How To Control The Mind

[Shri Hanuman]“These reasons are enough to give up your hesitation, O Devi. Of steady mind, O Vaidehi, remove the grief of Rama and Lakshmana.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.38)

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तदवस्थाप्यतां बुद्धिरलं देवि विकाङ्क्षया।
विशोकं कुरु वैदेहि राघवं सहलक्ष्मणम्।।

tat avasthāpya tām buddhiḥ alam devi vikānkṣayā |
viśokam kuru vaidehi rāghavam saha lakṣmaṇam ||

It’s a difficult task, for sure. If everyone were able to do it, so many negative situations would be avoided. Remember that time riding the subway in the city? It was a routine trip for you. Of course, there were the usual interruptions. The public sector union has a stranglehold on the city’s transportation system, which means that the riders are at the mercy of whatever decisions that group reaches.

In addition to the many delays, there are the route alterations; the designated train doesn’t take the same route every day. They get re-routed, and making the process more confusing is that a train of a specific letter follows the route of a different letter train, but only for a few stops. Sometimes it switches three and four times during a longer journey.

This was one of those days, where nothing seemed to go right. Two people sitting nearby got into an argument. One person was upset that the other didn’t get up and offer their seat. Etiquette dictates that certain people should be given priority in seating, even in a crowded train, since they will have a more difficult time standing up.

[NYC Subway]There was no reason for the argument to escalate into violence, but that’s exactly what occurred. Making matters worse were the many smartphones filming the incident. Rather than get involved to help end the situation, to calm the hostilities, the thought was to record in order to perhaps share with the world later on.

If only the participants could have controlled their minds. Avoiding the conflict was the better choice. Why get so angry over something trivial? Why not let it go? Choose another fight. Pick a different hill to die on.

The Bhagavad-gita addresses these issues. The person in doubt, Arjuna, questions how the mind can be controlled. To him it is something like trying to get a hold of the wind, to put the material element of air in large quantities in your grasp.

चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद्दृढम्।
तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम्।।

cañcalaṃ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavaddṛḍham।
tasyāhaṃ nigrahaṃ manye vāyoriva suduṣkaram।।

“For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.34)

Indeed, so many benefits result from controlling the mind. Better judgment. Rational thought. No pain from potential injury. A higher chance at success in a particular endeavor. For the most difficult task, that of escaping the cycle of birth and death, mind control is essential. The ultimate effect is on consciousness, which determines the next kind of birth.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman asks Sita Devi, the princess of Videha, to keep a steady mind. The incoming condition is doubt. Hanuman has proposed taking her back with him, across the ocean, and into safety. Sita is hesitant. The idea seems so ridiculous that it must be due to his monkey nature.

To remove the doubts, Hanuman has expanded his size. He is comparable to Mount Meru, and he is willing to take the entire city of Lanka back with him. The mission is to find Sita and report back to her husband, Rama, who is looking for her. Yet after an initial assessment, the dedicated servant thinks that it would be better if Sita just returned with him, escaping harm’s way in the foreign territory of Lanka.

Bringing Sita back will remove the grief that plagues Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. The idea would be rejected outright, as Sita was well aware of Hanuman’s abilities. She would rather her husband come and rescue, thereby giving Him the proper credit.

[Shri Hanuman]Nevertheless, the easiest way to control the mind is revealed. Put faith in a higher authority. Let them sort out the difficulties. Hanuman can carry an entire city and also an entire population back to the spiritual world. Such is his potency, due to his unwavering and unflinching devotion to the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Thoughts in sober manner gather,

Let it go than fight now rather.

Otherwise the end to regret,

Mind into further worry set.

Important with spiritual life so,

Determining where next to go.

In authority like Shri Hanuman place,

Faith and trust for concern to erase.

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