“As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.67)
इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां
यन् मनो ऽनुविधीयते
तद् अस्य हरति प्रज्ञां
वायुर् नावम् इवाम्भसि
indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ
yan mano ‘nuvidhīyate
tad asya harati prajñāṁ
vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi
A boat veering off course. The captain no longer paying attention. They had everything going for them. The charter was scheduled to arrive prior to its previously anticipated date. The weather was cooperating. Enough provisions to last an extra few weeks.
But then the attention drifted elsewhere. The captain lost track. Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that the intelligence can get taken in the wrong direction through a similar distraction. The focus goes towards a single sense, and from there everything is lost, including prior discrimination won through intense effort and dedication.
And so the exercise of genuine religion is not a simple and easy affair. The rules and regulations exist for a reason. They are helpful hints descending from authority figures, those who know how to succeed. Indeed, in so many areas of life removing a single distraction is known to make a quick positive impact.
1. Taking a toy from a baby
You didn’t follow what the experts say. You didn’t read the books on parenting. On days like these, you kind of wish you had. They recommend the baby sleep in a separate room. Let them learn to fall asleep on their own, without any extra effort from you.
At the same time, you and your wife could not tolerate the crying. You would rather do whatever it takes to get the little one some rest. And so the nightly routine has been rocking back and forth in the stroller. After a few minutes the baby falls asleep, and then you can transfer her to a bed for the night.
Except this time is a little tougher than usual. She definitely is tired, but there is a distraction in her hands. A toy with which she was playing previously, it maintains her attention enough to keep her awake. You finally realize the problem. Taking the toy away allows her to fall asleep fast.
2. Turning off the television at work
The developers are behind. They are routinely missing deadlines. The complaint is that there is just too much work. This bug fix. This feature enhancement. That rewrite. If they could focus on just one task, they would have better efficiency. At least that is the claim.
As the manager, you decide to try something. Take the television out of the office. No more distractions. Let’s see what happens. Sure enough, the productivity increases. Everyone grumbled about the move at first, but now the projects are up to date.
3. Limiting internet access in the home
The children are behind in their studies. They seem to be looking at their phones constantly while they should be reading books and doing their homework. The mother decides to limit internet access. The wireless network in the home gets shut down for the three hours immediately following school. The kids have no choice but to complete their assignments and stay up to date.
The formula for success in spiritual life is easy. Just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Think of the all-attractive one, the Supreme Lord, who is a person in the original and complete feature. Remember His lila, apply His teachings to daily life, and never be separated in consciousness.
Yet the implementation is anything but simple. There are problems throughout the day. There is the stress caused by constant uncertainty. There are demands of your time from this person and that. How to succeed when there are so many distractions?
The acharyas say to remove anarthas. These are unwanted things in life. The literal definition is “unprofitable.” Meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex wreak havoc on the consciousness. They are both unwanted and unnecessary. Keep the consciousness clear. Follow some basic guidelines. Adhere to routines which build numerical strength. Then see the benefits, how the boat remains on course for the targeted goal of liberation, which is the culmination to the many previous cycles of birth and death.
Parents knowing the trick,
For baby to fall asleep quick.
That toy within hand playing,
No more in sight displaying.
Or internet access turning dark,
No choice but then homework to start.
Same principle in bhakti to succeed,
Liberation from guru heed.
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