Don’t just restrain the mind – retrain it
Suppose a horse-rider finds their horse going off in dangerous directions. They will have to restrain it, and restrain it forcefully if it is recalcitrant. But eventually they need to retrain it – after all, the horse is not meant to be just kept passive, but to be used for riding to one’s desired destination.
We need to deal with our mind similarly. The Bhagavad-gita (06.06) cautions that the mind often acts like our enemy. It frequently veers off course, getting distracted by trivial things. Sometimes, it veers so wildly off-course as to take U-turns, that is, it impels us to do the very things we had resolved not to do.
Restraining the mind forever is impossible because the mind can’t be made totally inactive; it can’t stop thinking entirely. It habitually thinks of those things that it believes are enjoyable. Because we are presently attached to material things, the mind often goes forcefully towards worldly objects.
Retraining the mind centers on changing its conception of what is enjoyable. The supreme source of pleasure is Krishna, our all-attractive Lord, whose parts we are eternally. We realize this truth through the purification coming from diligent bhakti practice.
Till such realization dawns, we need to train ourselves to bring the mind back towards Krishna whenever and wherever it wanders, as the Gita (06.26) enjoins. For reorienting the mind thus, we need to find within the realm of bhakti things that we feel natural affinity to. If we make such attractive spiritual sense objects easily accessible, refocusing on Krishna becomes less strenuous and more relishable.
By consistent contact with Krishna, the mind gradually becomes purified and increasingly relishes higher happiness in him. Thereafter, it will habitually move towards him even when worldly objects allure it away from him. Such a retrained mind will be our best friend.
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