Focus not on the thoughts which are unworthy of us; focus on the thoughts for which we are unworthy
“What kind of person am I to have such debased thoughts?” We may feel thus when ugly thoughts enter our mind.
Lest such feelings dishearten us, Gita wisdom explains that our inner world has two opposing parts: a selfless and noble part, our higher nature; and a selfish and ignoble part, our lower nature. The Gita underscores that our higher nature is our actual nature: we are souls, who being parts of god, are by nature godly. But covering that soul is a thick layer of material conditionings that comprises our lower nature.
Our constitutional condition as souls and our circumstantial conditioning as embodied beings often conflict with each other. When the lower nature gains the upper hand, we find ourselves contemplating thoughts that are utterly unworthy of us. When our higher nature gains the upper hand, we find ourselves dwelling on thoughts so beautiful, so profound, so lofty that we seem totally unworthy of them.
Whichever nature we focus on will grow – and we have the power to choose our focus. Just as we can send away unwelcome guests and invite in welcome guests, we can send away impure thoughts when they come knocking at the door of our inner world and we can invite in pure thoughts. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (06.05) urges us to elevate ourselves with the mind and not to degrade ourselves with it.
Bhakti practices like scriptural study and mantra meditation increase our power to reject impure thoughts and also increase the pure thoughts visiting our inner world. When we empower ourselves thus and become proactive in choosing the focus of our thoughts, we can become noble individuals who think and act to do good to ourselves as well as others.
"One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well."