Devotees would often come to Sri Ramakrishna and unburden to him the contradictory feelings arising in their minds. They would say that the mind constantly swung from one extreme to another, from good to bad, with apparently no control or restraint whatsoever. In fact, this is the exasperation which Arjuna expressed to Sri Krishna: “The mind verily is, O Krishna, restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate. I deem it as hard to control as the wind.” (चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद्दृढम्। तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् ।।Gita 6.34।।)
Sri Ramakrishna would console the devotees by stating that such inconsistencies and contradictions are part of God’s creation. He would say that God has created the world in a certain fashion and one might notice that there are trees that bear sweet fruits and trees that bear sour fruits as well.
Thus he would tell them that the world in its very nature is full of contradictions. Since we are the creations of God, we also experience such dramatically opposite feelings in our mind. But, just as it is up to the people to reject the sour fruits and eat the sweet fruits only, it is up to the individual to control one’s mind through a proper and well-regulated method of spiritual striving. In fact, Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita supported Arjuna’s view and said, “Doubtless, O mighty armed, the mind is restless and hard to control; but by practice and non-attachment, O son of Kunti, it can be controlled.” (असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलं। अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ।।Gita 6.35।।)
It is only by intense and relentless practice along with a certain degree of dispassion it is possible to bring under control the restless mind and go forward in our spiritual journey. One should be extremely alert and constantly discriminate between right and wrong or good and bad. God’s creation is so baffling that sometimes bad things appear alluring and attractive. Eternal vigilance is the price for spiritual progress.
(Photo courtesy: Adapted from Panoramio.com)
– by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 14th Feb 2015