.25) Krishna says, buddhyā dhṛti-gṛhītayā – we have to focus our mind, and how we will do that? With intelligence sustained by conviction. So, first when we start practicing bhakti there is the intelligence that is very important. Jiv Goswami in his sandharvas states that for the pure devotees, for those devotees who are already pure it is their priti that keeps them in bhakti. They love Krishna. So, they naturally practice bhakti. That is for the siddhas. For us sadhakas, it is our buddhi that will keep us in bhakti. We need to have our buddhi. So, as we become more and more attracted to Krishna our priti will develop, and then we will naturally be attracted to him, but till then our buddhi has to be developed.
So, we have to keep hearing regularly. So, first step is the conviction of the intelligence. The second is the practice of bhakti, and then the third is the purification of the mind. So, there is a three step process. So, when we say that our intension doesn’t stay, that means what is happening is – the intellectual conviction which we got that is going to get dissipated. So, the intelligence we could say is like the energy to push the water up again and again.
Now if I feel denergised I have to eat, and then again I will come and push. So, the pushing is acting at the level of the intelligence, but practising of bhakti itself is like changing the tilt of the floor, reconstructing the floor. So, although when we do bhakti on a daily basis, it may seem to be simply like a mechanical activity. The mind is going and again I bringing it back to Krishna. The mind is going and I am bringing it back to Krishna, but this is not just a mechanical activity. This mechanical is also transformational, because in bringing the mind back to Krishna the mind is getting some connection with Krishna, some exposure to Krishna, and over a period of time the mind will realize, ‘Now I get so excited about this and that and that, but you know the pleasure in that is not all that great.’ Actually in Krishna there is greater happiness. When the mind gets it, then it is like the flooring inclination has changed. So, till then we have to keep pushing the water, gradually that itself helps in changing the inclination, but to get the conviction to keep pushing the water we have to keep hearing.
Question: The mind has both good and bad desires. So, how can we focus so that the bad desires don’t come and the good desires come stronger?
CCP: Basically there are two things. One is triggers, and the other is choices. I will explain what I mean by triggers and choices.
All of us have certain triggers for our desires. Thant means say somebody is a alcoholic. They may be a recovering alcoholic, they want to give up alcohol – But, if they are going around and they see a bar which they had frequented earlier. That’s a trigger. Immediately the desire will come. So, now sometimes the triggers can come from anywhere, but quite often we know that certain things are triggers for us. So, if I know that certain things are my triggers I minimize my exposure to those triggers. We have to go out of the way.
So, for example if colleagues are told, ‘I am working on a book on spirituality and de-addiction.’ So, I have studied a little how alcoholics work. If say this their office, this is their home and they are now recovering, they want to give up alcohol but along the way there is a bar and they have been going to that bar regularly. So, now actually if they see that bar it is their exposing themselves to a trigger, and they make themselves in a vulnerable position.
They are told – That if you find that a trigger agitates too much, then just put a little bit of effort and go from some other way. Avoid it physically.
Like there is alcoholism, there is another kind of addiction that is very common. It is called Shopoholism. Shopoholism means that you just keep shopping. ‘Shop, shop, shop, till you drop’ (laughter) Many times people shop things, and then specially people have what you call – the basements – Where they have places which is filled with products which they never have used also. Some people are just compulsive. When they go to a shop planning to get 10 things, they come out with 50 things. (laughter)
So, now when this happens – Some people who are shopaholics, they just spend their money unnecessarily on things which they don’t need, which they don’t actually want also. So, then they are told, ‘You have to take some practical measures.’ So, for example, if you are going to a shop – Now if you cannot avoid shopping and have to shop – So, what I told is – maybe don’t go with your credit card. Just go with cash. So, the cash is finite. Even if you see that you want to buy something you cannot act on it immediately. You have to go back home, get a credit card or you have a credit card with a limited balance or whatever. So, basically there are some physical measures that are needed to be taken.
Now, I am giving you this two examples. All of us can find out what is our trigger, and try to minimize exposure to that trigger, and then once we do that that prevents us from getting further agitation, and secondly is with respect to our choices. That means we shouldn’t think that just because a desire has come inside me, that means it is my desire or I have to act on that basically.
What I mean by this is that, suppose somebody is dieting. They said that they will not certain things, but now if somebody else comes and says, ‘I made this sweet, please take this sweet.’ He would say, ‘No, I am dieting. I won’t take it.’ But if the same desire comes, ‘Why don’t I take this sweet?’ I look that nobody is looking, ‘I go and take it.’ (laughter) So, what has happened? And after they have taken the sweet, ‘Ay, why did I take it, I had planned not to take it.’
So, what has happened? When the same desire if somebody else proposes we will say, No!, but when the desire comes inside us we unwittingly think that this is my desire, and accept it as our desire and act on it, but if we understand that everything is inside me, is not me. That means that everything inside me is not me. All the desires that are there inside me they are not necessarily my desires.
So, for example if I am surfing on a net or I am reading some article on some website, and then quite often if I reading one newspaper or one article in one news site, sometimes some other pop-up will come up, or some other links might be there. Now just because that link is there or it has popped up, that doesn’t mean that I have to click it and I have to read that. I went to read one particle article but something else has just come up. Some programs can be designed in such a way that – Normally if there is some pop-up which comes up you have to click on it go there, but sometimes they make it in such a way that you have to click No to prevent going there. It just pops up and the default setting is Yes. So, till now thankfully there is no technology like this, but imagine you were reading an article and there are a dozen links on the site, and suppose there was some technology which could detect where our eyes are. So, as soon as we look at a link, that link opens up. Then you would get lost. You will get endlessly entangled.
So, like that what happens is that just because the link is there it doesn’t mean that I will have to click on it. So, similarly just because a desire is there inside me, that doesn’t mean that I will have to act on it. That desire is just like a link, but if we understand this point that the mind has some default settings, by which some desires will come, but even if the desires are coming in our mind it doesn’t mean I have to act on them.
So, one is we avoid the triggers by which the desires wouldn’t come into us from outer sources, and second is even if they come from inside, from some past memories or whatever, then we understand that just because desire is inside me, that doesn’t mean I have to act on it. These are from the point of avoiding negative desires, but more important than that is actually cultivating positive desires.
So, ultimately we cannot drive out any desires from our consciousness.
I tell you, ‘Please don’t think of a pink monkey.’ You may never have thought about a pink monkey. Now you will think of a pink monkey. So, sometimes too caught up within. I will not do this, I will not do this, I will not do this. The mind is so subtle it will just remove the not from the sentence, and make it I will do this.
So, our focus always has to be in the positive, not the negative, and that’s why again with respect to bhakti also the same thing also apply.
We can find out what are our triggers in bhakti. That means if you find that associating with some devotees inspires us a lot, or hearing some devotees classes maybe energises us. All of us can have different triggers. Some of us may like deity worship. So, maybe taking darshan of a very beautifully dressed deity – That may trigger devotional desires within us. Some of us may like to hear kirtans, we hear some Hare Krishna tunes, some bhajans. That triggers devotional desires within us.
So, now this are triggers which we need to consciously expose ourselves to more and more. The material triggers we avoid exposing, but the devotional triggers we consciously chose to expose ourselves, and when we expose ourselves thus then we will get devotional desires more and more, and internally it is good to make some commitments for doing something.
So, often whenever we make a commitment- ‘I will never do this.’ That no-commitment is actually – It’s painful, because whenever we say that, ‘I will not do this.’ Our mind immediately associates that with deprivation— ‘I am not going to get this.’, but if we make a Yes commitment, we do something and we fill our consciousness with that. Then that Yes commitment will enable us to connect us with Krishna, and that will purify us. So, in general by identifying the triggers – the material triggers and avoiding that. By recognizing that the desires are there within the mind, I don’t have to act on them. They are like links. They will appear but I will not click on them, and by identifying our spiritual triggers, exposing ourselves to those triggers more and more and internalising our commitments – This is what I am going to do. By all these we can actually transform our consciousness so that it becomes less material and more spiritual.
Question and answer:
Question: Can the trigger cause anxiety but that anxiety can be positive, because it may inspire me to achieve something.
CCP: Yea, now here there is a difference between chronic anxiety and circumstantial anxiety. That means we can’t make avoiding anxiety the primary goal of our life. We all have to do somethings, and to some extent we can say every responsibility brings anxiety with it, and we can’t – If a mother is taking care of the child and the child has gone to school or somewhere else, and has not come back on time. The mother will be naturally anxious, and that anxiety is a part of the responsibility. So, to some extent responsibility and anxiety are intimately connected, and our goal is not simply to have an anxiety free life. What we are talking about is unnecessary anxiety. When anxiety comes up because of goals which have been foisted upon us by the culture around us, that is undesirable. So, as I said that we have certain talents and then we want to achieve something using those talents – That is a purposeful choice that we have made – ‘This is what I want to pursue.’ But quite often if you look at our anxiety, it is often about desires which are not really important for us. ‘Oh! They got this, they got that.’ – They got, what is so great about it? How does it make such a big difference?
So, certainly as enterprising individuals we will have our ambitions, but the point is that our ambitions should be chosen ambitions, they should not be desires which are foisted on us, and which we have unwittingly accepted because those desires are glamorised in society.
So, in the process of bhakti our primary thing is neither attachment, nor detachment. It is commitment. Attachment, detachment and commitment. Attachment means, ‘I want this.’ Detachment means, ‘I don’t care about it.’, but commitment means, ‘I am going to contribute in this.’ So, commitment will also cause anxiety, but that is a consciously chosen anxiety.
It’s like sometimes when we lift weights, then lifting weights can improve our muscles. So, that choosing to lift weights as a exercise for building our body is helpful, but for no reason if I am carrying a weight, or if I am sitting here and somebody has put a weight on my head, and I don’t even notice also, and I wonder why my neck is paining?
So, we may lift weight for improving our health, that is good, but unwittingly carrying weight when there is no reason to carry weight that is not a exercise, that is simply an exertion. So, when we are not vigilant in choosing the kind of desires that are present in our mind, then we quote unnecessary anxiety, whereas when we have some purposeful choices which we have made, certain responsibilities, certain commitments, the anxieties that are there within them, they are a natural part of living, and often they help us to grow, they help us to become committed, they help us to become absorbed.
So, I write articles on the Gita Everyday, and so one article I wrote, ‘Be not tense, be intense.’ One primary difference between tense and being intense is, when we are tense, we are focussing on things which are not in my control, ‘Oh that will go wrong!’ The same situation will cause us anxiety or it can bring intensity. The difference is what is my focus. Say tomorrow I have a interview and I start thinking, ‘What if this happens, what if that happens?’ That will make me a nervous wreck in a few minutes. On the other hand if I think, ‘Tomorrow I have a interview and I start thinking, ‘What if they ask me questions that I can’t answer, what if this happens, what if that happens?’ That will make me a nervous wreck in a few minutes. On the other hand if I think, ‘Tomorrow I have an interview. I have 12 hours now. Let me do all that I can to prepare in the next 12 hours.’
Every situation that we are in, we can look at the things that is not in our control and become filled with anxiety, or we can look at what is in our control and get intensity. So, that way we can be purposeful and be intense.
Question: So, in spiritual life we talk not so much about attachment or detachment but about commitment. What does that mean?
CCP: Attachment basically means that the desires – I am taking control of it. Even when I don’t want my desires will go on in that direction, they will drag me in a particular direction.
So, if you consider it from the perspective of the vedic tri-marga’s. There is karma marga, there is jnana marga and there is Bhakti marga. The karma marga is defined by attachment. We think that this world is a nice place. Yes, something’s are wrong, but if I do some adjustments life will be happy over here. So, those adjustments may be financial, those adjustments may be religious also. I have to do some yajna, I have to do some puja. Whatever it is. That is one way of looking at it. So, in karma marga one is attached. One thinks that, by getting things in this world I will become happy. So, basically in karma we basically romanticise the world. Oh this is a nice thing. I just have to find things. Oh I will have to have a wonderful life. I just have to find Mr. Perfect or Mrs. Perfect. I just want to find a perfect partner and my life will be perfect, but actually we are all imperfect people. So, we will never find a perfect partner, but the mind is imagining, ‘Oh! Things will work out wonderfully.’ That is the karma marg. So, that is attachment. That is – We romanticise the world. Then in jnana marga we go to opposite extreme. We demonize the world. Everything is temporary, everything is illusion, and our focus is, ‘This world will cause me suffering, I want to get out of this world. That is where the focus is – Detachment. Now there are several problems with this focus, because first of all we are conscious beings and we cannot be defined by a negative – what I will not do or what I will gain. We have to have something positive in our life. If you focus too much on detachment, the only desire that I should have is that I should have desire for nothing. The only thing to think is that there is nothing to think. Well, that is very negative way of thinking, and when you focus too much on detachment another problem that comes is, we become too discouraged if we not able to get detached. We make detachment the defining characteristic of our bhakti.
So, for example I am fasting on a ekadashi. I have decided that I am going to fast nirjala. It is good if I can fast nirjala, but the point is not to fast nirjala. The point is to chant more, to hear more, to connect with Krishna more. But if think that the success of my ekadashi is if I fast nirjala, and somehow I am not able to fast nirjala. So, I drink some water or I drink some food, and then feel, ‘I am so attached, I am so fallen, I am so useless.’ And I am beating myself up all the time, and I am not doing anything constructive. So, if you are too detachment centred then we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for connecting with Krishna. So, commitment means that that is a path of bhakti. We don’t romanticise the world, we don’t demonize the world, we utilize the world. Utilize means that we understand that there are resources in the world and I will use them in Krishna’s service, and one of the resources in this world is the things of the world. So, the things which I have I will use them. Another resource in the world is detachment. Detachment is also a resource. Different people can have different levels of detachment, and we should see that simply as a resource in the practice of bhakti.
Some people may come from a very satwic background, and they may have more detachment than others. Just detachment is not the proof of devotion. There are some materialistic people who may be more detached than the devotees, but they are not devotees. It’s good to be detached, but we have to see detachment simply as one resource on the path of bhakti. It’s an important resource, but it is just one resource, but even we focus on detachment we make detachment as the definer of our bhakti. Because I give this up, I am a great devotee, and because I can’t give it up I can’t give it up. My devotion is defined by how much I am connected to Krishna.
So, even because of my detachment I am dragged into something wrong, what do we do after that? We come back and start practicing bhakti. Commitment means I will keep doing this, no matter what happens. I will keep doing this. So, bhakti is defined by our commitment to Krishna, and detachment is helpful in the path of bhakti, but detachment is not the definer of bhakti. The definer of bhakti is activities that we do for connecting with Krishna, and whatever – If we can centre our bhakti on commitment on Krishna, the commitment to Krishna will itself give us higher satisfaction and by that higher satisfaction, by that inner enrichment detachment will come and that detachment will be sustainable, otherwise detachment doesn’t come, and even if detachment comes that detachment makes us proud, that detachment doesn’t make us devoted. I may pass nirjala and the I go in the kitchen and look who is eating what? – ‘All attached’.
So, my body is fasting but my ego is feasting. So, that detachment doesn’t take me closer to Krishna. So, our focus should be on commitment. Let me do what I can do to connect with Krishna on regular basis, and then detachment will come naturally.
Question: So, when there are real issues which cause anxiety – Practical problems. Say because of the economic recession there is the fear of losing jobs. So, how do we deal with this anxiety?
CCP: The real problems need real solutions. The spiritual is never the substitute of the material. The spiritual is the complement of the material. What I mean by this is – the spiritual is the complement, not the substitute for the material.
When Arjuna fought the Kurukshetra war. Before that he heard the Bhagavat-gita. Now Arjuna won the Kurukshetra war not just by the knowledge of the Bahgavad-gita. He won the Kurukshetra war by the knowledge of Archery which he had learned throughout his life. So, it was not that the Bhagavad-gita knowledge enabled him to fight the war alone. That for functioning in the material world we need material skills, we need to care of the material responsibilities. Not that Arjuna was just chanting Hare Krishna when the arrows were shooting. He was consciously fighting. He was consciously aiming and he was planning, and he had practiced life-long. So, it’s not that spiritual is not the substitute for the material. So, material problems need to be dealt with materially. Krishna can miraculously intervene and Krishna can remove material problems in a miraculous ways, but that is not what a devotee expects.
Arjuna when he took the vow to kill Jayadhrata, all day he was trying to reach Jayadratha, and eventually when he just couldn’t reach at that time Krishna exhibited a miracle but Arjuna kept trying. So, we have to understand that at the material level there can be problems, and we have to do the practical things to deal with the problems.
So, if there is some economic downturn because of which there is anxiety then we have to first of all be materially intelligent to do what it takes. That means say we are saving money or we are having a good career profile by which we can get another job. We basically – materially we have to be vigilant about this things. We cannot be materially neglectful in the name of spirituality. So, the material has to be dealt with at material terms.
Now if I have got a fracture, chanting Hare Krishna may enable me to tolerate the pain of fracture, but chanting Hare Krishna is not going to join the bones. For that I have to go to a doctor. So, material things – material problems need material solutions. So, the spiritual guides us so that we work in the material world in a purposeful way. We work in the material world with a ultimate spiritual purpose. Having said that we have to be materially intelligent also to deal with such situations. Our spirituality can help us in separating the imaginary from the real. That means that there are — in any situation that I am in, there are real problems and there are imaginary problems. So, there is a difference between preparing for the future and worrying about the future. The primary difference is – who is in control?
When I am preparing for the future I consciously control my mind to direct towards the future. If this happens I can do this – 1, 2, 3. If this happens I can do this – 1, 2, 3. Like that we plan, and when we are in control and we are directing our thoughts, then that preparing for the future actually makes us feel more confident – ‘Yes, I can deal with this. It’s not what I want, it is not pleasant, but I can deal with it.’ But when we are worrying about the future we are not in control. The mind is in control. Basically the mind shows us a free horror movie, and in this free horror movie we are not the spectator, we are the victims. I may be sitting in a A.C room now, but I am getting paranoid about getting on the streets.
There are possibilities and there a probabilities. Possibility – anything is possible, and if we start worrying about possibilities we will be forever paralysed. Like if I going to worry about possibilities, right now this roof may cave in on my head. It’s possible, but is it probable? No, the house is well-constructed, it is recently due, it is liable, then it is not probable. So, what happen is that, when we are in Tamo guna or Rajo guna the mind take control and the mind goes over to all the most frightening possibilities and it paralyses us.
So, we have to explore probabilities. Ok, this can happen. I can do this. So, generally if we find ourselves too worried by anxiety, on one side we have to materially prepare for it, but on other side by practicing bhakti we come more to the mode of goodness, and by coming to the mode of goodness we can actually observe – we can have the intelligence to differentiate between possibilities and probabilities, and when we just let the mind take us about this possibility, that possibility, it is like watching a horror movie, you just get overwhelmed.
Looking at probabilities – Ok, this happened, how will I deal with it? So, that way we can become more prepared.
I wrote an article recently, ‘Worry is the interest we pay on loans we haven’t yet taken.’ The problems has not yet come only but I am worrying about the problem and I am getting paralysed and I am actually disempowering myself from dealing practically.
So, the disempowering that is happening, that is like paying the interest because the time, the energy is all going away.
So, if you look at most of our worries, now very few of them actually materialize. So, it is possible that things can go wrong, but we can by being in the mode of goodness we can plan and prepare realistically. It’s not that being – So, to summarize the two parts is – It’s not that being spiritual means being apathetic about material things. Material problems require material measures, and we have to prepare materially for it, but while preparing materially our spirituality get’s situated in the mode of goodness, so that we don’t worry about unrealistic possibilities, but calmly and intelligently prepare for realistic probabilities.
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