Mystic Mantra: Are you in command?

Columnist  | Swami Tejomayananda

Opinion, Oped

Physically restraining the body but allowing the mind to dwell on various pleasures can lead to dire consequences.

The Bhagavad Gita itself portrays mastery with the apt comparison of a turtle who has the ability to withdraw its limbs, into its hard shell, the moment it senses danger.

So long as one is living, it is not possible to give up action. The inevitability of action is an undeniable truth. This was explained and proved by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagvad Gita. However, someone may feel that he can remain absolutely still. He sits down and restrains all the organs of action.  But, from experience we know the mind cannot be stopped from wandering.Physically restraining the body but allowing the mind to dwell on various pleasures can lead to dire consequences.

Then a contrasting scenario of a person who acts on the physical plane while keeping his senses  firmly under control is presented by the Lord.The word ‘control’ is often misunderstood. We assume it means - not to see, hear or touch. To control something cannot be equated with not using it. This is like saying, “I have perfect control over my car.  It has never met with an accident –because I never use it!”

The Bhagvad Gita itself portrays mastery with the apt comparison of a turtle who has the ability to withdraw its limbs, into its hard shell, the moment it senses danger. Once the threat has passed, it continues on its path. Control or mastery over the senses has two aspects: the ability to withdraw the senses from non-conducive and unfavourable surroundings; and engaging them in positive pursuits. A good driver is one who can steer the car through traffic jams, slow down or speedup up as the situation requires. Such a person has control or mastery over the car.

There is the amusing story of a man riding a horse. He lost control and was desperately hanging onto the horse by its neck.  

Another horseman, passing by, asked him, “Where are you going?”
He replied, “Ask the horse!”

Similarly, our senses are taking us for a ride. We have no control over where they are dragging us.  The sense organs are meant for experiencing the world of objects, but one must know which objects should be perceived and enjoyed, and which of them are to be avoided.  The potent prayer, “Ombhadramkarnebhisrunuyam...” does not say “may we not see anything”, but entreats, “may we see and hear what is auspicious.”  The senses are meant to be used, but correctly.

One who has gained mastery over the senses by controlling them with the mind, by right thinking, is advised to engage in action with an attitude of karmayoga. For such a person,there is no suppression; only an unfoldment of the personality. The mind reaches a higher level of thinking, it evolves and excels. Even while remaining engaged in activity, the mind is neither polluted nor bound by the actions.

Read more...