Bhakti transforms our solitary struggle with the mind into a cooperative conquest
“What is the best way to control the mind?” To this universal question of all spiritual seekers, the Bhagavad-gita answers: bhakti-yoga.
Let’s see how and why.
In its sixth chapter, the Gita outlines ashtanga-yoga as a means to mind control. But Arjuna (06.33) candidly confesses its impracticality due to the mind’s refractory nature. In response, Krishna (06.35) empathizes with Arjuna and encourages him to persevere in striving for mind control without recommending any specific path. While concluding the chapter, he declares (06.47) that the topmost yogis fix their minds on him.
To attain that perfection of a mind attached to him, Krishna in the next chapter (07.01) summarizes an alternative way: bhakti-yoga. Later, (08.14), he declares that for those who fix their mind on him, success is easy (sulabhah). This is the only instance in the whole Gita of any process being called easy. Thus, the Gita endorses bhakti-yoga as the best means to mind control.
To understand what makes bhakti-yoga special, let’s compare various spiritual paths to therapies for healing the mind maddened by material infatuations. In other spiritual paths, seekers, not knowing about Krishna’s power and grace, strive to control the mind on their own. They are like patients trying to treat themselves. Their sincerity notwithstanding, they sorely miss the expertise of a good doctor and are thus sentenced to a solitary struggle with the mind. Devotee-seekers are like patients who hand themselves over to the care of the supremely competent doctor, Krishna.
As the mind’s disease is chronic, having existed for many lifetimes, healing takes time. So devotees too may be troubled by the mind. But their winning advantage is that they have placed themselves in the most powerful and competent hands. Being guided and empowered thus, they are sure to conquer the mind.
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