Minding the Mind
Through the Master’s teachings we become more conscious of the mind and the powerful influence it exerts over our lives. We become aware of its devious tactics, designed to distract and mislead us, thereby diverting us from our ultimate objective of God-realization. However, if we employ the measures advocated by the Master, we will neutralize the mind’s deviousness, turning it into a friend which will assist us in attaining our goal.
The mind’s pervasive influence is not just confined to satsangis, but plays a dominant role in the lives of every human being. First we need to understand how the mind came about in the original scheme of things, and why it has such incredible influence.
Maharaj Jagat Singh gives us this explanation of the origin and purpose of the mind:
After creating human beings and others in the universe, Brahm attached to each soul his agent in the shape of mind, to confine the soul to his domain. The specific commands to the mind are, “Never let the soul go near Shabd nor reveal to it the secret thereof.”
Science of the Soul
Now we can understand more readily why the mind is so determined to interfere with our spiritual progress: It has been tasked by Kal to ensure that the soul is unable to return to its true home – and it carries out this function exceptionally well. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh is asked whether Kal has the same power over initiates as non-initiates. He answers:
Everybody. That’s his duty. He tempts everybody in this creation because he doesn’t want a single soul to get out of his clutches. He doesn’t loosen his grip after we are initiated. His grip is the same, but we are not caught by his grip.
Elsewhere he says:
Kal or Satan becomes more active with the initiate than he is with the non-initiate. When he thinks the soul is escaping from his clutches, he becomes more active; so we should also become more cautious when we are initiated, because we have to escape from his clutches.
So it is very clear that as initiates we are under pressure from the mind, particularly if we are working hard at our spiritual practice. The important and encouraging thing to remember is that it is no longer Kal but the Master who now controls our destiny. Even so, Kal’s influence is huge, which is why the Masters are so insistent that our meditation is not negotiable.
The more conscientious we are about living in his will and doing our meditation, the more grace and protection the Master is able to shower on us. Although he can and does make the repayment of our karma as bearable as possible, he will not shortchange Kal. The Master will only take us out of this creation when every iota of our karma is settled with Kal. There is no compromise on this issue.
The mind uses the sense pleasures as the primary source of distraction from our spiritual endeavours, and this is the prime cause of the bulk of our karma. The result of the mind’s destructive influence is the tendency to adopt a negative mindset. Once our attitude becomes predominantly negative, our spiritual practice becomes tedious and unrewarding, and this is precisely what Kal wants.
In Spiritual Primer the writer explains how the mind works, saying:
First of all, impressions are registered on our mind. Then, by dwelling on these impressions, we make grooves on our mind. These grooves become so deep that we become programmed by them and are then compelled to react according to our own programming. This is why we need to be very careful of what we think. We should keep careful watch over our thoughts and try to dwell upon only those thoughts which will help us develop the right attitude, and which will lead us to do actions that are for our good.
This echoes what the Masters say: that all too often our thoughts influence our attitude and behaviour, and are then easily translated into actions. Cleaning up our thoughts will improve our responses to the events in our lives, making us more attentive and positive. This is in the best interests of our spiritual endeavours.
In The Path of the Masters we read that the mind adores routine regardless of the consequences and whether or not that routine is good for us. It is only when a little light filters in from the spirit, that we may change our thinking and the way we act. This is extremely important information because it tells us that the mind’s behaviour is modifiable, although not always by conscious effort on our part.
If we are living in the will of the Master, the deep-seated habits or ‘grooves’ can be smoothed out and more acceptable patterns of behaviour can replace them. This is as a result of the grace of the Master. We are not the doers on this plane; we can only go through the motions by living in his will. By obeying his instructions we can turn the mind from a fiend into a friend.
Living in the will of the mind will most certainly bring us back to this plane, so we must be aware of the direction the mind tries to steer us in. We must work hard at excluding all influence from the mind, because its smooth-talking, sense-pleasure entrapment will take us downwards and outwards, into the world of illusion and impermanence. Whereas living in the will of the Master will take us inwards and upwards, and permanently out of the clutches of Kal and his wily companion, the mind.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh gives us the following comforting assurance:
Satsangis don’t have to bother about Kal at all. They have to live with the teachings of their Master. … If you live with your path and with your Master, nobody can bother you. So we are in the realm of Kal, being here, but he is not controlling our destiny. Our destiny is in somebody else’s hands, who stands as a ransom, though of course we have to pay for whatever we have sown. We have to go through our destiny. But somebody has taken responsibility for us, to clear us from all that destiny and take us back to the Father.
How heartening to hear that we are not answerable to Kal – that he is simply the accountant who has our karmic debts on his books. But he is not our debt collector. We have the comfort of knowing that the management of our repayments is in the hands of the Master. We also know that we have a responsibility to the Master, and that is to live totally in his will. This really is a small price to pay for the security of knowing that our debts are taken care of. It is so uplifting to know that we have a gentle, loving friend guiding us in everything we do, while ensuring that our karmas are settled fully, in a way that is never beyond our capacity to handle.