Bhikshu Gita 1 – Minimize misery by identifying the misery caused by the mind (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.23.42)

by Chaitanya Charan dasNovember 18, 2016

Talk at ISKCON, Bahrain
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Transcription of Lecture

CCP: From today onwards Iwill be speaking on the topic of the mind based on a section of Srimad Bhagavatam, and this section is from the 11th Canto and it is a part of the Uddhava-gita.

Just as Krishna spoke the Gita to Arjuna, and that is called as the Bhagavad-gita – Now names have specific meanings and sometimes names have generic meanings. So, for example if a scientist is working in a laboratory and that scientist tells his assistant, ‘I have run out of energy.’ — At that time probably the electricity has gone off or thermal energy has gone off, and the same scientist comes back home and he tells their family members, ‘I have no energy.’ The same word energy is used in a different sense. The word energy when they are using in their office they are using it as a specific sense of scientific energy. When they come home they are in the sense of physical energy. So, words have different meanings based on their context. So, the word Brahman or Brahma….
Athato brahma jijnasa… the Vedata Sutra which in one of the most important books in the Vedic tradition begins with an aphorism, begins with a cause… ‘Now enquire about Brahma.’ The word Brahma we often use to refer to the impersonal aspect of the absolute truth. Just as light — just as in one place the light is there — from there the light spreads out as its illumination. Like that the absolute truth manifests as one person and from him the light diffuses everywhere. The diffusing of the light is called Brahman, and the person is called as Bhagavan. So, Bhagavan is the personal manifestation of the absolute truth and Brahman is the impersonal aspect. However the word Brahman has many meanings. So, within the technical analysis which is done by Gauria Vaisnavism, which is done by the Gauria Vaisnav sampradaya namacharyas… they use the word Brahman to refer to the impersonal aspect of the absolute truth.

The word Brahma is a general spiritual word which refers to spirit. So, in Vedanta Sutra when it is said, ‘Athato Brahma Jijnasa.’– So, there it is referring to — now it is not saying, enquire about the impersonal aspect of the absolute. It is a general reference to life’s spiritual dimension, to understand spiritual reality.
So, same way I talked about this because I was talking about Bhagawat Gita and Uddhav Gita. Actually Uddhava-gita is also Bhagavad-gita because Uddhava-gita is also spoken by Bhagavan.

So, Gita that was spoken by Krishna to Arjuna that is also spoken by Bhagavan. The Gita spoken by Krishna to Uddhava is spoken by Bhagavan. However the Gita spoken by Krishna to Arjuna is very famous, and there the stress is on who spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and that is because this book is so special, so authoritative, because it is Bhagavan who has spoken it.

On the other hand when we look at the Srimad Bhagavatam, the book is itself about Bhagavat. It is about the absolute truth, it is about Bhagawan, and in that when the Lord is speaking– Krishna speaks in the 10th and 11th Canto of the Bhagavatam– because the whole book about Bhagawan. So, when He is giving instructions, the focus shift from who is speaking to whom it is being spoken. It is understood that it is about Bhagawan — whom is Bhagawan speaking to?

The Uddhava-gita is named after not the speaker of the book, but the receiver of the book. That is how it is distinguished. Now what Krishna has spoken in the Bhagavad-gita, He elaborates in the Uddhava-gita and in one particular point when Uddhava asks the question on the three modes of material nature- sattwa guna, rajo guna and tamo guna, at that time the Bhagavatam involved some conversations and Srila Biswanath Chakraborty Thakur who is a prominent commentator of the Bhagawatam, he perceives with his divine vision the further conversation that is happening between Krishna and Uddhava. So, Krishna becomes very pleased when Uddhava asks this question about the three modes, and Viswanath Chakraborty thakur says, ‘Krishna tells Uddhava that, ‘Actually I have spoken the same subject earlier to Arjuna, but when I spoke that actually I had to speak very fast because there was not much time. I spoke on a battle field — the Bhagavad-gita’s setting was very dramatic.

Imagine there is world cup final match, and there are thousands of spectators who have come to watch the match, and at that time the fielders are in their position, the batsman is there, and the bowler is about to run, and at time the batsman comes and calls the non-striker, and they come along and they have a mid-field chat and they keep talking and talking and talking. Everybody will become impatient. ‘What is this?’ Everybody has come for the action. So, actually now if we know that this batsman and the non-striker, they are not un-charactered people, who have cowardly, who have become fearful, or if there is a very good batsman there.

Sometimes if say one team is performing very well and the other team just wants to check the momentum– So, what the other team might try to do is just try to act like they are injured, or just try to create delay. The delay can disrupt the other party, and when that momentum goes down, then they can come back in the game. So, if we know that these two batsmen are really good batsmen and they won’t do any un-sports manly tact like this — If they are just talking and talking and talking, then people will understand that what they are talking must be very important. It must be so important that they are ready to keep everyone else waiting. So, like that when Krishna and Arjuna starts speaking — one person said. ‘This is actually a dramatic absurdity. How can in the middle of a battlefield everyone stop and just have a long discussion.’ So, actually it might seem like a dramatic absurdity, but it is the cultural beauty. When Bhisma saw that Krishna and Arjuna were talking, Bhisma raised his hands and stopped everyone. Bhisma saw that if Krishna and Arjuna were talking they must be talking something serious, otherwise they would not stop like this — and they had a discussion.

So, at the end Krishna’s words inspired Arjuna and Arjuna became ready to fight.

So, Krishna tells Udhava in the Udhava-gita that, ‘I spoke this to Arjuna earlier the same topic, but now I will speak with much more detail. So, what is Krishna doing? That detailed instruction is given here in the Udhava-gita.
The Uddhava-gita is from the sixth chapter of the11 canto and it starts and goes on to the 30th chapter, but even in that these chapters are much much longer, the analysis much deeper, and one of the most themes in the Bhagavad-gita is about the mind. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says,

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ
nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ (B.G 6.5)

There is literal translation and there is essential translation. Literal translation means you take every word as it is and translate it. That is good, but we are interested in the essential meaning. So, sometimes when we read the Bhagavad-gita and we know a little bit Sanskrit, you may say, this is like this but why is it translated like this? And then people start getting questions like this. Now yes, it is good to have questions, but the important thing is that Prabhupada is using– this is Prabhupada’s speciality when he gave the Bhagavad-gita he always made the essential meaning clear.

That means that, imagine that there are some ancient system of medicine say in China which can cure cancer, and now that has been going on and that is based upon some ancient book, and that book is available only in China, and there is doctor who is a Chinese doctor who has translated, who has cured actually many many people using that system of treatment described in that book, and that doctor learns English, and then that doctor translates the book into English, and then there is another person who is a linguistic scholar he knows English well, and he is also a good scholar in Chinese, and he translates the book from Chinese to English. If tomorrow you have to do a surgery, if you want to use it for practical applications whose book would you use, would you use the doctors book or the linguist’s book? You will use the doctor’s book because the doctor knows how the things work.

When it comes to the languages of conversation, we understand that knowing the language is not the sole qualification for understanding the subject. Just because somebody is good in English doesn’t necessarily mean that they can understand every subject that has been written in English. I may be very good in English but if I am given a book about triple integral Calculus, it may be in English but how much can I understand? So, language is not the sole qualification for understanding specialized subjects.

So, Srila Prabhupada, he is like that doctor who is actually applying the message of Bhagavad-gita and its transforming the hearts of many many people, has healed many people spiritually, and his Bhagavad-gita is As It Is, in what sense? In a sense that the same effect that the original Bhagavad-gita had on Arjuna — it transformed and inspired him in devotion to Krishna, that same effects are there in studying Prabhupada’s Gita.
I am talking about this here in Prabhupada’s Gita translation because this verse 6.5 is about the mind. So, what is this verse? If you take the literal translation, the word atma means the soul or the self. So,

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ
nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ (B.G 6.5)

The word atma comes six times here, and what the literal translation would be is, ‘Alleviate the self with the self. Don’t degrade the self with the self, because the self is the friend of the self, and the self is the enemy of the self.

So, Srila Prabhupada makes it clear for us what is the essential meaning, and that essential meaning is clear if you look at the context. Next verse Krishna talks about the mana–
bandhur ātmātmanas tasya
yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ
anātmanas tu śatrutve
vartetātmaiva śatru-vat (B.G 6.6)

The verse after that also Krishna talks about mana..
jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya
paramātmā samāhitaḥ
tathā mānāpamānayoḥ (B.G. 6.7)

So, they are all talking about the mind. The sixth chapter is on the mind. Srila Prabhupada says, ‘This verse means one should elevate oneself with the mind, and not degrade oneself with the mind because the mind is the friend of the self and the mind is also the enemy of the self.

So, when we take the word atma, it has many meanings in Sanskrit. So, one of the meanings of atma is also God. One of the meanings of the atma is soul. Another is mind. So word atma what it exactly means in this context — a person who is actually applying the Gita, that acharya he preaches the best. The Gita lives though those who live the Gita.

So, this theme that we should alleviate our mind and not degrade ourselves, this theme Krishna repeats in the Uddhava-gita, and because Uddhava-gita is an elaborate book. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna gives basically philosophical analysis and philosophical principles. There are no pastimes in the Bhagavad-gita, and that is why many times people find the Bhagavad-gita difficult to read, but the same message Krishna gives in the Uddhava-gita, and in the Uddhava-gita He gives it through multiple stories and various themes So, this particular theme He tells through the story of a Brhama — It is the Avanti Brahmana. This comes in the eleventh Canto, this is the 23rd chapter and the 42nd verse.

nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur
na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ 
manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam āmananti
saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed yat 

So, this is a dvija, a Brahmana, who is speaking and this person has gone through enormous trouble. He was very wealthy and he was very miserly. So, actually in a sense the Bhagavat itself gives characters who often exhibit characteristics opposite of their expected characteristics. Normally the brahmanas are expected to be pure and in their poverty they are expected to be charitable. Whatever they have they should share, but this brahama was wealthy and in misery. So, he had a lot of wealth with him, but somehow one after another calamities came and he lost everything. He lost everything and he was shattered, and because he had neglected, rejected and scorned many people in the past all those people were mocking him. They started humiliating him. They started castigating him, and all that he spoke. Similar and much more harsh words came back to him. As long as words are inside our mouth we control them, but when the words go out of our mouth they take control of us, they gain a life of their own and then one comment can cause so much trouble. So, all those people were hurting him now, insulting him, deriding him, mocking him, deriding him. The Bhagawatam the way it describes it is shocking, and at that time when he is completely– in today’s terminology you would call him as a suicide case. Most people in this situation will lose everything materially and lose all relationship and respect in the society, and would want to end their life.

So, at that time he gets this realization and asks this question, ‘Who is the cause of my suffering?’
nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur
The cause of my happiness or the cause of my distress cannot be …20.15… all these people are not the cause –
na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ
…20.20-20.23… Oh, maybe the God’s are against me.

In ancient Rome there was a saying that, ‘Whom the God’s want to destroy they make that person angry.’ So, if somebody becomes angry, they do the terrible things that they destroy themselves. Sometimes the God’s — devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ… Or sometimes we say that some stars are against me, I am going through a bad period, mangal is there, shani is there, or ‘Oh my own bad karma is coming back to me…’ Sometime we all go through some bad phase, and going back to the cricket example, sometimes some players go through a bad patch. They tried to play and then for no reason they are just not able to bat or when they are about to bat nicely, somehow some umpire gives a wrong decision. Just when they thought that they would come back to form, they are declared out. Just when are to about to after great struggle come back, suddenly they slide and fall and get injured.

So, we all go through different bad phases. So, this is a bad phase- Kala. So, he says that none of this are these cause of my sufferings.

manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam āmananti
The mind is the cause of my suffering and it is because of the mind that I am going on in the cycle of birth and death, and in the future verses he analyses further how the mind is the cause of suffering. But essentially here just try to understand this that actually he uses the word parama Karanam, there can be other causes. There is a attitude in today’s world that everything is in the mind. That means that there was a book which became a world-wide best seller called, ‘The Secret.’ And this book was – ‘Whatever you desire, by your thought power you will get.’ There will be many books like this.

So, you know a woman is going inside a jewelry shop, and she thinks, ‘Oh, such a nice necklace! I should get it.’ , and then next day she has it is in her neck. How? Because your thoughts have the power to create reality. Just think positive, concentrate on the power of thoughts and you will get whatever you want.

Now our thoughts do have power, but our thoughts alone don’t create reality. If I have got a fracture in my hand, just by my thoughts I cannot heal my fracture. It is going to be there. If I am going to grow old, get diseased and I am going to die – that is going to happen to all of us. By my thoughts I can’t say that it is not going to happen. I am will die and I will go to the next life — it is not going to happen — it has already happened.
So, to say that the mind itself creates reality — that is quite a common or a new age idea. The mind alone creates reality. That is not true. There is reality out there which is real, and it affects us. At the same time, the mind shapes the effect of reality on us. The mind doesn’t determine the reality, but the mind determines the effect of the reality on us. That is why — manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam āmananti– there may be many karanas but the parama karana, the biggest cause is the mind. What this means is that — whenever we face any problem in life, the reality is troubling at that time, but often our resentment of reality hurts more than reality.

Say for example, if we have decided to go for a picnic somewhere, and with all our friends together we have planned – ‘I am going for a picnic.’ We are looking forward for that day, and just the night before that we get a flue, and we are bedridden and all our friends have gone, and maybe in the social media they send some pictures of some women on a hill station, and they say that we are going here and going there – and we would be frustrated – ‘What is this I am lying on the bed feeling miserable?’ Now if you think about it, if you have a flue, yes there is some inconvenience, there is some exhaustion, but it not extremely painful. It’s tolerable. So, the reality is unpalatable but it is not unbearable. However if the mind becomes resentful – Why did this happen? Why this happened to me? We beat ourselves ourselves by that, and then that resentment of reality often hurts much more than reality, and that’s how the mind can multiply the problems that we facing. The problem is there, the reality is there – Yes my friends have gone for a picnic and I am here sick. That is true. It’s a problematic reality, but the magnitude of the problem is often multiplied manifold by our mind.

The vedic scriptures tells us that by being here in this world, we get three kinds of klesha. There is the adiyatmika klesha, the adibhautika klesha and adi daivika klesha. So, in the atma the soul comes in this world, the soul gets encased in three levels of material coverings. The first level of material covering is the body and the mind. So, whatever level of material covering we are in, that covering gives us some shelter but it also causes suffering. So, we need the body to function in the world but the body itself causes pain. There can be disease, there can be old age – There can be so many problems with the body. So, like that the physical covering that we are in that itself gives klesha. Then there is the social covering you could say. That is the society in which we live, our friends, our acquaintances, our colleagues etc. and often they also become a source of misery for us because of misunderstandings, because of envy, because of back-biting etc. Sometimes people are really malicious and sometimes people are just misinformed, but either way that causes misery, and then the third is the adidhavika – the environmental shell in which we are there. Sometimes it is just too hot, too cold etc.

This year when I went to America, the first day I was in America – I was in Alachua, and that was the day when there was a hurricane, and so – America is considered the land of prosperity, land of progress, the land of technology, and my first 24 hours of America was without electricity, with internet, without hot water. So, in this material world wherever we go material nature will always show her power. We can’t change that. To some extent some things can be changed and we can try to change them — It’s not wrong, but ultimate we recognize that all these three gives us kleshas.

Now actually if you think a little bit more, among these three…. all these three causes problems, but the second often causes the maximum problems. Before I analyze, why? One more point. Many times when we have some yajna’s or some – any pious function—so at that time we say, ‘Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.’ We say shanti three times. Why three times? That is because this shanty is for this three kleshas. Each klesha makes us ashant. So, it is like Om Adhyatmika klesh—shanti, Om Adibahutika klesh — shanti, Om Adidaiviaka klesha… shanti. Let there be peace, Let there be peace, Let there be peace, but actually all these three causes agitation.

Now, among these three – All these three cause pain, but quite often the adibhautik causes more pain and more distress than the adiyatimika or the adidaivika klesha. For example, if there is a hurricane — It’s irritating, it’s troubling, it’s scary, but after sometime you just accept it. That is the way it is. Ok the power has gone, I just have to accept it and move on with life. I might do what I can or wait for some rescue operations to come. If it is too hot or too cold we complain, but afterwards we accept it, but we understand that I just can’t change it.
Similarly with respect to our body also—If I get a sickness, I can be wild for sometimes, can be irritated or frustrated, but after some time we accept it. So, in the case of adhyatmika and adidaivika we accept that things are not changing, and that’s how to some extent we stop resenting. It is not that we give up resentment, but we just accept and then we move on with life, but with respect to adibhautika klesha we have the illusion that we control other people, and that is why when other people don’t act according to our expectations we become very angry.

I was in Richmond here in Washington. I was giving a class about our relationship – So, one person asked a question, ‘Why is it that when we are in office even if a colleague behaves unreasonably, we are very cordial, yet we tolerate, we are polite, but when we come back home and a family member behaves a little irritably, immediately we explode? So, if there is more love actually there should be more tolerance, there should be more affection, there should be more consideration, but why is it that with people outside we are more considerate, but for people inside we are very intolerant?’

So, there are multiple reasons. One reason is of course that outside we think that– Here it my job and here if I get a bad impression and I might be fired, I might be castigated. So, basically when we are in office to a large extent we know that we are not the controllers, or even if we know – Even if we think that I am the controller, we know that I am not the sole controller. So, there are other controllers who will get me into trouble if I do anything wrong, but when I am at home I expect that this is my arena of control, and if anybody doesn’t work according to my plan it is not just that they are doing something wrong – If they are doing something wrong that is tolerable, but they are not acting according to my plan, that is intolerable.

So, basically the more we expect that we will be able to control others, the more we get frustrated when we are not able to control them. There is saying in English, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’ If two neighbours are having their property next to each other, and if the demarcation is not clear – maybe they planted some garden, and some flowers come up, and they say, ‘This is my flower.’, and there is a fight over there. So, what happens is that if there is no clear demarcation, then even small things can lead to unnecessary conflicts. So, good fences make good neighbours.

So, actually this principle about fences, making neighbours, helping neighbours to behave properly, that applies also to relationships. Even in our relationships we have fences. It’s not that — if we are in a close relationship – we have certain expectations from others, and it is required—both people – whatever people are in the family they have to work together, but all people also need their own space also, and when somebody goes too much into somebody else’s area, then that other person reacts strange, and that other person doesn’t give them any area at all that is also a problem.

So, the problem often comes because – If we have a physical house we can clearly define – This is the fence. But in every relationship what is the fence is different, and not only is it different in each relationship, even in each relationship in different phases it is different. In different phases means – in different times. For example, say there are parents and there are children. So, now say the parents are living a cultured life, are practicing bhakti, but initially for the first five years or ten years the parents have some control over their children. After that as the children go into teenage and then they have their own life – and then what happens is – the fence, it’s location has to change because the children are growing up and they need their space. If they are not given their space then what they will do is they will break the fence, and then the whole relationship becomes disrupted.

Canakya Pandit talks about this shifting of the fences when he says, ‘The first five years just shower love on your children, in the next five years discipline them, for the next 10 years you have to discipline them, and then after that treat them as friends. Now the point is not you have change the fence at the fifth birthday. That’s not the exact point over here. Different people grow differently. The point is, there has to be a understanding that we can’t control others. It is our duty to guide others, but ultimately we can’t control others.
The main point is that our mind increases our mind increases our suffering. So, in relationships when we expect another person to behave in a particular way and they don’t behave in that way, then we just get wild, ‘Why is he doing like this, why is she doing like that?’

So, last year when I was in Melbourne I was talking to a group of youths. So, one of them asked, ‘What is wrong with love marriage?’ So, I said, ‘There is nothing wrong. The point is that the terminology is wrong.’
‘What do mean by the terminology is wrong?’

‘When you say it is love marriage, it is assumed that the terminology is – that in arranged marriage there is no love. It is not like that. The important thing is that, yes there maybe something called love at first sight – A boy and girl meet and maybe they feel a spark of electricity from their body. They may feel like that. That is ok. There may be some initial attraction, but real love is not about what happens in first sight, it is about what happens after many sights.’

After first fight (audience)

CCP: After first fight – Ok (laughter)

So, the relationships are not just about feelings, they are also about commitments. I was just in Panama about a couple of months ago, and there one devotee told me – showed me a magazine of the Western world and said, ‘Now we have entered into a post marital world.’ Post marital world means people don’t get married only. Why? Because they say that marriage is such a commitment, such a complication. Let’s live together without marriage. Now this is a example where people just don’t want any commitment, and when there is no commitment then there is no fulfilment. In any relationship where there is no commitment. So, the point which I am making here again is that when we talk about relationships – The terminology of love marriage and arranged marriage – actually in every marriage there has to be love. Without love no relationship can be sustained. Now how that love is developed, how that love is nourished, that may vary in different relationships, but in any relationship there is some mutual
expectation, but the mutual expectation has to be based on a realistic understanding of who the other person is.
Initially when there is love at first sight, the couple may say, ‘I cannot live without you.’, and they live for one or two years, and then they say, ‘I can’t live with you.’ It has gone to the complete other extreme. Why? Because everything is simply driven by the mind. So, when the mind perceives that some person is good, the mind makes that person feel far far better than what that person is, and then the mind shifts, and then the mind sees the person as bad. You are so bad that there is nothing good in you. So, the relationship – When we let the mind define the relationship- What happens initially there is too much expectation from that relationship, and when that expectation is not fulfilled then there is too much frustration. So, it is the mind which is often the cause of trouble. It is not the sole cause of trouble.

There are two people. Whenever they come together in a relationship there are differences. There a two individual people, there are differences, and there are different levels of compatibility between them, but it is the mind which can often aggravate the problems… manaha parama karanam mananti…
So, understanding how the mind functions is vital for us to be able to function effectively in our own lives, and the process of bhakti yoga is not just about chanting Hare Krishna, coming to a temple, dancing in kirtans. All this is very important. One reason of course is that we become attracted to Krishna and we become absorbed in love for Krishna. Another result of this is also that our inner world becomes illuminated – our in
ner world starts getting lit, and we start understanding how our mind is functioning, and then we can observe the mind and we correct the mind and deal with the mind effectively.

So, we will discuss this more in our future classes, today what I focussed on is manaha param karana mananti… it is the mind that magnifies our problems, and recognizing this is the beginning of rectifying it.

I will summarize:
I started by speaking about how the topic of the mind is talked about in Uddhava-gita. So, words have specific meanings and have generic meanings. It’s like the word energy – the way the scientists use in lab and uses at home. The word Brahman as it is used in Gauria Vaisnava philosophy to refer to personal Brahman or general spiritual reality. So, like that the word Bhagavad-gita – here the word Bhagavat refers to the speaker. That is the specific understanding of Bhagawat over there, but even the Uddhava-gita is also a Bhagavat-gita, but because this book is defined by the word Bhagawat- specific meaning. So, here this book is defined by the receiver of that knowledge. The whole book is about Bhagawan and in that this is about the receiver, and then I spoke about Bhagavad-gita- It’s a brief book because it is spoken in a very urgent situation. Like say in a World cup final, the batsman and the non-striker coming for a discussion midfield like Krishna and Arjuna coming and having a discussion.

We will discuss it elaborately in terms of the time that they have, but still it is not very elaborate. So, what Krishna speaks, there he elaborates to Uddhava, and one way he elaborates is by not just giving principles but giving stories to illustrate those principles, and one correlation between the teaching of the Bhagawad-gita and the story in the Uddhava-gita was the teaching of the mind.

With respect to the mind, I discussed Prabhupada’s way of translating as it is. Not just literal accuracy, but essential purpose. I talked about some Chinese book of medicine being translated by a practicing doctor who’s language may not be great but still the essential meaning will be conveyed. On the other hand if translated by a linguistic scholar – who may not know the medical intricacies – So, like that the Gita lives through those who live the Gita.

So, Prabhupada gives us the essential message of the Gita as it can apply in our life, and as it can lead us spiritually. So, Prabhupada translates the atma – one atma in uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ (Gita 6.5) as the soul, and the other as the mind. So, that way the whole verse makes easy sense. Alleviate yourself with the mind, don’t degrade yourselves, and to illustrate that in the Uddhava-gita – There is the story of the Avanti Brahmana who lost everything. He lost respect, he lost wealth, he lost relationships, he is being reviled by the people. That time instead of breaking down or committing suicide, he gets a realization – it is the mind that is the greatest cause of my suffering, and in that case we discussed how the mind – It is not telling over here – The Uddhava-gita is not saying that mind alone determines reality. It’s not that I desire to get a necklace, and I will get a necklace. There is a physical reality out there which does affect us, and it is not just shaped by our mind alone. But the mind shapes the effect of that reality on us.

So, often our resentment of reality hurts more than reality. Like we are not able to go to a picnic because of a flue – The flue doesn’t cause much pain but the mind beating us, ‘Why I couldn’t go?’ and that hurts us so much more. And then we discussed how the mind can aggravate all the three kinds of kleshas that come upon us. We have three cases in which we are situated as souls. The bodily casing. From that we get bhautik, adhyatmik klesh. For the social casing from which we may get the adibhautik klesh. The environmental casing from which we may get the adidaivik klesh. Now all these kleshas- they make us ashanta, but the magnitude of the Ashanti can be increased by the mind, and among these three often the greatest asanti comes with adibhautik, because with the adhyatmik and adidaivik, with respect to the body and environment we understand that I can’t control it. So, we just accept it and move on.

So, we grow beyond resentment soon, but in respect to adibhautik – Because we think that we can control others, and then we are not able to control – The mind just makes a big mess out of it. So, just as good fences makes good neighbours, similarly in our different relationships there have to be different fences, and in even in same relationship – in different phases in the relationship, in different ages the fences may vary. So, the fences have to be determined by both people with a mature discretion and mature understanding of each other, and the relationship is formed simply based on the mind.
I talked about love marriages. Either it is love at first sight – where the mind imagines the person as very very great, but then initially they say, ‘I can’t live without you.’ And then they say, ‘I can’t live with you.’ Why? Because the same mind earlier was seeing all the good, is now seeing all the bad. So, the mind makes relationship problems much worse, and in the process of bhakti yoga, the ultimate fruit is that it absorbs us in the love of Krishna. Along with that it lights our inner world by which we can see how the mind is functioning, and then when it is going wrong, when it is making things worse for us we can correct it with the inner light of the Bhagavad-gita.

Question and Answer Session:
Question 1: If forming marriages how important is the horoscope, and if the horoscope is to be matched then how much is the role of the mind within relationships where the horoscopes are matching also?
CCP: Astrology is based on an understanding that our – The events in our life – They are often shaped by influences beyond what we perceive in this world.

We all have done some karma in the past, and those reactions are stored, and they will come to us at different times in our life. An astrology gives us something like weather forecast. These events are going to happen in our life. So, it gives us a broad guideline about what is going to happen. It doesn’t control our life, it doesn’t define our life but it just defines roughly what are the kind of situations we are going to encounter in our life’s journey. Of course this also depends on whether the astrologer is competent, and today many astrologers are into it for business and that’s why we have to be careful. It is not that we have to consult astrologers for every small thing in life, and we should not become more dependent on the astrologer than we are in Krishna. Ultimately the astrologer’s are controlled by Krishna. The stars are controlled by Krishna who is the Lord of everyone, all living beings.

So, with respect to marriages – the astrological charts can give us a broad understanding of compatibility or incompatibility. It is not that just because the astrological charts are matching – That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have a very smooth relationship. Yes, that is— It is a predictor of reasonable compatibility. It is just like the road is good, but just because the road is good doesn’t necessarily mean that the ride is going to be smooth. The road may be good, but if the driver goes to sleep on the road there is going to be accident. If the driver drinks on the road, there is going to be an accident. So, it is not that just because two people are compatible – That means that automatically the relationship is going to be wonderful. Both have to be sensitive, both have to be respectful, both have to be properly dealing with each other as responsible, caring, human beings. So, this is one factor which is conducive to good relationships. At the same time – and it is not necessary that because the astrological charts are incompatible – That necessarily means that the relationship is going to be doomed. It’s going to make things difficult, but still if they are persistent they may still be able to make a good life.

Like sometimes some terrain may be very difficult, but a skilled driver still will persevere and go through. So, we can take astrology as one guide in our relationships, but we should not let it alone define relationships. What should not be done is – If you are having problems in relationship – Already there is a relationship, and there is a problem in the relationship. Then you go to find an astrologer who says, ‘This relationship is not going to work.’ – And then use that as a justification for breaking the relationship – then it is rather than taking astrology as a guide – We use astrology as a rationalization. That means that I want to do what I want to do, and I look for an astrologer who tells me what I want to do. Then it becomes a big mess.
So as devotees we can take astrology as a guidance – That is a broad principle, and there is no need to make it a sole guide, as the primary guide, and it is not that it is alone is a guarantor of success, and it alone is a determiner of failure. After that also other factors do matter, and as far as the mind is concerned again I would say that say that the mind is what we all have to manage, and the way we manage our mind will determine how our relationships also work.

See, The mind is a like a machine basically. So, if I have a car – I may have the best car in the world, but if I don’t take care of the car, then the car is going to get spoiled. So, like that I have a mind and I need to learn how to take care of it. If I let the mind go out of control, if I don’t manage the mind, it’s going to make a mess of things for me. So, even in the best of relationships the mind can make a mess of things, and even in the worst of relationships if the mind is in control, things can become better. But one factor could be that – When we say that astrologically two people are incompatible— One part of it also could be that – The mind itself is incompatible. It is just like, when two people’s minds are incompatible, it’s like two people are talking in two different languages, they just don’t understand and they have to make a special effort to understand how the mind thinks or how the other person thinks. So, more efforts may be required in that case. So, whatever be the compatibility or incompatibility, managing the mind is important for minimizing whatever inevitable friction is there.

Question: If somebody is going through a bad phase according to astrology, then how can the mind make any difference in that situation?

CCP: Yes, as I said that the mind may not change the external reality, but it can change the effect of the reality on us. So, yes because of some bad phase astrologically or whatever, I may lose my job or I may get some disease, I may meet with an accident. This sort of things can happen, but then how much I dwell on it, how much I let that crash me emotionally, that is upto me. So, when we chant the Hare Krishna mahamatra what is meant to do? manas trayeti iti mantra. Instead of thinking about the problem, I turn around and think about Krishna, and If I don’t think about the problem so much – There are broadly three kinds of thinking about problems: one kind of thinking about the problems is simply obsessing over the problem, ‘This is so big, big, big’. Then what happens, more we think about the problem – Imagine there is a boxing match going on, and in the boxing match two competitors are there, but somehow one competitor just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and the other becomes smaller and smaller. Then one smack and the match is over. So, it becomes like that. Sometimes when we passively think about the problem, then what happens we become more and more disempowered, and the problem starts becoming bigger and bigger. So, obsessing over the problem without anyway thinking about the solution — That is very destructive, that can make the problem huge.

The other is, where we think about solutions but we apply the solutions half-heartedly. Let me try this out, but we don’t put our heart into anything. Then it is like digging for gold at hundred places. We don’t find gold anywhere because the gold is deep down. So, even if somebody gives us a good solution, or even if we come up with a good solution we just don’t apply it, then it doesn’t work. So, sometimes the solution that we comes up may be wrong also, but if you are convinced it is better to try it out, put our weight behind it, after that if it wrong, then go somewhere else, but if you are half-hearted – One is we don’t anything, another is we do things half-heartedly. Then again we don’t solve the problem.

The third is, if there is a problem we don’t obsess over the problem. Of course if there is a problem– I have to think about the problem to solve the problem, but then I have to understand that – Just thinking about the problem doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. So, quite often if we just take a break, ‘Let me just think about something else, let me absorb myself in Krishna, let me absorb myself in something more constructive.’ Then the mind becomes calmer, and after we become calm then we look at the problem. So, we decide, ‘Ok, this is the problem, and this is the time – Ok, I have lost my job, I have to get a new job. Yes, I have to think about it, I have to get a job. But if 24 hours I think that I lost the job, then I have not only lost my job, I mind makes me lose my job-worthiness also, because I become so paralysed, I become so overwhelmed, then I just cannot do. Even if I got to an interview, I keep thinking, ‘O I lost that job, what if I lose this job also? What if I don’t do well?’

So, ok I lost my job, I have to get a job, I have to work for it, but it is not that I have to let that define me completely. So, there is a particular amount of time – Let’s say, I had a job and I worked for eight hours. So I will work eight hours to find a job, but after that let me go on with the remaining life. So, that means we define how much time I am going to give to this problem, and we give ourselves whole-heartedly in that, but after that we don’t carry it over – Don’t let that problem carry over all the time, and this requires satwa guna, the mode of goodness, and by the practice of bhakti yoga we can actually think all the time, but only in satwa guna we can think about our thinking. We are always thinking but understanding what is the way I am thinking – Am I thinking optimistically, am I thinking pessimistically, am I obsessing over something, or am I objectively analysing and learning from things. This thinking about thinking is what is possible when we are in the mode of goodness, and then we can evaluate and correct our thinking. That’s why we will see that sometimes if we are too burdened by problems, we just feel crushed. We come to temple and just absorb ourselves in Krishna katha, and then we become calmer and then we do try different things. So, that way the mind – If we mind it properly, then we can – Even if astrologically there is a bad phase we are through, but we don’t make the bad phase worse, but rather we will minimize the effects of bad phase on us.

Question: If for a young boy or a young girl no astrological match is coming up, but the girl and boy like each other though not compatible astrological, should the reject it or should they go ahead in spite of astrology?

CCP: I don’t know how I became a marriage counsellor. (laughter)

I will be more a philosophical counsellor.

Astrology is meant to be a tool. It is not meant to be the controller, because there is also the element of sraddha. By sraddha or faith what we mean is – That suppose a couple is astrologically incompatible, and somehow they like each other very much, and they want to get married, and the parent say, No! Then later on they may go into some other match, but then that will be at the back of their mind, and they will be half-hearted in that relationship, and even if that relationship could have worked out it may not work out, because see – Astrology is a tool, but ultimately it is individual effort that is going to determine the relationship. So, if – Not just the parents, but the boy and the girl also – And they also recognize astrology as important, and they also feel that astrological aspect should be given the importance, then because of astrological incompatibility that relation can be avoided. But the important point is that ultimately it is those two people who have to decide what they have to do.

Astrology can be a aid. It can be a very valuable aid. Neglecting that aid can even be very disastrous, but it is not that just by acting according to that aid all problems will be avoided, because it’s ultimately the two individuals, because when we give guidance to anyone – See Krishna also guides Arjuna after Arjuna seeks guidance in the Bhagavat-gita.

So, first Krishna just talks with Arjuna as a friend in 2.2 and 2.3. Krishna says, ‘How have you become so weak minded. Come on, buck up man, fight.’ That is what he is essentially saying to Arjuna, but in 2.7 when Arjuna surrenders, ‘śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam’, then Krishna gets into the mode of guiding. So, like that same way when we are guiding anyone, even if it is our own children – At that time when they have grown and they are in a particular age we can’t control them, and it has to be decided based on mutual consultation and mutual agreement.

So, because we are not living in a very traditional society, and because we are living in a very different society, so we all get different kinds of upbringings, different kinds of influences, different kinds of examples we see around us. So, the point of bhakti is not to turn back the clock. It is not to turn back the clock and start living the way people were living 500 years ago or 5000 years ago.

The point of bhakti is to turn on the compass. To turn on the compass means, it is our own inner wisdom, our own inner guide – We connect with that mood. So, as we come the Introduction of the Nectar of Devotion Introduction, he writes that, ‘Once we come to the mode of goodness, then how to advance further will be revealed from within.’ So, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need a spiritual master, but it is that we ultimately – How much can we depend on anyone else? How much is the spiritual master or guide available for us?

Decision making is a matter of shared responsibility. Even when in a situation there is guidance, we may tell somebody to do something because we feel that it is not good for them. It may not be good for them also, but if we tell them to something else and when that doesn’t work out they come and complain us, ‘Because of you it didn’t work.’ So, in some situations letting people make a bad decision may actually help the relationship in the long run and sometimes stopping people from doing a bad decision may create so much bitter feeling that that becomes a resentment that continues throughout the relationship.

So, saying it is necessary this way or that way – We do have to give guidance to others, but just trying to force anything on anyone based on some authority, and then they may not accept that authority. It can be very counter-productive in the long run. That’s why it’s ultimately – Whoever is forming that relationship – We have to see how much is their impetus to make things work and one good system I found is – When I was in New Zealand, I was talking with Devamrita Maharaj – Because in the West there is no system of parents arranging for marriages, and if say a girl becomes a devotee or a boy becomes a devotee then they want to marry a devotee, but their parent are not going to help them in that kind of marriage. So, what he has done is – Basically if a boy and a girl they like each other and they want to marry, he says, ‘You should have a courting period of 18 months, meet each under a supervision meet each other for 6 months, 10 months, 11 months, and then you can meet each other individually also alone, but for 18 months just see how your relationship goes, and then – What happens by that time is, when we interact with another person for more than one year, then all the romance induced hallucination that are there, they dissipate after sometime, and then we start seeing the other person as they actually are, and then after that also if the relationship persists, then there is a certain amount of stability in that relationship, and then it is likely to go on more and more, and according to some brain scientists also – They say, ‘Romance has a bench life of 9 months.’ That means that the hormones that gets secreted in the body, because of which people feel – When I touch you I got a electric volt – Electric current or whatever – Those hormones gets secreted for a particular amount of time, and after those hormones go down then actual relationship how it is gets defined.

So, that could be one way in which if people feel attracted to each other, but still how will you know if it is impulsive or not impulsive? Be patient, and don’t act on that relationship immediately. Wait and let the relationship evolve. So, we have to actually find out what works. It’s ultimately – When we are living in this world, the point of astrology or any tool is to help us function in the world.

Whether it is astrology or whether it is psychology or whatever it is – We have to see how we can make relationships in the world. So, if astrological compatible match is not being found, and if some other match is working out to be – At least emotionally they feel that they are compatible, then if they want to go ahead – Just because of astrology if we stop it, that may not be advisable. So, it is best to – Generally whenever the mind takes control, the mind wants immediate answers, yes or no. So, a good way to go off the mental platform is to press a pause button. Neither Yes nor No, let’s wait, and then the mind’s emotions, the minds emotionality all goes down, then afterwards we can see things more clearly, and take a decision.

So, of course this is not that easy in Indian culture. When I was talking to Devamrita Maharaj, I was telling him that in India if a boy and a girl are courting each other for 12 or 15 months, and after that they break apart, it’s going to be disgrace. So that is a problem, but that has to be dealt with. I think that in the younger generation people understand that it is better that we don’t form a relationship – Rather than form it and then regret it life-long.

So, how that will work out? As I said, this is – The principle is that we have to form a stable relationship. In practice how that will work out that will vary according to time, place and circumstances but the broad principle is that relationships — They will be primarily driven by who are going to drive the relationship. Why is it like that? You may say, in the past parents would form the marriage and that’s how it would go on. Why can’t it go on like that now?’ There are many reasons for that. The main reason what I would say is that, now we are not living in a joint family system. So, what happens, in the past because there was a joint family – The nourishment in the relationships came from many sources – We had our cousins, we had brothers, sisters, parents, uncles, aunties. So, the pressure on the male-female relationship to fulfil the human need for relationship was not that much, but now when there is nuclear family all the pressure of the human need for relationships is concentrated on this one relationship, and then, that’s why in the past even if husband and wife had completely arranged marriage, and they didn’t even know each other before – Because of the social structure they could go on. But now when that social structure is not there, when the level of emotional dependence or emotional – They don’t get emotional help from anywhere else, then the expectation from this relationship has also become very high, and that’s we can’t just simplistically apply practices – Principles remain the same, but practices we can’t just take those practices and impose them in some other social context. We have to be transplant them. We have to see how they can be applied, so that actually there can be growth in the relationship.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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