To take back the mind, first take back the roads to the mind
Suppose an enemy has captured an important fort. To take back the fort, a frequently adopted strategy is cutting off the support to the fort. If the enemy doesn’t get reinforcements or supplies, then it can be more easily overcome.
Gita wisdom explains that we are souls who can find lasting happiness by linking our consciousness with Krishna in spiritual love. Unfortunately, within our consciousness, the forces of illusion have largely taken over the fort of our mind. That is, our mind has become mostly materialistic, being driven by worldly impressions.
When we try to fix the mind on Krishna, it keeps wandering to worldly things. To take back the mind, we need to first take back the roads to the mind, namely, the senses. The Bhagavad-gita (15.09) states that the senses are grouped around the mind.
To take back the senses, we can firstly minimize their exposure to worldly stimuli. That is akin to not letting enemy reinforcements use the roads to the fort. Secondly, we can maximize their exposure to devotional stimuli. That is akin to occupying the roads with one’s own forces.
Bhakti-yoga facilitates such spiritualization of sensory pathways by providing many manifestations of the divine such as holy names, Deities, scriptures, spiritual music and devotees. When we thus spiritualize and take back our senses, we can slowly but surely take back the mind too. Of course, if we practice devotional activities ritualistically without trying to redirect our consciousness towards Krishna, then spiritualization of our inner landscape will take a long time. Nonetheless, without providing the mind some spiritual input through the senses, spiritualizing it is impossible.
By diligently spiritualizing our senses while simultaneously striving to spiritualize our mind, we can gradually take our mind where our heart aspires to be: with Krishna.
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