Parent the childish mind by being vigilant and diligent
When a mother cares for her child, she has to be vigilant and diligent: vigilant to constantly watch whether the child is doing anything mischievous or dangerous, and diligent to restrain the child as many times as is necessary.
The Bhagavad-gita (06.26) indicates that in dealing with our mind, weneed to be similarly vigilant and diligent:
1. Vigilant: Like a child, the mind tends to get into things that are mischievous or dangerous. The mind’s activities are mischievous when they comprise frivolous dreams and schemes that belie the seriousness necessary to live in a world filled with danger, distress and death. And its activities are dangerous when they transgress ethical boundaries and incite us to violate our principles. Like a parent, we need to constantly observe the mind. Parental vigilance towards the mind is more difficult than parental vigilance towards the child because we tend to identify strongly with the mind. That’s why we need to study scripture regularly and equip our intelligence with the reminder that we are meant to be the parent, not the child.
2. Diligent: When we catch the mind doing wrong, we need to,like a parent,bring it back on track. The diligence this requires can be exhausting because the mind is outrageously obtuse. It often keeps going towards the same thing, no matter how many times we restrain and forbid. That’s why we need to discover a devotional direction for our diligence. Instead of just pulling the mind away from things,we need to find some constructive devotional activity that it likes – a pleasing mantra tune, for example – and use our diligence to push it towards that activity.
By thus basing our vigilance on our intelligence and our diligence on remembrance of Krishna, we can discipline the mind successfully.
“From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self.”