If we can’t shun senselessness, we can at least shun the senseless mind
Practicing devotional life means embarking on an inward devotional journey to connect with Krishna. On this journey, the mind poses the primary roadblock by constantly craving for external pleasures.
For removing this roadblock, we can derive a two-pronged strategy from the Bhagavad-gita (18.42):
Shama (Peacefulness): This is the strategy for converting the mind. We draw on the strength of our intellectual convictions to show the mind the true nature of material pleasures: despite all their promises, they disappoint us at best and devastate us at worst. Then we contemplate the taste of our devotional experiences to show the mind their superiority as alternative sources of happiness. Thus, we let the mind see for itself the emptiness of material pleasures and the richness of spiritual pleasures. When confronted with this undeniable contrast, the mind shuns worldly cravings as senseless and becomes peaceful.
Dama (Sense Control): This is the strategy for controlling the mind if it refuses to get converted. Sometimes despite all our logical presentations, the mind remains illogically addicted to material pleasures. When we are blocked by such a senseless mind, we need to respond in kind by blocking its sources of nourishment. The mind derives its food from the images provided by the senses. If we resolve rigidly to never indulge sensually in the pleasures that the mind is craving for, then it eventually runs out of food and shuts up. During the transitional period when the mind is still adamant, we can neglect it by keeping ourselves fully engaged in devotionally purposeful activities.
By this dual strategy for converting or at least controlling the mind, we can remove the mental roadblocks on our devotional journey.
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.”