The mind makes us a stranger to ourselves
If we look in a mirror and find a stranger looking back at us, we will be disturbed.
That’s what sometimes happens to us when we take a close look at ourselves using the mirror of introspection.
We all have a certain picture of ourselves: who we are and what we stand for. But the mind often makes us act in ways that are contrary to our values. The Bhagavad-gita (06.06) cautions us that the mind can be our worst enemy. The mind acts as our enemy by alienating us from ourselves, by expanding the yawning chasm between what we wish to stand for and where we actually stand. It increases this distance by carrying us away on the waves of its impulsive emotions towards unprincipled actions meant for short-term pleasures. When we repeatedly give in to the mind, we keep changing in small and big ways. During our occasional moments of introspection, we suddenly realize that we can no longer recognize ourselves – the present me bears little similarity to me.
Gita wisdom reassures us that the present me is not the real me. We are actually souls, who are forever pure, being eternally the parts of the all-pure Krishna. Whatever be our present conditions and conditionings, that is only peripheral to our true identity as souls.
Bhakti-yoga offers us a time-honored method to start living in harmony with our nature as souls. When we start practicing bhakti-yoga, the resulting devotional connection with Krishna provides us an inner stronghold, a deep and rich inner fulfillment that counters the lure of outer pleasures which alienate us from ourselves. Over time, the stranger in the introspective mirror disappears and we recognize ourselves for the beauty and the glory that Krishna has provided us in the status as his beloved children.
"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."