“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5)
आत्मैव ह्य् आत्मनो बन्धुर्
आत्मैव रिपुर् आत्मनः
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ
“Don’t you think you people are going a little overboard with the children? It is bordering on indoctrination. It would be one thing if you stopped at teaching. I get it that you want them to learn Sanskrit, memorize shlokas, be familiar with sacred texts, and the like.
“At the same time, we know what the purpose is: to put down any desires for sense enjoyment. Material gratification. Pursuit in the mode of passion. But these are kids, for crying out loud. Let them live a little. Let them have fun. Why are you spoiling life for them?
“Trust me, they will reach a point eventually where they ask the pertinent questions. You are trying to force them into austerity and penance. And for what purpose? So you can show off to your friends how well your parenting is going?
“It doesn’t make sense to me. You shouldn’t force Krishna consciousness on anyone. Stop ruining life for people before they have had a chance to live it. What is it exactly that you are trying to pass on to them, other than torture?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains it in terms of controlling the mind. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, the mind can be the best friend or the worst enemy. It is essentially a choice. We have the ability to shape the mind.
Consider the athlete who performs well under pressure. It is like they have ice running through their veins. When asked about their secret, they reveal that the mind focuses on success. They are not afraid of failure. They have confidence based on the power of positive thinking.
Krishna consciousness is the most positive way to think. But the benefit goes well beyond excelling in endeavors of temporary significance. It is something like experiencing a higher taste. Like finding the root of that inverted banyan tree which descends in the material world.
न रूपम् अस्येह तथोपलभ्यते
नान्तो न चादिर् न च सम्प्रतिष्ठा
अश्वत्थम् एनं सु-विरूढ-मूलम्
असङ्ग-शस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्त्वा
ततः पदं तत् परिमार्गितव्यं
यस्मिन् गता न निवर्तन्ति भूयः
तम् एव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये
यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी
na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nānto na cādir na ca sampratiṣṭhā
aśvattham enaṁ su-virūḍha-mūlam
asaṅga-śastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā
tataḥ padaṁ tat parimārgitavyaṁ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tam eva cādyaṁ puruṣaṁ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī
“The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has begun and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.3-4)
To help understand the gem that is the gift of devotional service, which is passed on from the teacher to the dependent, we take the example of a tree. We imagine a specific situation and then see how it translates to the life of the yogi in devotion.
1. Imagine a tree in the backyard
It is right there. As soon as you look out the window. You happen to see it all the time because you are in the kitchen a lot. Though someone planted the tree long before you arrived in the area, you consider it your own. The tree is on your property, after all.
2. Imagine that it produces the tastiest fruit
That tree produces fruit. Never mind the particular variety. The resulting taste equates to nectar. There is nothing like it in the world. Nothing you could prepare in the kitchen would ever compare. There is no online recipe to find or renowned chef to fly in from overseas. This amazing taste is there in the fruit that falls in your own backyard.
3. Imagine that you can eat as much of that fruit as you desire
As with any kind of interaction in life, there is the potential for indulgence. The warning is to not go too far in one direction. Extremes are not good. The yogi prefers moderation.
नात्य्-अश्नतस् ऽतु योगो ऽस्ति
न चैकान्तम् अनश्नतः
जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन
nāty-aśnatas ‘tu yogo ‘sti
na caikāntam anaśnataḥ
jāgrato naiva cārjuna
“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
For this particular situation, imagine that you could enjoy the nectar in an unlimited amount. Whenever you want it. Before dinner. Right after waking up. As a midnight snack. An entire basket with your name written on it.
4. Imagine that the tree is always in bloom
This amazing tree happens to always be in bloom. The resulting fruit is always in season. There is no fear over the changing climate or the passing of seasons. The fruit will always be there. In abundant supply. Like a well that you can always tap into.
5. Imagine that the tree is always nearby
What if you have to travel? What if you decide to leave home for a few days? What if you need to shift locations because of a job or difficulties within the family?
No need for concern, as this tree will always be nearby. We say that it is in the backyard, but that only represents the close proximity. The tree will always be available to you.
This example is one way to understand the life after maturity in Krishna consciousness. The mind is the best friend because the mind always contemplates the glorious attributes of the Absolute. The mind is always thinking of ways to further glorify. Either in writing, in speaking, in thinking, or in simply singing the holy names, there is perpetual kirtanam.
What person would be so stingy as to not share this gift with others? This is the main reason for parents trying to intelligently and carefully pass along the culture of bhakti-yoga to their dependents. The hope is for others to be always blissful and joyous. Let them always feel alive in a renewing engagement that also happens to be the most rewarding.
Blessed that to my house came,
Like jewel with family name.
Wanting that highest bliss to see,
And always joyous to be.
For an engagement to renew,
With something meaningful to do.
Only bhakti these standards to meet,
Fulfillment at His lotus feet.
Categories: the five