How we might defeat ourselves in our inner war

Suppose an army is defending itself against invaders. Suppose the invaders have been allowed in by a prominent general who has turned traitor. If the troops are focused on protecting that very traitor instead of protecting and supporting the king, they would be soon smashed. 

Something similar may happen to us in our fight against the forces of illusion. When faced with temptation, our mind often turns traitor; it becomes a repository of overpowering dreams and schemes to indulge in sensuality. If a well-wisher critiques us about the direction we are going, we often start vigorously defending ourselves, though what we are defending is our mind.

To defend ourselves, we need to defend our soul, that is, defend the values and practices that keep us in spiritual consciousness. That gives us a higher satisfaction which makes resisting worldly pleasures easier. 

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita urges us to elevate ourselves with our mind, not to degrade ourselves. That means we use the power of our intention, that comes from our soul, to direct the mind, which is the source of imagination, thereby using all our resources for our all-round well-being. Unfortunately, we often let the mind’s imagination get fuelled and carried away by worldly stimuli. Then the mind carries away our spiritual intentions and intelligence. Even if we resist, we may well be fighting a losing battle, because we are struggling to restrain our mind’s imagination, which is an extremely powerful force. 

Fortunately, the bhakti tradition offers us many resources for spiritualizing our imagination. We can fill our mind with spiritually creative stimuli such as relishing devotional music, contemplating and envisioning sacred imagery, and hearing and recollecting Krishna’s pastimes. Once our mind becomes attached to Krishna, it will defend our soul. 

One-sentence summary:

Protect the soul from the mind, not the mind from the soul 

Think it over:

  • How might we end up protecting our mind instead of our soul?
  • What does protecting our soul mean?
  • How does the bhakti tradition empower us to use our mind to protect the soul?

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06.06: For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.

 

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