Build roads, not roadblocks
Suppose someone had to go to a place that wasn’t accessible by road. We would expect them to clear a path to get there. If they started making roadblocks instead, we would consider that odd, if not crazy.
Unfortunately, that’s what we do in our mental world when faced with any challenge, say, leading a principle-centered life by resisting temptations. Our mind springs into action, imagining the many problems that may come up and painting them in their scariest dimensions. Disheartened by the fear of unmanageable problems, we feel like giving up even before we start. Thus, we end up building roadblocks.
What makes us sabotage ourselves like this? Our mind. The Bhagavad-gita (06.05) explains that our mind can be both our enemy and our friend – so, we need to carefully use it for raising ourselves, not carelessly let it degrade ourselves. To raise ourselves means, metaphorically speaking, to build roads. We need to envision pathways to rise from where we are to where we aspire to be.
Certainly, we need to consider probable problems and prepare to deal with them. But such preparation is best done with the thoughtfulness of the intelligence, not the restlessness and fearfulness of the mind. The mind doesn’t just magnify probable problems – it also imagines improbable problems. When the mind dominates us, we can’t foresee and prepare; we simply fret and mope.
Spiritual practices such as scriptural study and meditation alert us to the mind’s shenanigans. By such alertness, we can catch the mind when it starts acting up and stop it from building roadblocks.
Further, spiritual practices sharpen our intelligence. With a perceptive intelligence, we can build roads, that is, make tangible plans for tackling realistic problems.
By thus subordinating the mind to the intelligence, we can increasingly bring out the best within us, thereby fulfilling our God-given potential.
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