“The word dama-shariri means that we have a body in which we can control the senses and the mind. The complication of materialistic life is due to an uncontrolled mind and uncontrolled senses. One should feel grateful to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for having obtained such a nice human form of body, and one should properly utilize it.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.19 Purport)
Why is losing weight so difficult? It shouldn’t be, for only simple action is required. Eat this thing and that. And then don’t eat anymore. The result is practically guaranteed. Just as the sun comes up in the morning, the weight will gradually decrease when this prescription is followed.
Why is quitting smoking so difficult? Just don’t do it anymore. Save a lot of money in the process. When the urge comes to smoke, don’t give in. And it’s not like cigarettes have to be all around you. Simply don’t go to the store to buy them. Then eventually quitting will be a reality. So many people don’t smoke and live just fine. It is indeed possible.
Why is giving up caffeine so difficult? Simply don’t take it. There are withdrawal symptoms for sure. The headaches will be tough to deal with. There will be the sluggish feeling in the morning. There will be fatigue throughout the day. But it is known that these symptoms are only there in the beginning. Eventually everything will get back to normal. So many people don’t take any caffeine and are able to function just fine.
Indeed, in the human form of life it is difficult to give up so many things. The habits most difficult to break are found in the adults; which means that at the start of life there are no such addictions. The difficulty lies in the mind and the senses. Yet both of these things can be controlled. The ability to control is a special gift to the human species and it is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
With an uncontrolled mind we say whatever we want. We don’t think of the long term consequences. But there are consequences. As an example, we can take the broadcasting of intentions. There is the negative in that the more people know about you, the more they can use that information against you. With an uncontrolled mind, you tell everything that you’re thinking as soon as you think it, and you suffer later on.
Overeating is a product of uncontrolled senses. The enjoyment is immediate, but later on things may not be so great. Bad habits such as smoking, drug addiction, gambling, and illicit sex are all due to uncontrolled senses. The mind is for controlling the senses, but often it is the other way around.
The benefit to controlling both the mind and the senses is strong and meaningful interaction with the spiritual side of life. Indeed, there is really no other purpose. If the goal was to do whatever the mind and the senses wanted, the animal species would be preferable. Without an attention to the spiritual side, the human birth is regressive. It is going backwards in the evolutionary chain, since there are so many new miseries to deal with.
The human body is a gift from God meant to be used for connecting with Him. A controlled mind helps me to create a regimen of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Controlled senses help me to rely on only the mercy of the Lord for food. This special kind of food is known as prasadam, and it has amazing healing properties.
Most importantly, the combination of a controlled mind and controlled senses helps me to be always conscious of God. Since the Lord is all-attractive He is known as Krishna. He has a transcendental form that displays that attractiveness. It is the focus of unbroken meditation which brings bliss throughout. With an uncontrolled mind one can’t realize this attractiveness, even if it is displayed right in front of them. With uncontrolled senses, the attention gets diverted elsewhere. Therefore regulation is vital for the advancement of the intelligent human being, whose destiny it is to be fully Krishna conscious by the time of death.
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)
There are four primary regulations recommended by those who are fully Krishna conscious. Avoid eating meat. Don’t engage in illicit sex. Never gamble and don’t take intoxicants. On the surface this seems like all the fun is taken out of life, but there is an accompanying aspect that is vital to success. Along with avoiding the four sinful activities there is the heartfelt engagement in bhakti-yoga. Chant the holy names, hear about Krishna, read about Him, explain His glories to others, and offer everything in your life to Him. Then you will slowly come to Him. Once you have Him, you’ll realize the true boon of the human existence.
With restraints on senses none,
Happy now, pain later to come.
To control the senses is the mind,
But often opposite way you’ll find.
Restrict but for pleasure to grow,
Since then easier Krishna to know.
Into the Divine bliss to lift,
This human birth’s real gift.