Discover the Limitless Potential of Your Mind
LTP / February 13, 2019
As usual, the Padmavati Express train left Lucknow to Delhi on 12 April 2011 around 9:30 pm with its passengers. A national level, female volleyball player boarded the train, with the dream of joining the Central Industrial Security Force. Five hours into her journey, a group of robbers threw her out of the train, as she resisted them from snatching her valuables. She fell on the parallel track and a train passing by crushed one of her legs. Unable to move, she laid there next to the track the whole night in agony and pain. In the morning, the villagers nearby spotted her and took her to the hospital. To save her life, the doctor amputated her leg below the knee.
She could have easily become a lifelong victim of trauma and distress; instead, she went on to become the first Indian female amputee to climb Mount Everest! Climbing Mount Everest with a prosthetic leg is not an easy task, but Arunima Sinha accomplished it. She turned the biggest disaster of her life into an opportunity with sheer determination and willpower. Such is the potential of mind, an apparatus that God has bestowed upon us. Mind is a beautiful servant, but a dangerous master. Therefore, it is important we discipline the mind to exalt ourselves, reveals Shree Krishna:
उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: ||
uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hyātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ
(Bhagavad Gita 6.5)
“Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.” The human mind possesses unfathomable, intellectual ability and the faculty of cognizance, which makes it unique amongst all living creatures in this universe. The prodigious achievements of the mankind attest the prowess of the human mind. Therefore, we are responsible for our own elevation or debasement.
We are aware that a controlled mind is a potent ally in rough times. However, how do we discipline our turbulent mind that constantly chatters and flutters around negative thoughts or how do we manage the mind? To do so, it is important we understand the nature of the mind.
Human Mind Operates at Four Levels
The Vedic scriptures explain that the human mind has four facets:
Mind (mana): It creates thoughts, feelings, desires, and aversions.
Intellect (buddhi): It discerns, analyzes, understands, discriminates between right and wrong, and decides.
Subconscious mind (chitta): It enables one to get attached to an object or person.
Ego (ahankār): It is the ego or ‘I’ ness; it creates pride and the sense of identity with the attributes of the body.
These are not four separate entities; these are four levels of functioning of the one mind. This internal apparatus is called antaḥ karaṇ or the mind. Understanding how the mind and intellect interact with each other empowers us to operate from a higher realm and unleash the power of our mind.
The Mind-Intellect Dynamics
Of the two – mind and intellect – intellect’s position is of paramount importance. It’s because the intellect makes the decisions and the mind generates the desires. For example, if your intellect decides that a thirty-minute yoga class every evening is relaxing, your mind hankers for yoga at the end of each day. However, the mind doesn’t necessarily desire all the time according to the intellect’s decision. Although the intellect may know that the evening yoga class is best for the health of your body, your mind rebels and seeks gratification in munching chips and watching the television every evening. In this tug of war between the mind and intellect, if we intend our intellect to win, “it requires us to empower the intellect with the right knowledge – the divine wisdom of the revealed scriptures. Then, we use that illumined intellect to govern the mind,” expounds Swamiji.
God has endowed our human intellect with the ability to control the mind. This ability is called vivek (power of discrimination). To rein in the mind, our intellect has to exercise its ability of discrimination. And discrimination requires empowering the intellect with divine knowledge.
Illumine Your Intellect with Perfect Knowledge
There are two ways of acquiring knowledge – ascending and descending. While in the ascending process we use our senses, mind, and intellect to explore, discover, and come to a conclusion about the nature of the truth, in the descending process, we simply receive the knowledge from a proper source.
The pursuit of material sciences is based upon ascending process, and is prone to defects, as we humans are imperfect. Hence, every few years, new theories come along that overthrow the earlier ones. On the other hand, the pursuit of spiritual sciences is based upon descending process, in which we receive knowledge from a perfect source – Vedas.
The Vedas are the eternal knowledge that God has revealed to us, and therefore they are called apauruṣheya (not created by any human). That is why, this eternal wisdom and principles revealed in the scriptures remain relevant to our lives even in this modern day and age.
These Vedic scriptures are the source from where we can acquire perfect knowledge, and can only be understood through a Guru, the enlightened Saint, who has practically realized their wisdom. The Shvetashvatar Upaniṣhad states:
यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ
तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः
yasya deve parā bhaktiḥ yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hyarthāḥ prakāśhante mahātmanaḥ (6.23)
“The imports of all the Vedic knowledge is revealed within the hearts of those who engage with unflinching faith in devotion toward Guru and God.”