What your phone can teach you about your mind 1 – Deal with your default settings maturely

by Chaitanya CharanMarch 27, 2017

[Talk at ISKCON, Seattle, USA]


  So, in that verse in the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna says that, that spiritual world is not illumed by the sun…

na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko …nor by the moon na pāvakaḥ…. nor by fire

Now, Srila Prabhupada adds in his translation the word electricity… the spiritual world is not illumed by electricity. Now, we may wonder where this electricity is coming from. It is not mentioned over there. So, the point is that when the scripture is to be studied the point is not just to get it right. The point is to get it across, to get it across. That means that the essential point that is there, people should understand the message.

So, for example, if somebody comes and gives a class in excellent Sanskrit, but nobody in the audience understands Sanskrit. They got the point right, but they didn’t get anything across. So, now when it comes to language, it’s easy to understand, “I don’t know the language. So somebody has to speak, either translate that language into the language that I understand. However, language… when we use the word language, we use it… it can be applied not just to the verbal tool that we use for communication, but language can also be applied to the conceptual tool that we use for analysing and understanding.

All of us have a particular worldview, which we grow up with and things which don’t fit in  that worldview, things which don’t make sense within that worldview… we just can’t connect with it. So, the worldview that we have is like our language, and it is… when the… whatever message is given, it is communicated in terms of that worldview. Now, that worldview may not be exactly correct, but that is the frame of reference with which we have grown, and things have to be made intelligible within that worldview, and then we may expand the worldview to accommodate the things which were not included there. We may even revise the worldview, but first things have to make sense to us and knowledge progresses in a particular way.

If say… if today, I am going to speak on the demographic patterns of bears in the deserts of… in the polar regions of Russia. What has that go to do with me? Now, we just will not be able to connect with it, but when we say that, “Oh! Actually the demographic… the population of bears who are in the polar areas of Russia… that is decreasing. That increase… that indicates that the climate is actually changing, and the climate change is going to affect all of us. Then we see the connection. So, in general, knowledge progresses from the familiar to the unfamiliar… knowledge progresses from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Whenever we hear something unfamiliar, if it is connected with something familiar then it locks on over there, but if it is not connected to something familiar, then it just stays unfamiliar to us. It isn’t connected with us, it just doesn’t registered with us. In English there is a saying, “Hey! That doesn’t ring a bell for me!”, now what does ring a bell for me mean? That actually, it comes from the metaphor that actually when something is understood… that our memory it is like a place where the bell is rung, that means that the connection is established, and a chain of events start happening… just like in a classroom say when a bell is rung, that means you can say that an interval is there or a break is there… the children all rush out.

When something rings a bell, that means it triggers a set of thoughts inside us, and it activates us… we are able to connect with it, because it has connected with something inside us. So, same way when we want to understand the spiritual concept that is given in the Gita, if we can connect those concepts with contemporary things in our world, then… then it rings a bell within us. These things which are abstract are becoming clearer.

In the Bhagavatam itself… in the 11th Canto, there is a section which is called the Avadhut Gita… it’s an enlightenment by the natural path. There is a book written based on that – “Learning from 24 Gurus.”, and those gurus are basically from nature, and ok, what one can learn from a tree? What one can learn from the sky? Now, tree, sky… these are not directly spiritual. They are part of the material world, but by observation and connecting those things with spiritual truths, we can learn about spiritual truths. In today’s world most of us… we live not so much within… within a natural setting, as we live in a techno centric setting. So, in a techno centric setting, when there is technology all around us, can technology be used for spiritual purposes? One of course, we are using right now, we are using a mike, we are using a projector. So we are using various devices. That way for conveying the message or as a channel for the message… physical or instrumental, we can use technology. But technology itself can be used as a metaphor. Technology can be used as a tool for comparison by which we can learn. So, that is the background for this topic. What your phone can teach you about your mind?

So, the phone is the most ubiquitous of external devices. It’s among all the devices that we use… this is the most all-pervasive (laughter). In fact, according to some statistics, in the past it is like… even people who were very poor in India… in the slums they would have T.V., there would be antenna coming out of their houses, but now the people would almost may be starving, but they have phones. So, the penetrations of phones is become far, far more than that… what T.V has  achieved in several decades, the phone has penetrated more than that in less than a decade. The smart phone is not all that old, but… now of course there is also a question whether the phone… whether the smart phone makes us smart or un-smart?  But what we will see today is that actually the phone is… because it so present around us, because we use it so much, because we do think about it, whatever happens. So, we can learn from it how to take things forward in terms of understanding in our inner world. So, the idea is that we are anyway we are going to think of the phone, we are going to use it. So, in the Bhagavat Gita, in the 10th chapter, when Krishna talks about how he should be constantly remembered, how the pure devotee’s constantly remember Him, Arjuna asked the question at that time,

keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu
cintyo ’si bhagavan mayā (B.G 10.17)

“How Lord, can I remember You, and Prabhuapada explains in the purport the world bhavesu. It refers to material existence. People in general are conscious of material things. So, when they are conscious of material things, how can those people who are conscious of material things remember Krishna? Then Krishna gives His bibhuti…Bibhuti means the special… bhuta means existence, bibhuti means… bi is bisesha, it is a special existence. Something which is special within the existence, something that which… something that catches our attention, that is the bibhuti. So now, when Krishna gives a list of bibhuti’s… that is the indicative list, that is not exhaustive list. He says for example, “Among mountains I am Himalaya’s. Among the water bodies I am the ocean. Among the animals I am the lion.” So, the idea is… whatever is the most interactive, whatever is the most powerful, whatever is the most influential among a particular category of things, we see that… it’s that objects influence, it’s speciality, it’s attractiveness, as a manifestation of Krishna, and in that way we can understand that, “Ok, this is so attractive. Where does this attractiveness come from? This attractiveness comes from Krishna. Krishna speaks about the principle at the end of the Gita, in the 10th chapter. In 10.41, He says,

yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
mama tejo-’ṁśa-sambhavam

So, he says, “Whatever the opulent, glorious, beautiful… know that to be manifesting a spark of my splendour.” So, if we have to… if we were to talk about that list as indicative, we can expand that list. Say, we could say, “Among cricketers Krishna is so and so cricketer. Among footballer’s Krishna is so and so footballer.” Now, that is not a static list. In any generation, there would be different footballers, there would be different cricketers. So the idea is that, whoever attracts our attention in this world, whatever attracts our attention in the world, where does that attractiveness come from? The attractiveness is coming from Krishna, is manifesting a spark of Krishna’s splendour.

So, we could say that among devices, Krishna is the smartphone.(laughter). That is what attracts everyone, attracts people’s attention. May be 30-40 years ago you might have said, “Among devices Krishna is the television.”, but television is now almost passing. People still have television, people use television, but nobody is excited about televisions so much. How many companies are really… we have got a new brand of television… promoting it, advertising it, doesn’t make any much news. So, whichever things in that context… in a particular contemporary generation are attracting our attention… what we are anyway going to think of… if we can reconnected with spiritual truths, then we can direct our thoughts towards Krishna.

The thinking about Krishna, there are two broad ways of doing it. Thinking about Krishna and Krishna …11.29-30 (inaudible)…. one is that we withdraw ourselves from the world, and we focus on Krishna. That is what we do in our sadhana, in our chanting, when we come to the temple, when we focus on… when we go on pilgrimages… we are withdrawing from the world to connect with Krishna. Now, that mode of connection is important so that we can focus on Krishna. But, Krishna is also present in the world, in the sense that everything in the world is a manifestation of His energy. So, therefore we can connect with Him also through our capacity to see the connectedness of things of this world with Krishna. So, the phone… if we could connect… many philosophical points with the way a phone functions, then that can remind us of these philosophical points and that way we could get  certain things across.

So now, phone is something that we all are familiar with. So, I don’t have to elaborate on the phone, but the mind actually has many, many meanings. Not just one or… we usually use the mind in a particular sense, but in common parlance, the word mind has many meanings. So, for example if a teacher is giving a class… teacher is speaking in the class, and the student is looking here and there. Teacher may say, “Give this your full mind!”, “Give this your full mind” –what does it mean? Means give it your full attention, isn’t it? Or, if somebody comes up and you know they are class… they are studying in college, and suddenly they come and tell their parents, “I want to drop out of college.”, the parents would say, “Have you lost your mind?”, “Have you lost your mind”… there, what does the word mind mean? …13.18… why you are acting crazy? So, the meanings of words are actually just not fixed, they are not stored in dictionaries. One word can have many different meanings, and what we are referring… which meanings we are referring to, we need to be clear.

Similarly, the world mind… Einstein was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. Now, when we are using that word mind, there we are referring to an intellectual person, a very brilliant person. The most brilliant minds.

Now, in especially Western philosophy, the word mind is used for the non-material side of things. So, for example there is a common phrase, “mind over matter… or there was an Western philosopher Rene Descartes, who talked about mind, matter duality. The idea… he said that, “The body is made of matter, and there is something beyond the body…”, and that he called the mind. So, he referred to the non-physical part of our being, that is the mind. So, these are all valid senses in which different people have used the word mind.

When the Bhagavat Gita uses the word mind… it uses it in a particular sense. What is that sense? If we need to understand that sense, we will have to understand the Bhagavat Gita’s model of the self. The Bhagavat Gita offers us a particular understanding of who we are as persons, and based on that understanding we can understand what the mind is. So, it offers us a three level model of the self. There is the body, there is the mind and there is a soul, and… so our current existence we could say is three dimensional. That… we have the physical side, the mental side and the spiritual side. Now  there is the gross body, the subtle body and the so…

bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ
khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me
bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita, seventh chapter, fourth verse, “that these eight elements – earth, water, air, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego, they comprise the… eight elements of my separated energy.” Now, among them the first five are considered to be gross, the three are to be considered to be subtle. Now, the subtle body is sometimes referred to in short hand as the mind, although the subtle body has mind, intelligence and ego, but they are all essentially the same thing. I will explain what I mean by this. I say that the mind, intelligence and ego are essentially the… in structure, they are the same.

Say if I have a phone. In the phone I may have a OS. Some basic operating system is there, and then I have some inbuilt apps, and then I have some apps which are further downloaded. So, now if we look from the software perspective, the… all apps are essentially codes of 0 and 1… all apps are essentially codes of 0 and 1. Now, from the content perspective, there is no difference between the say, the operating system, a native app and a added app. The difference is from a functional perspective. The… infact there is a difference between one and two apps.. any two apps, there is no difference in terms of the content. It’s just a set of zero… sequence of zeroes and one’s. All apps are essentially the same, but in terms of functionality they are different.

Similarly, when we come to the subtle realm, when we come to the level of mind, intelligence and ego, it is… what are we made of? Now, earth, water, fire, air, ether, we understand that they are made up of atoms, but in the subtle level we don’t have anything called atoms. Atoms are gross. They may be invisible to the naked eye, but they are still gross things. So, when we talk about mind, intelligence and ego… that we don’t have the conception of atoms as we understand in modern physics. So, structurally, actually… they are the same. It is functionally they are different. So, in that sense you could refer to all the together as mind. That same substance, the same program, the same idea basically, the same code of 1’s and zero’s, if it is arranged in a particular way it may function as a app doing this function. It may… if arranged in a different way it may function as a app doing another function.

So, the mind is the… in that sense the intermediary between the body and the soul. Just like the software is the intermediary between the person, the user and the hardware, and this way we can compare, where exactly… what role the mind play in our… in our function. Now, most of us, when we get a computer, when we get a… nowadays for all practical purposes a phone is like a computer. So, when we get a small phone, get a phone… now the phone… when we think we get a phone, we essentially think of the structure of the phone, but actually the structure of the phone would be of no use without software on it. The software usually comes with it.

In the old age, when you purchased a computer… we would have to get some separate CD, and then install the hardware, install a software. Afterwards it starts functioning. Nowadays, most computers come with it. So, when we think of getting a phone, we don’t think of the phone and the software to run it as two different things. We just get it together. So, like that for all practical purposes, the body and the mind, they are lumped together as one unit. I will talk about this. There is big difference… For certain practical purposes, the body and the mind are lumped together in the sense that the body and the mind are both material. Body and the mind are both material, but just as in a computer… in a phone, we could say, “the hardware is something that we physically see.” If there is damage on the hardware, you can say, “Oh! There is a crack on the phone. Oh, there is this part which has become deformed.” You can see it very easily, but if there is some damage in the software, we can’t see it. Similarly, when people are hurt… If somebody say… has got a fracture, somebody has got a limp, somebody has got a scar, we can see that, “Oh! This person is hurt”, but if some person has been emotionally hurt we can’t see it, but that is also real.

Now, in what sense are the body and the mind one? They are one in the sense that both of them are different from us. Just like the phone… the software and the hardware, both are separate …20.47… Now, within themselves the software and the hardware are very different, and if there is the software problem, hardware problem, the way to deal with it is also different, and that dealings with software and hardware problems… I will talk about more in the evening talk, but here the point which I am making is that, “trying to understand this three level existence that we all have.”

So, we have to have a sense of distance from the mind so that we can understand the difference between us and the mind. What do I mean by this? That at one level the mind is inside us. At another level the mind is outside us. What do I mean by outside us? Actually the mind… right now say, I am speaking this. So, the mind is inside me, and the mind is saying, “Now, what you are speaking is very abstract. Nobody is understanding it. We should make things simpler.” May be there is mind inside you. What is all the… mind may be saying, “What is all these strange stuff going on here? I thought I came to here to hear about Krishna, what is all these things about phone going on now?”

So, we all have a mind inside us which is speaking certain things. So, in that sense the mind is inside us. But this idea of inside and outside is based on the reference point of the body. From the bodies perspective, the mind is inside us, and say this glass is outside us, …22.25-26… is outside all of yours , but if we consider that our actual identity is that we are souls, then from the souls perspective the mind is outside us. We are not our mind. The mind is outside us, and that’s where things become complicated when dealing with the mind.

See, with respect to the phone… we can see both the software and the hardware as outside us, because it is just outside …22.57… but when it comes to us… ourselves, the body is something which we see… Ok this is physically here, and the world that is outside us,  but the mind is inside us from the bodies perspective, and because of that we tend to very easily identify with the mind. And I will talk about this identification and how it can create problems soon, but the important point is just because the mind is inside us, that does not mean we and the mind are the same, that doesn’t mean that any and every thought that comes in our mind is necessarily our thought or it is our desire. We will try to understand this further.

Now, every… often we have devises, and the devises may have apps within them. So, the apps have certain… the apps have default setting, the devises themselves have default settings. So, one of my main services is writing. So, while writing when I have to proof-read, I often use the text to speak software to read out what I have written. So, to the human eye, the and them may look very similar, and I may not notice the spelling mistake, but when it is read out the pronunciation is so different that I can catch, “Oh this is mistake.”

So, once I had written, “the soul is sat-cid-ananda”, and in the computer… text-to-speak software read it out, “the soul is Saturday-cit-ananda” (laughter) So, now actually I had written it properly, …24.43-44… where is Saturday coming over here, then I looked back, then I …24.48…, from the computer’s perspective it thought that “sat, what is that? It is a week day, so I have to expand it to  Saturday.” So, there is a default setting over there, and so it was like a auto-correct over there, changed Sat for Saturday, but the auto-correct was incorrect, and I had typed in the correct thing but the computer made it incorrect, and then I had to re-correct what I had done.

So, just like, sometimes some default setting in a devise can make a correct input incorrect. Like that, we all also have default settings in our mind, and those default settings often make the correct into incorrect. What that means is… let’s consider one of the biggest problems that America is facing. Say, as technology is becoming bigger and better, it is said that all our devices are becoming smaller and smaller. The computers are becoming smaller, the phones are becoming smaller, even the weighing scales are becoming smaller, but the people on those weighing scales are becoming bigger and bigger (laughter) So, obesity is a big problem nowadays, and when this is a big problem, there are studies done about why people overeat, or how people overeat. So, now what happens, many people resolve, “Now, I am going to eat regulated.” There is a survey done asking people, “How many food related decisions do you take everyday?”, and most people they say, “we take about 12 to 16 decisions. Should I eat this, should I not eat this?” But then, they vent over the full day, they found that on an average people take 215 food related decisions everyday. Now, how is possible… 250? Actually, we get so many food related stimuli in today’s world, we can just be passing by a hotel, we say, “Oh, this food is there, should I take it, should I not take it?” We may see a billboard, we may see a promo. “Oh! May be I should I buy this or maybe I should not buy it.”

So, actually we keep thinking about it, and we take some decisions based on that, and now how do we take those decisions? So there is… we are going to talk about conscious and unconscious, but there is a third. There is conscious, unconscious and there is subconscious. Subconscious means that which happens below our conscious awareness.

So, for example, now say a person has decided, “I am going to eat healthy food.” So, they have kept some salads or some fruit. “Whenever I feel hungry, whenever I get a snack attack”… as they say, they desire to have a snack attacks (laughter), and they get a snack attack, “I can’t say no to it because I am hungry, but I will take some healthy food, like a fruit, like a salad, something healthy I will take.” But suppose, they have some healthy food in their drawer below their work place, and they also have some unhealthy food, they have something very fatty. Now, if they are conscious, “Ok I am feeling hungry, I will take this food and I will eat it.” If they are conscious, they will eat the healthy food, but suppose they are talking on phone or they are working on the computer, or they are just discussing with someone, and they are not really conscious of what they are doing, and suddenly they start feeling hungry. Now, without ever their realising… their hand will go to the fatty food (laughter), and they will start eating it, and after eating it, “Hey! I planned not to eat, what happened?” So, what happens is, we all have certain default settings within us. So, the hunger is a natural bodily need, but what I eat when I am hungry? That is something… which is a setting that is made in our mind, and that setting may be incorrect. That means, there are some people who drink a lot of soda. So, whenever they feel thirsty they don’t drink water, they drink soda. Now, water is quite good, soda is also may be useful in certain situations, but you know, if the setting is gone into their head, “That thirst means… I will take some soda, or I will take some soft drink.” Then although water could serve their purposes, they take the soft drink, and for many people when they are thirsty they take tea. Sometimes it may be fuming hot, and they take fuming hot tea at that time. (laughter) So, actually it doesn’t serve much purpose, but that is the setting that has gone in their mind, “Whenever I feel thirsty, I should take tea.” So, we all have certain default settings within us, and those default settings may not be the best settings for us. They may be faulty, and you know when… we often make resolutions, “Ok, I am not going to do this or I am going to do this” But you know the problem with the resolution is that, just like, I came by flight now from Laguna Beach, Irvine. So, there is a take-off. The flight takes off… say it took off at 6:50, and it is supposed to land at 9:50. So, there is a take-off, there is a landing. Now, what happens… our resolutions take off but they crash land before reaching the destination. It just takes off very enthusiastically.

There is… just a few months ago… in new year, I was giving a class in Australia. So, I was quoting that actually… if you see for… many people make New year resolutions, but it is found that more than 90% of the New Year resolutions are not new. (laughter) The resolutions that were made in the previous years, but you just couldn’t keep it. “So, this year I am going to do it.”

So, the problem is not that… sometimes people may say, “I just don’t have enough will power. You know, I don’t have enough determination, I don’t have enough will power.” Now, that is one understanding of it, but that is a very incomplete understanding. When we talk about default settings, the will power alone is not enough. Say, suppose this floor is say inclined like this. Now if the floor were inclined like this… and as soon as water falls on it… now say if there… near that wall, where the wall has become cloggy because of too much accumulation of water, and we want the water to flow this way, and here there is a … there is a sink or a drain from where the water can go out. Now, if the floor is inclined this way, then no matter how much I intend, “Oh the water should go this way”, but the water is not going to go this way. Because the floor is inclined this way, then the water is going to go this way. Now, if I want the water to go this way, each time the water falls I have to actually maybe use a soap or a brush or something, and push it in the opposite direction.

So, now we easily understand that if somebody says, “Why is the water flowing that way?” “The floor is inclined that way, that’s the way the water is going to go. If we don’t want the water to go that way, we will have to change the inclination of the floor, and if you don’t change the inclination, we can’t blame, why is the water going that way?”

So, when it is a physical structure, it is like… when a physical structure is in a particular way, it is not a matter of will power. “Why is the water going in that direction?” “That is where the water is going to go because the structure is like that.” Now, by my will power I may decide that I will push the water in the opposite direction, but the water by itself is going to go in that direction. So, we understand this easily for physical structures, but this applies also for the mind. Although the mind is subtle… but still it is real, and we use the word inclination for the mind also. Now, I have an inclination for this thing, I have an inclination for music, I have an inclination for cricket, I have an inclination for geography, whatever…. we use the word inclination for different things.

Now, what there the word inclination means is that, “I am interested in this, I like this.” My thoughts naturally go in that direction. So, mental inclinations affect the flow of our thoughts as tangibly as physical inclinations effect the flow of water. Just as physical inclination will naturally cause the flow of water to go in a particular way, similarly, mental inclinations will automatically cause our thoughts to go in particular ways, and when the thoughts start going in that direction, there is no use beating ourselves up for lacking will-power. It’s not a matter of will power, it’s just nature of …34.14-16…

Now, when I say it is nature that doesn’t mean that it is not changeable. The floor is inclined in this way, I can do some architectural work and change the inclination to be this way, but I have to do some physical work. Just by my desiring the water is not going to flow in that direction.

So, similarly with respect to our mind. So, we may decide, “Ok, I am hungry, I want to eat healthy food.” , but if I have been habituated to eating unhealthy food, eating fatty food, then naturally as soon as I start thinking of food, my thoughts will start going in a particular direction. “Ok, I am going to eat this.” It is not necessary…

(there is an announcement here, Toyota Camry … is wrongly parked)

So like this suddenly things flash on our mental screen also. (laughter) You are thinking about one thing, and suddenly something else comes up. (laughter)

So, now moving forward… with respect to the default settings. Now, with respect to the device… you have to understand it, that actually all of us… now if we have a browser in our phone, we often set it to a particular home page. Now, as soon as we open the browser, automatically it will go to the home page. Now, if I don’t want to go to that home page, then I have to go back and change the setting of that browser. Without that… as soon as the browser is open that home page is open. Like that, our mind has a particular home page, you know. (laughter) For some of us it may be food, for some of us it may be money, for some of us it may be a particular relative, for some of us it may be… for patriots it may be their nation, for different people it may be different things, for people who are cricket fans you know it is cricket…they are doing nothing, they are thinking about cricket. So, especially when the world cup is going on in India, often you see people… just walking along the streets and imagining swinging their bats, bowling, catching (laughter)…36.47-49… Actually, just what happens is… they just in their minds they are there in the cricket match. They are thinking, I am the next Tendulkar, I am the next Kohli, or whatever it is… so, that is the home page of their minds browser, and whatever… just like the homepage so naturally opens up whenever the browser is open, like that as soon as we start thinking our mind goes to the object that is our greatest attachment. So, by homepage of our minds browser I refer to the object of my greatest attachment. Now, it is not necessarily that the object of the greatest attachment has to be a bad thing.

It may be… if you are working in the world, money is important for us. If a mother is constantly thinking of the child that is good. She has to take care of the child, but sometimes when we want to think about other things also, we may not be able to think if our browser gets caught on that home page. That’s where it goes.

So, and sometimes we may be attached to things which are unhealthy also. A person who is alcoholic, they may just… from the moment they wake up, the first thing in the morning they think of is alcohol. Now, a person who is a drug addict, from the right from the moment they wake up till the moment they sleep, the thought that grips them and drags them the most is the thought of drugs.

So, depending on the mode of… depending on whether our mind is mode of goodness, passion or ignorance, we may have different home pages which may be of different levels of distractions for us. Some distractions may not be much harmful, some distractions may be very harmful, but actually that is not a distraction… that is our default focus of attention. It is a distraction from some higher purpose that we may have, but for us it is a default thought.

So, we all have certain settings for our mind, and now there are two extreme approaches to the settings of the mind. One is to resent, “Why are they like this?” And the other is to just surrender to them. Now, neither of them is of any practical help. When I start resenting, “Why does my mind go in that direction?” Ok, that is the way the mind is right now. Just like sometimes we get some devices and those devices have some inbuilt apps, like some devices come with a inbuilt browser, and we may not like that browser, but by default that is the browser. Now, we can’t change the default setting of that device. We may go deep in, and find out and install some other browser, and we may change that browser later, but by default it will come with that particular browser. So, like that now our mind has a particular set of settings. Now, resenting it is of no use.

So, some of us may… so going back to more philosophical contexts… the Gita talks about..

cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ

Krishna says that, in 4.13, there are these four varnas. Now, the four varnas, the four social divisions… essentially what are they about? They are four distinct mindsets, and a person who is of a vaisya mindset… by default their thoughts would be about money. For a person who is of a brahmana mindset, their thoughts would be about books, about study, about philosophy, about knowledge. Now it is not that thoughts about money are bad, and thoughts about knowledge are good. Both are just the default settings, and once if we start resenting, why is it like this? Then we just waste our energy.

Suppose a person who is of a vaisya mindset, the thoughts go towards money a lot, and then they see somebody who is delighting in studying sastras. “Why am I not like that?” Or somebody who is a brahmana… thoughts naturally goes to the scriptures, but they think, “Oh! This person you know, he earns so much. He is so shrewd about money. You know, I can’t even count notes properly.” (laughter) So why is it like that? Well, that is the way it is. We all have to understand that we have got this body which has got a particular set of settings. Now, the settings are changeable to some extent. That we will talk later, but the point is that we have to accept it that this is my beginning point, and when we are in the world it is not that we have to become someone else. A brahmana doesn’t have to be a vaisya, nor does a vaisya have to become a brahmana entirely. Brahmanical qualities need to be developed by vaisya, and a brahmana may… they may be living in the world, they may also have to have some understanding of monetary affairs, but it is not that we have to change ourselves to become someone else.

You know, if say I have an android phone, and someone has an I-phone, somebody else has a windows phone. Now, they all can serve the function of communication, but they will all have certain features of their own. Now, an android phone will not function like an I-phone, and an I-phone will not function like a windows phone, a windows phone will not function like an I-phone. So, there are differences, and once you accept, “Ok, this is the starting point.” Then we may be able to customise it. If I like some features of I-phone, I might try to get a app by which I can get that customized function in my phone, or I don’t like something about android, I might remove it from my… I might remove that particular software, particular app… we can do those things, but the starting point we have to accept, and once we accept, from there we move onwards.

I will talk about acceptance and transcendence much more in our later classes, but at this point the default settings…one point I said is… one identity… if you start resenting, “Why is it like this? The resentment doesn’t serve any purpose, because we are what we are. We can change from here, but we have to begin from where we are. Like if say, if we are travelling by road somewhere and we go to a wrong place. You have to accept that I am at the wrong place, and then we start off towards the right place. If we start resenting, “Why I am at this wrong place?” I will never get to the right place. So, we begin… resenting our default settings as no use. On the other hand just accepting them… that is also of no much use.

Or some people… they just keep forgetting things, and… “why didn’t you do it?” “Oh! I forgot”, “Why didn’t you write it down?” “I forgot that also.” (laughter) So, now some people say, this is the way I am. Now, “This is the way I am” is not a rationalization for irresponsibility. If I say, “this is the way I am”, then… “Ok I can accept…”, but then we have to take precautions to be able to do things effectively. Now, if I have a particular responsibility, I have a particular role, I have a particular service. I know that I have weakness in that particular thing. Then, I may have to prepare a little bit more, I may have to plan. So, it is not that because something is default setting, we just accept it as it is. We can’t change it… It’s not that we have to surrender to the default settings, and that change… it involves many steps, but the point that which I made is that just intention or will power alone is not enough. There is process required for making that change. The physical inclinations in a particular way… actually, I will have to change the flooring of the floor, so that inclination will go in a different direction.

Similarly, if we have settings in a particular way within us, just like the inclination of the mind. So, to change that, just like if there is a default setting in the phone… you may have to find, go deep into the settings, “Ok, where is the default settings for the browser? I don’t want this as my default browser. I want some other as my default browser. You will have to go within… find a setting and change the setting.

So, we have go deep, find a setting and change the setting. So, if I have autocorrect of Saturday, I don’t want to do that, then I have to go deep into the software, where are those auto correct settings? And then in this autocorrect… I don’t want this auto correct. So, it requires some more process. This intention, “I don’t want Sat to change to Saturday”, that is not going to make much difference for that is the default setting over there. So, resenting the default setting is of no use, nor is just uncritically accepting the default setting. What we need to do is, we understand the default setting first of all, recognize it and then recognize whether it is desirable or undesirable, and if it is undesirable then find a process to change the default setting. At a general level, the process of changing the default setting for our mind is bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga purifies us, and it changes the default settings gradually. I will talk about this again a little later, but at this stage the focus today is on the concept of default settings within the phone, and changing them with something that which we have to do, but we can do it in a balanced way without resenting it, without accepting it, but evaluating it maturely. But with the process for changing… as I said there is a first… I recognize the water is going in this direction; I don’t want the water to go in that direction. Then, what do I do? Krishna talks about sama and dama… in the qualities of a brahmana, in the 18th chapter, He talks about sama and dama. Sama is peacefulness of the mind. We could say, control of the mind, calmness, and dama is control of the senses. So, He says that this two are the first two qualities of a brahmana,

śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ
kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
brahma-karma svabhāva-jam

So in 18.42, He says these are the qualities… in the Bhagavat Gita. Now, what is the significance of sama and dama, control of the mind and control of the senses? So, control of the mind means, say if this is the home of a person. Say, two persons are staying in a hostel over here, and this is their work place, and along the way there is a bar. Now one of them has never drunk, and a person has learned from the childhood that drinking is bad, it is a bad habit, and it gets you into trouble. The person has never drunk and has no desire to drink also. Then what happens? He may see somebody drinking, they may see their friend drinking, they may see some tempting hoardings, they don’t feel that much agitated because that is not an option in their mental set of options only. They know that they are not going to do that. So, even when they pass by that bar they won’t drink. The desire also will not come. The mind would just stay peaceful. That is sama.

Dama means that the other person has drunk a few times, and as soon as they pass by the bar they get the desire… “maybe I should go and drink”… ….48:35…  “no, no I want to drink”… “but it will cost so much money.”… “No, but I want to drink.”… So, like that the desire comes in. But, the mind is not peaceful, but dama means that even when the mind is not peaceful, at least don’t act physically. So, the best is keep the mind peaceful so that one doesn’t get agitated, that is mind control, sama, but if the mind is not peaceful at least don’t act at the physical level, that is dama… control it.

So, going back to the example of the water flow… Sama means we change the flooring itself, so that the water naturally flows in the desired direction and doesn’t flow in the undesirable direction, but dama means when the water is flowing in the undesirable direction we physically push it back. We don’t let it flow. It will naturally flow in that direction, but we don’t let it flow, we push it back… we push it back.

So, in the initial stage of our bhakti when we are trying to change the default setting, often we have to push the water in the opposite direction…. push the water, the mind goes in a particular direction, we push it back, we push it back. So that by the default setting the… which is there in the mind… our thoughts will go in a particular directions, but push it back, push it back, push it back. It goes off… push it back, it goes off… push it back,

yato yato niścalati
manaś cañcalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
ātmany eva vaśaṁ nayet (B.G 6.26)

Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita, 6.25, 26, 27, He analyses how to control the mind. He says, wherever and whenever the mind wanders bring it back into the control of the self. This is actually the process of dama. The mind is actually going in a particular direction, and we are feeling, “let me do this”… “If I decided not to do it I will not do it.” So, it’s like repeatedly water in going in the wrong direction, push it back. Say as soon as I open the browser, the home page is opening. But, I don’t want this home page to open, close it. I have not yet come to know where is the default settings, and how to… how to change the settings. So, what I do, when the page is open, just close it. Now, like that in our situation, our mind may go in certain directions, but when it goes in those directions we have to be cautious, we have to be cautious.

Both about being cautious I will talk in the future sessions, and how to increase our consciousness, our consciousness, our awareness of things, but at this stage… this one process is, repeatedly making sure that if the wrong thing happens at the mental level, don’t let it happen, change it. Don’t get angry… “Why is it happening?”… If it is happening, then let it get it back. Don’t let the water flow too much in that direction. If the water is flowing, push it in the other direction. Like that we mechanically change… keep doing the right thing.

Now, the difference between a physical device and it’s settings, and the mental functioning is that… actually if we just keep changing… the mind goes in a particular direction, we get it back in that direction… in some other direction. The mind goes in some other direction; we get it back in the right direction. Just by doing this again and again itself the mind setting will change. To illustrate this… so, with respect to say the home page of the browser opening, we could give an example that the home page opening is one thing, the browser setting is another thing, and if I find that the browser setting is changing, the home page will not open itself, but with respect to the purification of the mind things don’t work that easily. Say for example, if we are going on a browser… and let’s look at the Google auto-complete… now you are here. Say that if… I will conclude with this example, and then we can have some questions and answers.

Let’s say, if I have been visiting a particular website say, the India News. So, if I have been visiting that repeatedly, and as soon as I type “I” in my browser window… thak… it immediately gives a auto-complete… “India News” Now, if I decided, I don’t want to visit this site so much, I don’t want to spend so much time on that. Now, what I do is… if instead I go to some other website… say, if I decide to go… I go to Iskcon News… Now if I keep choosing…as soon as “I” comes India News will come in autocomplete, but I don’t click that autocomplete, Iskcon… and again and again if I keep visiting Iskcon News, what happens? Over a period of time when I type I, Iskcon News will come. So, like that by repeatedly choosing a particular option, the autocomplete which google gives, that changes, and similarly when we repeatedly do a particular activity and that becomes like a pattern in  the mind, that becomes the setting of the mind. So, just by repeatedly doing the right activity… it requires will power, it requires determination, but you just keep doing it, gradually the setting of the mind changes. This is the mechanical way to change the setting of the mind. There is another…there is devotional way also to change it. We will talk about later, but this is also one way… This repeatedly doing the right thing, then gradually the option of doing the wrong thing goes back into the background… and the right option becomes the default option.

So, if somebody is addicted to eating sweets, and they want to eat a lot of sugar, a lot of patties of chocolate which is not very healthy, but then they decide, “I have a sweet tooth, I can’t give up eating sugar… sweets, but I will take natural sweets, maybe I will take dates, I will take something which is naturally sweet. Now, initially what the mind will say is, “No, I want to eat this, I want to eat this, I want to eat that, I want to eat this toffee, I want to eat this chocolate, I want to eat this candy” whatever… but if the person keeps eating say dates or whatever…naturally, they want to decide to eat… gradually as they keep doing it, what happens? The taste also changes. The sweet taste… the desire for sweet may not go away, but the desire for which particular sweet I need to eat, that can be changed. So, just by repeatedly doing this… after they consciously do it for one month, two months, three months, then after six months, as soon as the desire for eating some sweets comes in, immediately they will take think of dates, they will not think of some other sweets. So, what happened? By repeatedly choosing a particular option, that option has become like the default setting of the mind, and then when this happens, then the struggle internally decreases.

Krishna talks also… “The mind can also be your enemy, and the mind can also be your friend.” So, when the mind’s default setting which is something which is harmful for us, then the mind is our enemy, but when the mind’s default setting is something that is helpful for us, then the mind is our friend, and the whole process of bhakti yoga… yoga in general and bhakti yoga in particular is actually to change our mind from being our enemy to being our friend, and I will discuss about this more in our next session.


Summary  :

We started by talking about this topic- “What your phone can teach you about your mind.” ,and in that first I talked about how the spiritual message… whenever it is shared, the point is not just to get it right, the point is to get it across. So, when Srila Prabhupada adds electricity in the translation of 15.6,  the purpose is what? The purpose is that… Krishna’s point is that the spiritual world doesn’t require any source of light. So, Krishna… 5000 years ago, the common sources of light were – sun, moon and fire, but today for most people the most common source of light is electricity. So, to convey this point that the spiritual world doesn’t require any artificial source of illumination,  Prabhupada adds electricity over there. Electiriciy may not be there in Sanskrit, but the point is not just to get it right, the point is to get it across, “That the spiritual world doesn’t require any external source of illumination, that it is self-luminous.”

So, similarly the spiritual truths need to be translated into contemporary terms by which they become intelligible to us. Knowledge progresses from the familiar to the unfamiliar. So, when something is explained in familiar terms, then unfamiliar terms also…. it rings a bell within us. It triggers our thoughts and then understanding follows. So, I talked about how if somebody is speaking in a different language you won’t understand it, but when people come from different cultures, different backgrounds, different worldviews, the way they think that is also like their mental language, and unless things are presented in terms of their mental language, they may just… they may ok,… the physical… the verbal language makes sense, but things won’t register inside.

So, we live in the modern times and we need to understand the spiritual concepts in terms of contemporary terms. So, I talked about how the word mind, and the word… and the phone. The phone is the most ubiquitous device today. So, we talked about Krishna’s opulence’s. The list is not exhaustive, it is indicative. Whatever is attractive in this world, whatever we are going to think of anyway… Krishna through the Vibhuti yoga chapter says, “Understand that the thing that attracts you, that thing you think of is the manifestation of my greatness.”

So, in today’s world, with smart phones being so ubiquitous, you could say that, among devices Krishna is the smart phone. To think about it anyway… that is the attractiveness which impels people thoughts towards the phone. That attractiveness comes from within the… is a spark of Krishna’s splendour, and then we discussed about the word mind. Used very commonly, but it has many different meanings. So, it can refer to attention, intelligence, intellectual person or the non-material side of things. The Bhagavat Gita uses it in a specific sense to refer to the intermediary reality between the soul and the physical body. Like that there is hardware, there is software and the user. So, like that there is the body, mind and soul, and the subtle body is structurally more or less similarly, functionally it’s different. So subtle body… just like the software… within software we can have OS, native app’s, secondary apps.

Now, in terms of structure all of them are just codes of zero’s and one’s, but functionally they are different. So, from the structural point of view the whole subtle body is one, from the functional point of view… there are different functions performed by mind, intelligence and ego. That’s why in short hand the whole subtle body is sometimes referred to as the mind.

Now, we discussed about the mind being the intermediary between the body and the soul, just like the software is the intermediary between the user and the hardware. So, just as we think of a phone we understand that the hardware and the software are together with it. So, like that when we understand the body, we should know that the body and the mind are together as something outside of me, something distinct from me. Now, it is easy for us to… with a little philosophy to understand that I am different from the body, but the mind… to understand that it is different is little more difficult, because the mind is inside us from the body’s perspective. It is outside us from the soul’s perspective, but because it is inside us we tend to get carried away by its thoughts, and we think of those thoughts as our thoughts.

So, to dis-identify… dis-identify means not to identify with the mind. To dis-identify with the mind, what we need is some distance. So, just as the software may have some certain settings in a computer which may not be desirable… So, Sat Cid Ananda changing to Saturday Cid Ananda. It’s undesirable. So, it is default setting. Like that, we all have default settings for our mind which say, if you are going to eat some food, the default setting, “Oh good food means fatty food!” So, that is the default setting. So, that’s why if you are not thinking consciously, then subconsciously our hand will go towards the fatty food. So, to change that it’s not just will power or intention alone… that if the floor is inclined in a particular way, water will flow in that direction, no matter how strong my intention is that it should not flow.

Similarly, if we have certain default settings, our thoughts will go in those directions. So, we need to just as…  I want the water to flow in a different direction, either I have to change the flooring or I have to keep pushing the water in the other direction. Just the intention alone is not enough. So, like that our resolution, “I won’t do this.” alone is not enough. We need to follow it up with something more, and in that connection I discussed about our settings… we all have certain settings, and once you recognize those settings, it’s not necessary we resent the setting, nor it is necessary that we accept the settings. We evaluate the settings. If we resent it then we are just disempowering ourselves, because we are what we are, and if we just accept it then we are not using our free will effectively. We can’t change things. So, neither resenting nor accepting, but evaluating and then choosing.

So, initially we discussed specially for changing the settings, what we would call the brute force method… repetition method, sama and dama, that if the mind is peaceful, if there is no inclination… like if a person has never drank alcohol, they will have no inclination when they pass by alcohol bar also. That is sama, the mind is peaceful, but if the mind is getting agitated, then dama… bring it under control. So, if the floor is inclined in a particular direction, to get the water to go in the other direction… repeatedly we have to keep pushing, keep pushing in that direction. Like that, the mind may go off in a particular direction. So, to get it to go in another direction then we have to repeatedly bring it back… repeatedly bring it back. Like say if my computer browser… I repeatedly open Indian News, and I want… I don’t want to visit that site. So, to change that auto-complete from India News to Iskcon News, I will have to go to Iskcon News again and again and again. Like that if you keep doing the…using the wiser thing again and again and again, over a period of time the wiser thing will become our default choice. Just like say, if I am eating chocolates… I know that it is unhealthy, I have a sweet tooth. I don’t have to give necessarily sweets, so I eat natural sweets like dates. If I keep eating it again and again and again, over a period of time that will become the default setting. So, one way of changing the default setting is by deliberately making the right choice again and again. Further ways of changing the default setting, and further exploration0 of the metaphor of the mind… of the phone for understanding of the mind, we will discuss in our evening sessions.

Thank You very much. Hare Krishna (applause)

So any questions or comments?

If you like to write down and send in chits, that is also fine. If you would like to discuss in the evening, that’s also fine…

Question: inaudible

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: Ok, I got the question.

So, to change the default settings we need to be aware of it, but how do we become aware of things?

Yea, it’s actually a part of a later seminar, but I will just mention two, three points here.

The first point is, Awareness of our lack of awareness is also a step towards awareness (laughter). So, sometimes we may chant… “My mind wanders everywhere you know.”… Well, at least you know, complaining that the mind is wandering everywhere is better than wandering everywhere with the mind. (laughter)

When I saying that the mind is wandering everywhere that means I don’t want it to wander everywhere. So, if we have a particular… so chanting is an activity where we are actually forced to be aware of our minds, and when it is going off in other direction, and we find that it is… actually chanting… we may not realize through chanting that Krishna is non-different from the holy name, but through chanting very easily we can realize, “I am different from my mind.” (laughter), because I want to focus, but what is this force that is going here, going there, going there… there is something inside me which is not me. That we can very easily understand by chanting. So, in that sense even if our chanting is not attentive, still it gives us some level of realization. It takes us a step towards realization that, “ok, I am not aware. I want to be aware but I am not aware right now.” So, the first step is just becoming that, “ok, I am not conscious, I am not aware, that things are going off in a particular direction.”

So, any activity which requires us to focus… in a general way, or any activity that requires us to focus… that actually helps us to become aware of things, become more aware of our mind, and mind’s default settings. So, sometimes we chant and somehow struggle through our sixteen rounds and then “ah… finished.” (laughter). It appears like a work out. (laughter)

If you could wait after that and think for a few minutes. “Ok, everyday my mind wandered” Ok, we can look back after two, three minutes after that and think, “Where all did my mind wander?” And then we can try to find out patterns. Now every day the mind may find out new directions to wander, but there are some things which are common, and some things which are common. It may worry about finances, it may worry about relationships, it may worry about this, it may worry about that, and then if we can think through those things… consciously focus on those distractions and process them. “Ok, this is my finance, I have this concern, this is a solution for it and I can work out on these solutions.” Now, calmly write things down. “Ok, this can be dealt in this way. I am doing these things to deal with it, and in future I am going to do this.” So, when the mind starts wandering, or may be if we know there are two three distractions which regularly distract us from chanting, then just before we start chanting just read whatever we have resolved. “Ok, this distraction is troubling, this is what I have done to deal with this, this is what I am going to deal with this.” So, we address the specific distraction using our intelligence. And then, it is not that the mind will stop wandering, but at least the mind will not get so much energy, because what happens the mind says, “ Arre.. this is a big problem… you are doing nothing about it, do something, what is this chanting, stop it, do something else.”(laughter) But… “Yes this is problem, and I have done this, this, this, now sit down, focus on chanting.” So, the mind… it may not immediately listen, but it doesn’t get so much energy to agitate us. If we know, I have done this, this, this to solve the problems.

Sometimes, that means observing we often focus on… concentrating on the holy name and trying to get the mind back forcefully to the holy name. That is good, that is essential, that’s what we want to do, but also observing where the mind is going and then trying to deal with that in a practical as well as an intellectual way… that can help us to decrease the force of distraction. So, just like it applies to chanting, that can apply to other things also. Wherever we are unaware… if we start this… we start recognizing, “How is it that I am becoming unaware? What is exactly happening? Where are my thoughts going?”… Then we can address it specifically.

Does that address your question?

Thank You.

Any other question?

Question 2: I have a question about… like when we go in a car… Inaudible… those days the…inaudible… they can directly speak without… they can understand, they can remember. So in Kaliyuga… we can’t even remember.. Even in this age… we are living in this world… we have to connect the things which we can understand … Bhagavatam Himself is Lord Krishna. So, when we read the Bhagavatam we are associating with the Lord Himself, but in these days when we use our cell phones…  how we can feel that this is hardware… and hardware himself is Krishna, right?

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: So, the question is that, the Bhagavatam is non-different from Krishna. So, when we touch the book Bhagavatam I connect with Krishna, but say when we have Bhagavatam verses in our smart phone, so when we are touching our smart phone are we actually touching Krishna or how do we see this?


sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur
etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ

smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur
vismartavyo na jātucit (C.C.Madhya 22.113)

That the purpose of all the rules and regulations is to always remember Krishna and to never forget Krishna. So, whatever is favourable for our remembrance of Krishna, we accept that, and whatever is unfavourable we avoid that. So, now some devotees may feel that, “ok when I sit with the physical book Bhagavatam, I am really feeling like I am studying sastra”, and then that’s what stimulates their remembrance of Krishna. Some other devotee may feel that, “Actually if I have a book… I may not be always be carrying the book with me. If I am reading it in my phone or my computer, then I can mark it. I have a page marker, I can easily go to that page, I can have all my markings with me, I can have my whole book with me. So, they may feel, “This is a easier way for me to remember Krishna.” So, we… in certain settings, the traditional forms we do preserve. It’s not that in the temple altar, instead of the deities we are going to put a phone with the image of the deities. (laughter) We are going to have the deities over there. So, in certain places the traditional forms will be there, but at the same time we have to also remember the purpose, and the structure, the form should serve the purpose. The form should not obstruct the purpose.

So, if somebody doesn’t have a physical book, then with the phone they are reading that is wonderful. The important thing is to remember Krishna. So, if you see… as the technology is progressing, things are… things are changing drastically. Now, before say… Guttenberg, when he made the printing press… actually books themselves were a scarcity. So, Bhagavatam itself has a… throughout the history of the… of the Bhakti tradition, the book Bhagavatam was not very common. The book Bhagavatam was rare, it was there probably with some brahmanas. We know that story of Srinivas Acharya… when he wanted a Bhagavatam, he actually went across from Puri to Bengal and then he came back, he wanted to study under Gadadhar Pandit. Gadadhar Pandit’s Bhagavatam had already worn out because of tears. So, actually to get a copy, you had to go from one country to another, one state to another state and come back. So, in the past also the primary transmission of spiritual knowledge was through the oral tradition, like people would come and hear. Practically every village, every town they had the sadhus, they had their learned Vidyadsabhas… learned people and then there would be travelling monks who would go from place to place, and they would share. So, in the past also it’s not that most people were physically reading books. It was that they were hearing. So, the primary mode of transmission of knowledge was through hearing. Then, as books started getting printed… so, books became more and more available. So, in a sense the printing of books made access to physical books more wide spread. So, naturally when something becomes more widespread, there is a tendency to… to devaluate it a little bit.

So, something is very rare…so the Bhagavatam was only with the brahmanas, you see, and in the village there may be two or three brahmanas who would have Bhagavatam. Then naturally the Bhagavatam would be very much respected. Now, everybody has a Bhagavatam; the respect for it may go down a little bit. So, similarly if every phone has a Bhagavatam today, then the respect for it may go down, but the point is that is simply a cultural form. If you remember the spiritual purpose… so spiritual purpose. Now, if somebody has got…In life, somebody has got say 18 volumes of the Bhagavatam, then you know somebody… if the Bhagavatam was only in one place in a village, the people might even offer a arati to it, offer flowers to it, but if that Bhagavatam is in every house… it’s not practical to worship in every house. May be on special days, we may offer some… we may do something for it. So, the cultural form in which the sastras manifest, that has historically also changed.

In the past sastras would be hand written. Prabhupada didn’t insist that we have to have the sastras handed. It’s printed books. It’s perfectly fine. So, today if you are using phones, the cultural form certainly has certain reverence associated with it, but there is cultural reverence and there is spiritual reverence. Spiritual reverence comes from realization. So, if we have philosophical understanding that ok, Krishna is manifesting through the Bhagavatam, Krishna is manifesting through the Bhagavat Gita, and that wisdom is available here, then the spiritual purpose of remembering Krishna can be served even through the phone. So, the cultural form is important, but the cultural form is meant to assist the spiritual purpose, and if sometimes the cultural form is not particularly, easily available, then whatever way the spiritual purpose can be served we should serve it that way. So, we may not exactly get the feeling on opening the pocket Vedas app or whatever on the phone… “That ok, I am touching the Bhagavatam.” But, we can be intellectually touching Krishna, we can be devotionally touching Krishna by hearing, by using our intelligence to understand the Bhagavatam and by using our heart to devotionally connect with Krishna’s message of the Bhagavatam.

So, Krishna always remains accessible. The specific forms in which we access Krishna may vary according to time, place and circumstances, but Krishna will always be accessible, and the way to access it is through the devotional integrity of our heart. Does it answer your question?

Question 3: Prabhupada said that, Print the book and distribute…. So,… how can we spread the movement by using the science?

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu:  So, Prabhupada said print my books and distribute. Now we can’t actually say, “Distribute laptops or phones, (laughter)… containing Prabhupada’s books” We have to distribute physical books. So, what we have to do?

Actually, I think our generations problems are enough for us to deal with (laughter) Future generations… Krishna will send intelligent, devoted souls in each generation of His mission to carry on His mission. So, we can focus on our generation and yea, we can of course have leaders who are doing some succession planning, but we just can’t foresee too far in the future. We can foresee into it a little bit.

So, two points I would say about this. First is that in general, the digital distribution and the physical distribution, they are not competitive, they are actually complementary, that means that there are some people who read only digital books and they don’t read physical books. So, if we keep our message restricted only to physical books, we will not reach them, and there are people who read physical as well as digital. So, if our message is available in the digital books… the digital format also, then those people may connect with that and… so many people prefer to use… to read short things on computers or phones, and when they want to read something they just browse through books, and look at their experts, look at some sections, this things are interesting. Then they get a physical copy and they read it. So, the digital presentation of our message can actually expand the physical presentation also.

So, especially the younger generation… it’s mostly on the digital devices. So, it’s not that they don’t read books but first they explore on the digital realm. There is a pure research foundation which is specially known for doing surveys about religious organizations… into religion. They found that the last 20 years, or the last one or two decades basically, in the age group of 15 to 40, the people who converted to Christianity… almost 40% of them were introduced online to Christianity. That’s 40%. So it’s a substantiality number… so, if we are not presenting our message, others are going to present their message anyway, and the people will go over there. So, we have to present in the traditional format for people who are ready to take in the traditional format… we have to present in the contemporary format for those who are ready to take in a contemporary format. We have to be present wherever people are present, so that Krishna’s message is available to them, and how to do it in future generations? We really don’t know at this stage how the world will change. Now, may be five, ten years ago people had thought that the physical books are going to go out of print because digital books are going so much, but at least last year survey indicates that again physical books are going up. So, people still want to feel books in their hands. Digital books have been going up also, but physical books have had a resurgence. So, we can’t… the world is changing so fast. In the past, the changes that would take at least 50 years or 500 years, now they are happening in 5 years. So, we can’t really predict much in the future, but we have to be resourceful. Make Krishna available in whatever forum people are searching for.

Does that answer your question

Question: …….This whole process of changing the default setting seems to be a very tough process. …can I think of Lord Krishna as a … or a super-user (laughter) Can He do a complete reinstall….

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu : So, changing the settings is a very complicated process. So, can we say that Krishna is like the super admin who can change all settings in one go?

Yes, Krishna can definitely do that. At the same time, Krishna wants to see whether we want the change. So, we can see in our own lives that some changes have already happened. Some of us might have been eating meat before, but now if you are travelling in a plane or somewhere, and see somebody else is eating meat… Practically many devotees fall back from Krishna consciousness, but very few… if any who go back to meat eating. Prasadam is a higher taste. So, what happens is… certain desires which we may had earlier, they are just wiped off. So, we can look at our own past before we enter into bhakti… 5 years, 10 years, 20 years ago, and we can see some interest have gone off now. Something’s which we were craving for, now those cravings are not there at all. So, the process of bhakti’s purifying process is so great by Krishna’s mercy that some settings get wiped off, but some settings take longer. There are two reasons for some settings for some setting taking longer to change. One is that they may be themselves very deep rooted from previous life times, and second is that we may also indulge in them intermittently. So, it’s like if  ten times I go to Iskcon News, but after that  two, three times I go to India News, and again “I” comes, it is still going to be like…

So, something which we just made a…when we started practising bhatki we just made a clean break…and when we made a clean break, then those tendencies don’t surface again, but some tendencies may just keep… keep surfacing… they keep indulging in… we keep indulging in them. So, because of that, they still stay there in the… either in the foreground or the background of our consciousness. So, Krishna, he ultimately doesn’t want to impose His will on our will, and that’s why He won’t make changes unless we show Him that we want the changes, and if we show Him consistently… then whichever settings, whichever conditions are troubling us, He will help us to overcome them, and gradually they will also disappear.

So, Krishna is the super admin, but He is…. He is also a person who respects our free will. He wants us to by our conscious actions show what we want to choose, and if we choose repeatedly then Krishna can do much more than what we… what the mere power of our choice can do, the inner change requires much more than that, and that much more that is required that will be done by Krishna.

Question:  So, how do we… (inaudible) accepting our inclinations and acting on our desires… if we accept our inclinations then  we are going to becomplacent, at the same time if we are obsessed over changing our inclinations, then we are getting more and more resentful…So how to strike a balance?

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: So, how do 23 balance between accepting our inclinations and simply acting on them which will lead to further conditioning.

Yea, we give the example that if I have taken a wrong turn while I was going on a journey and I had gone somewhere where I didn’t intend to go…. I have to accept that I am at the wrong place. Then I steer around and go to the right place.

So, like that if we understand that, “ok, based on my present conditionings I tend to make some wrong choices.” So, as soon as I recognize that I made a wrong choice, at that it veers across and come back to the right track. To some extent our conditionings, our wrong choice will be a default for us, and we may do it to some extent without thinking but as soon as we realize… at that time we can correct.

See, Bhakti Vinod thakur in a different context gives the example that, you know, “If… while running a race we have gone of course…It is not that we have to go back to the starting point and start the race again. From wherever we are, we can come back on course.” So, like that to some extent our default conditionings will send us of course, and sometimes even before we realize it we go of course. So, what happens sometimes we do something which we have resolved not to do, we fall down, and then after we have fallen down the mind says, “Now you have fallen down, now you fall down fully. (laughter) Just binge more and more.”… No, we don’t have to do that. I fell down, that’s ok. That happened because of my conditioning, but now I can get up.

Sometimes… you know quite often it is a reaction to a mistake that aggravates the mistake much more. I made a mistake, but then I just reacted to it in a negative way, and then I aggravate it, perpetuate it. So if a snake has bitten me, then I get angry, “How dare this snake bite me, I am going to go and beat it to death now”… and the snake is slithering away and I go and chase the snake. I pound on it, pound on it… I may kill the snake, but in the process what is happening, I am killing myself. As I am running after it, as I am pounding my leg the poison is circulating in my blood stream. It will reach my heart, my brain… faster, and then I will die.

So, sometimes by our conditioning, the snake may come and bite us. Some desires may come up and do something, but as soon as we realize it… stop it. So, accepting means just recognizes that there is a high probability of this happening. We don’t live in a fantasy land where we think that, “Oh, this is… I have decided now, and from tomorrow onwards this is never going to happen.” It doesn’t work like that. So, quite often we are not able to perceive it in our resolutions… not because we don’t have enough determination. Rather it is because we have unrealistic expectations.

Here is my resolution; here is the reality I want, and I think that I just made the resolution… immediately the reality is going to happen. We have determination to perceive here…if we are going to recognize that…when I start walking, when I start moving forward, sometimes I slip, sometimes I will fall, again I will rise, again I may slip, again I will rise. Just keep doing this… gradually I will learn, and I will move on, but when we expect that, as soon as I have decided, “From tomorrow onwards I expect to be perfect.”

When our expectations are unrealistic, then when there is even a small reversal, small failure we get so discouraged… that we just give up after that. So, accepting our default setting doesn’t mean surrendering to it, it doesn’t mean that not attempting to change ourselves, it just means acknowledging the reality that … that I may make wrong choices, but if we just rationalize the wrong choices and perpetuate them and aggravate them, then we will never become free, but recognizing the probability that this will happen, and then as soon as this happens I correct myself.

So, in a sense, in terms of inner improvement… now the right and wrong choices are not so much like digital, they are analog. In specific incident there may be a right choice and a wrong choice, but overall in terms of our self-improvement, of our purification, of our overcoming our conditionings, of our going towards Krishna, it’s more of a analog progress, that yesterday.. the past I was here..where I just succumbed to the conditions. Now, if I expect the clock will just go from here to there immediately and I will transcend to the conditioning …1.38.35… , its not going to happen, but every day we struggle, every day we fall a little bit, rise again… struggle, rise again. By that the clock is moving fowards.. like this, like this, like this… So, our capacity to resist the conditionings is increasing more and more. Every day that we are chanting, every day we are associating with devotees, every day we are hearing sastras, every day we are doing seva… actually that conditioning is changing. Although, that change may not reflect immediately in our having overcome a particular condition choice that we are making, but that change is happening, and as that change happens… gradually we will find that the wiser choices will become easier and the unwise choices will become more and more… will also become easier to resist. So, it will happen gradually.

So, if we don’t accept the conditioning in the sense that we think, “This is way I am and this is the way I am going to be”, but we accept the conditioning in the sense that, “This is the way I am right now, and this is likely to happen.”… So, when it happens let me be alert, so that I can course correct as quickly as possible.

So, does that answer you question.

Thank you very much.

Srila Prabhupada ki….  Jay (repeated by everyone)

Gaura bhakta vrinda ki… Jay (repeated by everyone)

Nitai Gaura Prema nande…. Jay (repeated by everyone)

(Transcription by Sadananda Krishnaprema Prabhu)

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Chaitanya Charan