Intelligence means to know which thoughts are to be pinned and which to be binned
Suppose we regularly use sticky notes. If too many notes clutter our notice board, we would need to sort them. We would pin those that are still relevant and trash the remaining.
We need a similar discernment in dealing with our thoughts. If we consider our mind to be like an internal sticky board, various thoughts are like sticky notes on the mind. Hundreds of thoughts appear in the mind – some of them stick there for long. However, the thoughts that stick are not always about things that are the most important; they are often about things that we are most attached to or most exposed to.
A fundamental psychological principle is that our thoughts gain prominence and power in proportion to the attention we give them. If some thoughts get pinned on our minds, we keep thinking about them repeatedly. Fueled by that attention, they grow till they fill our mental screen, preventing us from contemplating or doing anything else. That’s how, even while doing important things, we get distracted by trivial things or even terrible things.
If our inner notice board is to help us manage our lives better, thoughts about important things need to be pinned there. How? By conscientiously thinking about those things repeatedly, even if our attention wanders elsewhere. Conversely, trivial thoughts need to be binned. How? By intentional neglect. Because thoughts are not physical things, we can’t physically send them to a bin. But we can neglect them till they decline and disappear due to the lack of attention.
Analyzing accurately which thoughts are to be pinned and which to be binned characterizes good intelligence. The Bhagavad-gita (06.25) recommends that we use our intelligence sustained by conviction to monitor our mind and focus it on the things that matter.
Think it over:
- How do we get distracted?
- How can we pin some thoughts and bin others?
- List three thoughts that you need to pin and three you need to bin.
06.25 Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the Self alone and should think of nothing else.