While analyzing our mind, how to avoid paralysis by analysis?
Transcription by: Geetanjali Nath
Edited by: Nikhil Fernandes
Question: While analysing our mind, how to avoid paralysis by analysis?
The mode of goodness and the mode of ignorance look very similar. In both there may be no action. However, in mode of goodness the mind is directed constructively and in the mode of ignorance the mind is directed destructively. Srila Prabhupada did not translate bhakti as just devotion, but as devotional service. This means we must do action practically. We cannot dwell too much on thoughts alone, we have to also practically serve Krishna. To the extent we practically serve Krishna, to that extent we stay on spiritual path. How much analysis we do will depend on individual needs.
The oral and written traditions are two ways of disseminating knowledge. In general, people are not very intellectual and oral tradition which contains a limited amount of analysis, was the way they learnt about bhakti and scripture. The written tradition which includes books by Baladeva Vidyabhushana and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur among others, was primarily by scholars for other scholarly devotees. There is an extraordinary and intricate level of analysis in books like Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandharbha or to Baladeva Vidyabhushana’s Govinda Bhashya. However, that is required for only some people. In the past, not everyone read the Govinda Bhashya as it is a very technical book. For those who are trying to study Vedanta Sutra and wish to learn how the Vedanta Sutra lead to bhakti, those resources are available to us as well, via the written tradition.
At every step on the way, we have to determine whether our analysis is helping us to move closer towards Krishna or whether it is just exhausting or distracting us. For those who can use analysis for Krishna’s service, they not only can become attracted to Krishna and more committed to practicing bhakti through such analysis, but they may also attract other analytical people towards Krishna. The analysis then becomes a way we can use our intelligence and creativity in the service of Krishna. This is similar to kirtan which is another area in which individual creativity may be used for Krishna’s service. Some people are so good at it that they sing the kirtan in such a tune that it becomes an inspiring performance rather than just participation. While beautiful and marvellous it is not something which everybody can or need learn to perform kirtan.
Bhakti always has to be presented in the language and the value system of the ethos of contemporary culture. Only then it will be attractive to those in that contemporary culture. A characteristic of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition revealed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is that it is very kavyatmaka (poetic). At that time, kavyatmaka Sanskrit was very prominent. Rupa Goswami has written what is known as Chitrakavita Vani – visually graphic poetry. In this, there is a verse on Govardhan lila that uses just two syllables dh and r.
dhare dharadhara-dharam dharadhara-dhura-arudhi
dhira-dhir araradhadhi-rodham radha dhurandharam
There is another verse composed of only one syllable na that describes a prayer which is offered by Brahmaji to Krishna.
ninunnano’nanam nunam nanunonnanano’nunih
nanenanam ninun nenam nanaun nananao nanu
For Rupa Goswami it might have taken hours and hours to compose this. To understand the verses, you need to deeply look at the meaning of each word in order to extract the esoteric meaning of the verse. In this way, Rupa Goswami was using his poetic creativity in Krishna’s service. The contemporary thought was that the exhibition of devotion should be through the exhibition of intelligence by being linguistically creative, and our acharya’s showed that they could do just that and glorify Krishna.
Today, the frame of reference has shifted. We may feel that this kind of analysis it not needed, and it may be true. We may instead, use whatever frame of reference is in effect today. Nowadays, there are many devotees who journal. Through journaling, they analyse and de-process the issues of the mind. I asked a senior disciple of Prabhupada if there are any examples of our acharyas journaling. His reply was that a characteristic of kaliyuga is that the mind is upadrutah (disturbed or agitated). Our acharyas lived at that time the world and society were not that complicated, and minds were not that disturbed. If journaling can help one focus the mind on Krishna and become better a devotee of Krishna, then it can be taken up. Journaling may help us process feelings of anger and other negative emotions. In this way it may help us not get carried away by such negative emotions. Some people however, may not find it useful at all and will need to find other ways to deal with it. Thus, we must individually examine whether that activity is taking us closer to Krishna. Srila Prabhupada writes in the introduction to the Nectar of Instruction, that once we come to the mode of goodness how to advance further will be revealed from within. If we have been practicing bhakti steadily then we will understand, if what we are doing this is helping us grow in bhakti or we are being self-indulgent and wasting our time. We can observe, evaluate and may consult other devotees to determine whether this is helping us grow in our devotion and accordingly adopt or discard it.
End of transcription.