The mind seduces us into doing wrong – and then scolds us for doing wrong
Suppose we have a tyrannical boss who tells us first to do something that doesn’t make sense and then castigates us for having acted senselessly. Instead of listening to our protest that we only did what he told us to do, he berates us for our stupidity. Working with such an unreasonable boss would be a nightmare.
We all have to live in a similar nightmare when working with our mind, which the Bhagavad-gita (06.06) indicates, acts as our enemy. One way it acts inimically is by playing a deadly double role – first as the impellor of stupid actions and then as a self-appointed arbiter of right and wrong. First it seduces us into doing wrong things by painting a picture of irresistible pleasure awaiting us if we just indulge in those things. And then after the indulgence turns out to be disappointing and trouble-inducing, the mind scolds us for having acted so stupidly.
For example, the mind tempts us into overeating and then castigates us for being such a glutton. Such castigation can have a salutary effect if it prompts us towards rectification. But frequently, the mind’s monologue paralyzes us, making us wallow in the quicksand of self-pity. If we let the mind flagellate us for our imprudence, we end up feeling disheartened and disempowered, thus becoming more vulnerable to its machinations.
To avoid being deceived by the mind’s dangerous double role, we need to stop hearing it submissively. And the best way to challenge it is by training ourselves to hear the voice of Krishna. That divine voice manifests most accessibly to us through scripture and scriptural teachers. When we hear that voice regularly, we become alert and equipped to see through the mind’s tricks, thus protecting ourselves.
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