What we contemplate mentally, we cultivate mentally
Suppose we have a garden. We will be careful about what we cultivate there. And we certainly wouldn’t intentionally cultivate weeds or toxic plants.
Unfortunately, we aren’t so careful about what we cultivate in our inner garden: our mind. We are careless because the inner garden is subtle, as are the seeds that grow there: our thoughts.
Whereas seeds need to be cultivated by providing physical resources such as water, sunlight and nutrients, thought-seeds require just one resource: contemplation. The Bhagavad-gita (02.62-63) outlines how contemplation causes a tiny thought to grow, becoming invested with emotion and desire, till it impels us to action that can be irrational and self-destructive.
Something is always growing inside us, for we are always thinking of something. And it’s growing because we are thinking about it. We can’t stop thinking, that’s why we need to start thinking seriously about what we are thinking. If we are inattentive, we are unwittingly giving our attention to the object that distracts us, thereby cultivating thoughts about it within us. When we thus thoughtlessly cultivate the trivial, the sensual, the immoral, those thought-seeds gradually grow up to fill our entire consciousness. We end up unable to stop thinking of things that we had earlier never spared even a thought for. We end up doing things that we would have earlier never ever considered doing. And if we do those things repeatedly, we end up addicted.
Thankfully, this principle of cultivation by contemplation also applies to positive thoughts. And this principle is fully leveraged by the time-tested process of bhakti-yoga, which centers on thinking about Krishna. Indeed, if we practice thinking of Krishna as a discipline, we will develop desire for him and eventually become absorbed in him (12.09).
By understanding the dynamics of our inner world, we can take responsibility to cultivate thoughts that are meaningful and fulfilling, not meaningless and agitating.
Think it over:
- How does contemplation cultivate our inner world?
- How do we end up addicted to trivial things?
- How does bhakti-yoga leverage the principle of cultivation by contemplation?
02.62 While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
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