What your phone can teach you about your mind 3 – Check your energy drainers

by Chaitanya CharanMarch 29, 2017

[Talk at ISKCON, Seattle, USA]


Hare Krishna. I welcome all of you in today’s evening program, and thank you for coming.

So, we will be continuing our talk on what your phone can teach you about your mind…and we discussed two main aspects. In the first talk in the series we discussed about how the mind has its default setting just as a device has a default setting, and changing the default settings requires conscious effort. You just can’t expect it to change simply by our intension.

And in the second session we discussed about how in today’s world, there is a lot of attempt to improve the hardware, but improving the hardware can’t solve the software problems. Similarly, just improving things at the physical level doesn’t offer mental relief. People are comfortable but comfortably miserable… and in this session we will primarily talk about transforming. Our default settings are there…in today’s world the focus is too much on externals, not on internals. Not on changing the settings internally… and for changing the settings what can we do? There is an external aspect to it and there is an internal aspect to it. So, not exactly external or internal… but you will get what I mean by it. There is a practical and a transcendental aspect to it. So, today I will focus on the practical aspect as we function in relation to the outer world.

Now, most of us would have experienced that sometimes our phone battery just drains off. We are using the phone and by the end of half day the battery is almost zero, and we wonder why did this happen? May be sometimes we will have the blue tooth on or we may have a location on or we may find that if we have some… if you go to the feature and look at what has caused the battery to consume? You will find that, “Ok, there are some apps which I am not using at all, but in the battery they are sucking up so much energy, and because they suck up so much energy, so the apps which we want to use… when we want to use them, the battery has run out of power.” Like that in our mind also there are many desires, there are thoughts, there are inclinations, there are habits which just drain our energy.

At one level, worry itself is a great energy drainer. When you feel worried… the worry is like a background agitator… background energy consumer, background attention distracter. It just doesn’t allow us to focus on anything. So, worry is one thing that can drain our energy. And we will talk about worry and transcending it in tomorrow’s class. Today I will focus on something else which also drains our energy which we often don’t think about also so much.

Actually, ours is the age of freedom. Everybody wants to be free to have their own rights, to their own things. If anybody is told, “You should not do this.”… “Who are you to infringe on my freedom?”… Everybody wants to have their freedom. Now, however all freedom is not equally free. So, too much choice actually can actually not free us, but it can burden us.

Let’s look at it. So, the background app which sucks our energy… one such app is actually the capacity to have too many options before us.  So, a fundamental thing to understand is that our willpower is a finite resource… just like our muscle power is finite. When… if we have to carry weights… “Ok, I can carry say this much weight for this much time.” Then we won’t go around in life just carrying unnecessary weights with us. When I have to carry weights, then I will carry.

So, sometimes we exert our will power in unnecessary battles, and then when there necessary battles that come, then we don’t have any will power. So, it is not that… many times people feel, “I make resolutions, and I can’t stick to resolutions. I want to change to become a better person, but I am not able to change, I don’t have any will power.” Nobody can actually say that he has no will power. We all have will power, but our will power is often consumed by unnecessary things.

So, first of all… let’s consider this point that, “Can anyone say that I don’t have any will power?”

Krishna talks about in the Bhagavat Gita, in 18.35 about determination in the mode of ignorance.

yayā svapnaṁ bhayaṁ śokaṁ
viṣādaṁ madam eva ca
na vimuñcati durmedhā
dhṛtiḥ sā pārtha tāmasī

So, He says.. dhritih is determination… tamasi,  it is in the mode of ignorance. Now, we may think that how can a person in ignorance have determination? Actually that determination is a perverse determination. It is like… normally determination means holding on to something which is difficult to hold on, but something which is good. When you hold on to something which is difficult to hold on to, but we determinately hold on to it, despite the difficulties… that is what is called as determination. But what we are holding on to is good, then that is positive, that is determination, but if we are holding on to something which is bad that is obstinacy. That is negative. Just like Dhrtarastra’s attachment to the kingdom. So many told him, “give it up, give it up, give it up.” Dhrtarastra had attachment to Duryodhana… “Give him up”… “No, I will hold on to him.”… That acting of holding on can be accepted as determination, but that is determination in the mode of ignorance, because one is holding on to something that is harmful to oneself.

So, some people are very lazy. Now being lazy is actually not a very pleasant state. People mock us, people deride us, and people taunt us. We also feel that, “I am not able to do anything.” We also feel bad about ourselves and others talk bad about us, but still despite that some people are persistently lazy. So, when there is so much disrespect, irritation and taunting that they are subject to because of their laziness…but still they hold on to laziness. That is determination. Isn’t it? Somebody is say alcoholic addict. Now, they waste their money, they make a scene of themselves when they drink too much. They get a hangover, they throw up sometimes, they spoil their health, they ruin their relationships, they break their reputation, but they still keep drinking.

Now, so… addiction is actually a form of determination. It s a misdirected determination, but it is determination. So, everyone has determination. Question is simply where is my determination directed? So, when we say that we have to develop determination it is not that actually we have to develop, we have to simply redirect. Find out where my determination is, and if it is not in the healthy direction, get it back.

The same principle, when we talk about will power… our will power is a finite resource on the sense that there are certain things which you just do by the force of habit. Now we can change ourselves but there are only a limited number of battles that we can fight. So, if we have to fight to… if our will power is exerted too many times, then just like if I have to carry a heavy bag and I have to carry it for too long, I will just put it down, I will just give up, I can’t do it. So, if we recognized that the willpower is a finite resource, I need to use it wisely. Then, what we will do is we will shut, we will avoid unnecessary battles. I will explain what this is.

I will give a simple example to illustrate this.

So propinquity basically is a physiological term which basically means proximity or the effect on the behaviour because of proximity. Anywhere earlier I said that if we have some… we get a snack attack and if there is some fatty food right next to us, we will eat that food. So, basically the mind tends to be lazy and the mind chooses the path of mixed resistance. So for example, say this is our office and this is our room, and we are going along and there is a hotel, and in the hotel there is one of our favourite delicacies. It’s a fatty… It’s not a very healthy delicacy, but we want to… if we pass around the hotel and we find that, “Oh the hotel is practically empty.” Within just a matter of minutes we can be eating that. So, before we have realized it, the car will go inside this… take the car there, and we will be grabbing that, we will be paying the money, giving the money in the counter, take it and start chewing it as we are going back and driving. On the other hand if we find that there is big crowd over there and just to get to the counter it will take half an hour, and probably the order may take 15 more minutes. Then, the mind will say… “maybe in the future, 45 minutes is too much time.” So, this is not a sure fire method at all. If the mind is very attached to it, what to speak of 45 minutes, now we may spend hours over there; sometimes people go for  journey for hours just to get some food which they like sometime. That’s a different thing. There are stray desires that come within the mind. That means we see something… “May be I can enjoy this, maybe I can have this.” Stray desires that come in the mind… and if the opportunity to enjoy them is easily available, then battling them seems to be like an unnecessary battle, “C’mon just do it, and move on with it.” So, we just give in to it. The mind has a path of least resistance. So, in that case, “Ok, it is available, just do it.”

But, if as I said, if there is a big crowd over there, it is going to take a long time, then for the mind the path of least resistance is, “Forget it.” So, the mind is basically lazy and if we have to exert our will power for each battle, we can’t do it for very long.  So, Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita, 2.58,

yadā saṁharate cāyaṁ
kūrmo ’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ
tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā

So, He says that just as a tortoise withdraws his limbs into himself, similarly we can withdraw our senses from the sense objects. There are many people nowadays… with the so much social media available… there are many companies, there are many people. You know, they actually regulate access to the internet. “Ok, in the company you cannot visit this, this, this sites.” Why is that? Because they know that the people may visit those sites and they will not do work, they will do other things over there. So, that regulation actually brings focus. When there is no regulation, and when there is unlimited access available, people may go here, people may go there, and they will not do their work. When the regulation is there, the facility to… the chances that they will be able to work becomes greater.

Now, some people they… I know one of my friends who is a writer and he wants to write. So there are writing apps which help. So, there is the writing app which is called “Write or Die” So, what happens in the app… it says, “You just have to write and type and the moment you stop typing the computer starts deleting what you are typing.” (laughter) So, the idea is to force yourself to type. So, by that many people think, “Ok, if I stop typing it will start deleting, so let me type something.” That may not be great, but the idea is that… in literary cycles it is said that, “you can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.” If I have written something down, after sometime I can edit it and proofread it, but if I don’t have anything written I can’t edit it also. So, sometimes for us an external prop, an external support helps us to get started on the right thing, or helps us in stopping doing the wrong thing. This is not a sure fire solution. I will talk about that. Complete solution is something more, but this external props… 15.40…

In the Mahabharat… In the Ramayana, there is a story of Sugriva who was, who went to flee for his life away from the Kiskinda kingdom.

Ok… Out of sight is out of mind, provided the mind provided the mind is out of it. That means what? If there is something… as I gave the example of a person who is thinking, “May be you know I can be working on my computer, maybe I can check the facebook, maybe I check the latest news, maybe I can check the latest score… cricket score, whatever it is.” So, now that little temptation… they may not do it also, but that is consuming the mind… “Maybe I should do it, maybe I should not do it, maybe I should do it, maybe I should not do it.”  But suppose a person is saying, “The next one hour I am going to work, I will just cut off from that, I will disconnect.” Then, what happens is that when the option is closed, then the mind focuses much more easily. There is no guarantee but the possibility increases.

So, when our will power is expended on small, small choices, and too much of small, small choices, then what happens is… when we have make big choices we don’t have any will power left for that. So, when it comes to the small choices… “I am not going to get involved in this. This…. I will not keep this option open, I will just close the option.” Then, that helps us in focussing on the next choices. So, when the more… this is the point which I am making…. Freedom is not just the capacity to… is not just having the facility for unlimited choices.  Freedom comes not by having facilities for unlimited choices, but by the ability to make wise choices. Some we think freedom is, “I can do whatever I want to do.” Well, if we have hundreds of choices available for us, so much energy may go just thinking, “Should I do this, should I do that?” … Sometimes you may go to a shopping mall to buy a toothpaste, and there are hundreds of brands of toothpastes, and so we start thinking, “If I buy this.. If I buy this…” Now, you can spend a whole week looking at the specifications of the various toothpastes, and so much energy got wasted. Ok… if we use our intelligence, and if we make a choice…

Psychologists have found that with respect of choosing there are two kinds of people. There are maximizer’s and there are optimizer’s. Maximizer’s mean that they feel that every choice that I make… I must make the best choice. So, if I am going to buy a new phone I will look at all the phones in the market, and then I will find the best phone and then I will buy it. The optimizers are… they decide, “I am going to buy a phone, I have this much time. I will spend three, four hours, six hours, eight hours… whatever time. In this much time whatever good phone I will come across I will buy.” They found that in general, those who are maximizers, they actually get a better deal than the optimizer. Naturally, because they are spending more time. But, there is a problem with that. Because they spend so much time in trying to get the best deal. So, the expectation for the product increases a lot… and then after they have spend one month trying to decide which phone to take… and then when you get the phone, they think that this phone must be very special, but because the expectation is so high no product lives up to it …20.08… disappointment. And not only they are disappointed, another that happens is that… there is always the fear in the back… “May be if I had explored more I would have found a better choice.” So, in this way just keeping… those who are maximizers… because they focussed too much energy on every single choice’s that they have to make, then they just can’t move forward. They spend too much time on each choice and their energy just get dissipated over there. “So this much time I am going to put, and whatever I get that’s good, I will move on. It’s not the most important thing in my life. A phone is important but there are more important things in my life also.” So, here… what is again happening is… the choice is there, and they may get unlimited choices but when we get too caught, when we get too caught in choosing small, small thing, we lose the sense of perspective, and then when the big choices have to made we don’t have time, because so much time has gone in making small choices.

So, like that sometimes…especially in today’s world, as materialistic civilization has expanded or advance, whatever you say… the sheer number of material choices that we have, they have expanded so much, and because they have expanded so much… just choosing them takes a lot of time. Researchers have found that when people are watching T.V people are actually more attentive, more excited when they are surfing through channels than when they are watching a program. Because if they are surfing through channels they think, “Maybe I will find something good. Maybe I will find something good.” After they settle down to watch a program, “Ok it’s a program going on.”, so what has happened is that when the choices expand, actually our mental energy get consumed in just choosing, and the actual choice in the long run is not that important.

So, when small things take big time, then big thing get small time. So, we let our time, our energy…. let our will power get dissipated over small choices… then this are like apps which are there in the background… they are small apps, but they are taking so much of our energy. So, here what I am talking about is… I earlier said that there are certain default settings which may be undesirable and we have to correct them, but there are certain settings which are best set as default, don’t bother about them. Just say, if I have to send a text message… suppose I can go into the computer, go into the phone and I can decide, “When I send a message what font size should be message? What font should be the message, or what gradation of colour should be there in the font, what percentage of which color, what style it can wear?” Actually if you go to the computer and you start typing a word document also and go into word specifications, there can be dozens and dozens of choices over there. Now, most of them… they are set as default, and only if we want to change them for some purpose we can change. Now, our purpose… when we are typing a message is just to type the message. Imagine that every time we open a document and type a message, and the document made us chose everything else, what font, what font size, italics are bold or normal, or what kind of design, what kind of percentage, what kind of gradation. Now, all the choices will take so much time that by the time we will be sending the message we are so tired. Like that the real thing is sending the message. The other things… they are ok, but they are not something which we have to keep choosing everyday, they are not that important.

So, in the modern civilization because there are so many choices available in the material level our energy gets consumed in choosing those things, and when our energy gets consumed… “should I do this or should I do that ? Should I wear this with this dress or that dress? Should I have this kind of hair style or that kind of hair style? Should I have this or should I have that?” So, now this is important, but this is not all that important, but so much mental energy goes into that… that when actually real serious stuff comes up there is no energy left.

I read in one place that… Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft? Yea. So, I read in one place that for many years when he would come to office, he would just wear the same pair of shirt and pant with the same colour. When it asked to him, “Why?” He said, “That is one less decision to make.” So, what is happening over here, “If we increase the number of decision we have to do, then we dissipate our energy.

So, we need to talk about simplicity. Sometimes we think, you know “Simplicity… what does it mean?” Simplicity… does it mean leaving in a hut using no technology. No, simplicity doesn’t mean depriving ourselves of necessities. Simplicity means simply protecting ourselves from complexities, from unnecessary complexities. Simplicity means protecting ourselves from unnecessary complexities. So, now… as I said about optimizers and maximizers… when we make every choice as a very important choice… so, a phone is not simply a device for communication.  A phone becomes a status symbol, a phone becomes a statement about who you are, a phone becomes a statement of what your personality is… then you spent so much time thinking what phone I should have, what colour should I have, what screen should I have, what package should I have. So, unnecessarily when a culture is too materialistic… small, small choices are made into very big choices, and that is exactly like small apps taking huge amount of energy.

So, we will find that if we…if we decide that this are things which I have to do on a daily basis, but I won’t put too much energy in it. I will make the same decision and stick to that decision, and we minimize the options in our material life not in the sense of depriving ourselves but in the sense of focussing ourselves. So, having unlimited choices… that does not necessarily increase our freedom. That actually simply drains our energy, drains our energy. So, the real freedom comes by the ability to make wise choices. If that ability is not there, then just having many options is not freedom. That is actually a… it may seem like freedom but it is a burden. So, to a large extent if you want to focus on important things we have to make less important things like default. Ok, I will not spend so much time on this, this, this… so that I can focus more than I can focus more time on this, this and this… and then we find within our mind that there are.. there our energy is sucked. We look at ourselves and I look, “Ok, what was I thinking about?” If you look at what we were thinking about most of the time… now they are not really very important things. The important things which we need to think about is to put our time in… often they.. they stay at the back of our mind…other things crowd into the front, and when they crowd into the front, then they consume our time.

So, we talk about freedom, we need to redefine freedom. Redefining freedom… there are two kinds of freedoms. There is freedom for, and there is freedom from. So, for example freedom for… today’s culture focuses lot on freedom for. If I want to drink I will drink. If I want to take drugs, I will take drugs, if I want to have free sex I will have free sex, whatever it is. We want to be free to do what we want to do, but the freedom for… is not the only kind of freedom. There is freedom from. I think I gave this example earlier also… that there is some person. That there are two people who are staying at one place, and then their off-work place is here. In between there is a bar. Now, when the …  Did I give this example in the first class? Yea, Ok.

So, what has happened here… here… the person who has never drunk, that person what does he feel? He doesn’t even think about it. So, he moves straight to the office and starts working, but who has drunken repeatedly, as soon as he passes by the bar he starts thinking, “Should I drink? No… Yes..” So, actually freedom from certain desires is actually a great freedom. So, freedom from those desires frees us so that we get focussed on important things. Freedom for doing whatever we want to do, or whatever we think we want to do… that freedom actually often takes away our freedom to do things which are important for us.

The mind… we are trying to understand what your phone can teach us about your mind. So now, if you see in our phone there are 50 apps that are open. The phone itself doesn’t understand which apps are important for us. For the phone the 50 apps, and whichever app demands the most energy, the phone will give that energy. Unless we consciously close that app or disable that app, the phone is simply a dead machine. It will… whichever app demands energy it will take that energy. So, our mind is undeserving like that. Whichever desire pops up in the mind, whichever idea pops up…our mental energy will be sucked away. So, our intelligence has to process. If your intelligence is not vigilant, our the … some idea comes up in the mind, it just sucks the energy, and then when we want to do important things it won’t have any energy left for that. So, actually closing the door to certain options helps us to walk through the doors that are important for us. When we keep the unnecessary doors open… I know that I have to go here. This is where  my home is…there is door open here, there is a door open here also, maybe I can go here, maybe I can go here…. Even if I don’t go there, I just waste my time exploring.

So, in the case of our mental energy the mind… it just.. whatever thoughts come in the mind, the mind doesn’t discriminate. The intelligence can discriminate, the mind can’t. So, if we are not discerning then whichever desire comes in the mind, it just starts consuming our intelligence, it consumes our intelligence. So, freedom from… is actually a very energising form of freedom, because our energy is saved for doing the things which are important for us.

So, the more we recognize that this is important I want to do in my life. If I want to progress in a particular area whether that is material are or the spiritual area, then other options just close. Don’t let the mind entertain them so much.

So, again moving forward… freedom comes not by rejecting all the restrictions. It comes by respecting the right restrictions. What does it mean? The standard example that Srila Prabhupada would give was that of the fish. Now, if a fish says, “I will not accept any restrictions.”, and the fish comes out of water. When the fish comes out of water… the fish will be miserable, it will be tormented, it will just finish, it will die if it comes out of the water. Now, if the fish respects the restriction, “I have to be in water.” Once he respects that restriction it actually becomes free. It can swim up, it can swim down, it can swim left, it can swim right, it can swim front, it can swim back, it can go in many directions. It becomes free when he accepts the restrictions. So, freedom and restrictions are not contradictory. Restriction is what actually enables the freedom for doing things.

Say, consider a game like cricket. Now if you see people play… many people feel you know rules and restrictions they actually take away the enjoyment of life, but no… Imagine if there is a cricket game and a match is going on, and there are no rules. The bowler comes to bowl, and instead of throwing the ball, the bowler just runs right up to the batsman, pushes the batsman outside and knocks down the stumps, or the batsman hits the ball and the wicket keeper is out to catch and the batsman comes there and knocks the wicket keeper aside. There will be no game over there. So, even for playing a game, the freedom to perform, the freedom to excel, that is facilitated when the rules of the games are accepted. So, freedom doesn’t come by rejecting all the restrictions. It comes by respecting the right restrictions. So, when we practice bhakti Yoga, often there are rules and regulations, and these rules and regulations at one level can seem restrictive, but actually they are not restrictive, they are protective.

The rules and regulations, they protect us…protect our time, our energy from getting wasted unnecessary things. Just like in computer sometimes… in a phone… sometimes certain… certain apps try to access certain data and it restricts the permission over there. “No, this app can only have this much access, not this much access.” This restriction of permission… this ensures that the app can’t take up more energy, more time, more bandwidth, more data than what it requires. So, like that same way the rules and regulations… there are the positive rules and regulations of what we should do, and there is the restrictive rules and regulations of what we should not do. This restrictive rules and regulations… they actually free us from the agitation caused by unnecessary choices. So, that way when we respect the right restrictions we can become free to do the things that are important for us.

Now, nowadays people talk a lot about free love. Actually, they consider love… love is not free. Love is binding, love is a bond. That idea of free love was propagated by certain people who were themselves into all kinds of illicit activities. So, when they say free love the only thing that happens over there is that their idea of free… they use the word love to refer to sex. So, any man can have any relationship with any woman, and there should be no restriction. Now, free love is actually a contradiction…. self-contradiction, because love by nature is a bond, and when we say a bond.. bond means that there is restriction. So, when a man and a woman form a relationship with each other, at that time if they love each other, they form a commitment… then in a sense, they lose the freedom. They lose the freedom to interact with other members of the opposite sex, but that loss of freedom is more than compensated by the deeper connection with one person.

The Howard Medical Review, is the medical journal which actually studied the various issues, studied the consequences of the… what they call the sexual revolution. That is there… people just started engaging in sex. They went to many college campuses and asked the kids… most of them were engaging in free sex… asked them, “How do you feel?” Their idea was that whenever… if there are no restrictions, then you will have more bonding and more affection, more closeness. But this youths…all of them without exception…they said that, “Actually we feel more lonely.” Although their bodies are coming in contact with many other bodies, their hearts remained untouched, because they know that they are using others and others are using them. They are just using others as objects to titillate their body’s desires and others are using them as objects to titillate their bodily desires. So, actually it didn’t bring closeness. It actually creates loneliness.

So, whenever there is love… love is a… So, love actually… that means freedom is a valuable value, but freedom is not the supreme value. You want freedom for some purpose. Freedom so that you can pursue something important, something that is valuable for us.  Now, in general love… it brings out the better side in people. When parents have a child… now initially, they may just do what they want to do, but when they have a child that makes them responsible, that helps them to mature, that helps them to bring out the more responsible side, and the same principle applies much more when we learn to love Krishna.

Love by nature is a bond, but that bond frees us to bring out the best within us. Now, how the bond with Krishna brings out the best within us.


Summary : 

Today our talk primarily focussed on… how not all freedom is free …40.07… We need to choose the right restrictions to become free. So, I started by talking about will power is a finite resource. Just like we in our phone have some apps which suck energy, and our battery may get drained. So, we need to check…check those apps. Similarly, like that in our mind there are certain thoughts, desires, attitudes, which suck our energy. Worry is one such big energy sucker, but along with that there is also the energy that is sucked by having too many choices. When every small thing’s involves many, many choice’s, and every choice is made bigger than what it needs to be… every choice is made into a status symbol, the statement about oneself. Then our mental energy gets consumed too much in small things. For big things we don’t have any mental energy left.

We talked about optimizers and maximisers. Maximizers are those who try to get the maximum return from every single choice. They often get the best deal, but still their expectations become so high that then there is disappointment and anticlimax, and also there is always the background fear. If I had explored more I would have got a better choice. Optimizers recognize that there are many things in life, and for this particular choice I have to spend this much time. Whatever I will get with it, I will accept it and I will move on. So, this optimizer and the maximiser logic we can apply for our spiritual and material life.

In material life, today we can unlimited improvement in various fields, but that can so much of our energy and then we will not have any energy for spiritual life. We will not have any energy even for important things materially. … Important things materially, unimportant things take a …42.02… Don’t just battle over choices, chose your battles. Certain things which we know I am not going to do it…they are not really important, then don’t spend too much time in it. Just closing the door of a certain options is not restriction, it is not deprivation, it is actually the facility to focus. Just like when we are entering messages in our texts, certain things are set as default. If every time we have to chose all the parameters for a text, it will just drain our energy. You would not have the time for sending the text… would get depleted. Similarly, when we set certain things in our life as defaults. “Ok, this I won’t put too much thought and I will change this.”, then that which matters most we can our energy, we can put our thought and energy in it.

The mind tends to be lazy. So, if the tempting choices are easily available, the mind rushes towards that but if certain choices are not easily available, the laziness of the mind tells, “Ok forget it, do it later.” So, you can use the laziness of the mind also for our spiritual growth. By making the choices which are unhealthy, not so easily for us… just close the door…43.18 That way we can save our mental energy.

I discussed… this requires redefining freedom. I will talk about three things in redefining freedom. First is that freedom is not… doesn’t just come by having the facility for unlimited choices, it comes by the ability to make wise choices. Today’s culture provides us unlimited choices in so many things, but it doesn’t really educate us to make wise choices. Our study of scripture,  our spirituality, it educates us about wise choices and there is “freedom for” and there is “freedom from”. This freedom for doing whatever you want to do… that is not really freedom, that simply consumes  our energy. Freedom from, means certain options I am not going to consider, so that I can focus on certain things which are more important, and lastly I discussed about Free Love… it’s a self-contradiction. Love is the bond. Love restricts our options, but then it deepens our connections. Because we restrict the options of connecting with many people, in the process we deepen our connection with one person. Love restricts our options, but deepens our connections, and whenever there is genuine love… that actually inspires people to do better, parents become more responsible when they have a child because they love their child. Like that, same way love which is actually a restriction to our freedom, it helps us to become better, and the supreme Love, love for Krishna helps us to become the best that we can. How that happens… we will through the process of bhakti yoga, we will discuss in tomorrows class.

Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

Does anyone have any questions or comments?

Question 1: Swamiji you talked about …. there is book called on this subject, Choice….

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu:  Capacity to choose is a gift from God. So, shouldn’t  we use that capacity to choose wisely or should we just lower our standards because it drains our energy?

The point is not that we don’t exert our capacity to choose. The point is that we make choices that really matters. There are choices that matter a lot, and there are choices that don’t matter so much. So, today when there is so many choices to make, whichever choice pops up first in our mind, we spend a lot of time and energy on it, but that may not be the most important thing.

Just like, sometimes in a meeting some people speak very loudly. So, just because those people are  speaking the loudest, that doesn’t mean that their opinion is the best. Sometimes, some other people may be really wise, but they may be soft spoken. So, if in a meeting decisions were made based on, whoever speaks loudest, then often bad decisions will be made. So, like that in our minds there are certain desires, there are certain ideas that are screaming loudly, and then we give inordinate attention to them, and we spend a lot of time and energy in making those choices. So, before we exert the capacity to chose, we need to make a more fundamental …47.36… of that capacity, that is which choices are important for me, which choices are not important, and if the choices are important then definitely we need to exert time and energy in choosing, but the choices that are not all that important put them aside. “I will chose them, I will use my intelligence but I won’t spend disproportionate amount of time in choosing.

Does that answer your question

Devotee: Yes, thank you.

You have any other questions?

Question 2. Inaudible

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu:  So, how do we know whether we are choosing based on the mind or the intelligence, because sometimes the result comes out good people appreciate, and say you are very intelligent, but if the result out bad, they say, “You just acted on the mental platform.”

Yea, that is true. See the Mahabharat talks about, whether an option is good or bad there are broadly three parameters for decided that. There is intent, there is content and there is consequence. That means, Ok what was my intention …49.20-22… That is one factor that determines whether it is a right choice or a wrong choice, but good intension alone is not enough. Second is, sometimes we may give some advice to someone, “do like this or don’t do like this.”, and if some complications come up which we had no idea about. So, our intent was good. If I am not a trained doctor, and give medical advice to someone. My good intention is not enough. Intent is important….if I am a trained doctor, but my intension is to complicate the patients disease so that I can earn more money, then I will not give good advice. So, intent is one factor, and there is content. Content is what actually we are doing.

So, in a broad sense there are a certain things which say speaking truthfully… is a good thing, speaking lies is a bad thing. So, there are general moral understanding and ethical understanding in terms of content, it is not …50.16…. In certain emergencies doing something which apparently seems wrong maybe right. So, some …50.30… are chasing someone to kill a person, and that person comes to our house and… “Pleas save me, please hide me.”, and we hide the person…the person is our friend and we hide him in our house, and the …50.43… knock on our door, “Is he here?”, should we speak the truth at that time? Speaking the truth means that the person will die. So, we can’t only decide based on content. Content is an important guideline but there is consequence also. In that situation speaking the truth is the right thing, because it will cause the death of the person.

So, broadly speaking there is intent, content and consequence. All these three are important in terms of making a decision. So, now when we are practicing bhakti, what does bhakti do? Bhakti first of all purifies our intent. Practicing bhakti yoga… it purifies our intent. Now we learned to become more selfless or we learn to become more long-term in our things, not short term. So, our intent itself becomes deeper, higher and purer. Similarly, bhakti educates us about content.

Today we live in the age of moral relativism. If you feel good for you, it is right for you, feels bad for you, it is bad for you. If it feels bad for you, it is wrong for you. Now, moral relativism is actually… nobody is a moral relativist ultimately, because if you ask any person, “Do you believe that there are some people in the world who are doing terrible things?” If we ask anybody in the world, they will say, “Yes. Terrorists are killing innocent people, they are doing terrible things.”, then you turn around and ask, “Do these terrible terrorists think that they are doing terrible things?”…. “No, they think, I am doing the right thing.” So, just our own beliefs, our own feeling about certain things doesn’t mean it is right or wrong. So, nobody is a total moral …52.35… The point is that scriptures gives us education about right and wrong in terms of content.

tasmāc chāstraṁ pramāṇaṁ te
jñātvā śāstra-vidhānoktaṁ
karma kartum ihārhasi

Krishna says in the 16.24 in the Bhagavat Gita… therefore based on sastras we should understand what is right and what is wrong in terms of content, and then in terms of consequence it is said that the more we live in a mode of goodness, the more… sarva-dvāreṣu dehe ’smin
prakāśa upajāyate,
that actually when we are in the mode of goodness our senses are illumined with knowledge. That means that actually we can see, that say if the road is dark… this room is dark, I can’t see what is the next step ahead of me, I can’t see if there is ditch ahead of me, but if there is light I can see that there is a ditch and I will fall down. So, like that the more we become situated in the mode of goodness the more we are able to see the consequences ..53.30… and thus we can choose better. Of course, still there is no guarantee that always our choices will be right choices but we can learn. So, coming back to a specific question about mind and intelligence… now how do we know that we are choosing based on mind or intelligence? Generally speaking if we act impulsively and if that impulse is for something which is not in harmony with scripture broadly speaking, then we should know that the mind is speaking.

If something is an important decision to make, then it is best not to make that decision impulsive. Just put a freeze button on it, put a pause. Ok, I will make a decision but after some time. If we feel consistently inspired… now if I decide that this is what I want to do… I feel like doing this now, then I just pause and after one day also I feel like the same thing, after one week also I feel like the same thing, after one month also I feel the same thing. Then, we can maybe write down our thoughts and look after one month…54.32… “Ok, I was feeling like this, but I didn’t think about this. This is not so important. This is not such a reasonable thing.” If so, if we write down certain things, especially I am talking about important decisions that you have to make. If you write down somethings, then that written down… getting the thoughts out our mind just decreases our mental congestion, that distance brings perspective. Writing down also helps us to have a snapshot of our mind, and then after one week when I look at it again, “I am not thinking the same thing. So many other things to consider.” Then we realize that something… if we find after one week our thoughts are very different from what they were before, then we understand that this is just a flickering, oscillating mind going up and down, but if in a period of time… I am talking about making important decisions… then if over a period of time… it’s not that we constantly think about the thing. Just write it down and get it out of the mind.

We decide, “Ok, maybe once a week I will sit down and I will put concentrated time on thinking about this, thinking through this.”, and then we figure it out again… if week after week after week we find that our thoughts continuously go in the same direction, then we think that this is not just a flickering impulse of the mind. This is actually… this is more consistent inclination or inspiration that I have, and then when we act on it, we will act with conviction. Sometimes we may make a right choice, but if we are not convinced about it we will not go through it whole-heartedly, and then we will not get the right result. Sometimes we may make a wrong choice also, but if we have thought through it carefully then we will be able to do course correction. “Hey I thought like this, and Oh it is not working out like this. So, maybe I need to adjust this…”

So, the plans don’t always work, but planning always work…. What that means is that our specific plan, “I will do like this, I will do like this”, It doesn’t always work. Making plans itself… to some extent whenever we make plans we are trying to be the controller, “I will do this, this, this…” and sometimes we can control things, sometimes we can’t control things, but the activity of planning… So, making plans and trying to execute the plans that is in the mode of passion because we are trying to be the controllers, but planning as an activity is in the mode of goodness… in satwa guna. Planning means that we are thinking, “If this happen’s this factor, this factor, this factor…” So, plans may not work, but planning work in the sense that planning gives us a overall perspective, and then even if a particular plan goes wrong we know, “I can do this for course correction. I need to do this, I need to adjust this.”

That’s why if we have to make important decisions we don’t just act impulsively but we give thoughts to those things and give thoughts doesn’t mean we let them… at the background of our mind just keep nagging us but rather we get it out, and periodically as per a plan revisit it, and then we will be able to deliberate and make decisions.

Ultimately of course we need to pray to Krishna… dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te.
Krishna gives the intelligence, but then even though Krishna gives the intelligence if we are not receptive we will not be able to accept it. So, when we do our homework, when we use our intelligence and show Krishna, that “Krishna I am using all the intelligence that I have.”, then Krishna will give us whatever intelligence we are lacking, and then we can make the right choice.

Q.3 : inaudible

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu:  : So, within bhakti also we have to make many choices. So, how do we make choices within bhakti. Actually this is the topic of the last session which will be tomorrow. I will just talk briefly right now.

In bhakti there is the form of service and there is the purpose of service, rather the principle…principle is, “I am meant to serve Krishna. Krishna is my Lord and I am His servant.” That principle remains unchanging. The form in which we serve, that will change according to time, place and circumstances. So, now which particular form we choose when, that is something which we have to use our God-given intelligence… So, there are two broad factors in this. One is initially we do whatever we are told to do, and that is our submission. In bhakti there is two aspects, one is submission to our guides, and the second is our own initiative… that is also important because it is not that there will always be some senior devotee over our head to tell us, “do this, do this….” The world is a big place. We may go to places where we may not have association, we have to also take decisions ourselves. So, while doing whatever we are told to do we also observe… Now, what is it that I like to do? What is that I am good at doing? Two factors…what is that I like doing and what is that I am good at doing? And if you find this two things working in a particular avenue, we can’t understand that more or less, this is my nature, and then we can try focussing more and more of our energy on that.

Some of us may like to distribute books, some of us may like to study scriptures and teach scriptures, some of us may just like to do cooking, some of us may like to do deity worship, some of us…there are open services in bhakti and we will… if we are vigilant, we will be able to observe, “Which is that I connect with?” We again… do whatever we are told to do, but at the same time we take initiative to find out what are good at and what we like.
Krishna says, guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ… He talks about varnasrama…the  point of varnasrama is not to simply divide people into four varnas. The point is to engage people in a way that is natural to their material situation. So, to engage Brahmanas we need intellectual work, to engage ksatriyas administrative work, martial work. So, like that the point is to engage the people to what their naturally endowed with. So, guna… when we like something, that is like corresponding with the guna, and when we are good at something that is like corresponding with karma. So, when we are comfortable doing something and when we are competent doing something, that we can understand is like our guna-karma. By doing that we can actually get a steady service which we feel inspired to do, and which we are…  which we can make a tangible contribution to. That way we can move onwards in our bhakti.

And, similarly with the spiritual stimuli which we have. Some of us may like… like particular deities in a particular dress. Some of us may like a particular kirtan, a particular dhoti, someone may like a particular holy place. Among the worship able forms in the altar also someone may be attracted to a particular person. This are all individual spiritual preferences. The principle is that we are devoted to the Lord, but which particular manifestation of the Lord we may feel especially connected with, that will vary, ant that’s a manifestation of our individuality. So, as we are doing our bhakti we also keep observing our spiritual manifestations. This is actually called udipan… Udipan means spiritual stimulus, and whichever Udipan triggers us the most, triggers our spiritual desires the most, we cherish that and thus we move forward to that so that we can connect with Krishna more deeply.

Q : Sometime the surrounding situation may…

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: So… if we have social pressure in a particular situation to do a particular thing, how do we deal with that?

See, in general when we are practicing bhakti there is a dynamic tension between having freedom and having facility. What it means is that if you want freedom, we won’t have facilities. If you want facilities, we won’t have freedom. That’s how it works. So, if we feel strongly inspired to do something, then we won’t get facilities. One facility is support from others. Because whenever there is a particular… particular system in place the focus of that system, the focus of the leaders of the system will be on maintaining that or expanding that. It’s not that doing something else is wrong, but it is unreasonable for us to expect them to facilitate us, because their energy is going to be focussed on doing what they are inspired to do. So, in the initial stages of our life it is very… initial stages of our spiritual life it is important that we focus more on, more on doing what we are told to do so that we learn the virtues of submission, we learn how things work, we learn what all we can do, but over a period of time if we feel inspired to do something… as long as it is not… as long as we are not earning the disapproval of others, then if we feel very driven to do something we can do it. The important thing is that we don’t or hurt others, we don’t in order to get the space to do what we want to do… we don’t have to criticize what others are doing. It’s not that they are wrong and we are right, or that we are wrong and they are right. It is just that we all have different inspirations in our bhakti. We all can have.

And Srila Prabhupada has made a big house where we all serve Krishna in different ways. So, we will have to decide that. If we want the facility of social approval within the devotee community, we will have to do that which will… is the focus of that particular society, that particular social group. If we want the freedom of doing what we feel inspired to do then we have to tolerate not getting social approval, but either way we should not spoil the relationships, we shouldn’t think that whoever is not supporting is they are bad people or if… basically we should maintain good relationships and then at a practical level do what is the… what is the best for our spiritual grouth, and in general over a period of time see what happens is if we have served in a competent, consistent way for some amount of time, then senior devotees will also see that we are trustworthy and they will give us the freedom also. “Ok, if you inspired to do that you can do that.” They may not facilitate, because the facilities are limited and they may use the facilities for doing what they are inspired to do, but at least they see that, “Ok you have an idea, you can do it.”

So, we should generally work in such a way that, cordiality and amicability is maintained in relationships but if we feel strongly inspired to do something we should know that we will have to do it with our initiative. We shouldn’t think that others will necessarily help us… because it is not that they are unhelpful, it is just that everybody has their priorities even in the service to Krishna.

Thank you very much.

Srila Prabhupada ki…………. Jay (repeated by everyone)

Gaura bhakta vrida ki……….. Jay (repeated by everyone)

Nitai Gaura Premanande…

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