Our mental inclination is not necessarily our personal intention

The word inclination refers physically to the slope of, say, a road in a particular direction. Mentally, our inclination refers to the direction of the habitual flow of our thoughts.

Suppose a car is on an inclined road. It may automatically start moving down along the road’s slope. Yet just because the car is going that way doesn’t mean that the driver wants to go that way. If they intend to go elsewhere, they wouldn’t just abandon their intention and go along with the car’s motion. The driver would conscientiously exert to apply the brakes and steer the car towards their desired destination.

Jus as the road’s inclination may differ from the driver’s intention, similarly, our mind’s inclination may differ from our – the soul’s – intention. That is, just because our mind’s thoughts tend to flow towards particular sense objects doesn’t mean that we ourselves want to and should indulge in those objects. Unfortunately, because this motion of thoughts occurs inside us, we misidentify with that thought-flow. So, we may naively go along with it or, worse still, may even passionately accelerate that motion and feverishly indulge in those objects – only to later bemoan: “Why did I do that?”

Alerting us to such self-sabotaging thought-flows, the Bhagavad-gita (14.23) recommends that we situate ourselves on the spiritual platform and from that elevated vantage point observe dispassionately the flow of various thought-patterns.

How can we situate ourselves at the spiritual level? Through scriptural study and devotional meditation.

By studying scripture scrutinizingly, we can understand the difference between the mental and the spiritual levels. By meditating on Krishna diligently, we can realize the security and sweetness of spiritual reality. When we become equipped by such education and experience to differentiate between mental inclination and personal intention, we can make wise choices for our long-term well-being.

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