Dr. B. M. Palan M.D., D.Clin.Hypno. (USA)
How Mind is the Master?
There are seven fields of relationships in our life: The universal field wherein I am connected with the universe; the social field wherein I am related with the society (my country, my city, my cast); the professional field in which I am relating with my organization; the field of family where I am related to my family; the physical field in which I am related with my body, the mental field wherein I am related with my mind and finally, the intellectual field wherein I relate with my intellect.
In every relationship there are mutual expectations and desires. I have expectation from the universe that there should be optimum rains every year, the climate should not be too hot or cool and so on. And the universe expects me to take care of the carbon emission or other pollutants. I have expectations from my fellow people in the society; my city, my government and all. The city, the government and the society expect me to follow their rules properly. I have expectations that my organization should pay me a certain amount or give me certain facilities, while the organization expects me to work efficiently and honestly. I have expectations from my wife/husband and the children and in turn they all have many expectations from me. I have desires in the field of my body that it should be healthy, strong and good looking. My body would expect me to give proper diet, rest and exercise to it. I would wish my mind to be calm, happy and confident always; while my mind would wish me to give appropriate relaxation and recreation to it.
I wish to have sharp and subtle intellect and my intellect would need me to feed it with proper knowledge. Some of my desires and expectations are fulfilled (‘successes’) and many of them remain un-fulfilled (‘failures’). Generally, when there is success, I am happy – I celebrate but when I face failure, I am un-happy – I mourn. Even though the fulfilment of desire gives me happiness, neither it will be everlasting nor will it be absolute happiness. Either my desire will increase or change or I realize that the same object, individual or situation brought me problems also. Then I will have some another desire and the same cycle will repeat. Ultimately I will land up with the desire which will not be fulfilled and I will be unhappy. This way the Mind becomes my Master.
Why shall I Master my Mind?
If I master my mind then only my thoughts, feelings, motivations, decisions and resulting behaviour remain conducive for myself – I can adapt with the ever changing world around me, I can recover or rather grow (be more mature) from negative life events and stressors. If I have mastered my mind then my mental and physical health is maintained well under all circumstances. We know that disruption in the ability to regulate the duration and degree of negative thoughts and feelings leads to depression and other mood disorders while their suppression would disturb physiological functioning. Ultimately mastering the mind will maintain a sense of well-being and happiness for which I struggle throughout my life.
How can I Master my Mind?
We may consider the desire to be the cause of our unhappiness and we may wish not to have any further desires. This wish (which itself is again a desire!) can never be fulfilled because it is not in our hand to create or get rid of any desire. Desires are natural and they are created by themselves. Desires themselves are not the cause of our unhappiness. But the insistence for taking action on every desire and the attitude that always I must get outcome of my actions exactly according to my desire – are the causes of unhappiness. Insistence for the desire of getting something what I want is called raga and insistence for the desire of getting rid of something what I don’t want is called dwesha. It is this insistence (the raga and dwesha), which can be modified. I can become the Master of my Mind by:
(1) Choosing the right desire to act upon, and
(2) Creating the right kind of attitude towards the outcome – the result of my action.
(1) Choosing the right desire
We are blessed with three strengths: The ability to desire (Ichcha shakti), the ability to act on the desire (Karya shakti) and the intellect – ability to observe, analyze, differentiate, integrate, appraise, interpret, understand and make a choice (Budhdhi shakti). Before taking action on the desire, we need to use our intellect to examine the desire and decide whether it is to be fulfilled or not.
There are three criteria for examining the desire: (A) the state of mind, (B) the Preya vs. Shreya, and (C) the number of beneficiaries.
[It is the observation by rishis or the knowledge imparted by the oldest books of knowledge – the Vedanta or Upanishadas – that the consciousness or awareness (there are many terms used to indicate the same, like the Brahman or the chaitanya or the purusha or the adhisthana or the Unified Field of Awareness or the Non-local Pure Potential) is manifested in the form of material universe (the abhivyakti, the local potential) and then un-manifested into pure consciousness again by itself. It goes on happening repeatedly again and again – no one is doing this, it is the intrinsic quality of the consciousness itself. The duration of these cycles of manifestation and un-manifestation may range from fraction of a second (for example, consciousness manifesting as a thought and next moment un-manifesting and then may be another thought) to many millions of years (for example, consciousness manifesting in the form of this planet, Earth which may un-manifest after several millions of years).
It is the knowledge of Upnishadas that while manifesting, the consciousness will have some design – some laws or some order – which may be called “intention” or the wish of God. This design is based on the above mentioned three criteria of examining our desire (originating in the local manifested potential in the form of the human mind). If our desire is matching with the intrinsic design of the consciousness, it will be fulfilled (provided we work on it) but if our desire is different from the original design, the “intention”, then it will never be fulfilled. So there is wisdom in checking, before taking action, whether our desire is matching with the design of the universe or not. If it is not matching, we need not to waste our energy and time unnecessarily.]
In the first criterion we need to think, before acting on the desire, that what mental state we are likely to have at three different points of time: (I) before taking action on the desire, (II) while working on the desire and (III) after completion of the task. We need to see, ahead of taking up the task, whether we have clarity and enthusiasm in mind or we have confusion about doing it before we start working on our desire. While acting on the desire whether we would like people to know or we would want to hide it from the people – ‘nobody should know that we are doing this’. And finally, after completion of the task are we going to feel joy and contentment (bliss) or we are likely to feel guilty? If we find that before starting the work we have clear and enthusiastic mind; while working on the desire we would want people to know it; and at the end we are likely to feel blissful, we are suppose to work on that desire. This desire is more likely to fit into the design of the Universe.
The second criterion is about checking, weather the fulfilment of my desire is going to be preya – giving me happiness only for a short while (and then it is likely to be the cause of my unhappiness) or it will be shreya – giving me long term happiness (may be initially I may find it to be difficult or painful). If we find that it is going to be shreya then that desire is more likely to be fitting into the design of the Universe, we need to work on that. Ability to differentiate between preya and shreya is known as viveka.
The third criterion is thinking about how many people are going to be benefited by fulfilment of our desire? The Shastras say that an individual or a smaller group of people need to sacrifice their own desire for the benefit of larger number of people. So, if I find that fulfilment of my desire is going to give me happiness but it will cause suffering to my family, I am suppose to let go my desire for the happiness of my family. And if happiness of the family is going to be damaging to the city, the family need to sacrifice its desire for the benefit of the city. Though the city is going to be benefited by fulfilment of a desire, but it is going to create problem for the nation, then for the nation the city need to let go of its interest. And similarly for the benefit of the whole world, the nation needs to sacrifice its own interests. This criterion seems to be most difficult but we can see that in the matter of carbon emission and pollution, at least some meetings are held now – people have started thinking together for the benefit of the entire earth. It is realized clearly that for my own long term happiness, I need to think about happiness of others also.
When we find our desire passing the above three criteria (according to our own limited intellect), we need to work on it at our level best. We need to use our body, mind, intellect, strength, skills, resources, time, and everything fully to perform on the task. We need to give our hundred percent for fulfilment of our desire thus examined. Taking action – working hard is very important. Then there will be the result of our action.
(2) Attitude towards the result
There are four possible outcomes of our efforts: We may get exactly what we expected; we may get something more; or something less; or the result may be just the opposite. The knowledge of upnishadas suggest that the result is always going to be the one necessary for our long term happiness (shreya), for our growth, the one which can make us more mature; which can lead us to fulfil the purpose (the mission) of our life. The result is always befitting with the design of the universe, the “intention”.
As we learn to accept the result gracefully with this understanding, we grow – we become more mature. We start realizing that in all the seven fields of life, the events and situations were designed to gradually lead us to this maturity. We start realizing that when our desires are fulfilled (through the objects, persons or situations), we do get happiness, but this happiness does not exist permanently, neither it is absolute happiness. And our search is for everlasting and absolute happiness. We gradually move on to discover the harmony, the justice, the order in the universe. As we recognize and follow this order (existing, for example, in the form of laws of physics or biology or epistemological law), we achieve the inner state of blissfulness independent of objects, persons or situations. And this is being Master of our Mind. This is the real growth for which we are blessed with this wonderful pilgrimage in the form of human life.